Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Country Mouse in the Big City

This is a blog about upstate NY, since that is where I live and spend most of my time.  However, I made the train ride down to the city this weekend to see some of my favorites, and we did so many fun green things that I'm excited to share!

It started right upon my arrival.  Marisa had bought banana bread and fresh strawberries at the farmer's market to serve as our lunch before the afternoon's festivities (the leftovers would be our pre-brunch breakfast the following day).  The snacks were incredibly delicious, even more so due to Marisa's lovely presentation.

strawberries and banana bread a la Marisa

The following day for brunch (my favorite trip-to-NYC-activity), Marisa took us to a Soho cafe, Spring Street Natural Restaurant.  After a minimal wait, we were able to sit outside on the sidewalk, which is a little treacherous in busy parts of the city, but it was pretty quiet here, so I was able to enjoy my meal and conversation, as well as take in the sights of the city around me.

The menu was full of healthy options, from the food to the drinks.  Refreshments included fresh squeezed juice and organic coffees and teas.  The menu boasts that all meat, poultry, and eggs are free range, grass fed, pastured animals, and no hormones or antibiotics are used.  Berries are seasonal.  And the prices weren't bad!  I got the arugula salad with goat cheese, with a side of poached eggs, and everything about it was amazing- the dressing, the tomatoes, the home-made croutons...yummm.

Marisa got a frittata, and Veronica feasted on the Eggs Florentine with a Blood Orange Bellini, all equally delicious.  If you are in or around the NYC area at all, this is definitely a place to check out if you want to eat organically.  Thanks, Marisa!

*Note:  So far, most of the food I've written about is local organic.  If you live in a big city, "local" is clearly going to have a different definition.  Unless you're growing some herbs and veggies on your balcony or rooftop, you're probably only going to find local food by going to the farmers' markets, where farmers outside of the area will drive in their produce a few times per week.  It's still going to be coming from a distance, but in this case, it will still be in-state, rather than from California or other parts of the world... i.e. much better.  And local is really an ideal; most "normal" people aren't going to live 100% locally, or they'll be giving up things like coffee (and who really is going to do that?  Even Kingsolver broke on that one).  If you can't get something local, the next step back is organic (or free-range, grass-fed, etc.).  This means that at the very least, the food is raised in a way that is helpful to the Earth rather than harmful, healthier for you since it contains more nutrients without pesticides or hormones, and happier for the animal (or plant..?) that gets to grow in a peaceful, healthy environment.  This is still a major difference from traditional supermarket food.  If you can't get organic, then just get as minimally processed and "natural" as you can, meaning check ingredients lists for a few ingredients that you can pronounce.  A good source for tips on supermarket shopping is Michael Pollan's
Food Rules: An Eater's ManualIt's a spin-off, simplified version of his other two books, reducing all of his research and data into easy-to-remember-and-understand "rules" to eating and food shopping.  So far I've read Food Rules (thanks, Jim!) and The Omnivore's Dilemma...good reading if you're interested in this topic, and a catalyst of this blog.  It more thoroughly explains these definitions, as well as providing the scientific support behind local and organic eating habits.  Read them.

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