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 Post subject: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:10 am 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
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Location: nearly in NYC
Hello everyone - I am new here (introduced myself in the "new members thread"), and, as the title of this post suggests, I am a European who is about to move to New York.

I've been vegetarian for over 11 years and vegan for over 2 now. I am a little worried about moving to the US - although I know that NY is vegan Mecca :) But how can I be sure to avoid GMO foods and artificial sweeteners, even when I go to a vegan restaurant?

I have already many lists on the most recommended vegan places to eat, I also know some health food stores and organic supermarkets, but which other places for newbies would you recommend in Manhattan?

And I am sure there are some European expats in NY/on this forum, what should I be thinking of/careful about at the beginning?

Thanks a lot for any tip/info :)


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:44 am 
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you probably wont have a problem avoiding artificial sweeteners. I don't think most places use those in cooking unless it's a specifically sugar free baked good or something (which probably wouldn't be vegan anyway). People here mostly use artificial sweeteners in their coffee in little packets, so you can easily avoid that.

If a food is organic, it's not GMO, so if you buy organic canola oil and organic corn products you'll be fine. It's really hard to say at restaurants. I think most vegan restaurants are pretty aware of that stuff and probably try to avoid using genetically modified ingredients, but it's hard to say for sure. If soybean oil or canola oil or corn products are used, it might be tough to avoid GMOs. Personally, I don't really think about that stuff when I go to a restaurant. I don't buy foods that might be genetically modified at home, but if I want to order Chinese take away, I don't ask if they are using genetically modified soy bean oil and corn starch because they probably are.

Check out supervegan.com for a really comprehensive list of vegan restaurants in the city.

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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:04 pm 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
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Location: nearly in NYC
Thanks for the tips! I read that even a place like Whole Foods recently had to acknowledge using GMOs - what do you make of that then? I mean, they're saying that they're organic and I read their statement, they wrote that no place can ever pretend to be 100% GMO-free, even if they're organic stores...

But I always look first if something is vegan, the GMO thing just worries me a little, given that it is forbidden to use/sell any GMOs in my country here and I know how different the USA's take on GMOs is to Europe.

I know supervegan, they have a great list of places to eat and go to.

Thanks :)


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Remembers When Veganism Was Cool
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ijustdiedinside wrote:

If a food is organic, it's not GMO,


Be aware that in the U.S, "organic" can also mean something like "not heavily processed regular stuff" or "traditionally made"

When something in the U.S claims to be "organic", look for the USDA certification, or you'll pay way too much for stuff that's made with artificial fertilizers and pesticides.


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:54 pm 
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Vegan Since Before There Were Vegetables
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Veg_Eric wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:

If a food is organic, it's not GMO,


Be aware that in the U.S, "organic" can also mean something like "not heavily processed regular stuff" or "traditionally made"

When something in the U.S claims to be "organic", look for the USDA certification, or you'll pay way too much for stuff that's made with artificial fertilizers and pesticides.


yeah, you should look for the organic certification, but i don't think that they use the word organic for stuff that isn't organic. there are a lot of other buzz words like "natural" or something that don't mean anything, but organic does mean something and companies are supposed to use it properly.


also, whole foods doesn't claim to be all organic. everything that is organic is labelled and things that are non gmo that are not organic are also labelled as such.

I think what you're talking about with not being able to be sure if things are 100% GMO free is because there can be cross pollination where GM seeds will get into organic crops and so some of that crop might have some percentage of GMO plants. You can make yourself really crazy thinking about stuff like that. Having a small amount of genetically modified foods in your diet is not going to kill you. My main issue with GMOs have more to do with the companies that produce the seeds and their really bad business practices.

You'll just have to figure things out when you get here. If you worry TOO much about every single thing that is in your food, you might miss out on a lot of good stuff, but that's entirely up to you. I just try my best to eat what's healthy and good for the environment.

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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:09 am 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
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Location: nearly in NYC
Veg_Eric wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:

If a food is organic, it's not GMO,


Be aware that in the U.S, "organic" can also mean something like "not heavily processed regular stuff" or "traditionally made"

When something in the U.S claims to be "organic", look for the USDA certification, or you'll pay way too much for stuff that's made with artificial fertilizers and pesticides.


Thanks for that tip, I'll certainly look out for that. So this is a label we are talking of, right (the USDA certification)?


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:12 am 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
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Location: nearly in NYC
ijustdiedinside wrote:
Veg_Eric wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:

If a food is organic, it's not GMO,


Be aware that in the U.S, "organic" can also mean something like "not heavily processed regular stuff" or "traditionally made"

When something in the U.S claims to be "organic", look for the USDA certification, or you'll pay way too much for stuff that's made with artificial fertilizers and pesticides.


yeah, you should look for the organic certification, but i don't think that they use the word organic for stuff that isn't organic. there are a lot of other buzz words like "natural" or something that don't mean anything, but organic does mean something and companies are supposed to use it properly.


also, whole foods doesn't claim to be all organic. everything that is organic is labelled and things that are non gmo that are not organic are also labelled as such.

I think what you're talking about with not being able to be sure if things are 100% GMO free is because there can be cross pollination where GM seeds will get into organic crops and so some of that crop might have some percentage of GMO plants. You can make yourself really crazy thinking about stuff like that. Having a small amount of genetically modified foods in your diet is not going to kill you. My main issue with GMOs have more to do with the companies that produce the seeds and their really bad business practices.

You'll just have to figure things out when you get here. If you worry TOO much about every single thing that is in your food, you might miss out on a lot of good stuff, but that's entirely up to you. I just try my best to eat what's healthy and good for the environment.


thanks again for that help. you're right that I should maybe try to freak out a little less... but I am a little worried because we Europeans always hear about how GMOs are dominating the US food market and we are very, very cautious about this area...

I always thought Whole Foods was organic, but then again, I have only been to one of their stores in the UK, maybe it is different in the US.

Thanks :)


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:10 am 
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I'm basically just seconding what IDJI said, but when Whole Foods says "natural" they usually mean conventional, which may be GMO. Organic is always organic.

Also keep in mind that while the USDA will certify that something is organic, they don't ever actually inspect or follow up in any way on the farms and companies they've certified, so if you're really, really concerned, you want to buy products that have additional, independent certification.


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:06 pm 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
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Location: nearly in NYC
great, thanks, I'll certainly watch out for any "false friends" with labels etc.

Thanks for all the tips!


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:15 am 
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Also, welcome to NYC! I volunteer at 4th Street Food Co-op in Manhattan. You might consider coming by as you're getting settled. You can buy spices, grains, cooking oils, liquid soaps at good prices from the bulk bins--meaning you buy by weight as much as you need. Spices in particular are very cheap, and we sell the containers or you can bring your own. Almost everything in the place is organic (produce is 100% organic) and is labeled if not. The other worker/volunteers are friendly, environmentally minded, many vegetarians, etc. Joining the co-op could be a good way to meet people.

In case you didn't know, there are several main items that are genetically modified in the US, so you should always purchase organic versions of these: soy, corn, cotton, canola (rapeseed), rice, and sugar beets. Packaged foods are the ones to watch for while shopping. I agree that if you try to also avoid these in restaurants you might end up never eating out. There are some totally organic restaurants, I believe Sacred Chow is one, but not all vegan places will be 100% organic.

Finally! There are some organizations you can join to lobby for mandatory GMO labeling laws like Europe has. There is a big event coming up this fall, walking from NYC to Washington and camping along the way to raise awareness.


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:27 am 
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at whole foods, anything marked organic is usda certified organic, so free of gmos. this also includes all of their private label foods, which are sourced to be gmo free (365, etc.)

in the us, there are no gmo labeling laws, so it's impossible for a store to be able to say things are gmo-free. even certified organic soy and corn are contaminated these days.

xo
kittee

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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
Posts: 14
Location: nearly in NYC
JillW wrote:
Also, welcome to NYC! I volunteer at 4th Street Food Co-op in Manhattan. You might consider coming by as you're getting settled. You can buy spices, grains, cooking oils, liquid soaps at good prices from the bulk bins--meaning you buy by weight as much as you need. Spices in particular are very cheap, and we sell the containers or you can bring your own. Almost everything in the place is organic (produce is 100% organic) and is labeled if not. The other worker/volunteers are friendly, environmentally minded, many vegetarians, etc. Joining the co-op could be a good way to meet people.

In case you didn't know, there are several main items that are genetically modified in the US, so you should always purchase organic versions of these: soy, corn, cotton, canola (rapeseed), rice, and sugar beets. Packaged foods are the ones to watch for while shopping. I agree that if you try to also avoid these in restaurants you might end up never eating out. There are some totally organic restaurants, I believe Sacred Chow is one, but not all vegan places will be 100% organic.

Finally! There are some organizations you can join to lobby for mandatory GMO labeling laws like Europe has. There is a big event coming up this fall, walking from NYC to Washington and camping along the way to raise awareness.


Hi - thanks for the nice welcoming words :)
I have heard of the Co-Op in Manhattan, maybe you can just explain the system a little bit to me? If I want to buy there, I also need to volunteer there, no? I don't know if I'll have the amount of free time, especially at the beginning, but in general - I'll probably have quite a bit of stress at my job : (

I have found a list of organic vegan places in NY, and I'll make sure to buy only organic soy etc.
As for the lobbying, I am afraid this will be too "close to home" - not that I work in lobbying, but I am still involved in policy making (hopefully for the better!). Thanks though - the US really needs to raise awareness of GMOs, but I am afraid it's a cultural thing, in Europe most politicians would also give in to GMO lobbies if they could have their way, but it is the public opinion that is so opposed to anything "technological" and "ethical" in relationship to the food...


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:25 pm 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 am
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Location: nearly in NYC
kittee wrote:
at whole foods, anything marked organic is usda certified organic, so free of gmos. this also includes all of their private label foods, which are sourced to be gmo free (365, etc.)

in the us, there are no gmo labeling laws, so it's impossible for a store to be able to say things are gmo-free. even certified organic soy and corn are contaminated these days.

xo
kittee


Hi Kittee,

That's interesting about Whole Foods' own brands - which other ones should I watch out for, besides 365?


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:30 pm 
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oh also, you can shop for all your vegetables at farmers markets or join a CSA http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket http://www.justfood.org/csaloc
not every farm stand is organic, but you can ask them. some use organic practices, but just haven't been able to afford the certification or use only really minimal pesticides. For me, that is preferable to buying organic produce from California.

There are some co-ops at which you need to volunteer to shop there. At the 4th St Food Co-op, I believe you can become a member and receive a discount, but you don't need that to shop there. It's really great little store. If I lived closer to it, I'd definitely shop there more.

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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:17 pm 
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Hoards Peppermint Jo-Jos
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
There are some co-ops at which you need to volunteer to shop there. At the 4th St Food Co-op, I believe you can become a member and receive a discount, but you don't need that to shop there. It's really great little store. If I lived closer to it, I'd definitely shop there more.


Yep, 4SFC is open to public for shopping. Working members get a discount at the register, and non-working members get a smaller discount.

Pretty sure none of the farms at the farmers market would be into GMO, they are mostly small farms. The one in Union Square is pretty close to the type of open air market you see in Paris and Amsterdam. There are others around the city too, but I don't know them as well.


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:13 pm 
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oh yeah, they're definitely non gmo. i just meant not all of them are organic.

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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:20 am 
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Tofu Pup

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Location: nearly in NYC
ijustdiedinside wrote:
oh also, you can shop for all your vegetables at farmers markets or join a CSA http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket http://www.justfood.org/csaloc
not every farm stand is organic, but you can ask them. some use organic practices, but just haven't been able to afford the certification or use only really minimal pesticides. For me, that is preferable to buying organic produce from California.

There are some co-ops at which you need to volunteer to shop there. At the 4th St Food Co-op, I believe you can become a member and receive a discount, but you don't need that to shop there. It's really great little store. If I lived closer to it, I'd definitely shop there more.


Thanks for the great tips, I was actually trying to find a list of local markets, so the "Grown NYC" website is perfect (it even has a map!). The CSA principle sounds good too, I don't exactly know where I'll be living yet, but I definitely keep it in my mind once I have my place in Manhattan.
It is also good to know that one does not have to volunteer at the Co-Op to shop there. I don't think I'd have the time.


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:21 am 
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Tofu Pup

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JillW wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:
There are some co-ops at which you need to volunteer to shop there. At the 4th St Food Co-op, I believe you can become a member and receive a discount, but you don't need that to shop there. It's really great little store. If I lived closer to it, I'd definitely shop there more.


Yep, 4SFC is open to public for shopping. Working members get a discount at the register, and non-working members get a smaller discount.

Pretty sure none of the farms at the farmers market would be into GMO, they are mostly small farms. The one in Union Square is pretty close to the type of open air market you see in Paris and Amsterdam. There are others around the city too, but I don't know them as well.


Great, I'll most definitely check out the Union Square market then. It all sounds good!


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 Post subject: Re: European moving to NY
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:25 pm 
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If you have made it this far as a vegan then you have all the skills needed to avoid GMOs even without mandatory labeling in the US. You know to call a company and ask them about the sourcing of their "lactic acid", you can do the same with the sourcing of their soy, ect. You know to look for things w/ 3rd part "vegan" certification, you can do the same for 3rd party "non-gmo" & organic labels.

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