by Holladay Allen
Native Foods Cafe
About this time last year, I was trekking across the good ol’ US of A en route to Chicago from LA. Nearing the end of the trip, we were headed down I-80 through Iowa planning to take a detour and head to Des Moines in search of a vegan lunch. Just as I was mapping out the directions, we passed one of those blue road signs listing the gas stations, food and lodging in the area. How peculiar… there was an organic farm listed under FOOD named LT Organic Farm. We were most definitely intrigued, but also a little skeptical and weirded out. I mean, in a modern-day utopia, every road sign would list organic farms and bio-diesel gas stations (that are really simple tiny shacks where you just go and fill up your sweet 70s Mercedes with French fry fuel then head across the road to lunch at the organic farm) as the only road side relief options…. one day. But these days, the first things that popped in my mind were (1) cults and (2) a long slow horror movie death in an old barn (perhaps at the hands of a cult).
This was so far from the truth…. this place was down right magical.
After we pulled up to the quaint little farm and farmhouse, we walked in and were immediately greeted by a young gentleman. We explained that we were looking for some lunch and he said that would not be a problem at all, but it would take about 30 minutes for them to prepare. They make everything from scratch, and offered one special for the day, it was available vegan, or non-vegan (they do serve meat). Each special was $18.95. He said we were welcome to wander around and we could either eat inside at the huge community style dining table or outside on the farm. We opted for the latter as it was just so lovely outside. While we waited, there was also a very cute little gift shop to peruse filled with lots of local art and jewelry.
When the food it arrived, it was just wonderful. So fresh, and delicious, and filling. There were beans and rice with fresh greens and some sort of falafel like balls and bitter melon (which was more sweet than bitter) and everything was perfectly seasoned. I loved it.
This place has a pretty cool background too. The owners L.T. Bhramdat and his wife, Ahilia, a couple with a background in healthcare, moved their family from Chicago to the outskirts of Waukee, IA in 2000. “We saw so many people suffering and dying in Chicago and witnessed the destruction that people in this country have done to their own bodies," L.T. Bhramdat said. "We felt compelled to move our children to a place where we could raise them in the best health possible, and start giving back to our community with our knowledge.” (Waukee Patch)
For a modest yearly fee, LT Organic Farm offers weekly CSA produce baskets of seasonal foods from the farm, preventative medicine counseling plus weekly classes on how to prepare nutritious meals with the items provided that week. So amazing! If you are driving through Iowa you definitely need to make a stop here for some delicious food and a great experience.