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6.30 am in the Big Apple. Outside the sky slowly brightens like sun through grey linen, the trees along this row of spotless red brick tenements in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn rustle, first autumn leaves dot the curb and shiny automobiles as their owners have Saturday sleep in. A few old gas-lamp modelled lights still glow in porticoes above Cosby-style front steps up to doors.

Nice to have a moment at dawn alone with the NY Times, some mouthy pectin-enhanced low fat organic yoghurt with organic plums, a McIntosh apple (the 'archetype American apple' that actually originated in Ontario), coffee with soy milk.

The soy milk tastes different here – it's a modern phenomenon that every country has its own soy milk peculiarities with regards to taste. I prefer soy milk in general to cow's milk. The better organic US brands are very good, though it's hard to describe the difference. A bit less 'soy-ish' than some German brands, though still clearly a soy taste. Less sweet obviously. And not too cloying or heavy on the palate when drunk with coffee (unlike Vitasoy or whatever Starbucks uses). Very light but not thin - and almost a little bit toasted tasting when mixed with coffee. A very homey, American, organic superstore, rain-over-Puget Sound and oatmeal pancakes taste to me. Blame it on Seattle.

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One of the things I like about NYC is that you can get hippie organic mass-marketed healthfood at 10.30 pm at night. I definitely wouldn't say that Wholefoods is better than the Biomarkt in Germany; on the whole there seems to be a greater abundance of mass produced products, and their prepared foods section is not all that appetising in my opinion, except for the sushi and soups. BUT it's still nice to have the option of big tubs of Stonyfield Farm yoghurt, the big orange American pumpkins, basically everything big or with cinnamon or blueberries in it (cinnamon apple pita pockets!), and definitely the cider. Cider in the States is not alcoholic – it is just unfiltered apple juice and I think has a lot more 'mash' cloudiness in it even than in the cloudy varieties in apple juice-mad Germany. That Sir Real brand is so good – in case you're not sick of cinnamon (and I will never be) it has a slight naturally occurring cinnamon-like flavour to it.

And even if the whole-grain Wholefoods sushi with eel isn't purist's sushi, it's a pretty decent, healthy late evening snack. How conveniant that you can step off Union Square into a big brightly lit consumer wonderland and then carry your low-calorie bounty home on the subway. UM, except the subway stops going around 9pm.

Moral of the story: the States will make consumers of us all.


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