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Cart off of Union Ave.
Urban Rustic organic sustainable food
Food stand/cart located in McCarren Park during the summer months.
Urban Rustic provides tables and chairs within the park, including refuse and recycling containers that they maintain.
As per their website all of their food is organic and sustainably produced and all of the store furnishings were constructed utilizing locally harvested wood. In addition, they buy all of their electricity from wind-powered sources!
On February 19, 2010 an interview with the manager of Urban Rustic, Luis Illades helped paint the picture of their sustainable strategies around waste.
Some of the very good points he made that led our discussion are as follows:
* Urban Rustic wanted to provide a place for patrons to be able to hang out within the park to enjoy the surroundings and their food, hence the creation of a seating area with tables.
* The idea of contributing more waste within the park was the last thing they wanted, therefore they supplied and maintain a number of refuse and recycling bins inside the park.
* When it comes to packaging, for some time Urban Rustic used sugar cane paper boxes and biodegradable corn based cups. They unfortunately had to stop this practice because it was not financially sustainable. In my opinion, this was a valiant effort on the part of Urban Rustic. I saw this as a problem located in the way pricing for materials is decided without all of the information. This calls for figuring out what products actually cost us after we consider the products entire life cycle and points to the need for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the United States. Copy and paste (http://www.informinc.org/xsum_greendot.php) for a relative example of what's going on in Germany.
* Furthermore, in regards to packaging Luis stated that he would like to start inspiring customers to bring in more of their own re-usable containers for food and bottles for drinks, eliminating the need to throw anything away.
* Luis is a big supporter of composting and does so at his own home. I asked him how they dealt with food scraps at Urban Rustic and the answer was that they don't have much. He explained that a great effort is taken to make sure they use everything of value. He gave me an example of that morning when they were making a dish with portabella mushrooms that did not call for the use of the stems. The stems however were not thrown away. Luis explained that they would use the stems as ingredients in a soup or a vegetable stock and not let them go to waste or enter the waste stream. The remaining unavoidable food scraps, mainly post-consumer are not however composted. This is due to a legitimate fear of violations from the Department of Health. I found this unfortunate, because again just like the biodegradable packaging it comes down to a practice guided by misinformation. I interpreted the fact that Urban Rustic doesn't compost as a need to reevaluate the way society views composting.
Based on this interview Urban Rustic’s sustainability politics, community contributions and practices around waste need no reevaluation. Check them out.
236 North 12th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211