The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

EcoSalon Shops! (And so Does Alden) June 8, 2010

Friday night my friend Agatha and I went straight from work the the EcoSalon Shops! event downtown. Things got off to a rough start, when a sign on the front door of the address directed us around back to a grimy alley covered in graffiti. (And not the artsy kind.) Agatha and I looked at each other, the dark alleyway, and each other again, wondering what to do.

Luckily another girl was waiting, and she assured us it was the right entrance to Green Spaces, an eco-friendly Coworking space where the event was being held. The heavy metal doors creaked open and we boarded a freight elevator that rumbled slowly up and up. “I bet this place has asbestos,” Agatha mumbled.

“What are you talking about??” the operator of the elevator exploded. “You are here to go to an event, not make unfounded assumptions about whether or not there is asbestos. Every building in New York City is required to be asbestos free….” he went on and on, while Agatha stood mute. Finally we reached the top and he pushed open the doors, still fussing at us. We escaped with relief into a long room packed with racks of clothing, boxes of shoes, tables laid with jewelry and accessories, and fashionable ladies milling about, drinks in hand. I grabbed a glass of wine and went to work perusing the offerings.

Lara Miller

Agatha and I were especially taken by Lara Miller’s hand-loomed pieces, which could be switched around to be almost anything you wanted. Lara modeled this… well, I don’t know what to call it exactly but it’s pretty darn cool. For myself I picked up a simple cream t-shirt with a draped front.

Agatha got into a deep conversation with Lara, so I wandered over to look at….


T-Luxe features beautiful underthings made of organic silk, cotton, and soy fabric. I had read up on the line beforehand, and was already excited to check it out. Tiffany Phipps, the designer, was nice enough to chat with me a bit while I perused her offerings.

“So how does this look under a t-shirt?”

“Not good,” she admitted, “it’s really just loungewear. All that ruching…”

Well, I can dig that. Sometimes a girl just needs to feel pretty, and I can’t think of anything more adorable in which I can beat the summer heat while I “lounge” in my sauna of an apartment. I snagged the panties, the matching bralet, and a camisole as for $95, which is a steal for such high quality stuff! I hope you’re ready for some half nakedness in the apartment, Vicki.

Feisty Elle

We loved the simple and high-quality nature of these laser-cut felt earring from Feisty Elle. While I didn’t get a pair for myself (I have too many earrings that I don’t wear) I could easily see integrating the bright colors into an everyday wardrobe. Leslie Young, the Californian designer, was a sweetheart too! Check out the website, because my pictures just don’t do them justice.


How lovely are all of these pretty baubles from Sara Brancato of Miasunta? All of her materials are either vintage, or sourced from the leftovers in manufacturing processes: extra chains, leftover metals, and vintage keys complete the look of eco-friendly charms.

Fair Vodka

Ever heard of vodka distilled from quinoa? Neither had we, but it is exceptionally smooth. I can say that with confidence because I drank it straight, having come too late for the chocolate martinis that everyone was raving about. You better believe that next time I’m in the market for vodka, I’ll be picking up some of this Fair Trade certified hooch. Luckily enough for me, it’s sold in nine New York City locations including 94th street, only two subway stops from my apartment. You can find a comprehensive list of purveyors here.

Divine Chocolate

Next to the vodka was Divine Chocolate, another component in the chocolate martinis. If you are in Whole Foods and jonesing for some chocolate, you have GOT to pick up a bar. It’s co-owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana, and – most importantly – it’s outrageously delicious. I mean… yeah. It’s amazing.

A Perfume Organic

Lately I’ve been hearing rumblings on how conventional perfume contains harsh chemicals. I’m loathe to give up my Dior perfume, but this stuff made a serious case for the switch. The woman working the A Perfume Organic table encouraged me to rub my fingers on the plants to pick up on the scented oils, then test the corresponding perfume. Each perfume contained several notes anchored by mint or other natural base notes. Who wouldn’t want to smell like a summer garden?

Study NY

I picked up this matching bolero and skirt set from Study NY, which I plan to wear to work sometime soon. Keep a look out!

Rebekah Froberg

Agatha said she was “obsessed” with the pretty gemstones in Rebekah Froberg‘s collection, which are handmade from recycled metals and stones like diamonds, tourmaline, sapphires and topaz.


