The Real Foodie

The Green Thumb, Watermill, N.Y.

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The smell of this organic market in Water Mill, New York, still brings me back to my childhood and some of my earliest memories are from when my mother used bring me to shop here. We stopped coming here for many years when my parents separated and I would spend the summers with my father, where we would eat the Standard American diet a.k.a. junk food. But still every time I smelled fresh dill I would be reminded of The Green Thumb. Since changing my diet I recently started going back here. It has been owned by the same family since the mid–1600s and they have been farming organically, using natural farming practices since the 1980s. All of their crops are certified organic and they grow a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. They also have their own honey and eggs and they sell some other local and artisanal market products. It is slightly overpriced probably due to the location, but when it’s the only place to find fresh, organic, local produce without driving as far as Bridghampton or Amagansett, it is worth it.

Open Minded Organics, Bridgehampton, N.Y.

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My friend Dave Falkowski, also known as ‘the mushroom man’, started growing his gourmet mushrooms in 2003, for which he is most known and sells to an impressive list of restaurants. His family were among the first Polish families to start farming potatoes and Brassicas on the South Fork, Long Island in the mid-19th century.¹ He has since expanded his farm, Open Minded Organics, to raising chickens and growing a wide array of fruits and vegetables, which he sells at the local East End farmers‘ markets and his farm stand in Bridgehampton.

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1. Halweil B (2011). The Mushroom Man, Redux. Edible East End. Fall edn.

Station, East Quogue, N.Y.

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Over the years that I have been coming to Southampton there has always been a lousy selection of restaurants to choose from, none of which serve real food. It was always my dream to open my own health cafe in this town as it is in such dire need of a healthy place to grab a quick lunch or take out; and it would probably make a fortune due to the increasing crowds that come here each summer. In my former less healthy days I used to get sandwiches at the local delis but there was never anywhere to get a delicious organic salad, which even then I craved. Of the more formal restaurants that we would go to have dinner, Sant Ambroeus, Red Bar, Savanna’s and more recently, Tuto Il Giorni were a step above the local burger or seafood joints; Sant Ambroeus serving tasty Italian panini during the day, but all of them still using conventional ingredients. There used to be an organic market and cafe called Annie‘s but it didn’t last more than one summer. Then came Organic Avenue selling raw vegan snacks, pressed organic juices and smoothies but they also shut down after a couple of years, this year selling just a few juices inside the clothing store Theory.

Now finally the world is catching onto real food and there are a few farm-to-table restaurants that have opened in the past year in and around the Hamptons. There is also a new organic pressed juice bar in Southampton which opened this summer called Juice Press and a restaurant on the highway, Cafe Crust, which sells grass fed burgers, hormone free pizzas and organic salads. My husband and I decided to give one of the farm-to-table restaurants, Station, in East Quogue a try and we were surprisingly impressed. The outside is beautifully landscaped with wild flowers. The food is delicious, simple, healthy and a perfect example of farm-to-table. Opened during Memorial day weekend, everything served is either grown or landed locally. They work with local farms, including Invincible Summer Farms, Early Girl Farm and Mecox Bay Dairy. We have gone back several times since. Now we finally have a restaurant that we can keep going back to and feel good after.

Farm Delivery

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Today my delivery arrived in Southampton from my farm buying club in Miami! (which actually comes from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania—for legal reasons to do with raw dairy I can’t mention the name.) I can’t believe that I suffered for the last two years since I left New York and ended my farm buying club membership here; every time I would visit my family in Southampton for holidays and and during the summers when I would stay for several weeks, I would be stuck without any raw yoghurt or kefir. I used to drive for miles to a local farm in Bridgehampton every other day to stock up on pastured eggs, meat and raw milk and would have to make my own kefir and yoghurt from the raw milk, which never turned out well. After the entire summer last summer of feeding Olivia the raw milk, yoghurt and kefir from the farm (I can’t mention any names) I found out that the cows, which I thought were 100 percent grass fed, were being fed GMO soy while they were milked twice a day! (I got suspicious one time after I saw soy beans scattered on the floor of the barn and asked.) So this summer I was researching other farms to buy raw milk, the closest being in Riverhead (which isn‘t close) but when I called the farm they didn’t answer. Then my friend who is also a member of the Miami club told me she orders directly from the farm by mail when she spends her summers in Westhampton. I never knew I could order directly from the farm and receive the refrigerated package the next day by mail, still cold! What a difference this will make to my summer! I will still go to my local farm stands for fruits and vegetables (even the one in Bridgehampton which sell many other good things) and support the local food here but at least I won’t have to worry about where to find raw milk and it will save me a lot of driving.

