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The New Foodie

by Melissa Kravitz

What does the term "foodie" mean to you?

Foodie means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some, it may indicate a higher standard in dining preference, perhaps a snobbery or sense of superiority regarding what one allows to pass through his or her digestive track. To others, the term foodie may describe a person who eats anything and everything, from dirty New York City street food to experimental molecular gastronomy concoctions—if it’s edible, eat it. 

In a way, we’re all foodies. We all have our own preferences and dislikes. But to me, the word foodie describes someone who merely cares more about food than your average three-meals-a-day eater.  While the term “foodie” still leaves me with a sense of elitist discomfort, I believe the word has taken on a new meaning, and with it, a new responsibility in the twenty-first century New York dining scene. 

Factories, machines, and science have taken over the production of foods that were historically grown on farms and cultivated by humans. The tomatoes we’re eating at one of New York’s most popular restaurants may be modified genetically, or transported thousands of miles to reach our mouths, leaving a disgusting carbon footprint before reaching a perfectly designed plate. Too much of the meat served at high-traffic Manhattan establishments was raised in ethically amoral environments, traumatizing both the animals and humans involved in the production of the steaks and foie gras we're savoring at dinner on a Saturday night.

Keeping it local reduces the carbon footprint--credit

As a new foodie, I’ve deemed it my responsibility to make informed choices about what and where I eat. This could mean shopping at the farmer’s market or nearby food co-op, or perhaps cooking out of Daniel Humm’s new cookbook, I <3 NY, which features local and sustainable ingredients as centerpieces in his recipes. 

Cooking at home is one way to control what you eat.

I’ve made several food rules for myself, many of which are contradictory and some of which rarely make sense to anyone outside myself. But hey, we can’t all be perfect. When given the choice, I do not eat meat (which is almost always possible in the NYC dining scene), and I will refuse to eat any meat that has come from a factory farm.  Due to a strange combination of government subsidies and American taste preferences, I often end up covering the bigger half of the bill with my veggie options, but feeling better and ethically accountable for the food I’m eating makes me feel like the best food lover I can be. 

I certainly can’t afford to eat only organic, nor do I desire to give up any of my favorite neighborhood restaurants that do not serve organic food. I feel that not eating meat and sticking primarily to vegetable dishes at my favorite spots including Malai Marke, SoHo Park, and S'mac, or opting for vegetarian restaurants such as Pukk, 'sNice, and Table Verte, is my decision as a foodie. Luckily, in NYC, it’s easy to choose from a plethora of restaurants to find the most responsible options.

Quinoa Salad from 'sNice--via Yelp

Thai Papaya Salad at Pukk--via Yelp

When eating out, it’s important not to be shy about asking questions, such as where the ingredients are from (grown or purchased), if your dish is made from scratch, and if any of the ingredients have been previously frozen.  Of course, at a reputable dining institution, you should assume the best, but I’ve been to many a recommended restaurant that served pre-made pesto or an appetizer that had probably seen better days. 

Reading reviews is certainly a great way to find new restaurants and dishes. Web resources, such as, aid in locating restaurants that promote local and organic.

Local tomatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket--credit

You wouldn’t buy a house or car without researching its background, so why not do the same with the food you’re putting in your body on a daily basis? Dig a little deeper. Look into where the food in a dish originated before you order it. Fresh ingredients – produced humanely and sustainably – make your dining experience that much more valuable and the food taste that much better. Isn't that what being a foodie is really about?

via Eleven Madison Park


kate said...

I completely agree with you, but in Poland where i live, it is impossible to eat fresh, organic food and go to a restaurant and ask them whether the food i have been served has been reheated in a microwave or not, because almost always the answer would be yes. I wish though I and other people had other options, but unless you make millions your food will not be one of good quality.

Melissa Kravitz said...

Thanks for your comment Kate! Unfortunately, I haven't heard great things about the food in Poland from friends who've visited... As a writer, I definitely can't afford all organic food! Some ways I've found to improve my eating include growing herbs on my fire escape, making dinner with friends to split the cost of fresh ingredients, and shopping at the farmers' market at the end of the day.

kate said...

thanks for the tips and by the way i really like your blog :)

tracy kaler said...

Thanks so much, Kate! I am actually Polish but I've yet to visit Poland. Maybe one day :)

kate said...


Phil Holtberg said...

Terrific post. I think here in NYC we are all a bit of a foodie. It means different things to different people, and it is easy to be a foodie here as we have the best of all kinds of foods. Greenmarkets are wonderful and there are all types of restos offering all styles of food. We are a bit lucky here.

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