Agatha loved the beaded detailing and tiers of eco-friendly fabric in this shirt sold at MissionSavvy, and store that donates 5% of profits generated to “a select group of animal welfare and conservation groups.” While we decided the shape of the tank favors those who are a little less endowed in the upper region (it’s hard being us, for sure) you should check out their website, as it seems to have some of the most pretty and practical sustainable pieces I’ve seen in a while.

There were a lot more booths there, that I just can’t cover them all. Here’s a list of designers, stores and products I didn’t particularly care for, but may suit your style:

H. Fredriksso

Feral Childe


Doucette Duvall

Cri de Coeur

Buddha Nose



Zhena’s Gypsy Tea

Juno & Jove

Most of the designers I talked to said their stuff can be found at  Kaight, the eco-friendly and sustainable boutique on the Lower East Side. If not there, you can check out their websites for a list of stockists, and some of them even sell direct on their website.


The Inaugural Meeting of the Picnic Society of New York June 4, 2010

My friend Anne invited me to an awesome picnic in Prospect Park – she plans to make it a monthly thing. Picnics are always great, especially one where everyone brings a childhood favorite. There was ants on a log, cream cheese and strawberry jam sandwiches, homemade bread, lemonade, and much more.


How to Survive a Weekend-Long Assault by Conservatives June 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend: The first good beach weekend of the year. An opportunity, thanks to employers who give a half day or the whole day off on Friday, to escape the city and its 90-degree, gritty air for a fresh breeze and fresh seafood.

For this Clean Hippie, it was also an exercise in restraint.

For the weekend I was invited to Cape Cod by my friend John, along with five others. His parents have ramshackle house on a private beach in Orleans, surrounded by a few acres of woods. It was a perfect place for seven people to try to relive their college days. (That means being loud and inappropriate, in case you’re wondering.)

Anyway, knowing the people who were invited, I KNEW going in that I should avoid politics completely. I didn’t want a repeat of last year, when I got completely frustrated with John over his pro-big business views. Well, John is a Green Peace activist compared to some of the people who were there.

John gave me fair warning before I left. “Just to let you know, the three people you are riding up with are very conservative, and very un-pc,” he told me. The implication? Don’t rock the boat.

Friday I left work at 1 and took the train up to South Norwalk in Connecticut , where I was supposed to be picked up. When I came out of the station into the parking lot, I saw a red SUV come around the corner. “Alden!” yelled the passenger, leaning out the window. I waved and it pulled up in front of me. Drew, the driver and John’s friend from high school, got out to open the trunk for me. Drew would prove to be the quiet one of the bunch, a sort of observer to our rantings. In the front seat was Travis, Drew’s coworker. I couldn’t for the life of me remember his name, so I created the mnemonic “Travesty.”  Let’s just call him large and in charge, and leave it at that. I climbed in the back seat with Travesty’s girlfriend Erin, a pretty brunette.

“We’ve been circling the parking lot for like ten minutes,” she told me. Every time we came around, Travis would yell ‘Alden! Alden? Alllden…’ to every girl that came out front. And then Drew was like, ‘Oh, I think I have her number. Let me call her.’ We were like ‘Oh, NOW you tell us.”

One thing I love about long weekends like this with a group of people, is that by the end of your time together, you have at least five inside jokes that get repeated over and over. One of them for Cape Cod was a sort of impromptu celebration of my name, where everyone would just start saying “Alden? Alllden. Alden!” Great ego boost.

So obviously I took John’s advice really seriously, and about an hour into our trip, I saw the news on my phone that BP’s Top Kill strategy might be working. (Of course it failed later.) I piped up with the news. “I don’t see what the big deal is,” Travesty said. It’s leaking, what, 4,000 barrels a day? I mean, that’s not much in the grand scheme of things.”

“Actually,” I said, “it’s about 40,000 barrels a day.”

“Yeah, she’s right, Travis,” Drew said.

“Ok, whatever. I mean, the Georgia Aquarium alone has over 3 million gallons just in its tanks.” (Actually it has 8 million. But who’s quibbling?) There’s so much water in the gulf, will it really affect anything?”

