The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

My Weekend at Fire Island June 29, 2010

With one of our Summer Friday’s conveniently synced up, Mike and I decided a getaway was in order. We tossed around some ideas. I tentatively suggested driving down to Lexington, where I went to school. After all, it’s a great summer spot: a sleepy little town with some lovely restaurants, incredible hiking, tubing down the river with a cooler of beer, wine tasting, and my good friend Dinah who is studying for her CPA all summer and who could probably use some distracting. Too bad it’s a bit of a far drive.

We also tossed around the idea of Delaware. And then we looked at Montauk at the tip of Long Island. I wanted a beach that we could get to by train, and once there not require any other mode of transportation. Once she heard this, Mike’s sister insisted we try Fire Island.

It was a perfect choice. Most people know Fire Island as a gay destination. In fact, I first heard of it over a long brunch with a gay friend of a friend. Sites about Fire Island like to claim that Cherry Grove, the gay destination, is family friendly, but as my friend’s gay uncle told her, “We would totally invite you out to our house, but…you’re not gay!” Can’t be more clear than that.

Our destination would be Ocean Beach, a tiny little town that is more conventional. No cars are allowed, which is super exciting for a smog-breathing city girl like myself. There’s a long beach, and plenty of restaurants and bars.

Early Friday morning Mike and I hopped the train out of Penn station to Bay Shore, where we caught the ferry across. From Penn Station to the dock took all of two and half hours. Mike had secured us a cheap (by Ocean Beach standards) apartment for the weekend. Great move, because the hotels there are insanely expensive, and feature communal bathrooms and “gross” rooms. Our apartment was much larger than we even needed, with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom. The best part is that it was less than twenty paces from the dock, right above the convenience store, and a thirty second walk from the nearest bar.

It was a perfect day for the beach, with hot sunshine and wispy clouds jetting across the sky. We dumped our stuff, changed, and walked the quarter mile down the sidewalks, past the little summer cottages with cute names and, as we got closer, large modern houses fronting the water. My goal had been to be on the beach and stripped down to my bikini by 11 AM, and I’m happy to report we only missed the mark by a half hour. Best of all, the beach was practically empty. I can’t say much about the next three hours, except that I took full advantage of my tanning time and the therapeutic qualities of salty sea water. As more people arrived from the mainland, the beach filled up to the point where we had to listen to someone else’s conversation. Horror.

When I felt my skin start to turn from medium rare to well done, we walked back to town, had a late lunch, took a long nap, had dinner, and went out for drinks, all the while wandering about the island with stars in our eyes, sand in our hair, and empty wallets.

Yup, Ocean Beach is crazy expensive. Our lunch at Island Mermaid of crab cakes, a tuna burger, steamers, and a couple of tropical drinks set us back more than $80. We split a delicious lobster for dinner at Matthews with a modest appetizer of – count em – five shrimp, paired with some Red Wagon Fire Island ale and pricey $14 cocktails, and that set us back more than a hundred. Each beer itself cost at least $8, if not more. We just shrugged it off. After all, it’s hard to get worked up about something after waking up from a delicious nap and walking a hundred yards to watch the waves lap up against the dock, rocking the boats in their slips, while sipping fruity cocktails. Not a car horn could be heard.

The rest of the weekend went similarly. I had grand plans to go to Hands Across the Sand, but we quickly learned that Ocean Beach is cut off from the surrounding area. You have to walk along the beach to get to anywhere. So I gave up my lofty plans of hiking and engaging in a protest against BP, and resigned myself to doing nothing of value whatsoever. It was wonderful.

Friday night after dinner we walked along the beach and then cut back to town along a road no bigger than a golf course sidewalk. A long siren rose up in front of us. A good ten minutes later, as we approached the firehouse, a tiny fire truck pulled out out and drove off toward town. It was about the size of an ambulance. “Oh wow, I wish I had my camera!” I cried after seeing the five firemen clinging to the back of the little thing, all lit up with flashing lights.

