March 2009


Van Jones at Green Festival Photo by EarthwormA couple weeks ago, the White House announced that long time Green advocate, Van Jones will be joining them on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). He will have the title of special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. This comes as great news to environmentalists! Many see this as an opportunity to really bring green job creation to the forefront. And if anyone deserves this honor, it certainly is Van Jones. 

Van Jones has a long history of being involved with the Green movement, long before it was accepted by mainstream America. He helped found great organizations such as Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All. He has been pivotal in his Green message and promoting movements like Green Jobs Now. His tireless efforts to help end poverty and cut pollution have not gone unnoticed. Especially after he published his groundbreaking and popular book The Green Collar Economy this past October. Now after decades of work on both the environment and inner city poverty, Van Jones will  have a chance to put his ideas to work!

Group Photo - Green For All @ Power Shift Photo By greenforall.orgIts safe to say Van Jones has laid the groundwork for a eco-social steps towards a realistic solution. Let’s just hope the next few years, we will all see the fruits of his labor. We are proud that such an amazing activist was chosen to serve with the Obama administration! He is certainly a very qualified leader and environmentalist who has a chance to really overhaul our workforce and help save our failing economy. So we feel incredibly confident Van Jones can help bring real green job development to the nation and look forward to watching the next few years play out!

Native Foods, Palm Springs Photo by jeckmanThe sunny city of Los Angeles is thriving with great vegan eats from classy 5 star restaurants, to vegan drive thrus, and hip trendy spots, but for our restaurant pick we have chosen LA’s Native Foods. Native Foods is actually a small chain of 5 restaurants spread all over the LA area including Costa Mesa, Aliso Viejo, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs. I’ve only had the chance to visit the LA spot in Westwood. Each location has a little different menu, which means next time I’m in the area I will be checking out a few more locations!

native foods Photo by cpandarThis relaxed restaurant overs the full gamete of California style food, only with a vegan twist. This means they offer a wide variety of dishes from around the world and plenty of fresh ingredients! I couldn’t help but smile as I entered the restaurant to a friendly sign that said “Einstein was a vegetarian. Think about it!” That sort of veggie love, warms my vegan heart! But really the restaurant atmosphere is a chilled out cafe far different from many LA hot spots. And that is perfectly fine with me, as I like to feel at home when I am eating a tasty meal.

kids' plate Photo by chinagrrl

Dippity-Do-Dog-Combo with Save the chicken Nuggets at Native Foods

Westwood’s menu has the typical set up with Starters, Salads, Cold Sandwiches, Hot Entrees, Pizza and Desserts. I was happy to notice there was a kid’s menu. This is something I have never seen at a vegan restaurant before. They title their kid’s section “Green Kids Rule!” and provide children’s favorites such as Dippity-Do-Dog-Combo (soy dog chunks or chicken nuggets and brown rice) and ChimpanZee “Cheese” Pizza (cheese pizza with bananas on the side). If you have veggie kids this is a great place to bring them. Or if you have children you would like to introduce to vegan foods, this is a place where they would enjoy the meals and it wouldn’t seem too “weird” to them. Next time I’ll bring along my nephew to do a children’s taste test!

"Save the Chicken" Wings

"Save the Chicken" Wings

But on to the delicious adult sized meals. Perhaps my favorite thing about Native Foods is what they name their fake chicken: “Save the Chicken.” In the Snacks section, you will find the best incarnation of their “chicken”. This is what they call the “Save the Chicken” Wings with “Ranch” on the side. Oh dear, this appetizer is to die for! In fact, I once had a friend drive 8 hours to bring me this very appetizer. Even a little soggy this is the best fake chicken I have ever had! You will find many people talking about this dish, as I believe it may be a favorite among all vegans.  Other great starters include Chili “Cheese” Fries, Native Nachos, Get ‘Yo Greens, and Bindi Bites(veggie samosas). I haven’t had the chance to try them all, on account of my love affair with the “Save the Chicken” wings, but I promise I will branch out next time I am in LA.