“Travis, honey,” Erin ventured. “It’s already washing up on the shores.”

“Yeah.” I sputtered. “It’s already coating birds and keeping them from flying.”

“Eh well. I mean it’s not that bad. They just showed a hippie cleaning a seal with a toothbrush on TV, and now everyone is all upset. Come on. You know how many seals there are out there?” Obviously Travis was not yet aware that I call myself a Clean Hippie. Well, he would find out.

We all offered some more feeble explanations of how bad it is, but in the end it degenerated into jokes about how God seems to hate New Orleans.I mean, how hard did I want to fight Travesty about this? He obviously has his mind made up about how he wants to view the world, and that is through the lens of “Me is important. Other, not so much.” That includes seals and the Gulf of Mexico, apparently.

It was a nicely timed incident, coming on the heals of my reading a chapter in Happiness Hypothesis on how we have self serving biases. Apparently, when you are talking to people other than judges, they make decisions not rationally by considering all facts but by choosing a position that feels right and then casting around for facts to support that position. When they find a fact, they stop searching.

So how did I get through this weekend? I had to contend with perfect weather – a Cape record high of 75 and sunny, mojitos, free beer, a trip to a local favorite bar with a live band, and delicious seafood. It was hard, let me tell you.

It’s actually funny how little I have changed since my trip to the Cape last summer. Back then I lamented in my post about not sticking to my no-processed-food guns, and eating lobster rolls and fried seafood. Whoops, did it again!

Hey, I’m irrational just like anyone else. I know that factory farming sucks, both for me and the animal, yet when I see maple-drizzled little piggy sausages and bacon, how can I resist? I’m working on it. Are you tired of my guilt ridden posts on eating consciously yet?

When our little group got there on Friday, we were greeted by John, his friend TJ, and Ryan from W&L, both of whom I’ve metbefore. We packed a cooler with beer, threw it in the back of TJ’s huge SUV, and drove the half mile to the beach where we walked out over the dunes to the water. It was a cool, windy night, and Erin and I shivered as the boys tried to get the fire started. Their solution to the sputtering flames? Lots and lots of lighter fluid.

“I’m not going anywhere near those fumes y’all,” I said.

“Whatever, it’ll burn off,” one of the boys said.

I had found an old brown knit cap with a poof on the top and a brim and had pulled it on my head. “Boy, do you look like a hippie now,” John said. I gave him a grin as I wrapped my arms around myself and edged away from the petroleum scented smoke coming from the pit. But once the fire was good and roaring, we settled in for a couple hours of laughing and talking with only the sound of the waves as our soundtrack. I went to bed early that night when we got back, exhausted from the workweek and the long drive up. I could still hear the laughter and calls drifting up from the basement where everyone was playing beerpong, through the thin floor to me as I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up at nine feeling rested and refreshed. I poured myself a glass of water and wandered out onto the back porch, where the sun rose in a yellow orb above the dunes. I was greeted by a chorus of birdsong and a soft breeze. Inspired, I popped inside for a beach towel and laid it down on the porch. I stood at the edge facing east, and went through the first yoga series, appropriately called “Sun Salutation.” I was stiff, but I quickly loosened in cool air as I stretched and moved through my positions. I never do yoga by myself, but it was a perfect hour for it. By the time I heard people moving around and talking inside I was feeling limber so I joined everyone for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast.

We spent the day at the beach, naturally. The water in Cape Cod is numbingly cold, but I’m a big believer in the therapeutic properties of salt water, so I finally screwed up the courage, let out a banshee yell and sprinted into the water, plunging headfirst into the waves. I was numb when I emerged, but feeling good. We actually saw little groups of seals pass by. “Someone should get Alden a toothbrush,” Travesty quipped. Thanks dude.

When the idea popped into our heads Saturday night that we should go to the bar, all of us were several beers in. The boys had been playing a frisbee game called Kan Jam in the fading light while the girls, including John’s cousin Anne who had just joined us, perched on the railing to watch. Every once in a while one of they guys would shout, “Nancy! Beer me!” and I would toss a Bud Light to them. (They called me Nancy after Nancy Pelosi.)

After yanking on some presentable clothing, we went to Land Ho, where we all ordered draught beers. That is, except for Travesty. He walked over to us carrying a martini with three olives with such a serious “I’m James Bond” look on his face I barely contained my laughter. Especially since just an hour before he had been wrestling with the other guys in a cross between a drunk bear and a sumo wrestler.

Someone ordered tequila shots for everyone. We tossed them back and I quickly bit down on my lime with a shudder. As I pulled it from my mouth, I heard a cough and felt a thick spray of tequila on my face.

I turned to see where it had come from, and there stood Travesty gazing at me with what only can be described as no expression at all. “What the hell is wrong with you??” I yelled at him, totally losing my zen.

“Woah, Alden,” Erin said. “He didn’t mean it.”

“Uh, can someone hand me a napkin?” an unfortunate bystander said. Behind me, another girl who the boys had been chatting up at the bar stormed off, yelling about tequila on her face.

Meanwhile, Erin and Travesty had exited the bar. I didn’t find out until later that Erin was outside bawling, she was so upset at my reaction. Whoops. Travesty came in later and apologized, and I accepted his apology. I didn’t dwell on it, instead launching myself onto the dance floor with Ryan for another hour.

When we got back to the house we heated up queso for some chips which we ate out on the back porch. Our conversation degenerated into an argument about whether Americans are too stupid to decide what to feed themselves.

If Travesty showed an enormous amount of ignorance, TJ boasted an enormous reservoir of facts and figures about the ridiculousness of unions, the percentage of crimes in Arizona that are attributed to Hispanics, the number of jobs lost versus gained by shifts to a greener economy, and on and on and on. Smart kid. His arguments were convincing, even if the logic seemed to be all off. I struggled, knowing my own biases, to give his arguments for Arizona’s new law a fair shake. TJ did not return the favor, instead he would all but stop up his ears and say “Lalala, I can’t hear liberals!”

One point of contention was the impending soda tax and the ban on salt in NYC restaurants. I think the ban on salt is stupid. The reason Americans eat too much sodium is that they eat too much processed foods.  But anyway, even though I told TJ this over and over, “Yes, TJ, I agree with you. Yes, it’s stupid,” he still couldn’t get it through his skull that I’m not a crazy liberal who kowtows to every Democratic initiative. He also didn’t believe me when I told him that a cheeseburger is cheaper in this country than a head of broccoli. I tried to abbreviate Michael Pollan’s argument about corn subsidies, but I wasn’t getting anywhere with TJ. He literally said, “I don’t believe you.” My goodness.

John repeatedly entreated me to “Just let it go.” And Travesty stood up in anger and told me I should just move to Europe if I hate America so much. (The next day he would argue that landfills are good because they create jobs.) Drew just shook his head at me, Don’t bother. I looked down at the chip dripping with yellow fake cheese in my hand, set it down, and retreated inside to a corner of the living room. I sat, reading another chapter of Happiness Hypothesis about the Buddhist exhortation to break worldly attachments. That nothing is really that important. Man, that book is good. As I read I felt my heart rate slow, I relaxed into the old crocheted chair. The book also extolls the wonderful effects of meditation on happiness, so I decided I needed to meditate as soon as possible. Finally, with my calm restored, I got up and went to bed. I still had the icky, hypocritical taste of chips and queso in my mouth though.

The next morning I got up with a new resolve. I set myself up on the back porch again to do yoga, and when I finished, I sat cross-legged and meditated for 15 minutes, listening to bird song, feeling the warm sun on my face, and repeating the words “Gratitude” to myself. What shouldn’t I be grateful for? How could I let a couple of die-hard conservatives ruin such a beautiful weekend? At the end of my meditation, I felt completely reset and refreshed, and ready for a day at the beach, with or without political rants. Most everyone else went to get a huge breakfast at a diner, but I opted to stay behind, having discovered all the ingredients for a smoothie were already in the fridge and freezer. Score!

We spent another day at the beach, getting nice and brown/red under the warm Cape sun and dunking ourselves in the water. I just wanted to wash the tequila out of my hair, to be honest. At one point, as I laid on the beach with TJ, Erin, Ryan, and Drew, and Ryan, the political debate started up again. I engaged for a couple minutes, then just gave up. TJ continued to cite examples of democratic stupidity. “He’s still going, isn’t he?” I mumbled to Ryan 15 minutes later.

“I heard that,” TJ said from his beach chair. He went back to ranting to Erin and Drew. I just sighed and flipped over, staring at the blue sky above.

For dinner we went to Arnold’s, a fried seafood mecca. I opted for steamers, fried Maryland Oysters, and a diet soda. I took three sips of the soda and dumped it. It didn’t even taste good to me anymore. Despite that small moment of lucidity, by the time I was done stuffing my face with fried food, I felt sick. Everyone was so lethargic when we got back, we all passed out by 10 pm.

The next day I woke up at 6:30 in the morning. Ryan joined me on the porch, quietly sipping coffee and gazing out at the shore while I went through my Sun Salutation, and then he good-naturedly agreed to meditate with me for ten minutes. I thought that was really nice of him. I completed my perfect morning with another homemade smoothie, and a refreshing shower in the outdoors in a little wooden and slate stall John’s dad built.

Overall I would say it was a good weekend, despite all the contention. I feel rested and restored, and – most importantly – brown from the sun. I shook hands with Travesty when he left, though I wouldn’t say we are going to be friends. I gave Erin and Drew a hug goodbye, and I’m now finally Facebook friends with TJ. My opinion of Ryan and John soared, as they seemed to be sane voices among the crazy. They may not be liberals, but at least they seemed to have brains.

And that, my friends, is how I survived a weekend among the enemy.

Bonus: the funniest video ever that was our weekend soundtrack. You better believe we did the Fork in the Garbage Disposal over and over.


Brooklyn = Where It’s At April 11, 2010

Filed under: events,Food,Places to go — Alden @ 1:37 am
Tags: , , ,

How many times have I talked about Brooklyn? Seriously, everything that I love happens there. From the edgiest parties, to the most forward-thinking urban renewal and gardening projects, to the most memorable shopping experiences, Brooklyn is where you go when you want to get away from the touristy, see-and-be-seen, rejected-at-the-door, mass-produced and massively overpriced crap that is Manhattan. Brooklyn is infamous for hipsters, but there is a softer side to what many call faux-hemian, and underneath the earnestness is a protest against what society forces on us: that we need to go broke on perfect outfits, that we are all striving for a job in finance, and that you don’t count if you don’t own a car. I can get down with that.

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve already taken the 2 down there twice. It’s a long trip – an hour or more – with the 2 stopping at every single station along the way because of construction. It’s painful. But worth it!

Last night I went down to BK to meet up with a college friend for dinner and a party. She brought along her friend Ariel, a pretty aristocrat-cum-hippie with blond dreads and plenty of stories to tell. We had dinner at a little Oaxacan (read: southern Mexico) restaurant called Chiles y Chocolate. Ariel just visited Oaxaca for a wedding, and told us that Chiles and chocolate are what Oaxaca is known for.

The restaurant was a far cry from Don Tequilas in Lexington, where my college friends and I would stuff our faces and then spend the rest of the day moaning over our distended stomachs. (Or if you were member of a certain sorority, nonchalantly purging your stomach of all that cheese and questionable white sauce.) Chiles y Chocolate has seductive lighting, fresh flowers at the tables, and filling food that eschews grease for grease’s sake. I’m told they serve delicious hot chocolate as well, naturally.

We sat in the back outdoors room, with just some draped cloth and tarp between us and the biting wind outside. In the middle of the meal I finally ceded to the chill and pulled my jacket back on. But I enjoyed a glass of Yellowtail chardonnay, which they of course took the trouble of describing for us as buttery and smooth, with notes of blah blah. Or you could get the Turning Leaf, with aromas of fresh citrus-like lemon and lime. Love it. After my meal of shrimp and diced fruit, I felt full yet comfortable. We left the restaurant and walked to the apartment in the Park Slope neighborhood, Ariel walking her bike alongside. Have I told you that I really want a bike? More on that later. After she wrestled the bike into submission under a lock, we got buzzed into the bottom floor of a row house.

It was a typical Brooklyn party: low on fashion, high on unknown and upbeat music. The host mixed us fancy whisky drinks and bonded with me over our love of Hype Machine, which he used as his playlist. I love weird music, by the way. At parties I have trouble concentrating on the conversation sometimes when there is a good song on.

