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Groceries in NYC

Adapting to life without a car in NYC has been an interesting experience. Since we’re fortunate enough to live close to the subway, I haven’t felt the need for a car too much and have found getting around a largely straightforward experience. Sure, shopping for furniture is taking a while longer than it used to and I’m wearing out my favorite flats a lot quicker with all of the walking around, but these are hassles I’m more than willing to accept for being able to live in a city so densely compact that I can walk down a block or two and find some new interesting place to eat or tea parlor to work from pretty much whenever I care to.

What I haven’t gotten quite used to is, how does one get groceries around here without the carrying capacity and mobility of a car? Friends have offered a number of suggestions, ranging from Fresh Direct (an online grocer) and delivered groceries all the way to stocking up at Costco once a month by ZipCar or bringing along a trolley and walking to the closest Whole Foods. All are seemingly feasible options but none are perfectly satisfactory. How do I recreate that feeling of shopping at a farmer’s market, where I can chat with farmers about their favorite recipe for their product, without having to lug my freshly acquired beets and arugula through the grimy and urine-reeking underbelly of New York City?

What I’d love to have is a cross between Fresh Direct and a farmers’ market, something like the CSA we subscribed to in San Francisco called Capay. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are co-ops that sell subscriptions to boxes of fruits and vegetables delivered periodically right to your doorstep. When we subscribed to Capay, our produce box arrived every two weeks, usually containing a great variety of seasonal produce, and the vegetables were so fresh they still smelled of, and sometimes still wore, the earth they grew in.

I’m sure CSAs like Capay exist outside of the SF Bay Area and I’m probably just a google search away from discovering one nearby. Apparently, even Singapore has an organic CSA called Murray’s Organics. Then again, they do have the benefit of tropical weather – some of the fruits and veggies available in their boxes makes me want to hop on the next flight to Kuala Lumpur and straight to the wet market near my parents’ house for some mangosteens. Not sure what seasonal produce is available in NYC during the wintertime, but I guess meanwhile I’ll just brush up on recipes that feature winter vegetables.

Suggestions welcome!

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