A veteran of the restaurant industry for nearly two decades, Mike Jacquard perceived a need in Jamestown for access to healthy, organic, local foods. In the fall, he opened Jamestown Mercantile, a grocery offering daily to-go meals. We talked about eating local, shopping local and how to cook with “super” foods.
I love that Jamestown now has an “organic general store.” Tell me about the genesis of Jamestown Mercantile.
I had this idea of healthy prepared food: locally sourced meat and vegetables with restaurant-quality preparation. I was thinking about doing something on the side as a private chef for people who are busy, or can’t cook, but in doing research I really saw a need for a health food store here in town. We needed easy access to a lot of organic ingredients, gluten free foods and local products.
What’s your cooking style?
I tend to lean towards the paleo diet: fruits, vegetables, lean proteins. I do use grains, but really natural grains like quinoa, faro and brown rice. I don’t put butter in anything. I use all healthy fats. I use organic ingredients in everything I can, with the exception of local ingredients that aren’t certified organic because it’s expensive to get certified, but I know how everything is being treated.
What will we find for prepared foods at Jamestown Mercantile on an average week?
I have a menu that I change every Saturday. I cook food Monday through Saturday, and I make something for dinner every night. Yesterday I made corned beef and cabbage – brisket from Windmist Farm in Jamestown, carrots and potatoes from Schartner’s Farm. Today I’m making Faroe Island Organic Salmon, broiled with a Dijon-marmalade glaze with organic brown rice and lemon-scented baby green beans. I make a simple, healthy meatloaf with Misty Knowles ground turkey from Vermont, stuffed with kale, mushrooms and a little Narragansett Creamery Atwells Gold cheese. I prepare everything with the intention of it being cold for reheating.
Tell me about your weekly meal plans.
Customers can pick what they want to eat for the week, and buy five meals at once. It’s really catered to the individual. It’s about a 25% discount for five meals a week, for a flat rate of $60 plus tax. I can cater to vegan and gluten-free diets, and I work with a lot of people who are carb conscientious. I also sell raw, vegan desserts made here in Jamestown.
What local purveyors do you work with?
Hidden Meadows Farm in West Greenwich is where I get my maple syrup. Chase Farms in Portsmouth has great squash. I’m really hoping to tap into two growers here on the island when the season comes. The other thing is Hope & Main. I’ve spoken with one of the board members there, and I’m hoping to have a dedicated shelf of their products. They’re a Warren-based food incubator for small, local food business. I’m really focused first on Rhode Island products, and then New England.
I think some people are intimidated by some of the more “trendy” healthy ingredients like quinoa, or coconut oil, and aren’t sure how to use them. How do you help people understand organic eating?
I use those products a lot in my prepared food. I buy 30lbs of quinoa at a time, because it’s such a healthy grain. We cook with it, which helps people understand it without having to buy it. The same with coconut oil. There are so many applications. Just sauté some mushrooms in coconut and you’ll understand how to use it. The easiest substitute is to use coconut oil instead vegetable oil in brownies. The flavor is subtle, and it’s delicious stuff. You can substitute coconut oil for just about any fat. It’s heart conscious, it’s good for oral care, there are massive skin benefits and it’s an anti-oxidant.
16 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown