April 2009


sweatfree-logoOur allies at SweatFree Communities, a local New England-based grassroots organizing campaign, are calling on all Massachusetts residents to make a statement against sweatshops tomorrow: our official tax day!  The NGO’s report Subsidizing Sweatshops I, released on July 1 of last year, found that U.S. tax dollars are STILL being spent on sweatshops, child labor, forced and unpaid overtime, and toxic conditions in government contractor facilities.

Elected officials, clergy, business owners and labor leaders will gather at State Houses and Post Offices in at least 12 U.S. cities on Tax Day (that’s tomorrow – April 15th!) to release a new report by SweatFree Communities revealing that U.S. states and cities, and the Federal government, continue to use taxpayer money to purchase goods from companies engaged in serious human rights and labor rights violations.

workersSubsidizing Sweatshops II is a follow-up to the groundbreaking first edition and includes in-depth interviews with workers in eight factories spanning five countries who produce uniforms for public employees such as police officers and parks service employees for nine major uniform brands. Six companies named in the report supply products to approved apparel vendors of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Sweatfree Campaign is calling on Governor Deval Patrick to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, which would stop tax dollar support for sweatshop abuses and level the playing field for ethical U.S. businesses. Since the report’s first edition was published in July 2008, more states and cities have committed to join the Consortium, including the State of Pennsylvania, the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the City of Portland, Oregon, and the City of Olympia, Washington.

HELP MASSACHUSETTS BECOME A SWEAT FREE STATE!

Join the action tomorrow:

–BOSTON—
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 9:30-10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Steps of Massachusetts State Capitol, Beacon St. at Park St., Boston
WHO: Guillermo Cosajay, garment worker at Eagle Industries, New Bedford, MA Liana Foxvog, National Organizer, SweatFree Communities Paul Hannon, Interim Executive Secretary, Catholic Labor Guild George Noel, Director of Labor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (invited)

—NORTHAMPTON—
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Main Post Office, 37 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA
WHO: Massachusetts Sweatfree Campaign supporters

Or, if you’re a tax filing procrastinator or not in Massachusetts, you can always officially endorse the campaign, start a campaign of your own, or support Sweat Free Communities.

For a more in-depth and fascinating look behind the scenes of how governments are supporting sweatshops, check out this video about where our military uniforms are made:

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With Easter fast approaching we wanted to highlight a traditional American Easter dish. But upon research we found that besides Ham and Lamb, there really isn’t a traditional side dish. So we surveyed a few friends and found that many people eat some form of potato dish for Easter. Since mashed potatoes are pretty simple (just add vegan margarine and soy milk) we thought we would share our recipe for Vegan Scalloped Potatoes. These make a great side dish or main attraction. However, we also have some great ideas for Meatless Easter Main Dishes:

And since it seems most Americans choose to eat meats on this holiday, here are a few suggestions to replace the roast! Instead of serving ham, try one of these great grain roasts by Field Roast Grain Meat. They make a terrific substitute to Ham Roasts that are traditionally served at American Easter dinners. Or for an even closer version to Ham, check out May Wah’s Vegan Ham. There aren’t very many substitutes for Lamb, but you could always serve a Tofurkey Roast. Any reason to serve Tofurkey sounds like a great idea to us! Or you can always combine a number of great side dishes to create a feast. Check out our Recipe backblog for more ideas.

And we encourage you to shy away from Easter Eggs and suggest you check out these Fair Trade, Vegan Divine Chocolate Easter Eggs. These will make any “egg” hunt just as fun! So we want to wish everyone a Happy Easter and Welcome Spring! Start the season off with some delicious Scalloped Potatoes!

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

2 Cups Soy Milk
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
6 Potatoes (Yukon Golds are the best)
1 Onion
6 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
Paprika to Taste
Parsley (optional)
2 Tsp Nurtitional Yeast (optional-for cheesy-ness)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes into thin slices and finely chop the onions. Arrange a layer of potato slices and onions on the bottom of a medium to large casserole dish(about 1/3). Melt the margarine and pour about a 1/3 of it over the layer. Next, sift the flour, salt and pepper (and nutritional yeast if you are using it) together. And also sprinkle about a third of this mixture over the layer. Continue to do this until all the ingredients are used up. Next pour all of the soy milk over the layers and make sure the top layer is very saturated. Sprinkle paprika to taste over the top and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the milk has thickened and the potatoes are soft enough to eat. Garnish the top with parsley and dig in!

Last Sunday, 4/5/09 we were happy to partake in the Earth Day Design Hive in Cambridge Mass. It was a nice and bustling marketplace with awesome local arts, crafts, and fashions. We met a lot of cool local people and were able to catch the fashion show which featured local designers and Fashion with Impact. Everyone seemed in high spirits and there were items ranging from homemade magnets to recycled jewelery, to vintage clothes.

mail-132We also enjoyed spending time at our booth where we had a paint your own corner. We had all sorts of cool fabric paints for everyone to paint their AP tees. We had a couple of takers and they made some really unique and personal AP products. Check out one happy customer’s hand painted tee to the right! She did that all herself! The paint your own corner seemed to be a hit and many people were very excited about it!

mail-10But we also had some employed artists to help out and paint some custom one-of-a-kind all day! We at Autonomie partnered with Artists for Humanity for this event and a few other to come. If you don’t know about Artists for Humanity, they are a great organization that works with underprivileged youth in the Boston area to provide the paid employment through the arts. Seriously they are wonderful organization and you should definitely check them out. We look forward to working and supporting them in the future. The AFH kids that came out did some really great artwork on the sneakers and the shoes they created will be available at the upcoming Fair Trade Boston event, which will be at the AFH studios. Check back here at our blog for more info coming soon!

We want to thank everyone for coming out and a special thanks to Artists for Humanity and Val for the great event. We certainly enjoyed our Design Hive experience and look forward to attending and shopping at many more! To check out more Design Hives, come out every 1st Sunday of every month and check the Design Hive website for updates and upcoming themes. Enjoy the pics of the event below:

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Ummmmmmmm. Yuuuuuummy, yummy chocolate! Recently I’ve been thinking about chocolate a lot especially with Easter around the corner.

Did you know that chocolate has mystical powers? Eating chocolate increases the levels of endorphins released into the brain. Endorphins are hormones that the body uses to lessen pain and decrease stress. Another common neurotransmitter affected by chocolate is serotonin. Serotonin is known as an anti-depressant and guess what my friends? Yep, you guessed it: chocolate helps us release serotonin because it contains tryptophan.

But enough of these 12 syllable words. Did you know that chocolate comes from the cacao tree? The bean used to make chocolate is called the cocoa bean (red bean in picture).
Chocolate  also has a cool history. It is believed to have been introduced into Central America by the ancient Mayas, and cultivated in Mexico by the Olmecs, then by the Toltecs and later by the Aztecs. Montezuma II, emperor of the Aztecs, dined on no other beverage than chocolate, served in a golden goblet and eaten with a golden spoon. It is reported that Montezuma II may have consumed no fewer than 50 portions each day, and 200 more by the nobles of his court. At some point in history before the Spanish Conquest, it was used as a currency throughout Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.

Now the not so cool history of chocolate

Where does cocoa come from? Well, the main cocoa exporting countries include: Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Malaysia. A UNICEF study reports that 200,000 children are trafficked yearly in West and Central Africa for the cocoa trade. These children are used as plantation labor.  The trafficking occurs across many countries including Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana. Some countries are mere transit points, while others are either the suppliers or receivers of the children. The 2005 International Labor Organization report estimated that up to 6% of the 200,000 children involved in cocoa production could be the victims of human trafficking or slavery.

The good news is that people like you and me: consumers, can and are making a difference. For example, Cadbury Dairy Milk – the leading chocolate bar in the UK – has announced plans to begin using Fair Trade cocoa this summer!!!  This is great news! Cadbury’s switch to fair trade cocoa  will boost Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate up to a full 15 percent of the chocolate market in England.

Ok, now that we know almost everything we can digest about chocolate, I would like to leave you with one last thought.  In 2006 US chocolate sales estimated at close to $16 billion through all channels and is forecasted to grow to $18 billion by 2011, according to the U.S. Market for Chocolate. The UK has taken the lead on demanding fair trade chocolate, now, it’s our turn.

So, before you go buy your holiday chocolate, check out this report called the Chocolate Scorecard to see what companies you would like your hard earned dollars to support. The chocolate trade can be ugly but it can also be empowering and Fair Trade chocolate companies like Divine Chocolate (makers of the Fair Trade Chocolae Easter Eggs to the right) and Equal Exchange are really proving this to be the case. There are some great companies out there to get Fair Trade chocolate from.   Check out some of the other companies that make eating chocolate, 100% heavenly!

Spring is now upon us and we thought we’d highlight the April holidays by sharing some great vegan recipes. Thursday marks the Passover holiday and of course Passover Seder Dinner! And what would a Passover Seder be without Matzo Ball Soup?! So today you are in for a real treat! We are sharing our vegan version of Matzo Ball Soup just in time for the holiday. Our recipe calls for Silken Tofu, which for some of the Jewish faith who refrain from eating legumes on Passover, it may not be suitable. However, we have included hints for how to create this delicious soup without the use of tofu. Bete’avon!

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
8-10 Cups of Vegetable Broth (or water and veggie bullion cubes)
1 1/2 Cups of Matzo Meal
3/4 Cup Silken Tofu or 3 Medium Peeled and Boiled Potatoes
4 Tblsp Olive Oil
1 Peeled Carrot
1/2 Medium Peeled and Chopped Onion
2 Tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (optional)
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp of Black Pepper
1/8 Tsp Cumin
Fresh Dill or Parsley to Taste (optional)

If you are using potatoes instead of tofu, peel and boil potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are soft. In a large mixing bowl combine, olive oil, matzo meal, salt, pepper, cumin, egg replacer, and either silken tofu or potatoes. Knead the dough until firm or smooth with your hands or place in a blender for about 4-5 minutes. Let the mixture stand for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, on the stove boil a large pot of water. Form the dough into 2-3 inch balls and drop into the boiling water. Boil the dough for 15-20 minutes and be careful not to overcook them!! While those are boiling, in another large pot, heat up the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add in the peeled carrots, peeled onions, salt, and pepper. After boiling for about 5-10 minutes, reduce to low to medium heat and let it simmer. Carefully remove the matzo balls and add them to the vegetable broth. Let the soup simmer on low heat for about ten minutes. The soup is now ready to serve!! Garnish with fresh dill or parsley or both, if you choose.

gf09se-header1Last weekend we traveled all the way over to the other side of the country to meet thousands of enthusiastic shoppers and activists at the 2nd annual Seattle Green Festival!  It was a crazy busy weekend and we had a ton of fun.  Seattle is an incredibly warm and supportive community and we applaud them for continuing their part of the effort to fight global warming, poverty and injustice in our world.

dscn32861The weekend was filled with excellent food (all vegan and organic of course!), inspiring speakers including journalist Amy Goodman and economist David Korten, great networking with other Green America approved social businesses and organizations, and tons and tons of awesome shopping!

dscn3288Here are some photos of our booth space (shared with our favorite brother company Fair Trade Sports) and the jam packed event to give you a little taste of what you missed.  If you’re in Chicago or Denver, heads up that Green Festival is on its way to you next month!  While we won’t be there this time, we hope you still check it out!

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Design Hive (11/15) Photo by ZestyBetsyThis Sunday come join us at Design Hive right here in Cambridge, Mass (Harvard Square). Design Hive is an innovative collective marketplace held every month to showcase local artists and designers. Each even centers around a theme. This month Design Hive takes place on Sunday, April 5th and the theme is in celebration of Earth Day, entitled Get Green & Groovy! Oh and the best part: its FREE admission!

The event will feature up to 60 local designers, vintage clothing, handbags, jewelry, and of course yours truly Autonomie Project! We will be there with great sneakers and tees AND an art table, artists included to help you custom design and paint your own AP products!! Also, Boston Rebel Sound will be spinning records all day and a recycled clothing fashion show put on by Fashion with Impact.

We are really excited about this event and would love to see you there! So come support your local artists, celebrate an early Earth Day and maybe get a pair of custom painted sneakers! We hope to see you there.

When: Sunday April 5th

10am – 5pm with Fashion Show at 1pm

Where: Harvard Square: Maria Baldwin School (formerly the Agassiz School)

28 Sacramento St. (off Mass Ave. @ corner of Oxford St.)

Cambridge, MA 02138

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