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Out of the Blue: Aiming for a healthier Laguna

February 05, 2013|By Billy Fried
  • Billy Fried says Laguna Beach should have bike share kiosks, like this one in Anaheim.
Billy Fried says Laguna Beach should have bike share kiosks,…

For a town as outdoorsy and active as Laguna, there has always been a dearth of truly healthy restaurants.

We have a surfeit of Mexican, Italian, pizza and burger joints, but vegetarian or raw cuisine had always been the purview of a few places like The Stand and Zinc.

Not anymore. Active Culture serves some fine vegetarian bowls. Nekter raw juices just opened, and Living Juice — a locally owned, organic alternative — is set to migrate from the farmer's market to retail on Forest Avenue.

But perhaps the biggest seismic shift will be the opening of Urth Caffe, where The Cottage used to be. This is a significant upgrade to our culinary and cafe scene, with their amazing organic teas and coffees and what the L.A. Times called "The best cafe latte in all of L.A."

They offer healthy soups, organic salads and sandwiches, plus delicious desserts, from the most decadent to low-fat and vegan selections. Perhaps they'll stay open late, put some comfy seating in, and we'll finally have that late night, alcohol free hang-out this town so desperately needs.

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What else can we do to stay fitter and live longer? More community gardens, where locals could gather and cultivate their own food source, would be a good start. The South Laguna community gardeners have already demonstrated numerous benefits, including social interaction. Why not portions of Bluebird, Nita Carmen, Molton Meadows, Top of the World, Riddle and Heisler parks? Call it "Food with the View." There's already irrigation. They don't take up that much space. And neighbors would actually learn each other's names.

Transition Laguna has made a pledge to plant 100 fruit and nut trees over the year to give us more sustainable food sources. Perhaps the city can match it on public land. And how about adding a Wednesday farmer's market? Our Saturday affair is a tremendous success, with a rich array of organic produce, grass-fed meats, breads, nuts and flowers. But perishables only last so long, and a Wednesday addition would give us access to healthy, locally-sourced food all week. If we can't fit it in the city lot, why not close Forest Avenue in the morning and place it there? Palm Springs does it all the time.

A long talked-about skate park would be a healthy alternative for everyone. Lang Park would seem the logical choice.

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