I went home early though, as fun as it was. I had gone out hard and late Thursday night, and by 12:30 my eyelids were sticky and heavy, and I was being a huge bore.

Today I was back in Park Slope with Vicki. It was opening day at Brooklyn Flea, and I was pumped. First we stopped by Beacon’s Closet so I could drop of some clothes for consignment. They took my bag of stuff and told me to come back in an hour. I already had an idea of what they would choose. In there I had a short-sleeved, pink, Members Only jacket and an acid washed denim vest. Both of them were relics of a time when I had some idea of my being a pseudo-hipster, uber fashionable New Yorker. Ha. Now I know better. As much as Sartorialist and LookBook are fun to look at, I’m much better suited to simple yet classic cardigans, oxfords and ballet flats. C’est la vie.

After that, we beat it up to the market, cooing at the adorable boutiques, blossoming pear trees, and delicious-looking fair from the coffee shops and cafes. We stopped on the way to find a bathroom in the mall and Vicki went into the McDonalds to use it there. Oh, man, talkabout depressing. It was a gorgeous day outside, yet that stupid fast food restaurant in a mall was packed with families. I watched in disgust as the chubby mother of a wailing toddler stuffed handfuls of fries in her mouth and slurped a coke while she gossiped with her friend. I finally turned and fled the madness, waiting for Vicki outside.

When we got the market, the placed was packed. I stopped by to say hi to Monkey, who’s lovely jewelry from salvaged records makes me drool everytime. He told me there were close to 10,000 people there for opening day. The sun was so bright I had to squint to see the wares. In between browsing the racks of clothing and flipping through prints, I gobbled up a chicken dog with kimchi topping, a stroop waffle, and an almond and pear torte. Vicki said everytime she would see me I would be munching on something. Well, you know, that’s how I roll.

I also came this close to buying a sweet, old road bike. I’ve been mulling over for a while the idea of biking to work everyday. I’m a block away from Riverside Park, and my work is all the way over on 11th Avenue as well, so I could largely avoid having to deal with the dangers of cycling – getting doored or getting straight up hit by a taxi – by cycling all the way down the West Side on the bike path. Plus my apartment building has bike storage and my work has showers and a storage locker. Could it be any easier? I need to get some exercise somewhere. Cuz what I’m doing right now isn’t working.

The guy at the bicycle stand guided me to a road bike, because he says the one-speed cruisers with leather seats that the hipsters favor aren’t much for commuting. They’re as heavy as they are cute. Vicki finally talked me out of buying anything, pointing out that I should probably get my ducks in a row as far as reserving some space in the basement and figuring out where the bike storage actually is at work first. The fact that she would have to deal with my taking it home on the subway might have had something to do with it as well.

My only purchase was 3 embroidered handkerchiefs at a dollar each. I’ve stopped buying those little tissue packets, because it’s a waste of money and trees. Plus doesn’t using a pretty handkerchief look so much nicer than paper?

We didn’t leave the market until all of the vendors were packing up their stuff at five.  Now, as I write this back in my apartment, the orange sunset is flaring up behind the skyline of water towers and steeples on the Upper West Side. It’s beautiful, but really, if it weren’t for my awesome roommate and the time I’ve spent putting together a beautiful room, not to mention my two closets, I would be down in Park Slope in a second.


Register now for a great fundraising event! April 10, 2010

Filed under: events,news,shoutout — Alden @ 11:31 pm
Tags: , ,

I was forwarded this email from a friend. I’m registering now. If I can’t go, then I know my money is still going to a good place!

