If you’re anything like me, you treat vacations as complete vacations from everyday life, which, for me, means my diet is on hold, too, and I (over)indulge in as many treats as I can find. As easy as it is to find treats everywhere, it’s just as easy, in New York City, to find fresh, healthy, delicious food that you can prepare yourself, even when you’re on vacation (or a business trip). If you’re self-catering – staying in a long-term stay efficiency or suite (such as Embassy Suites), or even using short-term apartment stays (such as AirBnB or HomeAway services) – finding good places to shop for food can be difficult, especially if you don’t know the neighborhood. GrowNYC Greenmarkets make it easier, especially with 50 locations throughout the five boroughs.
For 40 years now, GrowNYC has made local foods (within a 60- to 80-mile radius of New York City) available to New Yorkers. Farmers, growers, makers, etc., sell directly to customers (quite a few chefs find their inspiration and ingredients in the greenmarkets), so there are no middlemen in the equation. You can talk to the vendors, ask them questions about their products, get recipes, tips, and more. There’s even an Education Station at each market, where you can learn more about the markets and the services they offer.
New York City’s Greenmarkets are outdoor meccas of local goodness. Produce, meats, eggs, honey, maple, flowers, just about anything you can think of. There is one indoor market, at the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal building, and it’s open year-round on Tuesdays and Fridays. Take a round-trip on the iconic Staten Island Ferry (always FREE), then shop for your supper when you get back to Manhattan.
The Union Square Greenmarket is the most well-known and even has its own app. The app tells you who is at the market and what products are available. If you want a break from cooking, but don’t want to skip out on the healthy, local foods, check out The Pavilion. Located at the northern end of Union Square Park, The Pavilion is an open-air restaurant that operates seasonally from mid-April to mid-October. Chef Mario Urgiles crafted his delicious menu around Union Square Greenmarket’s offerings, making it a locavore’s dream restaurant. Stop by for lunch or brunch, then meander through the market and pick up ingredients for supper.
Disclaimer – I was treated to a tour of the Union Square Greenmarket and lunch at The Pavilion, but I am a long-term fan of GrowNYC, especially the Greenmarkets, because I have a year-round greenmarket in my own neighborhood, which I frequent as often as possible. In addition to their greenmarket work, they also offer textile recycling, composting, special recycling (NYC has a robust recycling program that include paper, plastic, and cans, already, and GrowNYC helps recycle other materials not already handled by the City), community gardening, and many other programs,. An important program offered at the greenmarkets is the Healthy Exchange, which enables SNAP/EBT beneficiaries to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables with Health Bucks.