NYC Adventures in Food: Part 2

Day 2 of our Food Adventures in NYC was not a particularly fun one… especially in the morning. First stop for us was the Greenmarket in Union Square. The weather forecast had predicted a large snow storm which never materialized. This was both good and bad. It was good in the sense that we did not have to trudge around NYC in a foot of snow, it was bad in the sense that only four vendors showed up for the Farmers Market in Union Square on Monday. So, the first hour of our day was not too exciting as we were able to visit all of the vendors in about 15-20 minutes.

Luckily, this gave a few of us the opportunity to step inside to grab a bite to eat (and to warm up – it was SO cold!). With this quick bit of down time, a few of us ventured into Pret A Manger for breakfast. I have to say, I was happy to find a reasonable priced breakfast and I loved their decor:

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At 8:30, we had a few women that help organize the Greenmarket come speak to us. While it was interesting to learn all about the Greenmarket, how it was started and how it has grown – it was hard to listen since we were all freezing our tails off!!

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After our conversation at the Green Market, we headed over to Whole Foods at the end of the square. And our group was definitely ready to move! We had been standing around in our business suits in the cold for about an hour and a half – and I know I could no longer feel my toes at that point!

Our visit to Whole Foods was the first in-person encounter that I’ve ever had with this grocery chain. I have to admit that I was totally impressed with their food merchandizing and marketing techniques, but after talking with the store manager I must admit that I was frustrated with Whole Foods policies in food purchasing and procurement. I believe that Whole Foods has taken some hard stances in the sorts of production practices that the chain believes is best without considering the larger picture of economics and social issues that we have in this country.

Whole Foods produce merchandising:

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The seafood department:

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Cheese department:20140306-132328.jpg

Impressive marketing right?! I have to give them that credit. The displays did draw me in, however I still don’t love what Whole Foods stands for. I know, this may surprise and shock most consumers, but I guess that’s what happens when you have different perspectives on things right? The great part of America is that we all (for the most part) have the choice to buy and consume what we want.

Whole Foods touts organic and sustainable farming practices, but I did notice that most of the products that were being offered had traveled many miles to arrive at the store. Not super sustainable in my opinion so as someone that grew up on a farm and still works in food, it is frustrating to watch companies use some of the buzz words and consumer concerns related to food production to increase their own profits.

After our visit at Whole Foods, our crew headed to Wall Street for the financial portion of our program.  We spent the afternoon considering some of the financial implications related to food on both a National as well as an International scope. As the population in the world continues to grow, the world has an increasing challenge to feed the population, and to feed the demands of those experiencing a growth in their household incomes.

Simply look at the U.S., we rely on the 2% of people associated with Agriculture to feed the other 98%. If we look at those actually living and working on farms (1%), it’s amazing to consider the fact that we have ample food in the U.S.  (Although we still have a hunger issue here in America, with 1 in 6 people experiencing food insecurity.)

And this would only represent the U.S. model. Sometimes I become overwhelmed thinking of what may happen as the population continues to grow in places such as Africa, and as incomes continue to rise in India and China thereby increasing food demand in those regions. We will all have to work together to feed everyone. The population boom (a total population of 9 billion people) expected by 2050 has been predicted to need the world to produce 100% more food – and most of our available crop land is already in use. A scary proposition at best.  (Sources: UN, FAO, see links)

A few shots of Wall Street:

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After our afternoon on Wall Street, our group went to a restaurant near our hotel: The Marshall located in Hell’s Kitchen.  The reason for this restaurant selection was that it provided an example of a farm-to-fork restaurant in NYC.

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More and more of these restaurants have grown as farmers have worked on connecting with restaurants and retailers in the city to provide a source of local foods. I think this is a fantastic movement and great for those who can take advantage of connecting the consumers to their food sources for better understanding of how food moves from farm to the store or from the farm to the table.

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