Fiji ginger

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One of the stranger things that I purchased at the co-op in Ithaca was Fiji Ginger. Imagine if you will: pieces of ginger covered in chocolate. Each piece is the size of a Raisinette and even the most hearty of ginger lovers (as opposed Mary Anne lovers?) could only eat a few. I’m telling you: these things are strong.

If you’re interested in trying a bizarre snack foods and can stomach a little ginger, give these a shot. They’re… interesting.

Greenstar co-op

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During our trip to New York, one of the places that made quite an impression on me was the GreenStar Co-op. Scott had mentioned it to me several months ago, so I wanted to check it out when we made our trip to Ithaca. It was hard to miss: visible right off of Buffalo Street at the beginning of town was the large grocery-store-like co-op.

I’ve never been to a co-op before, but I understood the general idea: individuals selling their food and products under one roof in a familiar atmosphere with a common cause in mind. I got what I expected: lots of fresh, organic fruits and veggies, a nice bulk herb section, and lots of other typical health-food store offerings (but often with non-typical brands). And the prices were so nice in some cases, that I stocked up on some normal things (like Kiss My Face soap), since they were cheaper than at the grocery store back home.

Among the things I was particularly excited about: some really good Celtic sea salt, organic nettle in non-gelatin capsules (alas, my search for veggie caplet fennel continues…), some quinoa pasta, some snacks, and a bunch of fresh fruit that we snacked on during our trip. I would love to have a large co-op like that nearby, though the health food stores around me do have a pretty good selection themselves.

The co-op also provided a lot more interesting people-watching as the variety of customers was much greater than in a standard supermarket. Everybody there, from hippies to Rastas, looked vibrant, excited, and enthused, something you don’t find walking the aisles of Safeway.

Before I left, I dropped off a few Veg Blog stickers for the Ithaca masses.

Christmas Tofurky

We spent Christmas at my parents’ house in New Jersey and they hosted a 13-person Christmas night dinner. Being sensitive to my vegetarian diet, my mom ordered a Tofurky Feast for me. At Thanksgiving, I had had the main part (the roast and stuffing) and enjoyed it, but this time I got to try out the tempeh drumsticks and the Tofurky Jurky wishsticks. The appearance of the drumsticks was mildly amusing, but I was surprised at their taste. It had a much grainier texture to it than most tempeh that I’ve had. It was spiced nicely and wasn’t a bad compliment to the Tofurky roast.

I was especially surprised by the Tofurky Jurky. Though the sticks weren’t the traditional shape of beef jerky, their flavor and saltiness seemed pretty close to what I remember beef jerky tasting like. Good stuff.

My main complaint with Tofurky remains, though: the appearance. The “skin” looks more like my Tofurky is wearing a skully. Taste is more important to me, but unfortunately, having a Tofurky means enduring insults and rude comments about its appearance by other guests. When you think about it, though, I guess it’s a more pleasant sight than a dead turkey…

A trip to Ithaca

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As you may have noticed, I’ve been away from the Veg Blog for a bit. My wife and I took our delayed honeymoon last week and then spent some time with family over the holidays. During our our honeymoon to New York (Geneva, Ithaca, Watkins Glen), we did a number of decidedly “vegetarian things,” thanks to my wife’s willingness to indulge me. :) Over the next few days, I’ll be commenting on various experiences and places in short entries along with one new feature article. I decided that would be a better move than recapping everything in a single post.

I guess I’ll start by mentioning that I met up with Erik Marcus, host of the excellent Vegan.com and Food Headlines. He also authored Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating. We were originally scheduled to meet at the Harvest Deli in Ithaca Commons, but due to a mistake on my part, I showed up a day late (oops). However, we met a few days later for a Sunday brunch at the ABC Cafe.

Erik is an impressive guy. His dedication to the vegan community is clear, but he also sees the rest of the world with a realistic point of view. He realizes that sometimes you have to make a small sacrifice to your own beliefs in order to help advance them further (something I hope to get him to expand on in a planned interview in the near future).

Erik is at work on a new book that sounds like it will be a fascinating read, even for those that have been long-time vegans and read everything there is to read. If it’s half as good as Vegan…, it’ll certainly be essential.