Shelf Life

Buying locally and thinking globally, at the grocery store and beyond.

Based on the anecdotal evidence of two successful snack food creators, I would say that the best way for inventors—particularly those invested in inventing nutritious between-meal refreshments—to zero in on their vision would be to take a hike. Alternately, a bike ride would do just as well. It worked for the guy responsible for the Clif Bar (during a 175-mile ride, Gary Erickson decided he couldn't take another bite of the crappy energy bars he had packed), while Seattleites Josh Schroeter and Edmond Sanctis were climbing Mount Rainier when they realized they must do their part to quell the advancement of mediocre trail mix and cellophane sleeves of stale nuts. If necessity is the mother of all invention, the sporting life might be its daddy. Immigrants from the spheres of media and tech but practicing "foodies" (sorry, but I can't use that word—even out loud—unless it's got quotations around it) in their off hours, Sanctis and Schroeter created a snack mix to, in Schroeter's words, "fit the design" of their dream. Considering that they also brought chef Danielle Custer into the kitchen to help realize their goals, it's not surprising that the four varieties of Sahale Snacks come smartly packaged in two-ounce foil pouches, nor that the ingredients inside are both highly imaginative and culturally inclusive. Take for example the Ksar blend. Pistachios and pepitas (pumpkin seeds, gringo) are sweetened with honey and figs (Figs! In a snack bag!), and the mixture is dusted with Moroccan harissa, a red pepper–based spice often found spiking your couscous. No peanuts, no sunflower seeds; there is not an M&M or a raisin anywhere in sight. (And yes, Sahale Snacks do cost about three times as much as a bag of M&Ms; they are also about 300 times as nutritious.) My test subjects rated the spicy/sweet Ksar mixture just slightly above the Socorro blend, in which chipotle, cumin, and cilantro conspire to add earth and wood tones to macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, mango, and papaya. Personally, I love the balsamic vinegar bite in the Soledad mix: almonds, flax seeds, and dates, and, because black pepper is one of my favorite simple pleasures, I also love the Valdosta blend with its black pepper pecans, cranberries, and orange peel. (Schroeter says the orange peel was all Custer.) And here's the thing: I love that they are made locally. No, not the macadamias or the papaya, obviously; Schroeter and Sanctis gather ingredients in their raw form and they roast the nuts, dry the fruits, and bake on the spices (and package everything) down on Elliott Avenue. As days darken and farmers markets dwindle—and as all kinds of jobs continue to be exported to Bangalore and beyond, it feels important to find new and delicious ways of supporting the local economy. (The nut blends are sold at PCC stores, Whole Foods, many "boutique" grocers, and every Target store in the country, including ours. For locations, check the "Find Us" page on In the weeks to come, we'll be highlighting locally made, locally produced foodstuffs in small, regularly-but-irregularly occurring boxes within our food pages under the Shelf Life rubric. NOW, WHILE WE'RE on the subject of locally made goods and services, allow me to right a slight wrong. A reader was surprised ("very surprised") that I did not mention Canlis' new entry, fountain, or the landscaping outside the ladies room—all of which were designed by local garden architect David Pfeiffer—in my column about the look and feel of restaurants. There's a new fountain? Sorry. On my last visit, I was determined to crack the whole ridiculously stealthy and mysterious valet service thing, so all of my attention was focused on the smoke-and-mirroring of the parking crew. I still don't know how they so seamlessly telecommunicate with the front of house staff, and as for not noticing the landscape lighting outside the bathroom, well, I was too busy feeling like a queen.

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