October 2008

For all you New Englanders out there, rock on and bring your veggies to this weekend’s Vegetarian Food Festival in Boston!

For 13 years, the all-volunteer Boston Vegetarian Society has thrown quite the party at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center at the Roxbury Community College. Enjoy a full day and a packed house of yummy food sampling, great shopping, helpful cooking demos, and interesting speakers.  Not to mention free admission and free parking!

The longest running event of its kind in the country, the festival is a resource for vegetarians and vegans, and for anyone wanting to include a greater variety of healthy and delicious plant-based foods in their diets.  It also interests those wanting to live in greater harmony with animals and the environment. In the past, this event has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the country.  People actually pilgrimage to this thing – it’s THAT cool.

If you go, make sure to check out Autonomie’s sponsorship table.  We’ll have all of our goodies for sale, including our new super cute organic cotton winter accessories from Peru.  You can also pick up a hot BVFF organic cotton t-shirt, supplied by yours truly.

See you Saturday in Roxbury from 10 am to 6 pm!


Although in earlier posts we mentioned that our company has not openly supported a specific candidate over another, upon many nights of research, we have decided to officially endorse the Obama campaign!! After looking over countless articles and reading Obama and Biden’s beliefs, choices, and plans for our country, it has become clear that their views are very much in line with the views and vision of Autonomie Project.

We feel that this election is too close for comfort and is of such historical significance that we must do everything we can, as individuals and as a company, to support our chosen candidate.  That includes educating you, beloved readers, on the issues that matter most to us and how Obama and Joe Biden plan to help.  So read away, and let us know if you agree!

  1. Investment and Creation of 5 Million Green Jobs: AP applauds Obama’s support of the Green economy. Obama believes that one of the keys to boosting the economy and improving the environment is the development of a robust Green Market sector that would provide millions of jobs to replace the millions we are losing due to volatile capital markets, all while making our planet a healthier place.
  2. Support for Small Business and Start Ups: This one hits especially close to home, as AP is barely a year old and needs all the start-up help we can get!  We are just a few friends on a mission to spread the word of Fair Trade through organic fashions. Obama’s plan provides tax relief to small businesses so that innovation (like ours!) can be encouraged and new jobs created.  He also supports funding for incubators of start ups in disadvantaged communities.
  3. Worker’s Rights: Obviously labor and worker’s rights are very important to us at Autonomie. Obama has called to raise the minimum wage and to end the use of replacement workers when a union is on strike.  He also wants to push forth the Employee Free Choice Act protecting workers’ rights to organize.
  4. New Energy for America: This is the phrase Obama has used to describe his energy and environmental plan. Highlights of the plan include a move to reduce green house gases by 80%; develop an American-made, plug-in hybrid car market that will put 1 million hybrid cars on the road by 2015; end our addiction to foreign oil; and to push forth a plan to implement alternative energy as a source for electricity in American homes.
  5. A Responsible End to the Iraq War: It’s no question at this point that the Iraq War was a mistake and is eating up billions of American taxpayer money. Obama is calling for a responsible withdrawal of troops and plans to focus on finding the real people behind the 9-11 attacks.

These are just a few of the key issues we see eye-to-eye with Obama and are the reasons why we have chosen to not only vote for him as individuals, but to endorse him as a company!  Please stay informed, volunteer for the campaign, and realize this is the most important election for our generation. The choices we make on November 4th will affect our country and the world for us and our future generations.

The choice is ours. Let’s make real change together! OBAMA-BIDEN 2008!

Halloween is coming up this Friday and if you’re looking to make this year’s monster bash a little more ethical, than we’re here to help! You don’t have to succumb to the holiday’s unhealthy consumption-driven tendencies. Check out these creative ideas on how to make your pumpkin a little greener this year and get ready to have the best Hallow’s Eve ever!

Go Organic: We were tickled pink (or orange?) to find out from New York Times blogger Kate Galbraith that there IS such a thing as an organic pumpkin!  Call up your local farm or pick-your-own organization and see what they’ve got before swinging by the ‘seasonal’ aisle of the grocery store like usual.

Go Vintage: Why bother buying a new plastic costume every year, when the best costumes are usually found at vintage stores?  Buying vintage not only recycles clothing thus keeping them out of landfills, but supports local business and your local economy.  If you don’t have a vintage store near you, check our Grandma’s closet.  You never know what kind of goodies you’ll find in there!

Exercise Your DIY: Even better than buying vintage is making a costume yourself!  Rather than tossing those old scraps, foils, empty beer cans, and rags in the trash, re-use them and let your creativity go wild.  Anything goes when it comes to building your own and you’ll have a ton of fun in the process.

Buy Fair Trade: Skip the Reese’s and M&M’s and instead buy Fair Trade chocolate.  There are a ton of ethical, independent businesses out there offering super yummy Fair Trade-certified and organic chocolate bars.  Check out your local markets and gift stores for these products.  You’ll be surprised at the great stuff you find there!  Some of our favorites include Equal Exchange, Theo and Alter Eco.

Reverse trick-or-treating: Join the leagues of Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Forum and make Halloween a meaningful holiday of solidarity, activism and education.  Rather than encouraging your kids to go out and take candy, youngin’s participating in reverse trick-or-treating hand the adults at the door a Fair Trade chocolate with an educational card.  The goal of reverse trick-or-treating is to raise awareness, especially amongst youth, of the poverty and abusive labor conditions in the cocoa fields.

And after it’s all over and you’ve come down off of your sugar high…what do you do with the litter of candy wrappers, cardboard boxes and torn costumes?  Toss ’em by the wayside?  We think not.  Check out this cool contest from SustainLane.com:

  1. Take a ‘before’ photo of your prized mound of rubbish for posterity.
  2. Make something cool. Check out these candy wrapper purses from Ecoist for inspiration.
  3. Take an ‘after’ photo and blog about your creation on SustainLane.com
  4. SustainLane will evaluate all entries received by November 15 and the winner will receive a reusable bottle from Klean Kanteen.

Not digging that much effort?  Then donate your wrappers to the Candy Wrapper Museum and hang up your witches hat ’til next year!

As our previous post covered an animal rights initiative that would ban greyhound racing in Massachusetts. Today we want to take a look at Proposition 2 in California that would alter the way farm animals are confined. This bill is not the most comprehensive bill for animal abuses in the industry. However, it is a clear step in the right direction. This proposal would ban cages of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. It will also bans all confinement for egg laying hens, gestation crates for breeding pigs, and veal crates for veal calves. Lastly, it will institute a penalty of $1000 or up to 6 months in jail if anyone is found in violation of the act.

Supporting this proposition would take a step towards banning animal cruelty that is caused by housing farm animals in unsafe and unsanitary situations.  Earlier this year we wrote a blog detailing the cruelty of the egg industry called The Truth About Eggs. In this post we detailed some of the more serious abuses to egg laying hens, including the fact that hens are kept in ultra tight quarters, depending on the factory, but the USDA reports the average floor space provided is somewhere less than a half a foot per hen. So the ban on battery cages would be a huge improvement to the industry, but will not stop all the abuse including the cruel deaths to male chickens and non egg producing hens.

This bill will also ban the crates used for sows. These pigs are used to breed and are kept in cages so tight that they can not turn around and barely larger than the sow itself for their entire life. And the cages are stacked so tightly together that sometimes there are up to 20 pigs stored in tight quarters. These crates are already banned in the UK, Sweden, and by the EU, although they still make up a large part of the US pig breeding industry. But now California has a chance to change that. If Prop 2 passes, this type of cage will be outlawed. It may not completely improve the quality of life of the pigs, but at least it will alleviate some suffering caused by these cages.

Baby cows used for veal will also released from their confinement if this bill passes. Veal calves are kept in what are referred to as veal crates. They are taken immeadiately from their mothers side, kept chained to a crate where they can not turn around, and denied proper nutrition. The calves are often kept in the dark and are left in unsanitary conditions. Many well known veternarians and other scientists believe these practices to be inhumane and support banning these abuses. Prop 2 will ban the crates, but unfortunately not all the abuses.

Beyond animals these abuses harm, there is one more group to think about: the humans who eat the meat and eggs supplied by these malnourished animals. Because the animals are kept in such tight quarters, it increases the possibility for them to contract diseases that could be passed to humans such as salmonella and e. coli. Also, because the animals are confined their entire lives, they do not exercise and enjoy normal activity, bringing down their overall nutrition (thus bringing the nutrition and health down in their meat). In a report published by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, they scientifically explain the spread of disease to humans through confined farm animal meat and they quote the FDA saying that the cases of these diseases in humans is on the rise in the US.

So thanks for reading our view on Prop 2 in California! We know it won’t solve all the problems, because trust us there are many more abuses and practices that threaten the health of humans. But as we said before, it will make a difference in thousands of animals well being and hopefully will be a step towards elminating several other abuses. We are in Massachusetts, but wish we could vote for this bill. If you are a Californian, we urge you to read the facts and get informed on this issue! California has a chance to end this abuse and set and example for the rest of the country!!

It feels like the election has been so focused on our next president, that we are all forgetting about our local elections, where we can make a huge impact! Where the presidential election is obviously of utmost importance, we also want to take a look at a few propositions that will appear on November ballots. We are very excited about two awesome animal rights acts in both California and Massachusetts. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight Question 3 or Greyhound Protection Act in Massachusetts. This being our home, we are very excited about the possibility of our state banning dog racing!

