It is no secret that I love farmers’ markets. One of my favourite things to do when I am traveling is to find the local markets and check out what’s in season where I’m visiting. One of my top market picks in Manhattan is GrowNYC’s Union Square Greenmarket. Today I’m sharing a few of the vendors that I visited on my most recent trip. I’ll also be sharing all of the details about Miss Lily’s Bakeshop where I stopped for a green juice from Melvin’s Juice Box and I'll give you the scoop on Peacefood Cafe, where I picked up lunch while I was on route (which in retrospect was kind of ironic seeing as I was going to the market).
Melvin’s Juice Box at Miss Lily’s Bakeshop
My first stop was Melvin’s Juice Box which is attached to Miss Lily’s Bakeshop, located at 130 W Houston Street (about a 17 minute walk, 7 minutes driving without traffic to Union Square). Melvin's Juice Box founder, Melvin Major Jr is a 20-year veteran of New York’s fresh, organic juice scene. During my visit, I picked up one of Melvin’s delicious and energizing Body Good Green Juices, made with organic kale, apples, collard greens, swiss chard, celery, ginger and lemon.
Melvin’s Juice Box is attached to Miss Lily’s Bakeshop which is vegan-friendly Jamaican café that serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner. as well as organic fresh juices and smoothies. Their extensive menu has vegan options including Vegetable Roti, Avocado Toast, Jerk Corn, Plantain, Rice & Peas and an extensive drink menu including shakes, fresh juices, boosters, organic tea and locally roasted coffee. Definitely a spot worth checking out!
My next stop on my route was the vegan kitchen and bakery Peacefood Cafe which has two locations - one in the Upper West Side at 460 Amsterdam Avenue (at 82 st) and a downtown location at 41 East 11 Street (at University Place). I visited the downtown location on my way to Union Square (about a 5 minute walk to Union Square).
What really resonated with me about this restaurant was the significance behind its name which is based on the notion that peace begins on your plate. The founders, Eric and Peter, believe that the awareness of non-violence can be spread through feeding people with delicious vegan food.
The downtown location is tastefully decorated and was fairly busy during the lunch hour when I stopped by. I ordered my meal to go at the counter as I admired the impressive desert case which was filled with house-made cookies, cakes, raw pies and brownies. I had the Tahini Sprouts Sandwich which was made with mixed sprouts, creamy avocado, cucumber, onions, shredded carrots and a miso tahini with poppy seeds spread on spelt rye bread.
GrowNYC’s Union Square Greenmarket
On the particular day that I visited Union Square it was 18°C (in mid-November!) and sunny. I took full advantage of the beautiful weather and walked over to the park at Union Square before visiting the Greenmarket and I enjoyed my sandwich on the benches. FYI there’s free WiFi in the park, so if you’re in from out of town it is the perfect place to sit and catch up on emails. There’s also a little off-leash dog park where you can watch the most adorable dogs at play.
GrowNYC’s Greenmarket at Union Square is open year round on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. GrowNYC is a non-profit that works to improve New York City's quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities by empowering all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations. The Greenmarkets, which run throughout the city, have programs in place to collect items for recycling, including cellphone and batteries, textiles, and food scraps. According to to @GrowNYC’s Twitter “Last week 4,512 people brought 39,093 lbs of food scraps to Greenmarkets to make compost & reduce waste.”
Creating accessibility to healthy food is truly exemplified by GrowNYC as nearly every Greenmarket accepts EBT (Food Stamps) and Health Bucks, which are vouchers that are distributed by the NYC Health Department and are redeemable for fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets. There are also a number of additional programs in place to ensure that all New Yorkers, especially those with low incomes, have access to nutritious and fresh products. (For further reading on these impressive initiatives click here.)
I attended the Greenmarket on a Monday, where I found two vendors with beautiful organic produce that I have included below. I seriously wanted to buy everything I saw! There were even varieties of produce that I have not yet seen in any Toronto shops or markets and my interest was certainly piqued. I also checked out Body and Soul Bake Shop, a vegan bakeshop that was highly recommended to me by some very friendly vegans I met while I was exploring the city. I should add that after visiting the market I had a chance to view the complete vendor list , which is actually quite extensive, and includes additional vendors offering organic produce who attend the market on other days.
Lani’s Farm (Bordentown, South New Jersey) - Mondays and Saturdays
Norwich Meadow Farms (Norwich, New York) - Monday, Friday and Saturday
I had a giant vegan Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie from Body and Soul Bake Shop. It was probably as big as my head and I ate the whole thing, it was that delicious!
For a full listing of GrowNYC Greenmarkets click here.
Check back in my Travel Guide for additional vegan food recommendations from my travels in Manhattan.