“If a house was on fire, it’s no longer there,” said older man with yarmulka to the fireman who had been left behind. The fireman shrugged. “It’s a barbecue.” Such is island life.

We next went to the Sand Bar, which takes the Bridge/Tunnel crowd prize. Mike is originally from Long Island, but has gotten pretty far away from that scene. We danced a bit, but I didn’t feel up to the task of competing with all the sexy dresses on the Long Island ladies. After all, I had heard that Fire Island is super casual, so I had just brought a couple pairs of shorts and some casual tops. Not a form fitting dress and sky high heels. Mike just gaped at the bros pumping their fists in time with Biggie Smalls. We stuck around long enough for a truly disgusting “Midnight Makeout” shot, and then beat it.

Saturday morning I woke up early and went for a long jog while Mike slept off his lingering cold. When I got back to the apartment, I popped downstairs to the convenience store to get a pricey pint of milk for the granola I had brought from Manhattan, and a single serving of orange juice. Together they set me back $6.

I noticed, as Mike and I ate breakfast, that the milk proudly proclaimed “From Real Cows!” Uh, what else would it be made of? Oh, how far I had fallen from free-range, organic, grass fed, local, farmers market milk from Milk Thistle farm. Here I was drinking a milk whose best feature was that it was from an actual cow. Mike and I cracked jokes about the real cows.

“Bacon! From real pigs!”

“Apples! From real trees!”

“Orange juice! From real oranges,” Mike quipped.

“Actually, that’s not much of a joke anymore,” I lamented.

For our strenuous activity of the weekend, we decided to rent bikes. We paid $25 each and walked our bikes through town. There are rules against riding bikes within the city limits on weekends and holidays. At the eastern edge we took off, rolling leisurely along the paths shaded by bamboo, beach fragmite, rose bushes, and fragrant honeysuckle. About twenty minutes into our ride, we came up against a fence. We biked south and tried another road. Locked as well. As a nice young mom told us, the other side was a gated community. So much for our strenuous bike ride. We biked back to town, walked through, and rode past the game middle aged men playing baseball until we were stopped once again by a lack of anywhere to go.

So we did the whole loop again. We tried one more time to get into the fancy gated community, but no one would help us out.  So we stopped on the way back by a little deserted hut called Park Pizza.  As we waited at the counter for someone to come out, I started at the sight of a chihauha perched on a stool, peeping out from behind the counter.

“Bertie,” a disheveled, blond, middle-aged woman said, walking out from the back room.

Mike and I shot each other a confused look. “What?”

“Bertie,” she said again, and pointed to the chihuahua. “Oh!” I said. “Hi Bertie!” The little dog stared at me disinterestedly. He didn’t want to make the effort to climb up the counter to be petted, no matter how many kissy and cooing noises I made.

We ordered a few slices of pizza, and I ordered a Diet Pepsi. You know I’m not a soda drinker, but it seemed like the perfect occasion for it, if there ever was one.

I can’t really vouch for the sanitary conditions of the pizza shack, with a kitchen that could be more aptly described as a junkyard, but the pizza was pretty good, especially with sweet peppers on top. It was nice to eat it while leaning back in the sunshine, watching joggers, golf carts, parents pulling red wagons, and kids on bikes go by.

After turning our overpriced bikes back in, we stopped in at Ice Castle candy shop which also had ice cream and fudge. “Is your ice cream made in-house?” I inquired. No use wasting calories on Edy’s or Hershey’s. “It’s not made in house, but it is homemade,” the girl assured me, from micro-batches by a local place called…Steve’s? Steven’s? I wish I remembered! I got myself a scoop of cake batter and a scoop of funfetti on top. It was like eating ice cream cake, but BETTER. I felt like a little girl again, when Mike paid for it and we sat outside on bench, him watching me with an amused expression while I tried to keep it from melting all over my hands.

We passed the afternoon with the US-Ghana World Cup game at the Island Mermaid, then dinner at McGuires (best view in Ocean Beach, though the service was horrendous), and finally a walk through dark paths to the beach. We occasionally passed a house where we could hear drunken shouts and music coming from inside, but mostly it was a peaceful, humid night. We drank beers on the beach, watching the waves slide back and forth underneath the yellow moon, until the beach was overrun with shrieking, drunk, high school girls and boys from Long Island taking flash photos, and we retreated back to our apartment.

I started my day on Sunday late. Well, late for me. I woke up at 9, eating some berries for breakfast and then walked downstairs and five steps outside of my door to Healing Waters Massage for my 10:00 appointment. A little blond lady was behind the desk. She was like what Marilyn Monroe would sound like, if she had reached 50, with a high-pitched, nervous flutter of a voice. “I’m just filling in for my friend,” she told me. “She’s at a wedding this weekend.”

She introduced me to Chris, my very handsome and tan masseuse. I want to say he had an Australian accent, but I think I’m just making that up. Yeah, I am.

He led me to the back room with the table and left me there to get ready, closing the door behind me. I pulled off my coverup which left me with just my bikini. I looked at the table with the folded-down sheet, and then down at myself. I hesitantly opened the door and peeked out. “Um, Jane?” I called. “Yes dear?” she said, popping around the corner.

“I’m supposed to go under the sheet, right?” I asked.


“And um, am I supposed to get naked?”

Just then Chris appeared. “Oh, yes!” Jane nodded at me eagerly. “Jane,” Chris cut in placing a hand on her arm,”let me handle this – ”

“Oh! I – sorry – I just – ” She burst into a fit of nervous giggles. I started laughing too, and she just giggled louder, and then threw her arms around me in a bear hug. Finally Chris shooed her away, and told me that yes, I could get naked, but only if I was comfortable with it. I thanked him, went back in, and got naked, nervously scooting myself under the sheet.

Luckily Chris was super professional, and pretty good too. He massaged out all my cubicle dweller kinks quite nicely, and I emerged relaxed and smelling like essential oil, ready to hit the beach again. (Luckily, Mike is not the jealous type.) I met him at the Mermaid bar, where he was watching a Cup game. Well, first I stopped to get a square of peanut butter and chocolate fudge from Ice Castle. Then we headed to the beach for another lazy afternoon, hiding our Red Stripe from passing lifeguards by creating a tent out of the beach rules they passed out. Rules like “No throwing balls or playing frisbee,” and “no food, drinks, or water.” What?

Mike had mentioned several times he is not the beach type. As I read my yoga magazine and tried not to snigger at the power of prayer to heal tumors, I realized he was talking to me.
“Hmmm, what?” I said, distracted.

“I think I actually do like the beach,” he said. “All I’ve ever been to are the really crowded beach on Long Island that are drivable. You don’t have any space. But this is great.” I’m glad I could show him the light.

We ended our weekend with chicken wings and sweet potato fries while watching the Argentina-Mexico Cup game, and then a couple of tropical drinks by the bay. We boarded the ferry well-rested and happy.

“It was really fun,” I told Mike as the ferry growled its way back to the mainland and the breeze whipped through my salty, crunchy hair, “But I’m ready to go.”

Indeed, we had run out of things to do. I guess we could have eaten and drank more, but three days was the perfect amount of time to spent in this tiny secluded island town.


Food Washing: Like Greenwashing, but grosser June 22, 2010

Have you read In Defense of Food yet? If you have, then you know the injecting Froot Loops with calcium and vitamin D doesn’t do bumpkus for your health. I mean, that should be obvious. But apparently it doesn’t take much to convince people that it’s OK to feed their kids sugary cereal and Wonder Bread for every meal.

The healthiest and happiest people know that in order to get your vitamins in minerals, you should just go ahead and eat whole foods: fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and humanely-raised meat. Science doesn’t fully understand how vitamins nutrients interact to help or hinder each other within the body. So pulling out one vitamin and saying it might prevent cancer is like saying holding hands and singing kumbaya might prevent a war.

