By Lee Cole–

So many of us have heard the old adage “you are what you eat” from our parents and grandparents that it has become a bit of a cliché. Yet there is wisdom in this old time saying that is often ignored. As problems like heart disease, adult onset diabetes and obesity continue to claim lives and put an incredible strain on our healthcare system, it has become obvious that food makes us what we are and will likely determine our health as a nation in the future.

In a world where most of the food Americans eat is produced and distributed by large corporations, it has become increasingly difficult to find local, small food purveyors and grocers. If you live in Old Louisville though, as many students do, you may have noticed the Root Cellar at the corner of 3rd and Hill Street.

The Cardinal recently spoke to owner Ron Smith about what role the Root Cellar plays in the Louisville community and why it’s so important to eat local, fresh food. “The Root Cellar is an oasis in the food desert that is present in Old Louisville. Students at UofL often times have limited means of transportation and The Root Cellar is a convenient place to shop for almost all of their grocery needs,” said Ron Smith.

For Mr. Smith, quality and being environmentally conscientious are paramount, and the Root Cellar provides much more than your standard chain grocery store. “Shipping foods across the globe or even across the country has a great cost in resources, and the way in which foods are treated is not always in the best interest of the consumers. Artificial ripening, chemical stabilization, not to mention processed food additives and preservatives, are increasingly shown to have a negative impact on our health and the nutritional value of the food we eat. The Root Cellar provides food to the citizens of Louisville that are picked ripe and fresh and meats, cheeses and dairy that are processed with no additives or preservatives.”

The Root Cellar blends modern environmental conscientiousness with good old-fashioned common sense – the kind of down-home wisdom your grandparents would approve of. Unlike most people today, our grandparents were eating foods that were mostly unprocessed – foods that were fresh picked on the farm. It’s a place where you can buy un-homogenized milk in a glass jug, free range meats and fresh, locally raised vegetables and fruits.

In other words, you can find real food there, food that isn’t messed with or added to. It’s the kind of food all people ate up until about 50 or 60 years ago. As Mr. Smith put it, “many stores talk about locally source fresh produce, but The Root Cellar is 100 percent local, farm fresh produce. All of the products we sell are within a 150 mile radius of Louisville, and this is good for our local economy. Local people buying local products—that’s the Kentucky Proud way!”

If we are in fact what we eat, then we have an important choice in deciding what kind of food we buy. The Root Cellar gives students and locals the opportunity to maintain a quality diet that is both environmentally and economically conscientious.

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Photos: Eric Voet/The Louisville Cardinal