Portobello & Sausage Burger

Portobello & Sausage Burger

They also offer a great variety of fresh salads if you shy away from fried foods (although you can get a Chinese “Save the Chicken” Salad). If you are looking for California Cuisine, I suggest your try the OC Raw Chopper, a salad which screams California with avocados, almonds, and sprouts. Also, they offer some pretty tasty vegan pizza. They don’t have a ton of variety as far as pizzas go, but they offer it on an organic wheat crust. I like their pizzas and salads but must say their sandwiches are the way to go. I really enjoyed their Philly Peppersteak Sandwich, but have heard excellent recommendations about their Portobello & Sausage Burger, Chicken Run Ranch Burger, and Ceasar’s Wrap.

Tijuana Tacos

Tijuana Tacos

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Mexican flare! The Tijuana Tacos and Baja Surf Tacos are worth checking out. This fresh take on California Mexican is quite delicious and even includes soy taco meat in the Tijuana and crispy battered tempeh in the Baja choice, a take on California Baja Fish tacos.  They also, offer a variety of hot entrees served in a bowl including Mad Cowboy (BBQ style), Greek Gyro, and the Hollywood Bowl (includes tofu spears). Another bowl worth trying out is the Soul Bowl with includes red beans, jasmine rice, grilled veggies, BBQ “save the chicken” spears, cornbread, and all drizzled in “ranch” dressing!!

Chocolate Tofu Love Pie

Chocolate Tofu Love Pie

Of course a meal isn’t complete without dessert. And with dessert, Native Foods definitely delivers. You can get any typical American dessert from Native Carrot Cake to Sam’s Native Cheesecake. But they also have their own unique creations like the Key Lime Parfait and the Elephant Chocolate Cake (comes drizzled in cinnamon peanut butter sauce). My favorite dessert is the Chocolate Tofu Love Pie made with Fair Trade chocolate and vanilla and completed by an almond crust. Its a great way to end a California Meal.

Next time you are in the Los Angeles area, make sure you get your self to one of the 5 Native Foods locations, it’s definitely worth the trip.  There is no other great California style vegan restaurant, at least not at this caliber. And if LA is a little too far for you, check out their Native Foods Cookbooks and try some great recipes at home.

earth-hour-logoAs many of you are aware, tomorrow Saturday March 28 marks the 3rd annual Earth Hour event when millions of people around the globe will switch their lights off for one full hour as a statement against global warming.

Earth Hour began in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses in Sydney, Australia switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness in solidarity of the event.

light-switchThis year, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people in cities and towns all over the globe all switching off their lights.  The media buzz around Earth Hour has grown so big that even restaurants and hotels are getting in on the fun and offering special Earth Hour promos  and romance packages as they dim their dining rooms to old fashioned candlelight.

earth-hour-posterIndeed, the folks behind the Earth Hour movement have done quite an impressive job at garnering attention, creating media buzz, and turning the heads of people and businesses not usually attuned to environmental causes.  Of course it didn’t hurt to have popular street artist Shepard Fairy (made ultra famous by his rendition of campaigning Barack Obama) rebrand the organization and create snazzy new posters and downloads for this year’s pledge to darkness.

However, not all environmentalists are impressed with this awareness initiative and many are criticizing the action as having little to do with the actual fight against global warming and more to do with celebrating the popularity of the group’s ability to create such a grand “feel good” gesture for the majority of the world.  It is slightly disturbing to see how many individuals are posting comments on blogs and participating in discussion groups that they are planning on diligently turning their lights out like a herd of sheep blindly following a shepherd without giving one thought to how they can more effectively help Mother Earth or make Earth Hour-like actions a part of their daily routine.

As Joel Makower of the Green Buzz states, “Turning off the lights for one hour seems a meek and hollow gesture, a feel-good measure that may fleetingly raise awareness, but does little to educate or change long-term habits, let along “take control over the future of our planet.” It is, simply put, a media event in search of actual content.”

