These Little Piggies Went to Market

I’ve said so before, but I think it’s worth re-mentioning that the Union Square Farmers Market is the best place in New York City on a Saturday.

We met our fabulous friends Sam and Shosh for a lovely wander through the stalls and to procure some ingredients for dinner (details to come). The full array of fall harvest was out, along with all of the Union Sq standards.

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It’s hard not to find a little something for everybody there: freshly baked breads, cheese straight from the goat, sheep, or cow, cozy colored yarns, treats, and for the vegetable-enamored, everything.

There are comical gourds of all shapes, sizes, colors, and degrees of bumpiness, all hailing autumn.

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And copious amounts of kale, which is the super-vegetable when it comes to cold weather! There should be piles of this stuff for weeks, and we can’t wait to make kale chips, kale juice, cooked kale, massaged kale, and kale-kale.

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IMG_7016And while we’re on the subject of juice: mmm wheatgrass.

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And HONEY. Though I am mostly-vegan, I am not terribly convinced that bees are being exploited. I am, however, fairly uncomfortable with the possibility that agave workers are, and thus, I have not forfeited my right to eat honey. We bought some lusciously spreadable raw wildflower honey at the market, thick and butter-like in its consistency. Raw honey is uncooked, so it preserves its pollen, and is less processed, which is the best excuse to spread it on everything.  (But I do promise to keep an ear out for sad bee complaints.)

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Rooftops gardens WILL CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY! (And you’ll attract more naysayers with honey.)IMG_7081IMG_7085

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We found Jerusalem artichokes! I’ve been too nervous to cook them because I haven’t the slightest idea what to pair them with. My cookbooks are void of Jerusalem artichokes entirely and I’ve found zero support on the internet. It’s the purple kohlrabi incident all over again. But that might be a project for tonight.IMG_7207 IMG_7205IMG_7198

The advertising for the revolutionary juicy pears was just too compelling. So we bought a phenomenal pile of Asian pears.IMG_7084 (1)

I mean Don Draper couldn’t argue with that.

Ooh, and ground cherries. They’re a kind of cherry-tomato hybrid with a really zesty sweet flavor – described in this blurry sign as being pineapple-y.  And they come in their own natural wrappers, making them a perfect mid-stroll snack.

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IMG_7117See? Gourds.

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And they weren’t the only bumpy creatures out and about…IMG_7089 IMG_7088IMG_7099

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We walked away with carrots, bok choy, peppers – including a purple one – eggplant, greens, and more. Afterwards we jumped on the L and headed straight to Brooklyn to start stuffing dumplings for dinner.

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Message in a Scarecrow

There has been a lot of talk in the last week about a new ad campaign from the restaurant chain Chipotle. The ad features a great combination of industrial imagery and Fiona Apple’s haunting, ethereal voice that make for compelling advertising. In the video the Scarecrow breaks out from its factory food overlords to start a small and sustainable burrito stand, quite possibly a metaphor for Chipotle’s escape from McDonald’s investment dollars upon going public a few years back.

The campaign immediately caught the attention of a friend in the ad world who, knowing our interests, passed it along. Right away all of the major (and minor) media outlets picked up on it, and there have been thorough breakdowns of the ad and how closely it reflects how Chipotle acts in reality. Funny-or-Die quickly developed a parody highlighting the discrepancies, which led to further media attention. (See: TNY, NYT, MJ, LAT, WaPo, NPR…)

The debates around whether or not Chipotle is entitled to make the argument for better production methods are intriguing, and absolutely valid. Chipotle uses ambiguous ad-speak, terms like “natural” and phrases like “food with integrity” – unmeasurable claims. But what is exceptional about the reaction to Chipotle’s campaign is that very few of the debates buzzing around are focused on the actual message of the ad; instead, most choose to focus on the messenger.

People demand to know whether Chipotle is worthy of this fight, or if they can really claim the mantle of the sustainable food movement. I, for one, don’t know. But what we can say with certainty is this: the discussion of whether or not we should be improving the food system no longer seems even worthy of debate (!). Instead, the dialogue is centered around the corporation’s hold on the subject. However you come down on the subject of “food with integrity,” it is a noteworthy shift that we are debating less about the importance of sustainable food and more about who’s carrying the banner.