With the fast-paced hustle and bustle of the Financial District's lunch hour and the high cost of eating responsibly, it's difficult to find an MSG-free meal that won't run you the whole organic farm. Not to worry, my health-conscious, busy urban comrades: no longer must you run around like a free-range chicken to eat a reasonably priced and responsible lunch. You're about to get the skinny on where to find a healthy and organic lunch downtown ... cheap. Don't say we never taught you anything.
The Boxed Foods Co. (245 Kearny, SF. 415-981-9376, www.boxedfoodscompany.com) is a great place to relive the packed-lunch experience made famous by moms all over the United States only this lunch does not include Oscar Mayer mystery meat, the chemical engineering miracle known as Kraft Singles, or that pasty Wonder Bread. Inside the small emerald interior, a smiling staff packs its boxes with the nutritional righteousness of prosciutto, asparagus, and parmesan panini and red and golden beet salads. Get your box to go, or relax in the back patio under cute blue umbrellas.
At Harvest and Rowe (55 Second St., SF. 415-551-7771, www.harvestandrowe.com), you can stop by on a cold, blustery afternoon and warm yourself up with some ever-changing and ever-healthy artisanal stews and soups, such as basil chicken chili and yellow split pea. You can even start your day with an organic breakfast in the form of fresh fair-trade coffee. Extend your shrinking lunch hour by grabbing a quick and wholesome snack or a custom-built salad, or order pick-up food online.
The ceilings are high, the cost is low, and the menu is extensive at Sellers Markets (595 Market, SF. 415-227-9850, www.sellersmarkets.com). Committed to buying from local artisanal farmers with pledges to sustainable agriculture, this refectory isn't happy just feeding its guests healthy food it also educates its patrons about environmentally responsible dining. Jim and Deb Sellers hold the quarterly Sustainable Social, at which experts from culinary, art, environment, and design backgrounds speak about a range of taste, ecological, health, and agricultural issues.
Mixt Greens (120 Sansome, SF. 415-433-MIXT, www.mixtgreens.com) may be known for its amazing "eco-gourmet" menu, but what really set this place apart are its continual efforts toward reusable energy. Not only is the design-your-own-salad menu extensive and the filet mignon cheesesteak organic, but these fortifying meals come packaged in recycled materials made from a corn-based plastic, not petroleum products. What makes this the most guilt-free meal in town is the building and furniture, all made with sustainable, nontoxic materials. *
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