Is New York Becoming a Healthier City?

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It’s a new age in New York (of food)

We’ve heard it before – fashion trends go from east to west, and food trends west to east. For years, we’ve all been making fun of LA for being that city full of green juiceheads, quinoa, yoga and meditation, cryotherapy, etc. etc.

I often compare the two cities to be astronomically different when it comes to health. New Yorkers are fatter, unhealthier, and more likely to have McDonalds in their daily food pyramid. However, from living in Manhattan (and especially the Upper East Side) for nearly six months now, I can attest to a very visible health-conscious New York. Eateries such as the California-inspired Blake Lane and Juice Generation, to various salad bars, to meditation studios throughout the city, it is no longer as popular in New York to grab fast food for dinner and call it a day over the excuse “I’m too busy and poor to eat healthy here.” Did you know only 20% of young Americans have tried a Big Mac?

I’m sure this can be partly contributed to the income crisis, as New York gets richer and those unable to afford it end up leaving. A group of people that are taking advantage of the crisis: New York’s homeless population. With easy discrimination of who’s eating what at lunchtime in the park, finding that niche audience of those more likely to give them a few bucks has probably never been easier. Not too long ago, a cheerful homeless man approached me as I was enjoying my Fresh&Co salad alone in Herald Square’s outdoor seating area. After making small talk with me for a few minutes, he had asked how much I spent on that deep bowl of chopped salad, as he pretended to be interested in buying his own.

“Twelve dollars.”

His eyes seemed to roll to the back of his head. He wanted to act surprised – but he already knew the answer, otherwise he wouldn’t have targeted me. He then proceeded to ask for a few bucks for something cheap and fast, assuming I was wealthy.

Five or ten years ago, were we living in a city where people were spending over $10 on a chopped salad? While it’s easy to just assume it’s related to income (a McDouble vs. an overpriced chopped salad seemingly shows nothing more than income division), it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s our new culture. With the rise of social media and constantly being aware of our friends and influencers healthy meals, scenic hikes, and vegan lifestyles, eating healthy is no longer a west coast thing – it’s a New York thing, too. Even if we don’t have the money for it.

I remember never trying an avocado until I was 20 years old. That’s true East Coast culture. Now, not a week goes by where I haven’t consumed one. Hello, West Coast – we are one of the same.

Goodbye to the New York we used to know. It’s a new age, new place, and new culture, and I’m here for it. A healthy New York. I no longer feel like I sound like a douche when I ask for quinoa instead of rice, and you don’t need to, either.

Now – can we fix the weather, too?