2008 — A Tough Year

2008 was a tough year for a lot of people. I’ve recently noticed that a lot of vegetarian places have been closing, including two of the places I visited during the Brooklyn Goes Veg! Week. Grub Street reported yesterday that Jill’s Cafe in Cobble Hill has closed, and a couple of weeks ago I noticed that Earth Tonez here in Park Slope had closed. Pumpkin’s Organic Market over on 8th Avenue has closed as well.

I know that people are cutting back on everything, and I suppose that “fancy” foods are among the first casualties. I have to admit, as well, that a few of the places I visited were not particularly well-run from a business point of view; they didn’t open at the posted time, service was inconsistent, etc. At some point it doesn’t matter how good the food is, a restaurant needs to be well-managed.

However, I do despair for the state of food in our country. Michael Pollan has laid out a convincing case that Americans will shell out money for nonsense like cable television and tricked-out cell phones, but don’t want to spend money on food, which is something that nourishes our bodies.

Until the current economic meltdown I feel like America was headed in a better direction; more people were paying attention to the things they were eating and even fast food chains were responding to the momentum. Now people are using price as the number one determining factor in what they eat. Of course cost cannot be ignored, but I hope that those of us that can afford to spend money continue to do so in order to keep our independent and neighborhood restaurants alive.

SuperVegan has a sobering Graveyard, a list of all of the vegetarian, vegan, and natural food places that have closed throughout the city.

It’s not all bad news. The former Pumpkin’s space is undergoing construction to be converted into a venue that serves food and beverages (according to the work permits on the door). Let’s hope it’s someplace special.

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