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  • Susan Welsh

Grass fed and Green. . .

During my collegiate years in Malibu in the eighties, my weekend diet consisted of Tommy Burgers scarfed with abandon, donuts from Winchell's and Strawberry Margaritas from Carlo's and Pepe's (now the site of Nobu, Malibu). I was a typical college freshman, sprung loose for the first time and indulging in everything-- especially the myriad of junk food readily available and new to a kid from semi-rural America now immersed in the neon laden open-all-night eateries.

When I stepped off the plane back home for Christmas break, my mother exclaimed,"she got so fat!"-- but it was true. I had begun to bust out of my jeans months before and taken to the fashion on then Pepperdine--sweat pants, Fred Segal sweatshirts. The Thetas accessorized with a string of pearls and heels; I took on a decidedly less feminine version, embracing the comfort and ease of an elastic waistband and sensible white leather K-Swiss sneakers.

But that was then. This is now. A more disciplined approach to eating--oatmeal, salads, and lean meats have replaced my diet of long ago. Also, I no longer have the iron-clad stomach of youth to pull off those hard-core eating habits.

My love affair with burgers is still a passionate one, but I'm inspired to sublimate it in order to keep my weight in check, and my body healthy. A burger is always a temptation. These days, though, I won't even entertain this indulgence unless it's a burger that's grass-fed, antibiotic-free and, if possible, locally sourced. Fortunately, right here in our hometown we have MOO Burger.

There's a nation-wide trend in healthy fast food and this month in Chicago, the first USDA certified organic fast food joint, Nic's Organic, opened. Featuring a healthier version of the classic breakfast sandwich-- "The NicEgg"-- They will likely give McDonald's a run for their money in the breakfast food niche and possibly be the kind of disrupter we need to force the issue of healthier fast food options in America.

With Nic's Organic leading the pack, it's only a matter of time until others will follow in their lower carbon footsteps. In the meantime, here are a few options that, while not fully certified organic, are certainly moving in the right direction with the quality of product being used in their hamburgers.

From a dive bar/art and performance space named "Sputnik" in Bed Stuy to a full franchise burger joint, Bareburger was born of a simple concept--making grass-fed burgers on an electric grill, until the people keep coming back for more. Fast forward to 2009, a converted bakery and the first of what becomes, according to HuffPost, one of the 10 most sustainable restaurants in America. With a franchise located in Montclair, NJ this one may be first on my Best Burgers of New Jersey Tour 2017 beginning sometime post bathing suit weather. . .

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