Makower has a point.   Earth Hour’s Take Action campaign simply tells people how to help spread the word about Earth Hour, how to stage their very own Earth Hour event (do people really need more of an excuse to throw a party in the dark??) and how to win their video contest on what they did during Earth Hour, rather than giving any real advice or imparting any true wisdom on what people can do to help stop global warming.

Non-profits and other small organizations that campaign tirelessly for environmental causes and struggle daily to get the general public involved with their actions are understandably fed up and irritated with the Earth Hour blitz.  competitive-enterprise-institute-logoThe Washington DC-based think tank the Competitive  Enterprise Institute is staging its own event tomorrow in protest.  This free-market advocacy group has been known to promote market-based, non-solution solutions to environmental crises.  They’ve recently been in the press for their satiric “Celebrate Coal!” rally last month.  Their very public knock against Earth Hour is the “Human Achievement Hour” in which humans are celebrated and encouraged to go about their regular Saturday night routine of going to the movies or going out to dinner.  As CEI states on their website, “Anyone not foregoing the use of electricity in [Earth] hour is, by default, celebrating the achievements of human beings.”

So what will you be doing tomorrow night?  Sitting in the dark or brilliantly enjoying the fruits of human innovation?

It’s time again to pack our bags and head out West! This year’s Seattle Greenfest is taking place this weekend, March 28th and 29th. Greenfest is a joint event put on by Green America and Global Exchange to spread awareness of green and fair trade issues. We, along with Fair Trade Sports have a booth at this year’s event. And are really excited to go!

If you are in the Seattle area, please stop by and visit us and the many other green/fair trade companies and organizations exhibiting there. We will be in Booth 1217 in the Fair Trade section. Not only will you have a chance to check out great companies and do some shopping, just in time for spring, but you will have a chance to meet amazing people and hear some great speakers. This year’s line up includes Danny Glover, John Perkins, Amy Goodman, and many many more! And for the first time ever this year’s event will feature a Live Blogging Zone, where visitors are asked to tell their friends all about the events of the day!

Seriously Greenfests are amazing places to meet like minded people and discover amazing companies and products with great missions. So please come on down and check it out! Come visit us and get a special event price on sneakers or just to say hi! Hope to see you there!!!

When: March 28-29, 2009

Saturday 10AM – 7PM  and Sunday 11AM – 6PM

Where:

Washington State Convention & Trade Center
800 Convention Place
Seattle, WA

Since the election, many people have used the phrase “change has come to the White House.” And of course they mean more than just a change in leadership but a change in policy. Well, Barack Obama is not the only one ushering an era of change to the White House. The First Lady, Michelle Obama has her own plan! This past Friday, Michelle and volunteer elementary students began to build a White House garden. The garden is set to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruits that will be used in the White House Kitchen. As well as feeding the residents and staff of the White House, the gardens produce will be donated to a local soup kitchen in Washington DC.

Obama White House Garden Photo By mitbbs2008

Michelle and her volunteers began digging and planting such plants as broccoli, spinach, bcollard greens, and many herbs.  The veggies and fruits planted in the garden are set to change with the seasons. The First Lady said she had been planning on building the garden since she moved into the new residence as her daughters, Sasha and Malia prefer fresh vegetables!

Our organic Garden at the studio - May 1st Photo by Just in Parr

We think its absolutely wonderful that the White House has made the move to pant a garden. Eating local or growing your own garden is a great way to not only save money but help the environment. Growing mass amounts of produce and shipping them across the country is very wasteful. And as Sasha and Malia have pointed out, when you grow your own garden, the produce is extremely fresh! Also, many experts have stated that eating with the seasons is not only healthier but keeps you in touch with your surroundings.

Fresh Herbs Photo by (nz)daveThe White House is leading a great example for our children and the country! We hope this move inspires others to grow their own produce. If you are wondering how to grow your own organic garden, check out this Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening. If you live in an apartment and do not have a yard to grow a whole garden in, try at least growing your own herbs. It’s actually pretty easy inside your apartment! And finally if you just don’t have that green thumb, try the next best thing: local farms! There are many small, local, and organic farms throughout the country: find one near you! The White House is one of the most symbolic American landmarks and the President is perhaps the most influential person in the world. So it is inspiring to see them live by example! Thank you Michelle for making a change!

