Why Is Organic Under Fire From Science?

Why Is Organic Under Fire From Science?

 

I’m not a big organic shopper (I think it’s a bit of a scam) but lately it’s been hard not to notice the all-out war being waged by science against the organics industry.

 

And, of course, that makes me not only curious but also skeptical about why we’re seeing such an onslaught of negative news. It makes me suspect the science lobby (as in Monsanto etc) may be behind some of these studies. However, I am also not convinced that the organics industry (or the newly hyped meat-alternative industry) are completely on the up and up either.

Wading through numerous studies (many from Canada and Europe), has left me more confused than informed. There’s so much conflicting information around our food supply and what’s good for us vs. what’s harmful. You don’t have to go back more than a year or two to find all manner of discrepancies e.g. soy used to be good, now it’s bad, almond milk was good but now oat milk is better. And while veganism still seems to be growing, I’m also reading about prominent vegans e.g. Anne Hathaway, moving away from absolute Veganism to adopt a more flexitarian lifestyle.

And then there is this provocative finding: organic farmers may actually use more pesticides than conventional farmers?

One recent headline particularly caught my attention: “Why the chemical-free organic industry has a pesticide problem

It’s from the Genetic Literacy Project, based in Cincinnati, founded by Jon Entine, a  science writer and senior fellow at the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California, Davis. Their funding comes primarily from the John Templeton Foundation (which seems a bit wacky).

But, it is unsettling to see so many questions being raised about “organic.” Several studies have pointed out that “organic” is one of those feel-good phrases that we have absolutely no way of measuring or testing for ourselves. You buy a banana that is described as being organic, but is it? Does it look or taste uniquely organic vs. a conventionally grown banana?

Additionally, with so much of our organic produce imported, it makes it even more suspect – especially the items imported from China which has very lax standards for organic.

Another major change in our diets is the move from meat to plant-based alternatives including lab-grown meats (the latter sounds super yucky to me).

Sales of plant-based products saw a 23% boom in 2018, according to the Good Food Institute but they still represent less than 1% of the total meat market in the country.

Read on below for more data on both organic and FoodTech.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Google, Why Is The Coffee Shop Getting More Views Than Kusama?

Google, Why Is The Coffee Shop Getting More Views Than Kusama?

 

Let me just say I am loving being a Google Local Guide (top 1% in NYC). But I don’t understand the algorithms they use for how people find/view my photos.

 

For the uninitiated, Local Guides is a global community of Google users who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps.

I do it because I travel a lot and am always checking out new restaurants and stores in whatever city I’m in – whether it’s Bentonville, Oslo or NYC. And even before I started reviewing for Google, I always relied on Local Guide reviews (and photos) to plan my itineraries, decide where to stay, what to see and even what to order at restaurants.

Every month, Google sends their Local Guides a status update and if you’re sufficiently geeky, it’s a pretty cool way of reviewing how much exploring you’ve done, how your photos fared and how many people checked out your reviews.

They also send you updates when you reach certain milestones e.g. I just got to 4 million views on my photos. One of my pics reached over 200,000 views just this month. It’s a photo I took at Kulturhuset, a co-working space I used while in Oslo last year. And amazingly, I just noticed it has become the official photo of the place on Google (see below).

But I am beyond baffled as to why certain photos get thousands of views while others barely register.

For example:

  • Onyx Coffee Lab in Bentonville gets 35,764 views
  • My tomato salad at Milos, Hudson Yards gets 5720 views
  • A great photo of the Yayoi Kusama Stainless Spheres with a brilliant Chris Ofili painting at Frieze Art Fair gets a paltry 35 views

I’ve heard it has something to do with the proportionality of the photos – the algorithm looks at it in thirds but when I look at my photos, that makes no sense. If anyone has any answers for me, please let me know!

 

Scroll down for more on the Local Guides monthly updates and my claim to fame with the Kulturhuset Google photo!

Read More >

Share this post on:

Carine Roitfeld Parfums: The Most Stylish Pop-Up I’ve Seen In A While

Carine Roitfeld Parfums: The Most Stylish Pop-Up I’ve Seen In A While

Pop Up on Mercer Street (ran for 7 days from May 6-12)

 

“Finding a perfume you love is like finding a lover.”   Carine Roitfeld in Travel + Leisure

 

Roitfeld’s 7-day pop up culminated on Mother’s Day (and at 7 days, perfectly timed to coincide with the 7 Lovers concept). It was located in NYC’s Soho on Mercer Street between Houston and Prince.

I walked by it on Thursday but did not feel compelled to check it out. However, by Saturday, they had added that stunning window display of white flowers. The power of flowers! They literally stopped me in my tracks!

The fragrances are only available online at the moment at Net-A-Porter and on Roitfeld’s own website. The small 10ml size is $77. The larger size is $285.

 

Here’s the best (and the worst) of the launch:

The Best:

  • The white flowers in the windows (which were not there earlier in the week) lured me into the space. I know #1 on this list should be the fragrances but we’ll get to that.
  • The design of the space by Belgian fashion show producer Etienne Russo was sublime (thankfully he was released by his Japanese jailers where he was being held for cannabis smuggling and got to this just in time for the launch).
  • The silver world globe with the fragrance bottles attached to their respective cities is a brilliant idea.
  • The fragrances are gender-neutral.
  • The Flower Stand was fabulous and what a wonderful surprise to be gifted a beautifully wrapped bouquet of roses as a Mother’s Day gift! Just for checking out the fragrances, no purchase required.
  • Large-sized blotters with the name of each fragrance pre-printed on them to sample the 7 different fragrances (very helpful idea that I’ve not seen before).
  • My two favorite fragrances are Sebastian and Vladimir with Sebastian the clear winner for me. I thought it smelled fresher and lighter than the other fragrances.

 

The Worst:

  • Price point: $285 a bottle
  • The fragrances themselves were too strong for me – they describe them as being rich and complex which is not usually my thing. Too much “oud” going on for my nose. I’m a Jo Malone fragrance loyalist.

 

Read on below for more on the fragrances, including the perfumers Roitfeld worked with as well as more photos from the pop up.

Read More >

Share this post on:

What Work Would You Do When Money Is Not An Issue?

What Work Would You Do When Money Is Not An Issue?

 

Every few months, a great assignment comes my way. Almost invariably, my initial excitement turns to dread the minute I realize how it will upend my current, extremely fulfilling, schedule of writing and traveling.

 

The most recent assignment (which I would have given my eyeteeth for in the past), got me to ponder what kind of projects I would say yes to and just as importantly, how do I communicate that to the world at large, and my network in particular.

 

The first step, of course, is to get perfectly clear in my own mind what kind of projects I want to be involved with. Only then, can I attract what I want vs. what I used to want.

In considering what I do want to get involved with, I was reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago with Eric Larson on one of my Nat Geo trips. Link here (worth a read for anybody in a transformational phase of their career or lifestage).

 

Eric brilliantly outlined the two most important phases of a career which together, comprise what he calls Experience Diversity:

 

  • The Subject Matter Expertise Phase (SME) is strongest up to age 45. This represents the initial ascendancy of a career.
  • The Wisdom/Knowledge Phase starts to build by age 50 and continues for 20 to 30 years. The Wisdom Curve has a different shape, with potentially exponential growth. Wisdom accumulates and compounds. (Note:  just because you are older doesn’t mean you are wise; it is the experience that matters, especially experience with mistakes.)

At the time he and I had this conversation, I considered it inspiring but didn’t really “get” it. Now, two years later, I’m absolutely in the zone. I get it. That Venn diagram he drew for me is spot on (above, lower left).

 

Bottom Line.

My goal now is to serve strictly in advisory roles on projects big and small. Ideally, opportunities will arise that call for my particular brand of wisdom and experience – especially as it relates to culture shift, personal innovation and active aging.

I’m also going to continue to actively build my network. One of the most satisfying (and powerful) aspects of my life now is being able to make connections for friends and clients that help them to scale the heights of the Subject Matter Expertise Phase of their careers.

What goes around, comes around. I’m extremely happy to be able to pay it forward for all those people who have helped me on my journey.

Is that wisdom? Perhaps.  In any event, that’s the phase I’m in!

Read More >

Share this post on:

THIS Is Why I Have To Curtail My Online Shopping

THIS Is Why I Have To Curtail My Online Shopping

 

It’s easy to complain about how companies are destroying the environment, but perhaps we should examine our own behavior first.

 

Over the years, I’ve noticed that Walmart, Amazon and Target have all made efforts to right-size their shipping boxes. There’s still way too much waste as far as I’m concerned but less than previously.

So, imagine my horror when I received this large box (above) from Sephora that I knew contained one solitary lipstick. It took me a week to even get myself to open it.

Besides feeling bad about creating so much packaging waste by ordering this item, I also feel bad for raking Sephora over the coals for it. The item I ordered happened to be recently discontinued. I had gone into the store to buy it only to be told it would never again be on-shelf but they provided the kindest, most helpful service and ordered it online for me so I wouldn’t have to pay the extra shipping fees. And now I am being all bratty and ungrateful by writing about it.

Anybody else run into this? And what are you doing about it? I’ve cut back some of my online shopping and am spending more time getting things directly from stores. An extremely frustrating and time consuming endeavor I might add. I am proud, however, that I’m getting much better at remembering to bring along my own shopping bag to haul stuff home. However, I doubt I’ve cut back my online shopping by more than 10%. What I have done is create a lot of hassles for myself and, at the end of day, made nary a dent in solving any of the environmental issues people are talking about non-stop these days.

I don’t know what bothers me more: the actual environmental threats (especially around waste) or our hypocrisy about it.

Everyone is yammering away about how this is the issue of our lifetime but actions speak louder than words and we’re clearly more concerned about not inconveniencing ourselves than we are about global warming.

How else to explain online shopping, one-day delivery, buying multiple sizes with the intent to ship back what we don’t want because the shipping is free. What that behavior translates to is more cargo planes, more delivery trucks, more excess packaging and more returned products that go straight into landfill.

I’d be most interested in knowing what percent of the anti-straw activists, for example, are online shoppers.

I know our mayor, Bill De Blasio, has made it his mission to make the city “greener” by outlawing plastic straws and plastic bags. However, it hasn’t stopped him from taking a daily eleven mile drive utilizing a whole convoy of  SUVs, from the Upper East Side to Brooklyn so that he can go to his favorite gym. If he were to walk his talk, he would sprint over to a local gym near Gracie Mansion instead of polluting the environment and clogging up the streets.

 

Bottom Line.

From what I can see everyone is virtuous and sanctimonious about how they’re into saving the environment “in theory.” In practice, however, most are still continuing to pollute like crazy.

Rant over. Have a great Monday everyone!

Read More >

Share this post on:

Look What Marie Kondo Inspired Me To Do Yesterday!

Look What Marie Kondo Inspired Me To Do Yesterday!

 

My closet had gotten too disorganized (see pics below). I also realized I own too many things I don’t enjoy wearing.

 

I’ve done some random decluttering over the last few months but yesterday (Saturday), I did a massive purge and got rid of almost everything that doesn’t feel right to me anymore. No matter how much I paid for it, or how unworn it was, I decided it had to go if I haven’t worn it in the last year!

One of the things I’ve discovered is that there are certain items that look good on me but they just don’t “feel” good. I find myself constantly trying on those items and then putting them right back on the hanger and instead, grabbing one of those favorite items that both looks and feels good. I got rid of about 80% of the items that only “hang out” in my closet but are never actually worn. Hopefully, I will eliminate that remaining 20% sooner than later (perhaps even today).

My goal was to get rid of everything that doesn’t meet the bar I’ve set for “feels amazing.

I’ve also written before that my “uniform” this year is going to revolve around jeans and other utilitarian gear like camo pants and, perhaps a jumpsuit. JUMPSUIT UPDATE: tried on several  yesterday – it’s not happening. They look awful on me – and feel even worse!

But back to decluttering. I’ve always felt you need to be in the right mood for a major declutter, otherwise it takes forever and you’re just dithering around and half-heartedly tossing things. Right now, and I don’t know why, I am in a purging mood. I’ve always been a minimalist but now I want to be even less about “owning stuff” and more about “doing stuff.” And I’ve never felt this urge so strongly before.

