The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

An Conscious Consumer’s Manifesto January 30, 2010

Filed under: Food — Alden @ 12:56 am
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We, the eaters of the United States of America, hold the truths to be self evident (even if food producers think they aren’t):

That we have the right to know what is in our food.

We have the right to know what ingredients are in our food – whether it contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or nature-made organisms, whether the ingredients were engineered by a lab technician or grown by a farmer, whether the meat we eat has hormones or antibiotics or just meat, and whether plants we consume are coated with pesticides or just rainwater.

We the eaters have the right to know how that food was made – whether it was made in a kitchen or in a factory, whether it was fertilized by synthetic fertilizer or manure and sunshine, whether it was raised in a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) or on a green pasture.

We the eaters have the right to know from how far away that food came – whether it was shipped in a truck, train, the back of a trailer, or even in a horse and buggy. We have the right to know when the food was picked or slaughtered, when it was processed, and how long it sat in a warehouse, on a shelf, or in a truck before we get our hands on it.

We the eaters have a right to question, critique, and challenge outdated conventions about how and when food is served. We have a right to know all information, data, statistics, and findings on the health, safety, environmental and economic effects of the food we consume. We have the right to gather, learn, and disseminate this information free from interference by special interests and corporations.We have the right to rebel against unhealthy eating habits foisted upon us by others, or just politely say “No thank you.”

We the people have the right to understand all the ingredients that are on food labels. We have the right to be able to know what food ingredients are – without a degree in chemistry, or a constantly updated dictionary of food terms that are created by the food industry to mask its food engineering.

We the eaters of America, have a right to protect our children from misleading and manipulative food marketing, to not have to fight an uphill battles against the messages they see everyday, from the breakfast table, to the street, to the schools, to daily activities. We have the right to shape our childrens’ health without interference from those who seek to make a profit off of them.

Most importantly of all, we, the eaters of America, have the right to access fresh food from our own states, towns, neighborhoods, and neighbors, whether we are rich or poor, educated or laymen, liberal or conservative, urban or rural. We have the right to choose to buy food from our neighbors and our local farms, even if they do not conform to the safety standards designed with large scale food operations in mind.

All of these rights we hold to be self-evident, and the natural order of things.

Whether the food producers agree or not.

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Nanana boo boo, I’m losing weight! January 9, 2010

Filed under: experiment,Food,Tips — Alden @ 3:39 pm
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Remember my New Years resolution? About not eating yucky processed food? Well, that happy side effect I mentioned of losing weight is happening.

New Years resolutions are hard to keep, because they force you suddenly out of your comfort zone. That’s why they usually fail. But this resolution has been slowly happening for a long time. So on New Years I just pushed the last of processed food out of my diet. So I can proudly say that since I arrived in New York City in July, my weight has dropped by 9 pounds. For a little thing like me, that’s a lot! (6% of my weight) I’m as skinny as I was sophomore year of college! 3 of those pounds were just in the last couple of weeks.

I think it’s because I’ve changed my whole outlook on food. Instead of the debate being in my head “I want that chicken nugget! No, it’s gonna make me fat. But it’s so yuuuummmy.” the conversation in my head is now, “Chicken nuggets…gross. Is there an apple around here somewhere?”

And also I mentioned before, those carb craving that used to happen almost every day in the afternoon, or late at night, where I would rummage through the fridge and pantry to find something to satisfy my sweet tooth – it has ceased completely. Even when I’m super super hungry, it’s just hungry. It’s not a craving. I can still be rational about choosing something that is delicious yet healthy for me and the environment. And I can look at cookies and go, “nah.”

So, ladies, if you need another reason to enjoy whole, fresh, local foods (besides avoiding preservatives, not giving money to disgusting factory farms, avoiding food-born pathogens, and superior taste) well there it is.

 

I’m in love! The Farmers Market December 10, 2009

Filed under: Food,Places to go,recipes — Alden @ 2:56 pm
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I know I’ve posted about the farmers market before. But really, that was just puppy love. A passing fling. I went once to the Greenmarket at 66th street this summer, which had about 10 tents of stuff. I didn’t go back. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s just that it was such a hassle to go all the way down there, when there is a West Side Market right on my corner.

Well, friends, after reading my quartet of sustainable/local food books, I decided to give the local food thing another try. So last week I went all the way down to Union Square for the year-round Green Market.

LOVE.

I sampled wines and hard cider from New York state. I bought delicious whole grain bread whose chunky and dense texture just screamed “I’m homemade! YUMMY!” to go with my grandmother’s peach preserves. I bought honey goat cheese. I bought skim milk that tastes like whole – creamy and smooth – from a woman named Ruby. She calls the cows “girls” and was happy to explain to me the kind of life her pampered girls lead. I bought all sorts of vegetables, oyster mushrooms, and ground turkey. I bought free range eggs that represented the whole spectrum of brown, beige, and white. I also passed a stand with sirloin steaks, rump roasts, and other fine cuts of meat. I didn’t get any though because I’m not a huge beef eater. (Scott, you’ll be getting some when I come home for Christmas.)

When I got home with my haul, Vicky was there too. So I sauteed all the vegetables up, covered the oyster mushrooms with lemon juice and butter to fry, and made turkey meatballs. (I need some practice for those…or a better pan, they were pretty burnt.) We washed it down with hard apple cider from upstate. The best part? I had everything I needed for a delicious meal right in my home. I didn’t think I would be able to do that with local stuff.

The best part was the main Green Market stand where you can pick up recipes that use only ingredients from the GreenMarket. It makes it easy to plan something on the fly.

I went back Sunday to the one up by Columbia to return my little chocolate milk bottle to Milk Thistle Farm, and pick up some fresh greens for a salad, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes for some meals this week. Yesterday for breakfast I made an omelette with the last of the goat cheese and onions. Then I tried to go back down to Union Square to stock up again, but I forgot my wallet.

I’ll just go back tomorrow. Like I told Vicky, I don’t get mad at myself when I do these things, because then I would be mad all the time!

 

The South Bronx Food & Film Expo: getting veggies into a food desert December 8, 2009

Did you know that the South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the USA? I didn’t. If I did, I might not have been so nonchalant about strolling through that neighborhood yesterday on my way to the Bronx Local Food Expo in my nice clothing.

I only got harassed once by a guy walking near me, but it was pretty typical. “Hey girl. Excuse me. Hey, don’t mean to bother you. Hey gorgeous. Hey.” You get used to that sort of thing in New York City.

Anyway, it spitted freezing rain during my trek over to The Point, a local community center holding the event. But once I got inside it was warm and dry, and the welcome table people were, well, welcoming! I ducked into the theater where they were showing a documentary that followed two young girls on their quest to get good food in the Bronx Harlem.

I had actually never heard of a “food desert” until I moved to New York. Like any suburban girl, I just assumed that people who eat badly eat badly by choice. That the poor chose french fries over apples because they didn’t care. Obviously not true.

The South Bronx is a “food desert.” What that means is that instead of walking past piles of fruit and vegetables for sale – like on my corner on the Upper West Side – you walk past piles of super-processed, unapologetically bad for you junk. As one girl put it to a government official in the documentary What’s on Your Plate, (and this is not verbatim) “My friend’s dad just had a heart attack, and he says he has to leave the Bronx Harlem to find healthy food.”

So yes, maybe it is a “choice” in the gross sense of the word. But if you make $20 thousand a year, (the median in the South Bronx) then spending $4 to get out of the Bronx and back in so you can spend more money on pricier fresh food is just not feasible.

Judging from the successful Food and Film Expo, that’s about to change. Organizations like the South Bronx Urban Farmers, the South Bronx Food Coop, the BLK ProjeK/Libertad Urban Farm, Hunts Point Alliance for Children, The NYC Strategic Alliance for Health, the New York Restoration Project, Urban Farming, For a Better Bronx, Project H.O.P.E, The Council on the Environment of NYC and so many others are all working hard to get fruit stands and farmers markets sprouting up in the heart of South Bronx. With that many pulling for the children of that neighborhood, how could it not succeed?

After that screening, everyone flooded into the main room for a fresh, locally grown, delicious vegan meal. I sat down with a nice guy named Josh Wessler who is even more passionate about food issues than I. In fact, he wants to make it his career. Go Josh! We were joined by Adam Liebowitz‘s girlfriend fiance and her brother. She informed us that the Expo was one of the most successful programs to date she had attended. Usually they attract only a handful of people. On that cold, windy, rainy day? It had to have been a hundred! The line for food stretched to the back of the center, and was still there 45 minutes later – long after Josh and I had finished our meal. So it’s clear that healthy food issues in the Bronx is something that the community is passionate about.

After that, everyone piled back into the theater for FRESH, a Food Inc-type documentary about industrial food. Ok, I haven’t actually seen Food Inc. yet (I plan to rectify that this weekend) but I don’t see how it could be any better than this movie. Besides some laugh-out loud moments, FRESH offers a optimistic view of what our future could be like, where diseased cows pumped full of antibiotics are no more, where chickens and pigs are allowed to keep their tails and beaks, where pesticides are no longer necessary. After it was done the audience burst into applause.

I don’t know about you, but even faced with the grim reality of childhood obesity, of food deserts, of pigs that are denied their “pigness,” this weekend has still granted me the ability to hope for a better future. I really respect all those people trying to improve the future of the children in the South Bronx. I know they have a hard road ahead, but I’ll support them all the way.

Update: Adam sez, “Usually we’d have a few dozen, maybe 40-50.  Based on our sign-in sheet, we had over 200 on Saturday!” He was nice enough to correct a few points above, as you may have noticed. 🙂

 

Hippies heart the farmers market! September 11, 2009

Filed under: Food,Places to go,Tips — Alden @ 8:54 pm
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There are several great reasons to buy local food:

1. It tastes so much better.

2. Because it comes from local, small outfits, you are more likely to get nutritious produce instead of washed out, half-ripe crap shipped form California and South America.

3. Because it isn’t shipped far, it’s better for the environment.

4. It promotes creative thinking, as you decide what you can make with what is in season and available.

5. You meet cool people.

Yesterday before work, since I left a little early, I decided to swing by the farmers market on 66th and Columbus. It was my first time, and I’m so glad I went!

Mmmmm apples!

I got fresh raspberries, carrots, apples, red dragon beans, salad greens, and something that I thought was squash, but after I sliced it open, I suspect it’s a tomato/squash hybrid. Hmmm. I also had a long chat with a couple people at the  bakery tent while I peeled open my sugar-free oat-bran muffin. (It sounds tasteless but I was pretty happy with it.)

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So for lunch I put together a salad, and dipped my delicious veggies into hummus. For dinner last night I cooked up couscous and sauteed veggies in olive oil. It was delicious!

If you want to find a New York Farmers Market near you, just click here!

 

Hippie dating August 11, 2009

Filed under: green angst,Places to go — Alden @ 9:03 pm
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So, I actually did briefly date a hippie between freshman and sophomore year. Wow, what an experience. He worked in body care section of Whole Foods and thought that the trails coming out of jets was a government plot. He made good organic blackberry pancakes and would soothe my hangovers with giant all-natural hangover pills. What a guy.

That was just a lark, though. In reality, I have no interest in dating a hippie. For the most part they have zero ambition beyond “overthrowing capitalism” or something. I, on the other hand, am ambitious and enjoy what capitalism can bring me. You know, when it’s not being evil and all.

So that puts me in a weird position. Where does one find a guy who always buys the expensive drinks and also the organic food for dinner? Beats me.

The point of all this is that I’ve been invited on a date for Wednesday. I’m not particularly excited about it. I met this dude out on Saturday – he’s a friend of a friend. I’m pretty sure he wears product in his hair, and I distinctly remember his white/black pinstripe button down. Yeah. But he was just SO pushy I was like “FINE! Here’s my number!”

He called me up Sunday night to plan our little rendez-vous. I let him suggest a place. “Do you like chocolate?” he asked.

“Sure, chocolate is good.”

“Well there’s this place that revolves completely around chocolate, even the pizza. It’s my favorite restaurant.”

I went along with it, but after I hung up I realized that the thought of a whole dinner doused in chocolate was already making me feel bloated. Then I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? Try out a good organic restaurant and scope out the open mindedness of this dude. That or scare him away!

The Savoy Restaurant

The Savoy Restaurant

When he calls back today, which he said he would do, I’m gonna ask him to take me to another restaurant. i looked on Greenopia for green restaurants, cut out the vegetarians places (that might be pushing it), and looked for the one with the best rating on Zagat. I came up with Savoy at Prince and Crosby St. It looks like great local organic food. Oh, and it’s expensive, heh.

Here’s the thing, I won’t tell him it’s organic. I want to see his reaction. I figure when he sees that it’s an organic place, he’ll do one of four things:

1. “Wow, you like organic food? Me too! I’m so glad we met.”

2. “I’ve keep hearing about organic food but don’t know much about it. Could you fill me in on why it’s so wonderful?”

3. Silence. Because he’s grateful that I ever said yes to a date in the first place and doesn’t want to f- it up.

4. “Organic food? Seriously? Are you like a tree hugger or something?” At which point I’ll tell him to get the hell out of the restaurant so I can enjoy my food in peace.

Honestly, I hope he does number four, because I really could care less. I just want the food, thanks.