The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Conscientous Carnivoring January 15, 2010

Credit: Apartment Therapy

This summer I heard the fact that if you wanted to make the most impact, you would be better off becoming a vegetarian than replacing your Hummer with a Prius.

Well, I immediately began cutting down on my meat consumption. But as with most eco-friendly tips that are thrown about these days, it wasn’t that simple.

You see, cutting down on the amount of meat you consume is a great thing to do. In a world where water and food resources are being strained, it makes sense to eat your calories in corn itself. It takes 16 pounds of grains to produce one pound of beef. Yikes!

Here’s the catch: the factoids above assume you are eating corn fed beef. Mmm, corn-fed beef. Sounds great, doesn’t it? If you go to the fancy steak house, Lewnes, in Annapolis, they tell you a beautiful story about the rich marbling of their corn-fed beef from Texas. But the best meat, the meat that is delicious and – more importantly – safe when it comes to food-born illness, is grass fed beef from your local farmer.

Yep, if you can ask the name of the cow or pig or chicken or turkey that provided your dinner, then you know that farmer took extra special care of that animal. Grass fed beef is more sustainable naturally, because the cows eat grass – not corn – which keeps corn from being taken out of the food chain. If everyone ate grass fed beef instead of corn-fed beef, that would reinsert 80% of the corn grown in the US back into the mouth of Americans.  Grass fed beef also doesn’t require a bunch of pesticides and hormones.

I learned all of this from Michael Pollan, and it changed my view of meat and food.

So that leads me to my new designation: Conscientious Carnivore. It’s a growing movement that is turning vegetarians back into carnivores. This article this morning from The Gothamist turned me onto the phrase, and I love it. It means that you can enjoy sizzling bacon, as long as you know that pig was free of hormones, was raised sustainably, and got to wiggle its little corkscrew tail in happiness, instead of shoved into disgusting pen with a bajillion other pigs.

It means you are still eating sustainably, and showing the meat industry that you have standards when it comes to meat. That you want safe food, delicious food, food that doesn’t take corn out of the mouths of those who need it.*

So be a conscientious carnivore! Head to the farmers market, or almost as good, Whole Foods, and grab yourself some grass fed beef, free-range chicken, or scrumptious bacon. And read this book. I will.

*The corn fed to cows is not edible by humans. But think of what the land used to grow it could be used for instead. Sweet corn! Orchards full of apples! More sustainable grown beef!


Where to get your tea, where to get your coffee – in NYC November 17, 2009

Filed under: Food,Places to go — Alden @ 10:23 pm
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This afternoon I had the pleasure of enjoying a delicious lunch with a new friend, Anne, at Franchia Teahouse and Restaurant. (Park and 34th) I had heard good things about the space, and since that particular neighborhood is a refined-dining desert, I naturally chose this Tea House as a good place to get together.

Franchia’s philosophy is that “tea time is a time of self-reflection, a time for discovering peace of mind and simply a time for enjoying conversation with family and friends.”

It also, apparently, is a good accompaniment to light, delicious vegetarian fare. Ann and I each chose a unique tea – I chose organic lotus tea, she chose dewberry – which was brought out in porcelain bowls with strainer for the loose leaves. My light miso and tofu soup had a pleasant, almost beer-like scent, and my vegetarian rolls were crispy and delicious. Ann said her spicy noodles weren’t actually very spicy, but yummy all the same.

After lunch Anne recommended a new coffee shop housed in the edgy-cool Ace Hotel on Broadway and 29th. I was so impressed with the lobby that I immediately called both my sister and mom to recommend the hotel for their trip this weekend. Alas, they’ve already booked a place on 77th.

Anyway, Stumptown Coffee is an antithesis too the elaborate “authentic-hoax” of Starbucks. The menu board screams “don’t you dare order a tall, skim, extra-whipped-cream, decaf mochachino – you poser.” It was packed with hip alternative patrons. Maybe it was a bit gimmicky, but I totally fell for the newsboy outfits of the staff, who quickly handed me an Americano in a simple porcelain cup. (I’m a sucker for european affectations.) I took it to the counter to people watch the street and occasionally look over the shoulder of a playwright scribbling dialogue on a yellowpad next to me.

I would totally recommend this place if you happen to wander south of the main Broadway drag and need a charming afternoon pick-me-up. No worries if your a conscientious drinker, their products are direct trade, and some – like the Ethiopian varieties – are organic!