While I’ve had “closet purge” on my to do list for a while, I got newly inspired this week after reading this cnbc.com article about the 3 ways the Marie Kondo method can help you rethink your post-declutter spending. Highly recommend reading – especially for some of my less frugal friends who have expressed an interest in adopting thriftier habits.

And let me also add that although I am all for decluttering and being tidy, I’m not a Marie Kondo devotee (all that sparking joy nonsense drives me nuts). But there is definite method to her madness and some of her recommendations are worth following – especially when it comes to considering what you really need vs. what you might be tempted to buy on the spur of the moment.

 

Scroll down for pics of my closet BEFORE and AFTER the reorganization and decluttering!

Read More >

Share this post on:

SIGN OF THE TIMES. Using Instagram To Curate Our Weekends

SIGN OF THE TIMES. Using Instagram To Curate Our Weekends

 

Brand new way of using Instagram. Legit media using Instagram as the filter for curating their weekly city listings. First time I’ve seen this.

 

I’ve had a rocky relationship with Instagram but when I saw the “Coolest things to Instagram this weekend in NYC” on Guest of Guest, I was immediately intrigued and put two of their recommendations on my calendar for tomorrow (Sunday): one at the MET and one at Cooper Hewitt.

BUT – and this is an important distinction from previous Instagram guides – these recommendations are not for those cheesy made-for-instagram pop ups that were hot for a nano-second a year or so ago e.g. The Color Factory.

What Guest of a Guest is featuring are all authentically interesting places and cultural events that I am absolutely putting on my to-do list. Highly recommend you check it out if you happen to be in NYC and are looking for a few things to do over Mother’s Day Weekend.

Also, big shout out to FOMOfeed. His Instagram bio calls him NYC’s top cultural curator. I’ve been following him for a while and must say I agree with that assessment. Check him out if you want/need to keep up on the newest, coolest, most creative events around town. His focus ranges from retail to art to random cultural events. I find myself sussing out at least a third of what he posts.

 

Scroll down for some of the events I’ll be at this weekend as well as a few top posts from FOMOfeed and then 5 of my personal TOP ‘Grammable Moments from the last month.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Nothing Signals A Restaurant Is On “Death Watch” More Than This

Nothing Signals A Restaurant Is On “Death Watch” More Than This

 

WorkChew, Spacious and KettleSpace transform restaurants into co-working spaces during off-peak hours. But what they are really doing is warning customers and suppliers that a restaurant is in deep trouble!

 

In NYC, over the last couple of years, I’ve observed this dance of death all too often. Generally, it takes less than 6 months after the “Spacious” sandwich board appears before the restaurant is permanently closed.

One reason I am so familiar with this scenario is that the very first Spacious sign – in 2016 – showed up in my neighborhood on the Bowery. That was at Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar. DBGB had started out as one of those super hot, impossible to get into places. It was not my kind of scene and I never went there but eventually, I noticed it being emptier and emptier. However, what I do recall distinctly is that less than a year after the Spacious sandwich board went up, the restaurant was permanently closed.

Same thing happened at La Sirena, Mario Batali’s horrible and short-lived restaurant at the Maritime Hotel. Also, at Public on Elizabeth Street.

Spacious’ track record for signaling “the end is nigh” is impressive.

Nevertheless, with so many restaurants struggling to survive these days, more are giving co-working a whirl. Some owners are suggesting the stigma may even be wearing off.

For example, Justin Sievers, the managing partner of Andrew Carmellini’s Bar Primi in Nolita told the NY Times: “Laptops used to send the message that we’re failing as a restaurant, but that’s changing.”

Or perhaps not.

Saxon & Parole was on Spacious but appears to have ended that relationship. I know they took great umbrage when I posted a picture of their restaurant with the Spacious sign and suggested it signaled the end of yet another Bowery hot spot. Seems like they’ve decided to revert to restaurant only. As an interesting aside, AvroKO the design firm, owns Saxon & Parole and they also designed the Spacious Flagship on 53rd Street (could they be investors in Spacious?). And perhaps my Instagram post made them reconsider that stigma question?

 

Read on below for more on the newest startup in this space, WorkChew (based in DC) as well as some of the top restaurants currently available as coworking spaces during daytime hours in NYC.

Read More >

Share this post on: