August 2008


Last weekend, you undoubtedly caught at least a glimpse of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Summer Olympics. Just as in the past, the media hoopla and never-ending commercials featuring our favorite USA athletes make sure the event is seared in your brain and your television is tuned into the 24/7 coverage.

Unlike past Olympics, though, this year’s games have arrived in tow with a worldwide protest against the widely-known and wide-spread human rights abuses, aggression with Tibet, and environmental hazards that China is notorious for.

As the Olympic torch, traditionally known as a symbol of peace and international unity, made it’s way around the globe last spring, thousands of protesters hit the streets in Paris, London and San Francisco (among other cities) aiming to raise awareness amongst the mainstream media about these pressing issues, in particular China’s take-over and occupation of Tibet and their role in the Darfur conflict. To refresh your memory, check out our past blog post on the topic.

Shortly after that, the Play Fair campaign issued a press release announcing the findings of a new investigative report shaming Olympic sponsors and suppliers Nike and Adidas. Based on over 300 interviews with garment workers in China, India, Thailand and Indonesia, the report (titled Clearing the Hurdles) shows that violations of workers rights, excessive overtime hours, and poverty wages are still the norm of the sportswear industry. “While the profits of major brands like Nike and Adidas are soaring through the roof, the workers sewing their garments continue to make poverty wages and work under indecent conditions,” says Liana Foxvog, the national organizer of SweatFree Communities, one of the organizations that is supporting the Play Fair 2008 campaign. “Behind the rhetoric of corporate responsibility, very little has changed.”

According to the International Olympic Committee (or IOC), the Beijing Olympic Games are set to be the most profitable in the games’ history, with almost $100 million dollars alone coming from the garment sponsors. And yet the workers at the bottom of the chain are still being squeezed. A worker at a New Balance factory in Dongguan, China explained to the report interviewers: “I am exhausted to death now…none of us have time to go to toilet or drink water…we are working without rest and are always afraid of not working fast enough to supply soles to the next production line.

The Play Fair Campaign has put together a “campaign statement” which outlines steps that sportswear companies, the International Olympic Committee, and national governments should and can take to follow up on their responsibilities to improve conditions for the working people of China. You can help out by sending a protest letter to the IOC and the guilty sportswear companies and continue to shop with companies legitimately working in the realm of Fair Trade. After all, what’s more in the spirit of the Olympics than encouraging and engaging its hosts to clean up their act and truly play a fair game.

As some of you may know, Congress is on summer break and they did not address the current energy and climate crisis at hand. Not only did they not address gas prices, but they also failed to renew the clean energy tax cuts that will expire soon. These cuts fund solar, wind, and other renewable energy. Job loss and wasted time could be the result of this inaction by Congress. However, there is something, we the people can do!

The We Campaign is encouraging people to take the time to write a quick letter to the editor of your local paper. These letters are often published and may be viewed by representatives in their vacation months. So please take a moment and send a letter. Let’s work together and let Congress and the public know we do want CHANGE

If you would like to learn more about The We Campaign and how to get involved, please check them out at WeCanSolveIt.org

Since we were running around Chicago for the music festival, we decided to pop in and try as many vegan and vegan friendly restaurants we could find. This was not a hard task, as Chicago seems to be brimming with creative and delicious vegan spots including the Pick Me Up Cafe (great breakfasts), Amitabul (all vegan Korean!), and Handlebar (great drinks and late night snacks). But since this is our Restaurant Pick for Chicago we are going to have to choose the Chicago Diner as our highlight!

The Chicago Diner is any vegan’s dream who misses good old American style cooking! You can pretty much find every comfort food you had as a kid in vegan form. The restaurant is located in a nice neighborhood fairly close to the famous Linkin Park. It was easy to locate for a bunch of us out of towners and the staff was incredibly helpful and friendly! Although they are not 100% vegan, the menu is clearly marked and most dishes can be made vegan by talking to your waiter. Also, they provide a gluten free menu, for those who choose to avoid it or have an allergy.
Chikin & Steak with Rice

Their menu includes Daily Specials, Brunch (daily until 3:30pm), and the Standard Menu. Some of the favorite American dishes include Mac and Cheese, Shakes, BBQ “Bacon” Cheesburger, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Chikin Ranch Sandwich.
Chikin Cesaer Wrap with Mac & Cheese

During Brunch you will find other delicious American style plates such as Biscuits and Gravy, Eggz Florentine, and Eggz Benedict. Also, the Diner has awesome appetizers including Crab Cakes and Stuffed Potato Skins!
Vegan Breakfast

The vegan shakes, including Cookie Dough and Mint and the desserts, such as Strawberry Cheesecake and Banana Poppyseed Cake are AMAZING! As you can tell, their menu provides something for everyone and everyday there is a few different specials to choose from!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

They also will provide catering for special events such as weddings and provide recipes online. The Diner allows you to order cakes ahead of time and also has some cute Tees if you want to support them outside of eating their delectable dishes. So next time you are in Chicago or a local in need of some great comfort food, stop by the Chicago Diner and dive into some American grub!

The Chicago Diner is located at:
3411 N. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-6696

Feel free to share your favorite dishes or experiences at the Chicago Diner!

We just returned from Chicago and wanted to thank everyone who stopped by our booth at Lollapalooza! We had a great time and enjoyed the music and all the people we met. There was a great response to our products and to other Green and Fair Trade Vendors! We hope to be able to attend more events in the future like this, so keep a look out for us! We wanted to give a special thanks to Rob and Michelle at Bleeding Heart Bakery (the best vegan cupcakes), all their awesome staff, and all the other vendors at Green Street! We hope to see you next year! Here are some highlights of the weekend:

Anne, Gina, Amy, and Matt working the booth Anne, Gina, Amy, and Matt Working the Booth

Green Street Green Street

Anne watching Mates of State Anne watching Mates of State

Autonomie's Booth!Autonomie’s Booth!

Gina Listening to Iron and Wine Gina Listening to Iron and Wine

The End of Lolla!
The End of Lolla

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