Urban Rustic manages to advocate locavorism in the middle of New York
At first sight Urban Rustic looks like any other sandwich shop in New York. But this one was born out of a strong conviction: all New Yorkers could eat in a way that protects their health and the environment... if only we offered them suitable snacks. That’s been done since 2008 right in the middle of Brooklyn. Here, all products are prepared on-site, with seasonal fruits and vegetables harvested within 200km (what we call locavorism). If recipes from imaginations of food-loving cooks don’t tempt you, all you have to do is pick veg from the stalls and a sandwich will be made up for you.
The smoothies change each season, and whatever the chosen dish, the cook can count off the exact origin of each of the ingredients. Transparency, ecology and flavour, a cocktail which has succeeded according to Matthew B of Brooklyn: “Their commitment to provide local, high-quality products leads to delicious food but also a great contribution to local farmers!” Of course, the shop itself is irreproachable: the energy comes from wind farms, waste is sorted and cutlery is all recycled… and the deliveries are done by electric tricycle, one of the least energy intensive forms of transport. Even the very demanding Huffington Post recognises the environmental quality of the store.
The New York sandwich shop didn’t just want to please a customer base of committed ecologists. Vegetarian or not, food-lover or on a diet, lactose-intolerant or a fan of sweet and sour, there really is something for everyone… proven by the eclectic clientele. A successful policy of diversification as Bob W testifies: “I’m not eco-conscious or vegan or any kind of neo-hippie, I hate that crap, but I like how stuff is fresh here.”
The name itself is a journey, conveyed by the in-store decoration: just a couple blocks away from the New York macadam, the room resembles a log cabin – logs which were incidentally cut by the founders themselves in the Adirondacks. A way of getting away from the city without fleeing it: visiting a country oasis in the heart of a city is without doubt one of the simplest solutions for city-dwellers who are in need of nature.
The New York sandwich shop also benefits from a grocery section, where local and often unusual products are sold: ginger syrup, ‘amish’ milk, Brooklyn beer or coconut ice cream, for which the ingredients are carefully handwritten on the label. You can’t do a whole food shop, according to some users on Yelp.com, but there is enough to get that little extra touch for a locally-sourced meal.
And what’s more, to improve the link between raw product and what ends up on the client’s plate, Urban Rustic regularly invites its suppliers to come and talk about their work, their breeding or farming methods, their products… and to get customers to taste these products in the sandwich shop. It’s a true pedagogical exchange, to convince city-dwellers to take ownership of what is on their plates. The shop therefore serves as a link between producers and consumers: and how to combine urban with rustic… for the benefit of both parties.