Lettuce Live, Lettuce Eat & Lettuce Thrive
Don’t turnip your nose to plant-forward eating. If you be-leaf in good food and carrot all about nutrition, you can’t beet what these women are serving up.
Maichina Veri, March 01, 2022 // Brantford, OntarioBailey Uvanile and Shelby Miller inside their eatery, Lettuce Live. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
Mid-morning on a holiday Monday, Shelby Miller and Bailey Uvanile – entrepreneurs, produce artists and co-owners – unlock the doors to Lettuce Live. Sunlight streams through the window and in the vibrant rays of light, Shelby chops a cucumber. The fresh smell of the green salad vegetable fills the clean and welcoming upcycled trailer that is home to this eatery. The rustic contemporary design of the place is as bright and as hospitable as the women themselves.
Lettuce Live (“live” rhymes with “give”) began business in the Brantford Polish Hall in March 2021. The idea was born in part from the pandemic and in part from the lack of options for healthy food in Brantford. Bailey and Shelby both went to school in Toronto, where they took business management and business marketing respectively, and felt “spoiled” with the food options in the city they studied in. Fast and nutritious food is something both are passionate about. However, without the pandemic Bailey doesn’t think Lettuce Live would have opened and Shelby agrees it’s what pushed them to get started. Although lockdowns have made business a little harder sometimes, reception in town has been good and positive. From Brantford patrons to the small business community, Lettuce Live has been well received and well supported.
Freshly made, plant-based options are plenty at Lettuce Live. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
This little business is a plant-forward eatery that promotes nutrition first. “Plant-forward is a soft nudge of opening the door for anybody to eat healthy,” explains Shelby. “There is a full spectrum within that, the first and foremost being nutrition and the quality of energy going through your body.” Bailey notes how we were brought up to eat with meat, starch and then a vegetable being the components of our meals. “As we got to learn more about our bodies and what goes into the food system, we learned eating whole ingredients is better for your body over time.” Both agree this is just the “tip of the iceberg,” recognizing that political, environmental and social factors are important in plant-forward eating too, but nutrition is their primary goal.
Whether you are new to plant-forward eating or are expertly navigating it, Bailey and Shelby acknowledge that it looks different for everybody and emphasize to not get overwhelmed with a strict diet. “It should be a lifestyle. It should be eating for nutrition and eating for your body,” stresses Bailey. Shelby agrees saying, “Find what works for you and do what is natural and works for your body.” Also, explore Brantford’s options. Lettuce Live sources their ingredients from local vendors, farmers’ markets and community-driven businesses. They get their coffee from Seventh Coffee Company, tea from Steve’s Tea Company and seasonal produce from Brantwood Farms, just to name a few places. Of course, visit Lettuce Live in addition to these resources for quick and healthy meals.
To place an order, visit their website online, call in or show up to their location and order on the spot. A good first dip into a plant-forward dish, as recommended by Shelby, would be the Lettuce Live, which was designed to be an approachable option. Bailey suggests one of their toasties for a beginner’s introduction. Comparing it to a lighter salad that you can buy anywhere, Bailey says of their toasties, “They’re a little heartier. They’re quite extravagant, loaded up and full of nutrient-dense ingredients.” If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the Moroccan Cauliflower is the way to go. “We call it our over-looked child, the black sheep of the family,” says Shelby as she describes the dish that people shy away from. “It’s actually one of the most delicious, but it seems overly adventurous for some.” A good thing to note is that these two women make everything themselves except for bread and chips.
A gorgeous, one-of-a-kind location in Brantford, Ontario. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
It’s important to Shelby and Bailey to be approachable, to give to the community and to uplift others along the way. They show this in ways such as keeping their prices as accessible as possible and continuing their community involvement. They’ve worked with BL’s Little Free Pantry and Library as well as donated funds to serve hot meals during Christmas. “We aren’t in competition with anybody else,” affirms Shelby, “We just want to create a circle where we all uplift each other. We want to be a part of the Brantford community where we all co-exist.”
Bailey is proud of how far Lettuce Live has come and is excited for the next chapter. The two women are looking forward to opening a patio and seating area, as well as starting a garden where they can grow their own fresh herbs. They hope to bring in more community and hold events such as yoga in the park and movie nights. “We just want to make it a space where everyone can come.”
To learn more visit Lettuce Live online at on their website lettucelive.ca.
More importantly, pop over to their amazing location at 10B Edmondson St. here in Brantford.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maichina Veri is a writer based in Brantford, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University and has a background in Journalism – Print from Niagara College.