October 2009

What better way to spend your Halloween Day and All Saints Day than to indulge in countless vegetarian food items and vegan goods? The FREE 14th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival has extended to 2 days this year! One of the largest and most popular vegetarian festivals, Boston’s annual veggie get down is occurring this weekend , October 31st and November 1st. We are really excited to be a part of the festival again this year and are SUPER excited they have decided to expanded the festival to 2 days.

The event is chalk full of free vegetarian food samples, including many up and coming products, vegan clothing and footwear, vegetarian books and other gifts. Since this year’s festival is two days long, there are even more great speakers and cooking demos including a holiday cooking demo from a Vegan Culinary Arts professor, a comedy hour, a Vegetarian 101 panel, and so much more! We of course will be there selling our vegan sneakers, t shirts, handbags, and now our NEWEST line of Organic, Fair Trade, and Vegan Children’s and Baby line. So come on down and fill your belly with veggie snacks before celebrating Halloween and be sure to get some early ethical holiday shopping in! Just please be sure and stop by the Autonomie Project table and say hello to Anne and Gina 🙂

2009 Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

WHEN: Saturday, October 31, 2009, 10 AM – 6 PM and Sunday, November 1, 2009, 10 AM – 4 PM

WHERE: Reggie Lewis Athletic Center: 1350 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Roxbury Orange Line T Stop across the street and Free Parking

It’s a fright outside with ghosts, ghouls, and monsters around every twist and turn as Halloween approaches. Everyone is putting together their costumes and its time to start thinking of yummy Halloween desserts. Parties are popping up everywhere and they generally call for potlucks. What better than Vegan Cupcakes, and not just any cupcakes but Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Powdered Sugar Frosting (optional). These tasty Autumn inspired treats will be a hit at your Halloween party or upcoming Fall Holiday! So treat those little ghosts and ghouls to some delectable Pumpkin Cupcakes. Happy Halloween from us at AP.

Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes


1/4 Cup Organic Soymilk
1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup plus 2 tablespoons Organic All-purpose flour
1/2 Cup Whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/3 Cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
1/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Tsp  Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ginger
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Purée
1/4 Cup Applesauce
3 Tbls Vegetable Oil
2 Tbls Pure Vanilla Extract


3 Tbl Earth Balance Margarine
1 Tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
3 Cups Powdered Sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you are using cupcake holders, place into cupcake pans, if not add a little bit of oil to each cupcake hole. In a medium bowl mix the soymilk and apple cider vinegar together. In a large mixing bowl sift the dry ingredients: the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugars, spices, and salt. Whisk pumpkin purée, applesauce, oil, and vanilla into the soymilk and vinegar mixture. Fold the wet and dry ingredients together, be careful not to over-mix.  Pour the mixture the cupcake pans and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. To make the frosting cream together the margarine, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth. Be sure the cupcakes cool before applying frosting.

Climate change is fun!  No, wait.  Human-induced change of our global climate that threatens all life on earth is shocking and alarming.  But, that doesn’t mean one can’t have fun raising awareness of the looming threat of global warming on a day in which people all over the world come together in like fashion to demonstrate how important this crisis is to them.  The day is this Saturday, October 24th, the International Day of Climate Action.  350.org is the day’s motivating force, the brainchild of Bill McKibben, renowned activist and author of the first book on global warming, “The End of Nature.”

350 Pyramids Action--Provided by 350.org

350 Pyramids Action--Provided by 350.org

The concept of 350.org is simple: 350 parts per million CO2 in our atmosphere is the limit at which global temperatures can remain balanced and non-destructive; anything beyond and we begin to see far-reaching effects, such as polar melting and erratic weather patterns.  And you guessed it: our current CO2 level as measured for 2009 is 387 parts per million, well into the danger zone.  350.org seeks to help reverse this destructive rise by calling critical attention to it through the use of mass demonstration around the world, this Saturday.

350 in the Maldives--Provided by 350.org

350 in the Maldives--Provided by 350.org

“There will be big rallies in big cities, and incredible creative actions across the globe: mountain climbers on our highest peaks with banners, underwater demonstrations in island nations threatened by sea level rise, churches and mosques and synagogues and ashrams engaged in symbolic action, star athletes organizing mass bike rides—and hundreds upon hundreds of community events to raise awareness of the need for urgent action.”  And the coolest thing is all of these events, largest to smallest, will incorporate “350” as an image, sometimes on signs and banners, sometimes spelled out over large areas with (live) human bodies.  These images will then be collected and presented to world leaders as an eye-opening expression of concern before they descend on Copenhagen in December to compose a new treaty on reducing emissions.

The beauty of this combined effort is that it’s “open source,” meaning you or anyone you know can spontaneously organize an event of any size or join one already planned.  International Day of Climate Action is a unique way to get out and help make change happen beyond the normal scope of one’s daily life.  Take advantage tomorrow and bring the idea of 350 to those who need to recognize it most!

View through Borneo rainforest Photo By doug88888Last week: October 12th through the 18th was World Rainforest Week. The Rainforest Action Network was promoting education and attention to the protection of rainforests worldwide. The worldwide tree population is at risk due to irresponsible logging techniques, clear cutting for cattle production, and the effects of global warming. Education about stopping these destructive forces is incredibly important as rainforests, both tropical and temperate are vital ecosystems. They are completely necessary to our environment as well as the critters and species that live within them. 

Deforestation - Backcountry Mad-7256-21A Photo By World Resources Institute StaffEven thought World Rainforest Week has passed, we want to remind everyone how precious these forests are and how important it is to stay involved. Although the Week brought attention to the cause, it should not be the end point of the effort. In fact, the Rainforest Action Network has some great tips on raising awareness for movement, as well as directly getting involved. Probably the easiest and quickest way to help out is through making a monetary donation to the Rainforest Action Network. But if you have more time to spare consider helping out by gaining signatures for the petition against Cargill, or telling President Obama how you feel about clean energy jobs and stopping dirty oil producers,  or start a local chapter and get involved in your community. 

Remember that even though the official World Rainforest Week is over, the rainforests are still an intrical part of this world. We can not let them be destroyed and be sure to keep spreading awareness and involvement for the trees. Because after all we should be celebrating them all year long!

Halloween Tree Photo By H_EliseTrick or Treat?! It’s the phrase that is about to be on every child’s lips in a couple of weeks. Halloween is the time for dress up, self expression, scary stories, and of course delightful candy! Is there a way to indulge in this American holiday without going against your ethics? Yes there are ways to have a truly ethical Halloween! And we at AP have put together a sweet little guide to help you make sure your Halloween meets all socially conscious standards. Stay safe and Happy Halloween!! Mwahahaha

1) Costumes: Costumes sold on the mainstream market are often made of harsh materials such as cheap plastics and harmful dyes. Unfortunately, people often buy these costumes only to throw them out after one use. This is a very wasteful practice. The most Green way to make a costume is by making one! Going through yours and your friend’s closets is the best way to through together a costume (it saves you money too)! But if you can’t find exactly what you need for your outfit, try the local thrift stores. Thrift stores are teeming with great pieces perfect for nearly any costume. If thrifting just isn’t your thing there are a number of organic costumes for both adults and children. Please remember if you do purchase a costume from any source be sure and donate it once you are finished.

Jokerz Vegan Candy Bar by Go Max Go

Jokerz Vegan Candy Bar by Go Max Go

2) Vegan Treats: It is possible to hold to your Green and Vegan roots when handing out trick or treat candy. When you are choosing what candy you would like to hand out this year, keep in mind which candies are vegan. PETA has a nice list of mainstream candy which is vegan by default. Or if you would like to support vegan business, Go Max Go, based in Portland OR makes delicious all vegan candy bars styled much like your old favorites such as Almond Joy and 3 Musketeers. They are a new company but you can already find them in many health food stores. Pangea, the online vegan store also offers Halloween style goodies such as ghost marshmallows, Halloween themed cookies, and chocolate bites. All great ideas to hand out! Also, if you are feeling healthy you can always hand out packaged dried fruit or nuts. If you are throwing a get together, here are some terrific Halloween themed vegan recipes.

3) Fair Trade Chocolate: Fair Trade Chocolate is easy to come by these days and make great Halloween giveaways. In fact, October is Fair Trade Month, so what better way to end the month then to hand out Fair Trade Chocolates? Global Exchange has put together a great list of  Fair Trade chocolate companies such as Equal Exchange and Divine Chocolate. You can also find cute Halloween themed organic and Fair Trade chocolates. Global Exchange is also promoting Reverse Trick or Treating, where they have asked fair traders to hand out Fair Trade chocolate with information to houses they might be trick or treating at. Print out these informational cards and attach them to your Fair Trade chocolates! One quick tip, if you are Trick or Treating this year be sure to use a re-usable bag rather than plastics (a pillow case always does the job)!

4) Decorations: Halloween is an exciting time and most people celebrate by decorating their homes and businesses, whether it is for parties or just to be festive! Unfortunately, much like costumes many Halloween decorations are made of cheap plastic and are thrown out after one use. Once again a great place to find decorations is at a thrift store, plus they will save you money! You can also choose to decorate with natural decorations such as corn husks, straw, and pumpkins.  Another great activity is to create your own crafts using recycled materials such as the soda bottle pumpkin or the egg crate bat. Not only will this be Earth friendly but kid friendly as well! Also, when you are ready to choose that pumpkin to carve, be sure to go to a local and organic local pumpkin patch instead of purchasing an imported pumpkin from a main grocery store. A fun little activity would include a Fair Trade, Organic, Green, or Vegan themed Jack-O-Latern. Why not spread the word through pumpkins?!

5) Aftermath: On November 1st with the streets quiet, the clean up begins! Many of the costumes and decor for Halloween is tossed in the trash. Be sure to save your items to use again the following year or donate them to your local thrift store. Old Jack-o-lanterns, straw used for decor, and fallen leaves will letter the streets in early November. Be sure to either compost these items in your own composting or through your city if they provide it. If you are throwing a Halloween shindig, be sure you recycle all bottles and cans used.

Autumn is such an exciting season to try new Vegan recipes; so many fruits and vegetables are reaching their time of harvest and the coming holidays beckon the wide variety of traditional dishes to experiment with. In light of this, we suggest something a bit off the beaten path, a dish you can store away and bring out to enjoy with any kind of meal: Kimchi!

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made of vegetables which are combined with various seasonings and then pickled.  It dates back to ancient times and the types of veggies and spices can vary depending on region of origin and season.  The perfect veggie to use at this time of year is Baechu (commonly known as Napa cabbage).  A wide variety of recipes exist for preparing it, but the basics are the same and offer huge wriggle room for experimentation.  Plus, it takes a few days before being ready to eat, so it’s kinda like a fun experiment, and then keeps for weeks.  Here’s a basic approach to preparing your own:

Korean Baechu Kimchi

  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 organic Napa cabbages, washed and cut into 2-inch squares
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped organic garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chopped organic ginger
  • ½ cup red pepper flakes (kochukaru)
  • 2 Tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 5 organic green onions, cut into 1/2 inch piece
  • We recommend using non-leaching cookware and wooden utensils if possible.  First, Mix the salt and water in a large bowl or pot.  Add the cabbage to the water, making sure all is submerged (use a surface weight to lay on top of the cabbage, like a plate or lid, if necessary).  Soak the cabbage for 5 to 6 hours, then remove and rinse with cold water, shaking out excess liquid.  Mix the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sugar, and green onions in a separate bowl, then add the cabbage and mix thoroughly, making sure the seasonings have fully coated the cabbage.  Pack the final mixture into one large or various smaller airtight jars, filling to the top, making sure to tamp down to remove large air pockets.  Add lids and put the jars in a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 days.  Remove, and enjoy immediately or place in the fridge where they should keep for 14 days or more (use your best judgement, as with any pickled food).  It’s that easy!  Cheap, easy, great for snacks or sides to other dishes and naturally Vegan, Kimchi makes a fun and healthy addition to your Autumn kitchen repertoire.

    Shampoo and conditioner Photo By Clean Wal-MartAs you walk up and down the aisles of the Personal Care products trying to decide which lotion or deodorant to take home, you notice the words “natural” and “organic”. Of course being the ethical shopper you are, this organic announcement will sway your decision. But what if someone exposed the fact that it’s certainly possible this product does not contain natural and organic ingredients? Unlike the food industry, there is no enforcement of  regulations on organic and natural claims for personal care products such as shampoos, lotions, and moisturizers. Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of the Green craze and labeling their products as natural or organic when they don’t quite meet the standards, thus confusing and duping consumers. It is basically fraud. 

    How do you know what you are buying is legitimately natural or organic? As it stands now there are standards set up by the USDA, however they are not enforced like other products such as food and cotton. For instance some companies may gain organic certification for one or two items in their line and claim to be a purely organic company. Another situation that happens frequently is chemical ingredients such as phenoxyethanol, ethylhexyl glycerin, or sorbates will be listed as natural ingredients. When, in fact, they are not natural nor organic. Clearly, this is a huge issue as it is not fair to consumers nor the organic movement. The ambiguous terms just stall the movement because the public is not only confused but will begin to mistrust anything labeled organic, setting back those who adhere to the rules. 

    Organic Consumers Association In order to combat the issue, the Organic Consumers Association has launched the Coming Clean Campaign. They are urging companies who are falsely labeling their products as either natural or organic “come clean” with their claims. It is a call for them to either make moves to become legitimately USDA Organically Certified or to halt all usage of the terms. OCA has also pushed the USDA to become much more strict and have personal products live up to the same standards as their organic food brethren. The OCA has worked hard for years for this false advertising to end and have now come up with a clear plan on how the USDA can better regulate these products. However, the biggest threat this campaign poses is the boycott. OCA is calling is giving these companies until October 31st to either drop the organic labels or move to get properly certified or they will be revealing the names of the companies. They will then urge consumers to boycott the products on the list, right before the holiday season. The threat is pretty intense, as we all know the power of the dollar.

    We applaud the OCA and their determination to expose this fraud. However, what are you as the consumer supposed to do in the meantime? Only trust products with a specific USDA Organic label on them. Also, read the ingredients every time. If the product lists individual organic ingredients and doesn’t seem to contain any chemical based additives, then you are likely good to go! Try your best to avoid products that are labeled as having “organic” water, as this is a distraction from the fact that they likely contain detergents that are in fact, not natural in any way. You can always contact the company directly as well to find out if they are in fact USDA certified and which ingredients are in fact natural.

    So in the coming weeks pay attention to the OCA and their list of organic “cheaters,” because this fraudulent behaviour has to be stopped. In the meantime, try your best to decipher through the many organic claims to find the most legitimate products.

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