"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paleo at (and around) Penn

I can't believe I'm back at Penn for my senior year.  I'm still not sure where these last three years have gone, but I'm going to make the most of my last year here-- I love this school so much, and I'm definitely going to miss it after I graduate.

This is my sixth semester (fifth at Penn, since I was abroad in the spring) eating clean/Paleo/ancestral-- when I first came here, I lived on sandwiches and pizza and pasta in the dining halls like many other students.  But when I made the huge lifestyle change, I found that the dining halls here are surprisingly Paleo-friendly-- in fact, Penn was just ranked #22 on the Best Colleges for Food in America list!  But Paleo is about more than just avoiding certain foods: it's about high-quality and fresh ingredients.  The Bon Appetit food company that supplies the dining halls really stresses farm-to-table eating-- almost everything is local, organic, and humanely raised, and I can always find fresh fruits and vegetables.  After huge renovations this summer, Penn got rid of Subway and other fast food places under one of our main dining halls and added in one of my new favorite spots, Fresh on the Walk, which has a wonderful salad bar and even sells coconut water!  They also added in a market called Gourmet Grocer which sells-- I kid you not-- GRASSFED BUTTER!!!!!!!  Way to go, Penn-- this is a huge step in the right direction!
University City also has some pretty awesome farmers' markets.  There's one right in front of the Penn Barnes & Noble every Wednesday, and the nearby Clark Park has a much bigger one on Thursdays and Saturdays that has everything from produce to honey to meats to chocolates!  Given Philadelphia's obesity problem, I think the availability of healthy, local, fresh foods is a great first step in fighting the issue-- though it'll certainly take a lot more than just a few markets, the fact that Philly isn't devoid of real food is amazing.  For more information on Philly's farmers' markets, check out Farm to City.  For more information on eating local in Philadelphia, check out Farm to Philly and Eat Local Philly.
In addition to these farmers' markets, University City has quite a few fruit trucks/stands-- I particularly like the ones on 36th and 37th and Spruce, and 40th and Locust.  There are some other ones around Penn's campus too-- check them out here.

People often ask me where I eat around here that's Paleo-friendly and not a chain restaurant (like Chipotle or Jimmy John's).  While I don't eat out much in general, there are a few wonderful places that stress the  farm-to-fork philosophy, such as:
-White Dog Cafe (34th and Sansom)-- uses almost all sustainable, organic, seasonal, and local ingredients.  It has a great menu, fantastic atmosphere, and reasonable prices, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
-Sweetgreen (39th and Walnut)-- a casual salad place with all local and organic ingredients.  For more information, read my review here.

The Harvest Seasonal Grill is opening this weekend at 40th and Walnut, and it also stresses seasonal, fresh ingredients.  I'll most definitely review it at some point this semester, but if you're in University City and happen to check out, let me know what you think!

I'm really proud of Penn and University City in general-- there have been such massive improvements in the local food situation since I started here three years ago, and I can only hope that it gets even better!

Quote of the Day:
"At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind."  -Michael Pollan


  1. I'm a freshman at Penn this year and (mostly) paleo, so I hope you'll keep posting! :)

    I do absolutely LOVE the dining halls! I have unlimited meal swipes. It's fantastic - I love making big salads. It's awesome to just have all the vegetables already there and cut up!

  2. I wish it had been like that when I was there! Though sometimes I do miss the peanut butter cookies from the Commons ;)

  3. Grass-fed burgers!! Check out the LOS Burger Truck! order it without the bun.

  4. Find the local Chipotle and order the burrito bowl AND Real Indian food at the back of the grocery store at Chestnut&42nd (NOT kabobeesh but next to it)

  5. Greetings from a Paleo Columbia Student! So excited to see feel Paleo students at college. Totally jealous that you guys now have access to grass-fed butter. It's still hard to find that around Columbia, although I suppose no one should complain in NYC... it's just that transit can still be annoying as hell. I hope the Paleo movement catches on around campuses. I wish I could've started a student group for health/fitness awareness, but being in my senior year, it's too late :'( Best of luck to you and good luck with finals!

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