(Mostly Eating) Adventures in Halifax: Week 1

(Why do I eat so much when I visit Halifax?)

Day 1

Lunch at Bubba Ray’s because a football game required us to be at a sports bar. It was a fantastic sports bar as far as watching a game goes, but my nachos were subpar.

Dinner at Fid (motto: Local By Nature). Had the Farmers Market Inspiration again, in all its giant bento box glory. Took another crappy phone picture of it.

Fid Resto

Now that I compare pictures, I see that the dish is very similar to what I got last time, but that’s ok because it was delicious. This time I managed to stop eating and take home leftovers instead of hurting myself.

Day 2

Lunch at organic, locally-focused The Wooden Monkey. Had the rice bowl, add scallops. It was incredible. Spouse declared it the best restaurant in Halifax (he got the roast chicken and pesto sandwich, sub apple salad).

Dinner at home: grilled Nova Scotia salmon and veggies from Pete’s Frootique, which specializes in local produce. Pete’s is sort of like the Halifax Whole Foods, but it’s a small independent chain. The Halifax store has a gluten-free cafe and made-to-order breakfast wraps and salads.

Day 3

Ran through Point Pleasant Park to burn some of these restaurant calories. On the way I passed the Inglis Street Urban Garden at Inglis Street Elementary School. Lucky kids!

Inglis Street Urban Garden

 Day 4

Coffee at Steve-O-Reno’s. It was chilly and sprinkly so I did not lounge on the porch.


I had been told this was the best coffee in town, and I can report that it is pretty darn tasty–and very popular with the on-the-way-to-work crowd. They carry gluten-free goodies; I plan to return for an Eight Ball (nuts, fruit, coconut ground up and formed into a large ball).

Lunch from Pete’s ToGoGo (yes, that Pete): West African Peanut Soup and a custom salad. With a little adventure thrown in, trying to find it from Hollis St.

Pete's ToGoGo

The soup is much like my dearly beloved Spicy Senagalese Peanut Tofu from Rev Soup (sans tofu) and hit the spot on a dreary day. The salad packs a lot of ingredients into a small box. This would totally be my lunch spot if I worked downtown.

Day 5

Coffee at my office-away-from-the-office, Paper Chase. Great place to work and caffeinate and stare out the window.

Since it was a pretty day, for lunch I ferried over to Dartmouth for some highly-recommended fish and chips at Evan’s.

Fish and chips at Evan's

It was tasty, but I’m not used to that much fried all at once. One’s plate of food is not supposed to be a single color. Enjoyed the ferry ride and its views:

Halifax from the ferry

Because I was on a nutritional roll, when I got back to Halifax I wanted dessert. I stopped at World Tea House and got an oatcake (more brown food) but my favorite goody in the case was a shortbread cookie with an icing WTH, which filled me with glee until I realized it was the initials of the cafe’s name.

Dinner: back to the Monkey. I got the veggie stirfry, add scallops, which was tasty but not as good as that rice bowl. Oh that rice bowl. I tried a Nova Scotian hard cider, Stutz, and was pleasantly surprised. So I had a second bottle.

Stutz Cider

Day 6

I went back to Steve-O-Reno’s for that Eight Ball I spied on Day 4. It was amazing. Dates, almonds, cranberries, flax seeds. Cashews too, I think? And it was huge.

Steve-O-Reno's Eight Ball

The Eight Ball was my fuel for a long walk to the Hydrostone neighborhood, via The Grainery Food Co-op, which I had read about while researching Halifax CSAs and other local food resources. It was smaller than I expected (I was picturing something more like the fabulous Crozet Natural Foods Co-op, which, oddly, has no online presence. It’s not gone, is it? I haven’t been to downtown Crozet in several years), but did have some local grains and dried fruits, and a bulletin board full of local food info.

Walked down the cute strip of shops at Hydrostone Market,

Hydrostone Market

resisted the pastries at the patisserie, visited some of the neighborhood’s interesting little boulevards and hiked back home.

Dinner was at Jane’s on the Common. I did not take my usual crappy phone picture of my meal because I inhaled it and there was no time for pictures. I got a veggie rice bowl, add scallops, similar to my favorite Monkey meal, but this had a sweet green curry sauce. It was great. Jane’s ingredients come from local farms when possible, and the space is cozy and comfortable. Unfortunately, the restaurant is closing at the end of the year, so get there while you still can. I know I’ll be back.

