When we first started this lifestyle we assumed that something had to be labeled organic or else it wasn’t. There was no middle ground, no room for interpretation, it was either bad or good. Since then we have learned that is only half the truth. While organic is still the best choice for us, some local restaurants take pride in their ingredients and source from local farms that follow many of our same principles. Nothing is guaranteed of course and we never truly know for sure, but there are clues. For us, those are clues involve a dedicated chef who emphasizes quality and/or a place that really emphasizes the use of local farms.
Be careful here though, because there is no end to people who love to say they are ‘farm to table’ or source local. We look for the places who actually disclose a list of farms they use on their website. Then we’ll actually look up those farms online and see what their practices are. Organic certification can be very costly for a small family farm so they may be ‘organic’ without being ‘certified organic’. They can’t use the word of course but you will often find a website that carefully lays out how they treat their animals, decries the use of chemicals or antibiotics and touts being free of GMO ingredients.
So this is how we ended up at the Trolley Stop Market in Memphis, TN. After carefully looking over their website and seeing an extensive list of local farms that they sourced their ingredients from, we felt confident enough to give them a try. Some of the farms they work with on a regular basis according to their website include Whitton Farms, McKaskle Farms and Top of the World Farm among about many others. A visit to each of these websites will tell you about the farms themselves and their own practices. We loved seeing grass-fed beef and animals raised without antibiotics or hormones.
Trolley Stop Market is easy to find and is less than ten minutes from downtown Memphis. Parking can be a little tricky though as your first instinct will be to park in the large lot located immediately next to the restaurant. This is not a public lot though and you should instead park in the small lot located directly behind the restaurant. It’s not huge and I can easily see it filling up but there was plenty of space for us on a Saturday afternoon.
You will enter through the back entrance and wait to be seated from there. The interior of the restaurant is nothing fancy and just what we like. Bare concrete floors, a scattered selection of tables and a lengthy bar. Directly opposite the bar, separated by more tables, is a market of sorts. There are quite a few local purveyors with goods on display here that are available for purchase. Everything from candles to pottery. Since good food often takes longer to cook, this is a great way to pass the time after you order your meal. Remember, you can look without buying.
Our waitress was very friendly and especially patient as we asked questions about where specific food was sourced. It took us a few minutes but we finally settled on a few of the personal size pizzas. I had one with mozzarella, cheddar and italian sausage, my wife enjoyed a white sauce pizza with bacon and my daughter tried a breakfast pizza off the brunch menu. The most interesting was definitely the breakfast pizza as it featured sausage and eggs. We also enjoyed an appetizer of the cheese breadsticks and loved hearing the waitress say they would take awhile since they were ‘made from scratch’.
When the food finally arrived we were pretty hungry and ate nearly all of it. My italian sausage was excellent and though I will never be a good critic, it was not spicy at all and quite literally seemed to melt in your mouth. Probably our favorite dish was the breakfast pizza my daughter ordered and after trying a bite of hers it almost made me wish I had gotten it as well. With a garlic and olive oil base, it was something she would definitely eat again.
The menu also features burgers, sandwiches, salads and quite a few other items we didn’t have a chance to try. There are also dessert options and a bar that serves local beer, although we didn’t partake in either option. Remember, my favorite local beer comes from Ghost River Brewing and I suggest you give them a try the next time you pass through the city. They offer two main styles, my personal favorite which is Riverbank Red and a Golden Ale.
Once you make the decision to eat organic you will notice a difference when you don’t. It is one of the hardest things to explain but let me try. You feel full no matter what, but it is the difference between a pleasant full and a heavy greasy full feeling. It takes longer for that full feeling to go away when you eat something less healthy while you can actually walk comfortably out of a restaurant after eating the food we do.
While eating out is never our top priority, if we ever find ourselves in Memphis again we might consider a return visit. Trolley Stop Market is a casual environment with decent food and provides a great place for families to eat. So the next time you are on vacation and think you will never be able to find healthy food, take a minute a look through a few websites. It just might be worth the effort to avoid the stomach ache later.
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