Clarke’s Standard: Your Friendly Neighborhood Burger Joint

clarkes logo

By Debra Liu

If you’re craving a juicy, flavorful, and affordable burger, head to Clarke’s Standard because the moment you step into this relatively new fast-casual restaurant, you’re immediately brought back to the old, nostalgic days of New York’s classic neighborhood butcher shops, where high quality, fresh meat was the object of affection.

“We wanted to do a fast-casual concept that would provide the guests with amazing food, great ingredients, and as local as possible. Again, not forgetting the old times of butcher style shops,” says Dafna Mizrahi, Manager of Clarke’s Standard’s Union Square Location.

The Standard Cheeseburger and Fries
The Standard Cheeseburger and Fries

Currently, there are five locations in Midtown, Midtown East, Financial District, Columbus Circle, and Union Square.

According to Dafna, it’s the freshly ground beef that makes Clarke’s Standard stand out from all the other burger places in NYC. The beef is 100% USDA-verified Natural Angus free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.

The most popular items on the menu include The Standard Cheeseburger, the original burger with American cheese, The Cadillac, which is a burger with smoked bacon and cheddar cheese, and the Brooklyn Au Poivre, a burger with cracked pepper sauce, cheese, Jimmy peppers and savory onions. They also have  a great house-made veggie burger!

Danfa’s favorite burger is The Cadillac but she says, “Honestly, all of our burgers…our meat is amazing so I would eat them without anything. I would always recommend the Green Chiles and Cheese burger or The Cadillac.”

NY Standard Dog with Fries
NY Standard Dog with Fries

In addition to burgers, Clarke’s also serves homemade hot dogs, little Clarke’s ice creams, and sandwiches. The Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich is a big seller. “It’s kind of like wings on a sandwich but made with chicken breast,” Dafna describes. “The sweet potato fries are great; so that’s very unusual and unique to a fast food place,” she adds.

Clarke’s Standard mission is to bring back the feeling of a neighborhood restaurant serving delicious, high quality burgers. “Everyone loves it because it’s become a neighborhood joint. The staff is very friendly; they learn their [the customers’] names. We have a guy who comes every single day. He sits at the same table and orders the same food, so as soon as he walks in, we already have his order.”

So the next time you want to chow-down on a burger, go to Clarke’s Standard and get The Cadillac (or any of their other delicious items), and you’ll feel like you’re being transported back to a time where meat was real, natural and glorified and you’ll end up feeling gloriously satisfied.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

USDA Goes Soft on Meat

The United States Department of Agriculture posted an online update on its website urging employees to participate in Meatless Mondays. However, after considerable pressure from the beef industry the USDA took down the post and stated that it had been released without proper clearance first.

The USDA posted that Meatless Monday’s were “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact.” The Meatless Monday campaign relies on information from the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization stating that animal agriculture is a major source of carbon emissions and climate change that wastes resources. However the USDA received a wave of negative backlash from livestock producers and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association among others.

The chief concern among the NCBA is that the USDA does not support U.S. farmers and ranchers, and the president of the organization J.D. Alexander claims that Meatless Monday is nothing but an animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption.

“This is truly an awakening statement by USDA, which strongly indicates that USDA does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way,” said Alexander. “USDA was created to provide a platform to promote and sustain rural America in order to feed the world. This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet.”

Alexander went on to dispute claims that health issues arise from the consumption of meat, and called out the USDA for specifically mentioning beef, when beef production has become more sustainable than ever before. The NCBA’s harsh response towards the USDA’s promotion of meatless Monday may be a little extreme; especially since the USDA just suggested people take one day out of seven to avoid meat. The USDA is also a government agency; under no circumstances should it back down when the meat industry begins to complain about them exposing some very real health risks. While no evidence is perfect, plenty of studies have shown the adverse health effects of consuming too much red meat. The meat industry may have become more sustainable, but beef is still a costly and resource depleting livestock, contributing to carbon emissions and requiring an excessive amount of land. It still takes more protein to feed an animal than the animal will ever yield, and raising cattle contributes to deforestation.

Despite all of the evidence against eating meat, only about 7% of Americans are vegetarians, a number that has stayed relatively the same for a decade. NCBA’s statement that the USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life is a ridiculous statement. Agriculture is the basic source of food for our species, yet this does not mean that meat consumption must be. Plenty of farmers in rural America produce vegetables and other animal products in addition to meat. No one is debating that agriculture is not necessary, only the NCBA is implying that meat production is an essential aspect for agriculture, and thus opposing meat consumption simultaneously opposes agriculture in rural America. In the end it appears that the meat processors and factories that prepare our meat would be the most affected by Meatless Monday’s, and even then, it’s just one day a week.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Pink Slime Controversy Continues to Build, Manufacturers Fight Back

By now the ground beef filler product known as “pink slime” has become the newest cause for activists to rally around, particularly in reference to the controversial deal its parent company, Beef Products Inc. made with the US Department of Agriculture in regards to school lunch. However, despite all the attention pink slime has received from the media in recent weeks, very few facts about the actual content of these lean beef trimmings are known.

“lean finely textured beef” is a low-cost ingredient that is made from fatty bits of meat that are left over from the more choice cuts. These bits of meat are heated and spun to remove the excess fat, then compressed into blocks to be used in ground meat. Somewhere during this process the trimmings are given a ‘puff’ of ammonium hydroxide gas to kill harmful pathogens such as E. Coli and salmonella. While official numbers are still not available, it is believed to be in about half of all ground beef meat and burgers in the United States.

The term ‘pink slime’ was originally coined in 2009 by a federal microbiologist in a New York Times report. Since then some celebrities have rallied against it, and it broke headlines when McDonald’s and other fast food chains were pressured to remove the trimmings from their products. Most recently pink slime has been brought up due to the fact that school lunches will serve meat with lean beef trimmings mixed in.

A compromise was reached this week, and on Thursday the USDA will make an official announcement about how it will proceed with lean beef trimmings and school lunches. Unofficially, they are expected to offer schools a choice in the ground beef they purchase, ranging from 95% lean beef patties containing the product, or less lean bulk ground beef without it.

Despite the compromise, lean beef trimmings continue to be a national target throughout blogs, social media and in petitions. A recent petition requesting pink slime to be removed from school lunches garnered over 200,000 signatures. Food policy expert Marion Nestle noted that the unappetizing nickname may have made it easier for the food movement to attack lean beef trimmings. “A lot of people have been writing about it. Therefore, more people know about it, therefore more people are queasy about it, particularly when you start thinking about how this stuff turns up in school lunches.”

The truth of the matter is, this product has been on the market for years, and federal regulators believe that it meets food safety standards. Due to recent pressure the USDA has opted to give schools a choice in meat, in order to be transparent in its processes; however they fully believe that the ammonia treatment is safe.

Beef Products Inc. has begun to fight back, defending its product by saying that it’s 100 percent lean beef, and has been approved by numerous experts in the field. The company even launched a new website, pinkslimeisamyth.com, aiming to correct some common misconceptions about the product. The National Meat Association has also gotten involved, denying that the scraps of meat are ‘inedible’ and bringing to light that ammonium hydroxide is used in numerous other products including baked goods, puddings and other processed foods.

NMA CEO, Barry Carpenter, claims that the safety of the product isn’t the issue, only the public perception to it. Various campaigns also highlight that lean beef trimmings help to keep meat prices down, and contribute to a more sustainable world by making use of meat that would be tossed away.

While the product may be entirely safe for consumption, the cause for concern is mostly over the industrialized process involved in obtaining it, and the fact that the true source of this product has been kept in the dark for so many years. As many concerned parents have noted, if lean beef trimmings aren’t good enough for fast food restaurants to serve, then why should they be a staple in school lunches?

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

2.5 Million New Yorker’s Have Trouble Affording Enough Food

Startling news came in from the USDA today about hunger and poverty rates in New York City. The survey measured results from 2008 and 2010, and found that 2.5 million New Yorkers couldn’t afford enough food, a 50 percent increase from a similar survey taken from 2005 and 2007. The data goes deeper to note that 702,000 state residents are classified as officially going hungry, while one in seven cannot afford food at some point in a given year. These results are higher than any ever recorded before, and mark a severe problem in New York.

According to the USDA, numbers leveled off in 2010 after a three year drop, but have taken a turn for the worse. High levels of funding for state-sponsored programs may have accounted for less hunger in recent years, but recent budget cuts may have reversed this. In 2010 President Obama and Congress cut federal funding for food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries by 40% nationwide (and in New York City).

Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said “This is the highest level of state hunger since the government started counting it. This new data proves that, over the last few years, millions of New Yorkers were at the edge of an economic cliff, with many falling off into hunger but some barely hanging on with the aid of government nutrition programs”.

New Yorker’s inside and outside of the food industry can help to rectify this situation. Nonprofits organizations are always looking for volunteers, like the Hot Bread Kitchen, which offers training to low income women to develop their own businesses. Other organizations like City Harvest work to collect excess food from restaurants and deliver them to those in need. With hunger rates rising and government programs declining, more weight than ever falls upon our efforts and those of nonprofits to keep our city full.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com