Southampton Village Farmers’ Market

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I spend every summer staying with my family in the town of Southampton, New York. It requires more effort to buy real food as I don’t have my farm delivery club like in Miami. However, over the years I have got to know the few organic farms and farm stands around the area, with more growing each year and although I have to drive far to get it, it is worth it; we end up eating just as well as we do at home. I will be posting more about the farm stands I buy from throughout the summer. Every Sunday from June to October there is a small farmers’ market held next to the old Parish Art Museum in the village of Southampton. Photographed is Frank Trentacoste from the new organic farm in Amagansett, Bhumi Farm. Below is my friend Dave Falkowski’s stand from his farm Open Minded Organics in Bridgehampton.

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BM Organics Market is Closing Down

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My favourite restaurant BM Organics, sadly, is closing down. I never even got a chance to write a post to showcase their amazing food which is sourced exclusively from Amish or local organic farms. Highlights from my memory include frissee salads made with a Thai coconut meat based dressing and sprinkled with raw, grass-fed blue cheese; brown butter and pumpkin seed spaghetti squash; sprouted lentil or chicken and kale soup made with real bone broth; grass-fed burgers with sprouted wheat buns and homemade fermented ketchup (the ketchup was a miracle and I would buy jars of it because whatever I put it on, my daughter would eat); spicy pastured chicken wings; fries fried in lard; sprouted mac ‘n cheese; raw milk smoothies; grass-fed hot dogs and sprouted hummus; all cooked using real cooking fats like butter, lard and coconut oil.

I knew it was too good to be true that a restaurant following the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation stuck around for too long. Since changing to the Weston A. Price diet it has been my dream to open a restaurant just like this one and I couldn’t believe it when I found it, in Fort Lauderdale of all places. It made my experience of living in Miami all the more enjoyable and to think that I was afraid when I left New York City of losing all my real food places—I found everything I had there and more with the addition of BM Organics.

We have been making the 45 minute trip from Miami to this place every weekend for their gourmet dinners since their opening in February of 2012. It was a blessing that I just happened to stop by on the day they opened! It was the first time we could feed my toddler a full meal at a restaurant and have a relaxed family dinner, knowing every single ingredient was real food. In all my experience of eating out, I have yet to find another restaurant that is 100 percent real food. Even farm-to-table restaurants still use toxic vegetable oils for cooking, they don’t sprout their grains and it is unheard of to serve raw dairy.

The only good news was they had a huge closing down sale and I was able to stock up on all of my favourite items for a big discount. They will surely be missed by their devoted following but they will still continue their weekly farm deliveries.

It’s Good To Be Back!

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We arrived last night from our long trip and though I’m sad it’s over, it feels great to be back to Miami’s tropical climate and my healthy routine! My first food stop was Jugo Fresh, Miami’s newest and only organic juice bar of its kind, to get a green smoothie for Olivia and myself. Olivia had the ‘Suga Sherm’ which is coconut water, coconut meat, banana, kale and spirulina (I asked for it without agave) and I had the ‘Jugo Fly’ which is coconut water, coconut meat, kale, spinach, apple, blueberry, spirulina, hemp and chlorella, also without agave. The smoothies are sprinkled with coconut flakes, goji berries and cacao nibs. The fat from the coconut in the smoothie is necessary for the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the greens.

My only criticism about Jugo Fresh is that they put agave syrup in their smoothies. Not only is agave unhealthy because it is a highly concentrated version of fructrose similar to high fructrose corn syrup, but the smoothies are naturally sweet without it and even more so if you are used to a no sugar diet. To read more about the dangers of agave read here.