Devil deviled eggs

Last Saturday I took deviled eggs to a party. I love deviled eggs, but don’t make them often, or ever, actually. I wanted them to be beautiful and delicious for this special occasion. On Friday, I bought 3 dozen local, pasture raised eggs, boiled them, and threw them in the refrigerator overnight. I found a recipe in an America’s Test Kitchen book and borrowed a piping kit from Cheenius, cake decorator extraordinaire. Saturday morning I got the eggs out of the fridge and peeled all 36. Zero came out unblemished. Ninety-five percent of them were horribly disfigured, with lumps and gashes and flaps.

ugly eggs after peeling

Only after surveying the messy results did I remember hearing that older eggs are easier to peel. As eggs age, air passes through the shell, increasing the air pocket between the egg white and the thin membrane between the white and the shell. When an egg is fresh, the shell, membrane, and white cling to each other, leading to chunks of white being pulled off with the shell.

I thought I could disguise my ugly egg whites with lovely piped and sprinkled fillings, but way overestimated my skills with a piping bag and paprika shaker.

ugly deviled eggs

So they were hideous, but tasty. Just about all 72 were eaten, and I hoped that people would know how fresh the eggs were, based on their mangled whites.

HP in NYC: New Amsterdam Market

What better to do on a Sunday morning than go to a local artisan market? We visited the New Amsterdam Market at South Street Seaport to sample local foods and buy a variety of treats for lunch: gourmet grilled cheeses, a lobster roll, and an Indian combo platter.

Each vendor’s sign listed their home location, and while some where coming from a few hours away (I think Pittsfield, MA was the farthest I saw), most were from close by, or within the city.

The food was excellent, and we had a pretty nice view to lunch by:

The New Amsterdam Market is open from 11am-4pm Sundays. Vendor information can be found on their website.

Eating animal products responsibly

Eating meat and dairy responsibly can be challenging: always reading labels, asking questions of waitstaff and proprietors, researching stores and brands. I rely on a collection of web sites to help me find my way, and a notable one is The Whole9, a health and wellness site that preaches a very paleo way of eating.

Yes, paleo followers eat a lot of meat, but they pay close attention to the composition of the meat, as any added hormones or chemicals are transferred from the meat to the eater, and the healthier the animal and more natural and higher quality the animal’s diet, the more nutritious the meat or dairy product. The treatment of the animal is important too, since stress dumps bad hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream, and from there into the meat.

The Whole9 has a ton of really good information about eating healthy meat and eggs. They believe dairy products are irritants and cause health problems, so they don’t address milk, cheese, etc in their articles, but the same rules apply: get your dairy from happy, healthy, naturally raised animals.

Without further ado, here are some useful references to help you along your merry responsible consumer way!

  • The Conscientious Omnivore from The Whole9: A great overview of the importance of eating healthy, happy, well cared for and humanely slaughtered animals.
    • The Conscientious Omnivore: Eggs  Covers the hidden cost of cheap eggs, and instructs how to read egg carton labels–or even better: find egg that are so fresh and local, their cartons don’t even have labels!
    • The Conscientious Omnivore: From the Sea  Discusses the pros and cons of wild-caught and farmed seafood. Consumers need to use caution when choosing wild fish as many populations are over-fished. Farmed fish presents similar problems as factory farmed livestock: pollution, chemicals, and animals fed unnatural diets. The Whole9 gives seafood recommendations, including “consider farmed salmon your worst choice in any setting.”
  • The Whole9 crew then did all sorts of cross-referencing about mercury content, sustainability, and Omega-3 content to come up with this list of fish recommendations.

Following links from The Whole9 articles led me to these resources:

  • Eat Wild is a directory of local farms selling grass-fed products, and a resource for both farmers and consumers on the how-tos and benefits of pasture-raising livestock. To sum up, they help you to “find out how choosing grassfed products is good for: Animal Welfare, Farmer Benefits, the Environment, and Human Health.” I can locate local grass-fed farms in the Virginia farm directory, or on the Virginia map, and there’s list of Virginia stores, restaurant, farmers markets, and buying clubs with grass-fed products. Look up your state!
  • US Wellness Meats is a consortium of family farms in the central US, raising livestock that’s free to forage on grass at will, and practicing sustainable pasture management. They ship meat, cheese, and butter around the country, and the farmers’ beliefs about how livestock and land should be treated is worth reading.
  • Heritage Food USA, a site selling grass-fed, antibiotic-free regional or heritage meat, is affiliated with Slow Food USA. They have a manifesto worth reading, the gist of which is “We are proud combatants in the fight to promote difference and diversity in a marketplace dominated by monocultures. In this kind of marketplace, animals raised on pasture without antibiotics are hard to come by, as are rare and heritage genetics that evolved naturally rather than from laboratories designed for meat production and fast growth.

There are many, many good resources out there instructing consumers on the importance and benefits of eating responsibly raised and produced animal products. These are just a few; please share your favorites in the comments!

The FDA is breeding superbacteria to kill us all.

It’s true: FDA Turns Down Petitions to Withdraw Medically Important Antibiotics from Animal Agriculture

Why do we, as consumers, care about this? Because the overuse of antibiotics in our food supply leads to drug-resistant bacteria. We’re seeing that with the rise in MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, infections, which are not treatable by most antibiotics.

Antibiotics are regularly fed to healthy factory farmed animals to ward off any diseases that are likely to strike when large numbers of animals are confined together in a small, unsanitary space. This irresponsible use of antibiotics means that bacteria have more opportunity to evolve defense mechanisms against the antibiotics, making the drugs ineffective, and creating super bugs like MRSA.

The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming has some scary statistics:

  • In 1998, the Institute of Medicine estimated that antibiotic resistance generated at least $4 billion to $5 billion per year in extra costs to the U.S. health care system, more recently estimated at $16.6 billion to $26 billion per year
  • Up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to healthy food animals
  • More than 25 million pounds of antibiotics a year are used as a non-therapeutic treatment to artificially speed up the growth of food animals and to compensate for the effects of unsanitary conditions on the farm

The World Health Organization has recommended that the FDA and USDA regulate the administering of antibiotics to food animals, and end this dangerous practice. But since they won’t, we consumers need to be responsible and only purchase animal products from animals that were not fed antibiotics. Check labels to be sure the animals’ diet was drug-free, or look for the Organic designation, which means no antibiotics, hormones, or steroids were fed to the animals. Even better, purchase your animal products from small, local farms, where you can visit and confirm that the animals are pasture-raised and happy. The future of humanity may depend on it!

Tips for cooking grass-fed beef

Having a Labor Day cookout? These tips from Edible Blue Ridge will help you get the most flavor from your grass-fed steaks and burgers, which are leaner than corn-fed meat:

  • Choose burgers with a higher fat content for better texture.
  • Be sure to trim the white membrane from steaks, as the connective tissues won’t soften as well as in regular meat when cooked.
  • Sear the meat over high heat to keep the juices in, and then move it to a cooler area of the grill to heat though. Don’t overcook!
  • Let the meat rest before cutting it against the grain.

Have a great Labor Day! Haute Pasture will be enjoying the day on the Meet Yer Eats farm tour!

Rainy day movie: Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. is a chilling documentary full of disturbing facts about the huge corporations that run the American food system.

Hooray for local hero Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, a featured “good guy” farmer.

Quotes from the movie:

When we run an item past the supermarket scanner, we’re voting: for local not organic or not.

You can vote to change this system. Three times a day.

Buy from companies that treat workers, animals, and the environment with respect.

When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season. Buy foods that are organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels. Know what you buy.

The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket. Buy foods that are grown locally. Shop at farmers’ markets. Plant a garden (even a small one).

Everyone has a right to healthy food. Make sure your farmers’ market takes food stamps. Ask your school board to provide healthy school lunches. The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect you and your family. Tell Congress to enforce food safety standards and re-introduce Kevin’s Law.

To learn more, go to http://www.takepart.com/foodinc


Surprise Ally: The Paleo Diet

What? How can a diet that encourages eating large quantities of meat be considered a friend to the anti-factory farming movement?

The Paleo Diet preaches the consumption of pasture raised, humanely treated meat and eggs. The emphasis is on the fact that these foods are more wholesome, and therefore better for humans than factory farmed meats and eggs, but the side effect of supporting humane farms is a welcome one.

Animals raised on pasture and slaughtered humanely produce healthier food: more vitamins, a better fat profile and fatty acid ratios, no unnecessary antibiotics, and less stress hormones.

In short: eat only happy, healthy animals (or products from those animals) and you will be a happy, healthy human! Remember: you are what what you eat eats!






American Meat movie!

A movie about Polyface Farms and Joel Salatin! With Temple Grandin!

http://www.americanmeatfilm.com/ (We especially enjoyed the pictures of the animals. Not your average farm life!)

American Meat explores the complexities embedded in the highly debated practices of the American meat industry. As the economy drives a contraction of conventional chicken, pork and beef operations, we hear the innovative methods of the charismatic, Virginia-based farmer, Joel Salatin. Joel, who is a leader of the growing niche of people who are opting for animals raised outside and without the use of antibiotics, believes that if more people become sustainable farmers, the movement could fracture centralized commodity production. Conventional farmers argue that small-scale farming can’t expand production enough to adequately meet the demands of the nation. As the dialogue ensues, Salatin signs a deal with fast-food chain Chipotle in a surprising move, with widespread implications for the industry.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knNLZvphhfs&feature=player_embedded

“Know your farmer and just completely opt out of the system.”

Makes me want to give up my “Dilbert-cubicle job.”

More info: