Eat Greener

Our third installment of our "Earth Day" series will focus on simple tips to eat greener foods.  It just so happens that eating greener coincides with eating vegetarian.  We have seen the positive impact that going vegetarian just one day a week has on our planet.  By following some simple guidelines there are additional ways to green up a vegetarian diet. 

Remember these are simply guidelines, not rules!  Make the effort to follow them when it is practical.  It would be best if we could follow these all the time, but sometimes it is just not feasible.  So, do it when you can, but you do not need to live your life by them to make a difference.  For example, try to adhere to them at home, but on Friday night when you go out for Mexican food, don’t worry about it.

  • Buy locally - all kinds of benefits can be had with this one.  It is probably the most important guideline to follow.  You support your local farmers, your food is fresh and the energy inputs, such as fuel to transport the food is negligible.  Most of the time this food is also grown organically.  With Spring here, what better time to visit your farmers market?  For listings of farmers markets in your area, click here.
  • Buy organic- probably the next best thing.  Your food has not been sprayed with pesticides and the ground it was grown in was not flooded with fertilizers.  Pesticides are not good for your health and fertilizers are not good for our planet’s health.
  • Buy seasonal- Let nature determine what foods are ready to eat, not the grocery store.  What’s in season in Chile may not be what’s season in Oregon.  Eating seasonal provides the best tasting foods.  Combine this with buying locally and the benefits of fresh, healthy great tasting food will abound.  To find out what’s in season in your area, click here.
  • Grown your own- You do not need huge plots of land and a tractor to grow your own food, just throw some pots on your back deck and start an herb garden or tomatoes or peppers or all of them!
  • Bring your own bag-  This is too simple not to do.  You will always have them if you keep them in the trunk of your car (or bike).  For more info read ban the bag.

These five simple tips can have a big impact on our planet.  Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can make a difference by following them.  Not only do these guidelines benefit our planet….they also help to make us healthier and more connected with our food supply.


Sustainable Corporate Cafeterias

Working for a large company has advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages is that there are cafeterias on-site, so if you forget your lunch or just want something different, you can walk over and choose from a variety of foods without having to drive anywhere.  One of the disadvantages is that the cafeterias are outsourced to huge conglomerate companies like Sodexho and Compass Group.  As such, much of the food is trucked in, frozen and conventionally grown.   Although, I have started seeing keywords like "sustainable" and "organic" on signs in the cafes (occasionally).

Last year Google saw the light and started their own version of what a corporate cafeteria should modeled after.  "Cafe 150" only serves within a 150-mile radius of the Google campus.  Talk about going local!   Could Google’s influence change the way all cafes do business? 

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle goes into more detail about Google’s cafes.

When chef Nate Keller opened the doors last week to his newest venture, Cafe 150, prospective diners lined up in droves.

For the opening, his changing menu of more than 30 items featured dishes such as a robust broth teeming with slices of beef skirt steak and hand-made yam noodles; clams sauteed with disks of handmade Chinese sausage and wisps of fresh basil; a sandwich bar with nine made from-scratch condiments, and grilled romaine lettuce, persimmon and poblano chiles; and composed salads such as wild rice and hazelnut, and crispy tofu slaw.

Keller is a passionate proponent of local, organic and sustainable food, and chose the "150" in the restaurant’s name to reflect the fact that ingredients will come from within a 150-mile radius of the restaurant.

continue at SFgate


Manic Organic

manic organic
One night while flipping through the channels we stumbled across this show called "The Manic Organic".  It has been airing in Canada for awhile and recently it was brought to the States.  The show is about a Canadian (Antony John) organic farmer that combines the techniques of organic farming with recipe ideas.  One of the cool things about the show is that Antony gives you good tips on organic gardening in small spaces (like your deck or planters).  Antony’s oddball personality is what makes the show entertaining and interesting.  Who knew that organic farming could be so fun?!

Two episodes of The Manic Organic air each Monday evening at 10:00pm and 10:30pm EST on Discovery Home.


Digital Food Tracking

Have you ever wondered if those coffee beans you just purchased are really "fair-trade, organic?"  How about if that bunch of asparagus was grown locally?  Well technology may be able to help us answer these questions.  Digital tracing tags may soon be added to foods to give consumers an insight into where the food came from.  If this technology catches on, it may be able hold supplier and distributors accountable for the food they sell.

Jan. 26, 2007 — Are you really sure that your specialty store wine comes from a small wine cooperative in Chile? Or that your Indonesian coffee beans weren’t illegally grown?

A new kind of digital tag could tell you yes or no, and even allow you to give some feedback about your satisfaction with the product.

The Fair Tracing project, led by Apurba Kundu of the University of Bradford, aims to narrow the gap between growers in underdeveloped countries and their consumers.

"As well as assuring ethical consumers that their product is not hiding dodgy or unfair practices, Fair Tracing would empower wine and coffee connoisseurs with additional information they already seek," said Kundu.

continue at Discovery News


Good for Puck

When this story came out a few days ago, I was not sure I wanted to add it to wannaveg.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome what Wolfgang Puck has decided to go organic and purchase humanely raised meat.  It’s just that initially I felt that this is just another celebrity restaurateur that was looking to profit by selling high-end food in a exclusive restaurant.  And… I believe that good food does not need to be expensive.   The reason I finally got "on-board" with Puck was twofold.  First I think that what he is doing is setting the standard for other restaurants to follow (expensive or not) and second because some people in the media are giving him some grief on his decision to make the switch.

Also, as I got to thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that Wolfgang’s approach (high end food at high end prices) is no different than what other industries have done in the past.  Expensive cars had airbags long before economy cars and air travel was once reserved for only the wealthy (with global warming, this may not be the best example).  So maybe Wolfgang is just the catalyst we need for the food and restaurant industry to start offering organic, humanly raised food at reasonable prices.

So I say Good for Puck.

From USAToday
Pioneering celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is putting his empire’s financial and PR muscle behind an initiative that will guarantee that the vast majority of the meals served in his restaurants are made only with all-natural and certified organic ingredients and meats that come from animals that have been treated humanely. Once the WELL (Wolfgang’s Eating, Loving and Living) program is phased in over the next few months, it will affect the standards at his 14 fine-dining restaurants, 80-plus Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express fast-casual eateries and 43 catering venues, which served 10 million customers last year. It’s an expansion of a philosophy that already governs his fine-dining establishments.

continue reading at USAtoday

Sainsbury’s is one of the UK’s largest grocery store chains.  So it was big news when they announced that they would no longer sell eggs from chickens raised in battery cages.  Around 40 percent of the eggs they sell are produced this way (surprisingly, 60 percent are already from free-range chickens).  One of the most interesting things about this change is the reasoning behind it…the public refused to buy these eggs anymore.  I find it fascinating (and exciting) that shoppers in the UK have become so ethically aware that they are boycotting eggs from chickens raised in these conditions and opt to purchase the slightly more expensive free-range (certified) eggs.

This is a perfect example of what happens when we put our money where our mouth is.  Money controls what we eat.  We have the choice to give it to people that will give us good stuff to eat.  The people in the UK are becoming aware of this and change is underway.  I would like to think that we here in the US will start doing the same soon.

On a side note, while I was perusing the Sainsbury’s site I found this link that traces the origination of their organic produce by entering a couple of numbers from it.   Now that is pretty cool.

battery cages

Sainsbury’s sells around 150million battery-cage eggs a year - one in four of all those on its shelves.  The company’s policy will effectively remove some 600,000 hens from cages over the next four years. Trading director Mike Coupe said: "Sainsbury’s is firmly committed to phasing out all its caged eggs ahead of 2012, and is currently working with its egg suppliers to achieve 100 per cent UK cage-free eggs as soon as possible.

"This commitment reflects the company’s seriousness in addressing how it sources ethically, as well as responding to its customers concerns."

continue reading at DailyMail


Easy farmers market tips

Going to the farmers market is something I always look forward to.  Usually on Sundays after we finish a long run we hit the farmers market before coming home.  In my opinion nothing starts the morning off better than a crepe made fresh right in front of you, then wandering around to pick out  your week’s worth of produce.  With spring upon us, there is no better time year to visit your local market.  The weather is becoming beautiful and the produce is coming into season.  To find a farmers market in your area, click here.

The has given us 13 easy tips to ensure we get the most from our farmers’ market experience.

The typical vegetable now travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Now’s the season to buck the trend and reconnect with your food at your local farmers’ market. Here’s how.

1. If possible, plan to walk, ride a bike, or take public transit to your farmers’ market. Parking can be a hassle. Mid-week markets are quieter, but weekenders often have the best selection.

2. Shop early in the day to get the best food and to avoid missing out on unusual items.

3. Arrive with sturdy cloth bags, a backpack, or a basket, and plan to pay cash. Bring more money than you think you’ll need, and lots of small bills and change.

4. Three ways to save money: First, walk the whole market to check prices. Second, look for foods at their peak of seasonal abundance. Third, make arrangements with market farmers to buy bulk at a discount or to visit their farms for U-pick savings.

get the rest of them at

I would imagine that if you are reading this site right now, you consider yourself at least a little progressive (if not a lot progressive).  That is the reason the title of this story caught my eye.  We know that there is a significant environmental impact caused by meat production.  It really does not make much difference whether we raise animals organically or conventionally…they still use the consume amount of land, food and water.  They also produce the same amount of waste.  Yet many environmentalists still eat meat on a full time basis…this is a strange phenomenon.  

This article on Alternet discusses many of the topics and questions associated with vegetarianism and animal food production.  It can get a little deep but the information is good (the comments at the bottom of it are interesting as well).  Even though it discusses going vegetarian all the time, just remember going vegetarian one day a week makes a huge impact without having to change your lifestyle or viewpoints.  Check out the impact you will make on our mission page.

By Kathy Freston
March 14, 2007 - The report released this week by the world’s leading climate scientists made no bones about it: Global warming is happening in a big way and it is very likely manmade. The U.N. report that came out soon after made a critical point: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." And yet, so many environmentalists continue to eat meat. Why?

Being part of the solution can be a whole lot simpler — and cheaper — than going out and buying a new hybrid. We can make a huge difference in the environment simply by eating a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based one. Factory farming pollutes our air and water, reduces the rainforests, and goes a long way to create global warming. Yet for some environmentalists, the idea of giving up those chicken nuggets is still hard to swallow.

So, I thought I might discuss a few of the key concerns that my meat-eating friends offer in defense of their continued meat consumption. Here we go: continue reading at Alternet

The short answer is yes…but it takes understanding and compromise. There are times when the politics of food can cause some tension in a relationship, so being able to settle on a common ground is essential. This article from Newsweek is about just such a relationship, the only difference is the author is a vegan and her husband is a meat eater.

Feb. 26, 2007 issue - When my husband, Ken, and I were planning our wedding two years ago, we toiled over the menu even more than most anxious couples. As a Jewish vegan who doesn’t eat meat, poultry, fish or dairy products, I wanted to share vegan delicacies without feeling I was pushing an agenda. My Chinese-Japanese-Hawaiian husband wanted to be sure his relatives would have enough to eat, and to incorporate Chinese banquet foods.

In the end, our caterer served a gorgeous organic vegan meal, complete with Chinese long noodles (representing long life). We added line-caught wild fish, served whole to symbolize abundance and good fortune (in Chinese and Hawaiian tradition). After a Jewish blessing over wine and challah, Ken worked the room, teaching people to extract and eat the fish delicacies: the eyes and cheeks.

I became a vegetarian as a teenager, with the mixed motivation of loving animals and wishing to confound (and inconvenience) my meat-eating parents. Then, five years ago, I became a vegan. Today chili, stews and endless variations of salads are my staples. While Ken’s diet is more varied, his philosophy is simpler: without claiming any trendy labels, my husband is passionate about fresh, flavorful food. From fish cheeks to tripe and oxtail, he consumes everything, but he does so with appreciation and attention.

continue at Newsweek



California bans hormones in milk

Since California is the largest dairy state in the country, this is a big step in having all hormones removed across the US.  I think this measure demonstrates that people are starting to become more aware about the food they eat.  We are voting with our dollars and organics are taking a significant foot-hold.  Conventional growers are having to take steps to ensure they stay in business.  This is good news for California but better news for us consumers.

FRESNO-Consumer groups are applauding a major dairy cooperative’s decision to dissuade its farmers from using a synthetic hormone to coax more milk from cows, a move some insiders say could have a ripple effect across the dairy industry.

Members of California Dairies Inc., which ships over 14 billion pounds of milk annually, must stop injecting their herds with the genetically engineered hormone rBST by Aug. 1 or face having to pay a premium for the co-op to truck their milk to alternative markets.

RBST, or recombinant bovine somatotropin, is banned in Canada and Europe, mostly over concerns that it makes cows more prone to illness.

continue at

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