At Jugo Fresh they make fresh pressed organic juices and smoothies, similar to the ones at Organic AvenueLiquiteria or Lifethyme in New York City which I missed terribly after I left until Jugo Fresh opened. The Rastafarian juice man, Melvin, who used to make the smoothies at Lifethyme and had a devoted following (he may have been the one who invented the coconut and greens smoothie) left Lifethyme to start his own juice bar Melvin’s Juice Box at Miss Lily’s. My husband and I started making our own coconut and greens smoothie after learning from Melvin, using a Vitamix blender, but when I’m in a hurry, Jugo Fresh is quick and easy.

Canteen, London


Interior at Baker street location.

‘It’s amazing to think how far London has come as an eating town since [the early nineties], and the progress restaurants have made is nowhere exemplified better than at Canteen.’ Giles Coren, London 2010.

I had been wanting to go to Canteen for a while because I have their cookbook, Great British Food which came up in my search online for popular cookbooks last year. I love traditional British food and the recipes bring me right back to my childhood. We had lunch at the restaurant in Spitalfields and I was not disappointed. The food was excellent; it was by far the best restaurant we had been to in London and we returned two more times throughout our trip. This was confirmed to me by my stepfather: a true old fashioned gentleman who has spent most of his life wining and dining at the finest restaurants in the world; and came down from Scotland to meet us at the restaurant in Baker street for dinner. He told me he has never felt better after eating at a restaurant because the ingredients were of such high quality. This is not regular traditional British food like the kind you can find in restaurants all over England, especially pubs, which is loaded with additives and far from what our ancestors ate; this is real traditional British food because it is seasonal, nationally sourced, cooked from scratch (many restaurants buy pre-prepared food), their meat is pasture raised and additive-free, and their fish is sustainable, delivered daily from boats on the south coast. Their menu and design are reminiscent of classic British cafes of the past and their philosophy is honest, casual all day dining at a reasonable price.

Daylesford, London

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Across the street from the Pimlico market, Daylesford is an organic farm shop and cafe selling organic produce, prepared food, and pastured meat, dairy and eggs from their own organic farm in Gloucestershire. They have three locations in London, one in Surrey and one in Tokyo. We had a delicious lunch at the cafe in Pimlico and brunch at the cafe in Notting Hill, which has replaced the old Fresh and Wild market: one of the first organic supermarkets in London where I used to buy my organic food over ten years ago. It is on the trendy Westbourne Grove and is giving the popular conventional brunch hang out, 205 Cafe two doors down, a run for its money.

Pimlico Farmers’ Market, London

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When I went to London for my long overdue trip back to the city where I grew up, I arrived just in time for the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Pimlico (my mother’s local) to buy raw milk for Olivia. I was impressed that they were selling raw milk in plain sight, something which doesn’t happen in the US (usually it has to be bought secretively as if doing a drug deal!). The market is part of London Farmers’ Markets: a group of certified farmers’ markets around London, established by the food writer Nina Planck in 1999. Nina Planck wrote the book Real Food which along with The Weston A. Price Foundation and The Body Ecology Diet, made a lasting impact on me and is THE book that anyone interested in adopting a healthy diet should read, as it has a very straightforward and simplistic approach.

I was amazed by how much more modern and multicultural the city has become since my last visit and especially since I left ten years ago. While London has always been one of the leaders of the organic movement (it was where I first started eating organically in my early twenties), there is now a vast array of options for me in terms of real food when I visit. I remember during my first trip back after I left, in 2004, my friend took me to the Marylebone Farmers’ Market and it was the first of it’s kind that I had seen. Back then I wasn’t yet a real foodie, I was still just an industrial organic foodie, (eating foods that were labeled organic but not unprocessed, sustainable or from animals that were humanely treated and pastured) and so I couldn’t appreciate it as much as I do now. Now there are 21 certified Farmers’ Markets across the city and several shops and restaurants serving real food.