Friday, March 20, 2009

Dunkin' Donuts Invasion

Does downtown really need another Dunkin' Donuts? Here are 5 local alternatives for breakfast food:

* The Cheese Shoppe and Webster's: I dare you to find better beans. If you can't afford coffee out, just walk by the Cheese Shoppe and inhale--you're guaranteed to feel better. At Webster's, pair a cup of the Three Eyed Buddha with a vanilla scone and prepare for culinary zen.

* The Diner: If you really want to OD on empty carbs rolled in sugar, pick up a package of Stickies. Bonus points if you grill them in butter.

* Waffle Shop: You gotta love a restaurant that serves up two pancakes as a side dish.

* Irving's: The egg sandwich on an energy bagel is the cheapest and healthiest way to feed a toddler--or cure a hangover.

* The farmer's market. Coming soon--although you'd never know it by the snow falling in Happy Valley--it's like a picnic prepared by your favorite farmers. Honey scones, whoopie pies, homemade doughnuts--all served with the satisfaction that comes from supporting your community.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Local trumps organic

I'm a careful food shopper. I scrutinize labels and stickers, hunting for clues about where a product comes from and how it was made. I once stood in front of a pile of avocados for ten minutes, trying to choose between the conventional fruit from Mexico and the bruised organic version from California--and wishing my husband's grandmother would just send more from her tree in Santa Maria. I probably put more thought into those avocados than the car my husband and I purchased a few years ago.
Buying local is an altogether different experience. When I pick up my CSA share from Tait, I don't stress about pesticides or pathogens. I don't need a label to tell me anything about the beets, kale, and potatoes in my basket because I know the farmers who grew them. I see them twice a month. They entertain my 4-year-old while I'm picking up my produce; they hold my baby while I load the bags into the car. Imagine having that kind of relationship with the farmer who grew the avocado in Mexico? And while the employees at Wegmans smile at my baby, they can't vouch for the food I'm putting in her mouth.
I feel more fortunate than ever for the options in my backyard. When the word "salmonella" appears in the New York Times food section as often as "organic," the only label that really matters to me is "local."