Now you may wonder, what’s wrong with dog racing? It a historic business and the animals have laws protecting them. Although, this may be true, laws are not always enforced and at least 800 dogs have suffered injuries in the past 5 years including death. Racing is actually a dangerous sport for dogs and because they are running at such high speeds it can result in series harm. Many opponents of this bill will say that this number is not accurate, however Massachusetts state law requires a report to be written every time a dog has an injury. Grey2K an animal rights and greyhound protection group issued a well documented and well researched 92 page report which includes pictures and actual injury reports. Opponents of the bill were also recently fact checked by the Boston Globe for inflating racing numbers to make it appear as if a smaller percentage of dogs were actually harmed. Actually both sides of the issue have attacked each other for inflated or minimizing numbers. But either way 1 dog harmed is too many for us and 800 is far too many!

On top of serious dog injuries, the treatment of the dogs has come under fire. Thousands of dogs are kept in cages for up to 20 hours a day when not racing. These cages are often described as not large enough for the dog to turn completely around, as highlighted in the pictures taken at Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, MA. Along with confining the dogs, they are fed low grade food that is considered unfit for human consumption, meaning it can contain diseases such as salmonella. Likely due to their close quarters there have been instances where several dogs became sick and perished from unknown diseases. Such as in 2005 when 19 dogs died within hours at the Wonderland Greyhound Park. Also, there have been reports of the animals being drugged and a huge story broke when it was discovered that a dog named Reese from the same racetrack tested positive for cocaine twice!

Another item opponents to the bill say is there would be a job loss of 1200 people if this bill is passed. This number may seem daunting, especially in a recession. However, it has been well documented that dog racing is a failing industry and even track owner’s have admitted racing is on its last leg. And the racetracks have only been able to survive through aid given to them by state government. Between 2004 and 2007 Massachusetts state government gave these two racetracks $5 million in special funds of taxpayers money to keep the racetracks alive!! Now as we are in this current economic crisis, state funding is getting cut everywhere, do we really want to see our money used for special interest rather than in our schools and police force?

As this article is much longer than expected, if you are still reading it, we hope you take the time to go over the facts. And the main question you must ask yourselves, don’t all dogs deserve a loving, caring home and a stress free life? Would you treat your dog this way?

Ever wonder how much Texans spend on hunting and fishing a year or how much Americans spend on Fair Trade items every year? Well, now its your chance! World of Good has created the fun Smart Cart Quiz about American shopping and spending habits. Not only will you learn important and interesting facts, but some of the answers will surprise you! Such as the fact that cutting down on meat will reduce your environmental impact more than purchasing a hybrid car or that air pollution kills more Californians a year than AIDS, homicide, and car accidents combined!!

On top of the Smart Cart Quiz, it gives ideas and links to how you can have an impact just based on your shopping habits such as fair trade shopping guides and tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint. You can also email some of the facts directly to your friends as well as a link to the quiz! There are also a ton of questions and you can retake the quiz several times with completely different facts. So test you knowledge today and see how you can bring change to world poverty and the envrionment! Who knows you might learn a thing or two and actually make a difference?

The weather is starting to cool and the leaves are changing color. This means our diets usually shift to items more hearty. During the fall we begin to crave soups, chilis, pastas, and of course the autumn standard: Squash! This week we would like to share a favorite healthy and low carb main dish! Spaghetti squash is a type of squash, whose insides resemble pasta! This is a fun dish to make with kids (although you might want to hold the red pepper) and will be a family favorite. Also, spaghetti squash can be used as a replacement in dishes that require pasta, rice, or potatoes, if you are trying to manage your carb intake. This is the season for all things squash, so head to your local farmer’s market or grocer and pick up yours today!

Spicy Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 1 hour 10minutes

1 Spaghetti Squash (see pictures below)
2 Tbls of Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
2 Tbls of Tomato Paste
2 Pounds of Ripe Plum Tomatoes or 1 28oz can of tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 Tbls Dry Red Wine
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp of Oregano
1/4 Cup of Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

First preheat the oven to 375 and poke many small holes in the squash. Place the squash on a cookie sheet or tray and cook for 1 hour. About a half an hour into the baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Stir in  the tomato paste, tomatoes, wine, red pepper, oregano, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture simmer on the stove for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

By this time the squash should be ready. Take it out of the oven and when it is cool enough to touch, split it lengthwise in half with a serrated knife. Next with a a large spoon scoop out the seeds from the center of the squash. With a fork, gently scrape the hearty party of the squash, this will cause it to break up in strings, resembling pasta. Scoop the now stringy squash into a large mixing bowl (you may not need all the squash depending on the size you get) pour the mixture from earlier and the fresh basil. Toss and serve! Trust us this is a great fall recipe and a wonderful new classic dish! If you are feeling risky, try mixing in other veggies such as artichokes, olives, bell peppers, and zucchini!

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