Postcard of Ft. Lauderdale Beach during Spring Break, 1960s Photo by StevenM_61College kids and families across the country will be taking a week off in celebration of Spring! Thousands will use this time to travel the world, especially to warm beach climates like Florida and Mexico. But before you pack your bags and jet set across the world, take a moment to think about how you could green your Spring Break Travel!! There are some quick easy ideas to keep your Spring Break as green as the season of Spring!  

Before booking your Spring Break plans, we recommend reading our entry, written earlier this year on Eco-Tourism for some great green ideas such as staying local and green tour companies. But beyond that post, we have some great tips on greening your Spring Break.

Bike On The Beach Photo by Rodger E Clark-Green City Guide: A great resource to find out which cities to visit and how to travel through them. Check out Planet Green’s Green City Guide. This is a terrific guide to how to travel green in Top Spring Break locales such as Ft Myers, Buenos Aries, Miami, and LA. Under each city, this site explains how to enjoy yourself in these cities, including local public transportation, green hotels, and green dining. This guide can not only be used for Spring Break locations, but for travel all year long, including cities in the Northern parts of the world.

iWood Eco Friendly Sunglasses at GreenLoop.com-Green Beach Products: Most Spring Breakers spend 90% of their vacation on the beach. Many products used for fun in the sun unfortunately are not only harmful to the environment but they are made from petroleum bases. There are several great companies that make non toxin and organic sunblock. Also you might want to bring your organic beach towels and  beach totes.  And how about protecting your eyes from the sun? Yes you guessed it! There are green sunglasses, and they are made of natural wood!! 

Green Sea Turtle Being Cleaned Photo by Peter Liu Photography-Volunteer: Instead of spending your Spring Break downing beers and sunning on the beach, why not volunteer! There are a ton of great companies that provide volunteer vacations. Where you can spend your vacation helping study climate change in Ecuador, help trace change in California’s trees, or track endangered seat turtles in Mexico. There are hundreds of volunteer vacations just like these to be found all over the world. So make your Spring Break really count and help save the earth!

4/19/08 ~ Day 235: Nalgene Water Bottle Photo by Snowfire11Ro is behind on...-Tread Lightly: Be aware of your surroundings and be sure to tread lightly. Meaning back your bags lightly and don’t be wasteful. Be sure to recycle any products you use in the area you travel to (especially those beer cans and bottles, you partiers!) Also, a great way to avoid using massive bottled waters is to bring a re-usable water bottle. And lastly, DO NOT leave trash around and make sure you clean up after yourselves. You want to respect the area you are visiting because you are a guest.  

Kick the Meat Habit! Photo By Vegan ButterflyThis Friday, March 20th, this year’s Great American Meatout will be celebrated. Now you might ask, what is the Great American Meatout? This is one day a year where vegan and vegetarians pledge the people of the entire world to spend the day without eating meat. This shouldn’t be too difficult for those of the Catholic faith, as this year March 20th falls on a Friday during Lent. The objective is to educate the world on how easy it is to live the life of a vegetarian and give people healthy meat and dairy alternatives.

Could I buy a BVA, please? Photo by eprescottThe Great American Meatout began in 1985 as a grassroots movement to educate people on healthy and non violent eating habits and has grown to one of the largest vegetarian movements in the world. Small local events are held throughout the country including tabling, dinners, and conferences. There are many events happening all week all over the country and world this year! To find Great American Meat Out Events in your area, click here

Veg literature distro Photo By arimooreThe Meatout movement is not only for March, many members hold Meatout events throughout the year. And maybe you’d like to get more involve, plan an event yourself, get your Free Veggie Starter Kit, or sign up for their weekly newsletter, Meatout Mondays. So remember this Friday, if you haven’t gone vegan already, abstain from meat! And if your already a practicing veggie, spread the word to friends, family, and anyone who will listen! Happy Meatout Day!

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