Inga Howe-Geniesse

Susan Dalton on Using Food as Medicine

In Search of a Greener New York is an ongoing Garden Collage series of explorations about sustainability efforts in New York City and beyond– including the people, places, and ideas that are making Manhattan a healthier, happier place to live. In this column, we spotlight individuals who are making New York a “greener” place in an attempt to discover how, exactly, they are doing it. This week, GC spotlights Susan Dalton, who knows the ins and outs of the Union Square Farmers Market.

We met Susan Dalton at the Union Square Farmers Market during the cold month of January. When asked why she was attending the Union Square farmers market in the cold, she replied, “because I use food as medicine”. We thought this was a lovely notion. Allow her to explain:

“The fresher food is, the more nutrition you get, the less you have to eat to be healthy,” she says. We asked who her favorite booths were, and she replied: “There are some farmers that I’m friends with that I don’t buy anything from– like I don’t drink, for example, but that doesn’t mean I’m not friends with the wine growers. But there are some farmers that I absolutely love and Richard [Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Organic] is one of them. Go online and look up Lucky Dog and also the Hamden Inn [the Inn located across the street from the farm]. The Hamden Inn is what I refer to as ‘shabby-chic’ without the ‘chic’ part– it’s got old pictures on the wall that go back to about 1840…”

Susan Dalton

Inga Howe-Geniesse

“Farmers get the utmost respect from me. It’s a very hard job. And to be doing it and not cheating– and I know who cheats, there are people here I would not buy from– is really special.

“I’ve been coming to this market since 1980, and that is the reason I started to professionally cook with a friend of mine who had a restaurant. I wasn’t working with these people, but I would talk food with them. There was a little store that was located in what is now the East Village, but in those days it was just a broken down spot in the Lower East Side, an oasis with unbelievable food– real bread, real cheese… I didn’t have to go hiking to find real food. I got involved making fancy wedding cakes for them, and they are the ones who got me interested in the Farmers Market. Today I have a very strange garden in my window– it’s the bottom of a large rabbit cage, and I grow the best marjoram. It’s thriving. Some things succeed and some things don’t– I talk to my sweet potato and tell her, ‘You can do it, kid; If I can do it, you can do it!’.”

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