Tell that to the food industry. Now that people are starting to become dimly aware that you need to eat healthy to lose weight, food companies are flailing about, trying to make their crap offerings appear not-so-bad. According to this post on ecosalon, there is nothing to prevent a packaged food brand from making all sorts of crazy claims. Do women actually believe Crystal Light will boost immunity. Guess what drains your immunity? Chemically derived sugars. Wait, isn’t that what Crystal Light is made of?

Ok, sorry. I’m being harsh. Sometimes we just want an excuse to eat what we want to eat. You better believe that if Reese’s said “Made with Real Peanuts!” I would be like, “Hell yeah, that counts as my vegetable for the day!” But still, I think we should be aware of what kind of messages are being used to manipulate us.

Read the post for more goodies like:

  • “Lightly sweetened Frosted Mini Wheats, which are 20% sugar by volume
  • Healthy Choice minestrone soup, which is only “healthy” if you eat half a cup, their recommended serving size. The actual bowl is twice that, and packs a huge punch of sodium.
  • Rice Krispies boost immunity. Really Kellogg’s?

The FDA has only gone as far as to send warning letters to some of the offending parties. In absence of any sort of regulation, I’ve given you a five step process for sorting through the claims of food manufacturers.

1. Read all labels carefully. Keep a look out for claims like “reduces risk of cancer,” “lowers cholesterol,” “weight challenge,” or anything similar.

2. Laugh heartily.

3. Set box back down, walk to the outside aisles of your grocery store.

4. Fill bags with fruit, vegetables, bulk grains,  and freshly butchered cuts of lean meat.

5. Go cook something. Anything. Stick a potato in the oven with olive oil. Throw some brown rice in a pot with soy sauce and chopped onions and carrots. Whatever, just don’t believe a word of what those fools tell you.


ADORABLE ALERT: Pocket Guide to Produce Pesticides June 21, 2010

Can’t afford to buy everything organic, but still concerned about pesticides on your produce? Carry this adorable guide in your wallet, which tells you the dirty dozen of pesticides, and the cleanest too!

(Click the image to download)


Get Sophisticated at a Wine Bar

wine at the Tangled Vine on the Upper West Side in NYCThere’s something that seems so much more natural about wine versus other alcohols. Somehow, when it comes to enjoying an eco-friendly buzz, the harsh burn of vodka – no matter how organic it is – doesn’t compare to the fruity and smoky undertones of a wine from upstate.

As luck would have it, I’ve found myself at four different wine bars over the past month or so.  Perhaps I’m just turning into an old fogey, but suddenly I think I like wine bars way better than fratty sports bars that reek of PBR.

Let’s be clear: I know next to nothing about wines. If you gave me a blind taste test, I could identify Riesling, Chardonnay, and…”Red,” and that’s the extent of my expertise. But who doesn’t want to learn more about wines? A wine bar is the second most fun way to do so, behind visiting the winery itself and before ducking into a knowledgeable wine shop.

Bar #1: The first wine bar I visited was when I first started dating Mike. We spent the day at Brooklyn Botanic gardens, and in between that and going to his friends’ barbeque we stopped at Total Wine Bar on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. It’s a simple layout, with bench seating in the front, and u-shaped bar at the back. It was in the afternoon, so every seat was filled at the bar while the rest of the place was empty. I suspect we would have gotten the full experience if we could have fit in at the bar (where everyone seemed to know each other) and chatted with the sommelier, but alas Mike just got a couple glasses and we were relegated to the loser bench at the front to have a party with ourselves. We finished our glasses and moved on.

Bar #2: About two weeks ago my mind was wandering at work, and I realized something. I texted Mike. “We’ve never gotten drunk together!”

How did that happen? What a change from college, where it seemed guys would only talk to you if you had been prepped with three cups of warm Natty Light. And now here I was, six weeks deep into a new relationship and we hadn’t even had a “What happened last night,” moment. I mean, it’s not like we hadn’t drank together, but we hadn’t been taking shots together either.

I wasn’t sure whether I felt lame (what happened to the party girl??) or proud (I can get a guy to hang out with me when he’s sober!) [Clarification: I have, in fact, dated other guys who not only take me on dates when they are sober, but don’t drink at all. My standards aren’t that low.] Either way, it was time to remedy this lapse. After all, you never really know a person until you’ve seen their drunk side, in my opinion. So we decided to get wasty-face together.

True to form, Mike sent me an email with the link to The Castello Plan, a wine bar only a couple blocks from his apartment. At first I was taken aback, and told him so. “I was thinking some place, with, you know, shots?” But he insisted it is a great place and promised if we started slow we could kick it up a notch later at other nearby bars.

Mike managed to recruit a couple friends to meet us. “Don’t worry,” he said. “All I do is drink with Bobby and Danna. They’ll be the perfect company for the night.”

Game on.

So Mike and I showed up at The Castello Plan at eight on a Friday. His friends were running late so we went ahead and waved a guy over to our table who looked like he worked there. “Hey, my name’s Ben,” he said. “What can I get for you?”

“We’re not sure what we want,” I said. “Can you recommend a red?” (I’ve been really into reds lately.)

“Sure, would you like something really fruity and and full-bodied? Or something lighter?” We asked for lighter, and he left and returned with three bottles and three big glasses. “I’m going to have some with you,” he said. He lined up the bottles in a row. “Fuller to lightest,” he said, indicating left to right. As he set about uncorking the bottles, he started telling us about how he had just shaved his beard off that morning. Random, I know, but he seemed nice (ok, and cute) and I complimented him on his fresh look. He pointed to the large round table in the corner, where an older guy held court telling a story to a rapt audience of five other people. “That’s the borough president,” he said. I was duly impressed.

“You live near here?” he asked Mike. Mike said yes. “And you two..don’t live together?” Ben said, arching his eyebrows, sliding his glass in a circle over the wooden surface of the table to swirl the wine.

“No,” I shook my head, blushing. Mike told me later he was convinced Ben was hitting on me, but I told him he was just making conversation.

Ben poured the three glasses. “This one is medium-bodied, with a fresh berry flavor,” he told us. Mike and I dutifully put our noses in the glass to smell, but Ben had already knocked his wine back. I was surprised by his short description and short work of the wine.

He poured the next glasses, again gave a short description, and then poured it into his mouth. Ok, now I was convinced he had been smoking or drinking beforehand. I shot Mike an amused look. Ben waited for we slow pokes to finish our glasses, poured the third wine with another curt description, and finished it. “The second one,” I said. Mike agreed, and Ben filled our glasses and left us with a delicious bottle.

Soon Bobby and Danna joined us. We ordered food, a cheese and charcuterie platter with high quality sausages like wild boar. Wild boar! Just like Michael Pollan! Mike and I also ordered a duck spread, whose fatty deliciousness melted over the crackly bread and in our mouths. We tried I bite of Bobby and Danna’s sweet potato dish – delicious – and then a dessert of chocolate tulips.

By that time other tables had come and gone as we drank and talked and laughed. We paid our bill and wandered down the street to another bar, the Solo Lounge to get a shot, and then dispersed for the night. I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t stay out past 2 in the morning on our drunk night, but c’est la vie. Anyway, I can assure you we did reach our goal, because neither of us remember that picture being taken.

Bar #3: Agatha (@alutoborski) tweeted this last week:

This place looks like it’s up @AldenWicker’s alley. Wine + eco + UWS. Trifecta!

I agreed. Agatha, who works with me at Ogilvy, lives on the Upper West Side too, so by the next Thursday we were there.

It’s a fairly large place but was pretty crowded, so the hostess put us at a communal table. The wine list was printed on computer paper and housed in a cheap picture album, but at least it was extensive, going on for pages and pages. I scoured it for a biodynamic wine, but failing to find one by the glass, I settled for an organic red.

We were so close to our neighbors and the the place was so loud that at one point Agatha had to apologize to the older ladies to our left for talking too loudly. Every time someone had to get up, everyone had to climb down from their stool and stand to the side to let them pass.

We ordered a couple light plates, meant to be shared, of asparagus and pea risotto and organic veal meatballs. “If it’s organic, does that mean it’s humanely raised? Or just that it was stuff with organic corn?” I asked Agatha. She is just as into this stuff as I am.

“Who knows,” she said, spooning the last of the risotto onto my plate while I unsuccessfully tried to wave her off. “I feel like none of these labels really mean anything.”

I shrugged and waved down the waiter to refill our glasses. At least the food was delicious. After reading the reviews on Yelp, I concluded that the best experience would be at the bar, where one could have a conversation with the sommelier about wines. The check came and our eyes bugged out a little. I realized it was my organic wine that did it, at $14 a glass. Ouch.

Bar #4:

Friday Mike and I went to Angelika to see MicMacs by the director of Amelie (See it! Adorable!!) And afterward we casted around for someplace to go for dinner. I looked through my long list of saved emails from Tasting Table, Refinery 29, Daily Candy, and Thrillist. (I like email lists, so sue me.) “There’s a pizza place that’s supposed to be good near hear,” I told Mike. “You read my mind. I was just thinking I wanted pizza,” he said. So we walked to Otto Enoteca.

I wasn’t expecting such a fancy place! Dark wood, a fully stocked wine bar, menus printed on heavy stock recycled paper… Turns out it is Mario Batali’s “cheap” place.

It was almost ten, and the hostess said it was a forty minute wait. We balked a bit, but it looked so nice we decided to stay. She gave us a card with an Italian town, and told us to watch the train station-style flipboard at the front. We walked over to the bar and stood there for a moment, wondering what our next step was. A waiter noticed us and informed us that we could get service at one of the communal standing tables, so we set ourselves up at one and immediately had someone ready to take our order.

Mike ordered a bottle of red from Sicily, where his family is from. I menu at Otto Enotecalooked up the reviews on Yelp, and saw several mentions of truffle honey that came with the cheese platter. So I picked out two New York cheeses and Mike picked an Italian one that means “drunk.” After only a couple minutes, our waiter was back with four plates. On one he poured the truffle honey, a deep golden liquid with flecks of dark brown in it. On another he poured the cherry honey with three whole cherries, and on the third he poured honey with small chunks of apricot.

The cherry honey was so tart it was like Starburst candy. The apricot honey was delicious. But the truffle honey. Oh the truffle honey. It was sweet with a smokey, musky undertone. We had barely started when our town came up on the flip board 15 minutes early. A busboy skillfully gathered up our plates, balancing them up his arm, while Mike went to pay the check.

“The service here is out of this world,” he said when he got back. “I went to find our waiter and this guy asked me if I wanted the check, then another guy right behind me just handed it to me. It was amazing.”

We were led to our table through two dining rooms. There were a lot of pretty people there and I felt myself tense up a little. I wore little makeup, and just a simple dress with Jack Rogers and an old Longchamp. But as soon as we got to our table I relaxed as I dove back into the cheeses. Mike and I debated the merits of each pairing of cheese and honey and vowed not to be rushed through our dinner. We wanted to do it truly Italian style: slowly and with relish.

Well, we couldn’t go as slowly as we wanted, as the waiter stopped by often to check on us and as soon as our plates looked empty a busboy appeared to whisk them away and replace them with our four cheese and black pepper pizza. But oh-my-god-was-that-pizza-good. It had a thin, crispy crust with a melange of white cheeses that were just thick and gooey enough, while the pepper gave it a gentle kick.

“This place really is Sicilian,” Mike said as we walked out. The decor and food and ambiance all vividly evoked Italy to him.

That won’t be my last wine bar, for sure. I want to learn more about wines, and Vicki said she’s down for a wine class at Otto. Are there any other wine bars you would recommend in New York?


What’s Organic about Organic? Week-Long Kickoff in NYC June 18, 2010

Next week at the Here theater, the who’s who of the food, sustainable, and organic New York movement will be gathered around to screen the new documentary, What’s Organic about Organic? It discusses sustainable and organic agriculture and the myriad of issues that surround food. If you want to learn more about why what you eat is so incredibly important to the future of our country’s safety and happiness, (or you just want a fresh jolt of energy to keep walking past McDonald’s on your way home) you should check out at least one of the days for a panel discussion. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot.

As for the quality of the movie itself? I can’t find any solid reviews except for this very short one that says it doesn’t cover much new ground, though it is pretty interesting. Scroll to the bottom for the trailer and a synopsis.

I bought tickets for Monday through Thursday. I’m not going to watch the movie over and over, but all the speakers sound so amazing, I’m going to try to make as my panel discussions as I can! Unfortunately I’ll be out of town Friday through Sunday, so I’m going to miss the superfun-sounding benefit on Friday with fancy local food. But here for you is a list of the notable attendees and the topics:

(Buy tix here)

Monday, June 21 – 7pm screening
Topic: Bringing organic food to the NYC population, the trend of urban farming and the organic farming model
Jacquie Berger, Executive Director, Just Food, Hilary Baum, Co-Founder of Food Systems NYC and Founder, Baum Forum

Tuesday, June 22 – 7pm screening
Topic: Organic farming as a solution for climate change
Paul Mankiewicz, Executive Director, Gaia Institute, Karen Washington, President, NYC Community Gardens Coalition, Maria-Paolo Sutto, Director, Urban Design Lab of Columbia’s Earth Institute

Wednesday, June 23 – 7pm screening
Topic: Farmers’ markets & direct relationships between people, their food & farmers
Michael Horowitz, Director, Greenmarket Program, GrowNYC, David Hughes, Operations Manager, Greenmarket Program, GrowNYC, Bob Lewis, US Department of Agriculture and Markets

Thursday, June 24 – 7pm screening
Topic: Restaurants and organic farming
Elizabeth Meltz, Director of Sustainability, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Patrick Martins, Co-Founder, Heritage Foods, Jimmy Carbone, Owner, Jimmy’s 43, Carlos Suarez, Owner and Head Chef, Bobo Restaurant, Ian Marvey, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Added Value

Friday, June 25 – 7pm screening
Topic: Reconnecting urban and rural food systems
Scott Chaskey, President, NOFA-NY, Peter Hoffman, Chef, Back Forty and Savoy, Member of Chef’s Collaborative, Adriana Velez, Brooklyn Food Coalition

Friday, June 25 9pm BENEFIT PARTY <– Fun alert!
Benefit Party for NOFA-NY.
Tickets are $20.

Saturday, June 26 – 2pm matinée
Topic: Fun with composting (bring the kids!)
Christine Datz-Romero, Founder & Director, LES Ecology Center

Saturday, June 26 – 7pm screening
Topic: The benefits of a field-to-fork relationship
Joan Gussow, Professor Emerita of Nutrition Education, Columbia University, John Gorzynski, Farmer/Owner, Ornery Farm and “character” in WOAO?, Claudia Keel, Director, Dr. Weston Price Foundation

Sunday, June 27 – 2pm matinee
Topic: The benefits of organic food for child health and development
Annie Novak, farmer and founder of Growing Chefs, Yonnette Fleming, Urban Gardener

Sunday, June 27 – 7pm screening
Topic: Organic nutrition and food retail
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, New York University, Anne Saxelby, Owner, Saxelby Cheesemongers, Urvashi Rangan, Environmental Health Scientist, Consumer’s Union and “character” in WOAO?, Dennis Derryk, Founder, Corbin Hill Farm, Marty Mesh, Executive Director, Florida Organic Growers and Co-producer, WOAO?

WHAT’S ORGANIC ABOUT “ORGANIC?” rings the alarm for the need to develop an ecological consciousness.  The film illustrates that the organic food debate extends well beyond personal choice and into the realm of social responsibility.

Each of the film’s characters is intimately connected to the organic world; they’re farmers, activists, and scientists.  While many folks can easily endorse “organic,” the characters in the film take the discussion beyond just shopping for another eco-label. As we glimpse into each of their lives, we see how organic agriculture has the potential to solve many of our environmental and health problems.  The film will explore how organic farming can be used as a soil and air protection system, a healthy solution to toxic pollution, and an innovative means to combat global warming.

(Buy tix here)


Mmmmm, poop in your bottled water June 16, 2010

Let’s assume that you don’t mind paying a dollar or more for bottled water. And then let’s assume that you don’t really care about the millions of bottles floating in the ocean right now. Maybe this will get your attention:

“…bottles have been found to contain mold, sodium hydroxide, kerosene, styrene, algae, yeast, tetrahydrofuran, sand, fecal coliforms and other forms of bacteria, elevated chlorine, “filth,” glass particles, sanitizer, and, in my very favorite example, crickets.”

It’s because the testing standards for municipal water are extremely stringent, while those for bottled water are much less so. In fact, even if they discovered fecal coliforms (that’s poop, you guys) in bottled water sold at your local Sam’s Club, there might not even be a recall. You would never know you drank poop.

[via BoingBoing]

PS. They’ve found fecal coliforms in soda machines too. Maybe you should stop drinking soda as well… just a thought.


Blue Marble: Organic, local, grass-fed deliciousness June 10, 2010

organic, grass-fed, Hudson valley dairy ice cream from Blue Marble

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

That’s what my Nana would say every time I crawled into the front seat of the Buick between her and Papa, and we all set off for the only ice cream shop in Sanford. At the time I thought vanilla, mint chocolate chip, and rocky road were the pinnacle of deliciousness.

Well, we learn a lot as we grow older, don’t we?

Saturday Mike and I did the Atlantic Avenue art walk in Brooklyn. Most of the artists were pretty meh except the talented Donato Giancola, (I bought this print)  but it wasn’t a total bust. We played bocce ball at Floyd’s (I recommend!) and also popped into Blue Marble Ice Cream for  a cold treat.

I fell head over heels for this place, and here’s why:

chocolate, raspberry, butter pecan, culture, and cinnamon are some of the sweet treats at Blue Marble Ice CreamAmazing flavors: Drunk rum raisin, hazelnut, cultured (a yogurt flavor), dreamcicle, peach sorbet, blackberry, butter pecan, and a whole bunch others made me seriously consider asking for three scoops piled in a waffle cone. Mike laughed as I switched from flavor to flavor at least five times while we waited in line. Luckily I came to my senses and just went for the sweet cream, which is so simple yet so. friggin. delicious. This post by Chowhound says they have the best strawberry ice cream ever introduced to man, and the commenters are inclined to agree.

Simple yet perfect toppings: Forget crumbled oreos, Blue Marble goes old school with maple syrup and even balsamic vinaigrette for your strawberry or raspberry ice cream. I was disappointed to learn I couldn’t get local chocolate shop Nunu‘s hot caramel or hot fudge on top of my cone. Probably a good call since no one wants hot caramel dripping all over their hands, so next time I’ll get a cup so I can experience it. Or maybe I’ll get the strawberry with balsamic vinaigrette? Ooooh, or the honey! I don’t knoooooow!

High quality ingredients: Organic? Check. Grass-fed, happy cows? Check.We make our ice cream on a Hudson Valley Farm with premium, grassfed, organic dairy. Local? Check. Artificial colors and flavors? Nope! How could you make this ice cream any better?

Consciously consuming: Until everyone carries around a lunchbox of utensils and dishes, we’ll have to accept that some containers will be bought only to be thrown away after we are done. While we wait for mini picnic pouches to come into style, you can’t get much more responsible than Blue Marble’s compostable, recyclable, and biodegradable supplies, plus three bins in which to place them when you’re done. Nice!

The perfect setting: While you restrain yourself from attempting to shove the entire scoop of ice cream into your mouth in a fit of ecstasy, you’ll enjoy your green surroundings. Salvaged materials, white non-toxic paint on the wooden beams, recycled glass counters, and vintage-y looking touches lend the shop a homey feel, instead of the usual antiseptic linoleum floors and plastic tables at other ice cream shops.

I can’t believe you are still sitting there reading this! Go get some ice cream!