Hi guys,

This year, I’m co-chairing the annual GlamourGals Foundation event.  To refresh your memory, GlamourGals was founded by Rachel Doyle (Cornell ’05), and works to build compassionate teen leaders through service with the elderly.
We’re very excited to announce our upcoming event!
Glamour in the City
Thursday, May 13
26 Little West 12th Street
For only $25, not only are you donating to charity (all of the proceeds go directly back to improve programming for our teen girls), but you get all of the following amazing stuff!
– Drink all the free Patron, Ultimat, and Yuengling you want from 7-8pm (That’s probably worth more than $25 right there!)
– Get a $25 gift certificate to Butterfield 8 when you walk through the door
– You can enter to win a NYC weekend Staycation at the Loews Regency Hotel
– Mix your own perfume with Aromachology
This is going to be a super fun event – free booze, live DJ, and tons of hot New Yorkers!  And of course, lots of your super awesome Cornell friends will be there!
I know it seems really early to commit to this, but, trust me, you do not want to miss out on this great price!  Only $25 until March 31.  Then tickets jump up to $50!
Registration will take you less than a minute.  Click here to register today!
I would love to see you all come out to this great event and support a great cause!

There’s a society-upending movement afoot April 7, 2010

Does it have a name? I’m not sure. It’s part Urban Agriculture, part Back to the Land, part Slow Food, part sustainability. It’s all of those things wrapped up in a deep need by modern Americans to fix what has gone wrong with our food system. I would call it a Food Revolution, but Jamie Oliver stole that name for his new show.

Yup, Oliver’s new show is part of the movement too. It follows him as he attempts to repair the way people eat in one the fattest towns in America, located in West Virginia. In the first episode last Friday, he attacked the lunch system in the school by banishing sugury milk and teaching the elementary school students how to use forks and knives. He also tries to get a family to eat better. It’s a sad sight to see, as an obese mother weeps with relief when she finds out that her middle schooler isn’t diabetic. Yet.

The night before I attended a fundraiser for BK Farmyards, a new urban garden networks that wants to transform the way people in Brooklyn shop for and eat food. As I sipped spicy magaritas with my friend Anne, who works at Idealist, we watched films that all seemed to drive home one crucial point: “Agribusiness, you stupid motherf***ers, we are coming for you.”

Ok, the f-bomb wasn’t necessary. It was more peace and love, naturally. But what I saw in those movies energizes me. More than ever I want to dig my hands into the soil, and at the end of a season pull out a carrot. My very own carrot that I grew myself, on my own land.

One quote in particular got me, from the movie Garden Cycles:

I have kids who come to Middlebury College from the lap of luxury, and pay $160 thousand in tuition, and all they want to do is farm.

What this says to me is that more and more people are getting real pleasure and happiness from turning down that desk job and digging in the dirt. Another person in the film commented on the American myth that farming is one of the most undesirable jobs out there. Yeah, it’s undesirable if you are being driven out of business by massive industrial farming companies. But it can bring real satisfaction to bring home the bacon in a more than just a metaphorical sense.

Other tidbits picked up from this adorable little event:

  • Farmers Markets are the fastest growing part of the food economy, and are growing even faster than Wal-Mart
  • Almost half of New York City’s waste is food
  • “Master Composter” is an actual, honest-to-god title, with an education to go with it
  • My next volunteer opportunity should totally be with the Familia Verde in the bronx, who run a community garden in one of the driest food deserts in the nation

There is so much more on this subject. For starters, read a Michael Pollan book. Or read the latest, wide-ranging articles on the subject of real food here, here, and here.


Happy Easter! April 4, 2010

In my Easter basket from Scott:

1 chocolate crab (mini. Apparently they sell regulation size “keepers”: 5.5 inches across)

1 peanut butter egg

2 chocolate covered oreos

1 iPod (a reference to my iPhone which Scott is always trying to pry out of my fingers for 5 seconds)

1 chocolate covered Twinkie.

1 VHS of Romeo & Juliet, my favorite movie! We’re going to watch it later today.

Scott texted me a couple days back and said that he found something he thought I would like, but wasn’t sure I would eat. I told him to go ahead and get it, and discovered today that it was the Twinkie, the symbol of all that is chemically processed. Whatever, I ate it. At least he reused an old basket? Plus that Twinkie was delicious. Don’t judge.

Everything was from two local chocolate shops on the Eastern Shore: Oh My Chocolate and Chesapeake Chocolate. Check out their websites, especially Oh My Chocolate. That place has a lot of goodies that makes me both disappointed I did not get them all (hello chocolate covered Nutter Butters and chocolate and marshmallow caramel apples!), and grateful that Scott had the foresight to edit the selection. Or else his girlfriend would make herself sick on chocolate!