May 2010


Summer is right around the corner and cool dinners are perfect to help you cool down in the heat. There is nothing better than eating a cold salad on those simmering days.  Also, side salads are a great item to bring on a picnic in the park, to a BBQ, or to serve at a party.  Everyone loves Coleslaw and we have put together one of our favorite recipes for you.  This is a quick and easy salad to throw together which makes it that much more appealing on a hot day. So sit back, relax, and cool off with our Vegan Coleslaw Recipe

Organic Vegan Coleslaw

Prep Time: 10 Minutes    Cool Time: 20-30 Minutes

2 Cups Organic Green Cabbage
2 Cups Organic Red Cabbage
1 Cup Organic Carrots
1/4 Cup Organic Onions
2/3 Cup Organic Vegenaise
2 Tbs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tb Organic Olive Oil
1 tsp Organic Black Pepper
1 tsp Organic Salt
1/2 tsp Organic Celery Salt
1/2 tsp Organic Garlic Powder

Shred both types of cabbage into thin strips and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Grate the carrots and onions and add to the mixture. Toss the salad with prongs or just your clean hands. Add in the oil, apple cider vinegar, and Vegenaise. Next add in all spices and mix until all ingredients combine. If the mixture looks a little oily or too wet, add a more cabbage and carrots in until it looks nicely mixed.  For a fun twist and a little crunch add in 1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds. Once you have mixed up the salad, place in the fridge to cool for about 20-30 minutes and serve.

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Memorial Day traditions have become just as American as Apple Pie. And while we are supposed to be honoring those who have died serving in our many wars, most people use the day for cookouts, parades, camping, the start of summer, and of course the American tradition of drinking on holidays.  All these traditions are  a blast and an exciting way to start your summer off with a bang. They also can all be done with the environment in mind. We celebrate our Memorial Day as green as we can and here’s to hoping you will too. Let’s start a new American tradition of making a smaller imprint on the Earth, while still indulging in our fun! To help this new tradition along, we have put together some helpful tips on how to make sure your Memorial Day is red, white, blue, and green!

1) Green that Grill: BBQ is a true Memorial Day and summer tradition and it is easy to green your grill.  Replacing your chemical laden charcoal to more earth friendly means such as wood briquettes or natural organic charcoal. For that smokey BBQ taste, we recommend the wood briquettes! Either of these choices will leave your food without the burning of coal, petroleum products, sawdust, or limestone, which are all toxic. If you want to take it one step further, invest in a new clean burning grill. This will emit far less pollution into the air and your food. It may not be traditional but electric grills, put out 99% less carbon monoxide. If you have the money, the Hybrid Grill is a great way to go, although a tad pricey! For more tips on how to have a green grilling experience, refer to our blog from last summer: Green Your Grill: Eco BBQ Tips.

2) Hold the Meat: Although traditional American BBQs include tons and tons of meat! To truly green your BBQ, we suggest you hold the meat. The meat industry consumes more than a third of the fossil fuels in the US and contributes 18% of greenhouse gases, which is even more than the transportation industry! And those figures are just the beginning of how the current factory farm meat industry is adversely affecting our world.  Environmentalists have long been promoting a veggie based diet as a way to green your life, so why not make the switch for your BBQ this year! There are hundreds of great veggie based “meat” style products on the market such as Veggie Burgers, Soy Dogs, Soy Sausage, Veggie Ribs etc. For some great recommendations check out our Vegan BBQ Tips and Product Battle: Hot Dogs. If faux meat is not your thing, you can always grill veggies straight on the grill or drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil! For more ideas on veggie recipes look no further than our backlog of delicious vegan recipes. Also, don’t forget to purchase your veggies organic and local if at all possible!

3) Organic & Fair Trade Drinks: Even if we try, we can not deny that many American holidays revolve around drinking! And Memorial Day is no stranger to this rule. Luckily more and more organic beer, wine, and spirits are on the market these days. Try your best to support your local micro breweries when selecting beer, however, if no organic beer is available try a couple of these brands: Peak Organic, Samuel Smith, and Fish Tale Organic Ales. Green America has also put together a list of recommendations for organic beers that we found helpful. For wines look no further than Frey for organic and Etica for Fair Trade. If you like the hard stuff there are also a number of organic and Fair Trade spirits on the market such as Square One Vodka, Tru Organic Gin, 4 Copas Organic Tequila. Also, FAIR Vodka, the first Fair Trade vodka on the market is now available in the US. For ideas on Fair Trade and Organic Cocktails, check out our recipe backlog.

4) Stay Local: We know, we know, a “staycation” is nowhere near as exciting as traveling far away to go camping. However, traveling by car for long distances or by plane is not so eco-friendly. Now we aren’t saying you should camp out in your own backyard literally (although that can be an adventure), we just mean look for destinations close to home. Stay within 20-50 miles of your own home! You may find that there are wonderous campgrounds, beautiful hiking trails, or a pretty lake nearby that you never noticed. You can even do a search on Reserve America to find campgrounds near you or look into the National and State Park systems for local ideas.

5) Alternative Transportation: If you must travel this Memorial Day weekend, we suggest you look to other means besides planes and cars! Bike travel is catching on quickly and is a fun and healthy way to travel. There are plenty of companies that put together tours or you can do it DIY style. Here are some tips on traveling by bike! If traveling by bicycle is a little too intensive for you or if you are traveling with a larger group, you can look into traveling by bus or rail. There are bus companies that will take you and your family to beautiful destinations for camping or hiking. Traveling by public transportation or by bike makes your entire journey an adventure and while you won’t get control of the radio perse, you can experience a whole other world of travel. And really do you ever get control of the radio on family trips?

In the first scene of her award-winning documentary Flow, Irena Salina uses the sounds and imagery of water to demonstrate its power and beauty. Our world’s oceans are hearts with many rivers and streams serving as arteries and veins. Just like water gives the earth life, water gives us life. Both the earth and our bodies contain about the same percentage of water. For this reason, Salina documents water’s vitality around the globe videotaping how we as humans have altered the flow of water.

Salina notes that of the 2 million annual deaths brought by waterborne illnesses, most are children. How is this occurring? Salina discusses how countries like the United States are not removing industrial chemicals and pesticides from our water. While you might filter your water from your tap or choose to purchase bottled water, the majority of waterborne diseases are transmitted to us through showering. The water directed from our water supply to our sinks, showers, and toilets carries almost everything you originally put into it. Think of all the cosmetics you put into the sink such as mouthwash, contact lense solution, and makeup. Even the drugs we take end up in our water supply. In Texas, an entire fish population in a river tested positive for Prozac.

Don’t we have a department in the government protecting us from these dangers? Unfortunately, Salina notes that we do not. Furthermore, less than 1% of the FDA oversees bottled water. There are less federal regulations for bottled water than tap water. This would explain why bottled water is not necessarily safer to drink. Indeed, the picture of the glacier or mountain on a label is not always the source of the water in the bottle. Despite the misleading marketing, $100 billion is spent on bottled water annually. The entire water industry is worth $400 billion.

But is it ethical to put a price on water, a natural resource, Salina asks. According to global water corporations, the answer is yes. Salina interviews people of developing nations who have felt the effects of water privatization and commercialization firsthand. Water corporations have entered countries like India, Bolivia, and South Africa, charging locals for a water supply that was free only a few decades before. Originally, the water companies were to provide potable water and sewage to the villages and towns in return for use of their water supply. However, in Bolivia, 1 in 10 children will die before the age of 5. A majority of these deaths are a result of waterborne diseases. Also, a majority of people who lives in these privatized areas resort to filthy, unsafe water because they cannot afford the clean water.

Why do the developing nations allow water companies access to their water supplies? According to Salina, the World Bank promised to cut water development loans and other support if the developing nations did not privatize. Salina asks if it is a coincidence that the World Bank works with the World Water Council on issues of privatization. The World Water Council president is the current president of Marseilles Water Company and the former International Monetary Fund’s president’s 2 advisors are the Vice Presidents of Suez and Vivendi, major water companies in Europe. Indeed, the dams, plants, and facilities built by these huge corporations in developing nations displace thousands of people annually and lessen the quality of their water.

Salina ends her frightful documentary by discussing the increased strength of the water literacy movement, which teaches people the threats of privatization and commercialization of water. When the United Nations state that $30 billion can provide safe, clean water to the world, why do we continue to support global water companies by purchasing $100 billion of bottled water annually? Like air and sunlight, water is a natural resource for all the earth’s inhabitants. No one person is more entitled to water because they happen to be able to afford it. To end the privatization of water, Salina asks that you sign a petition asking the United Nations to add the Right to Water to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To learn more about Article 31, check out their site and remember to sign the petition! And definitely take the time to watch Flow (currently out on DVD), it is an alarming film, which will open your eyes to the water crisis our world currently faces.

-Derek Rogers

Are you ready to get your drink on? I hope so, because FAIR Vodka is now available in the US. You may remember last September’s blog entry where we introduced our readers to the announcement of the first fair-trade certified Vodka, FAIR Vodka. When we first mentioned this marvelous product, the availability was much more restricted, but thanks to the innovative geniuses behind the Fair Trade Spirits Company, the demand for FAIR Vodka in the US market has been heard and met. Select liquor stores, Whole Foods, and other natural foods stores across the country now supply this socially responsibly made liquor for you to leisurely enjoy at your convenience.

This spirit is very special because it takes the quinoa grain, a great protein source for non-meat eaters and carnivores alike, and ethically produces Vodka that improves lives. Not only is this the first Vodka that has been derived from the quinoa grain, but all the quinoa used is Fair Trade certified. A native of Peru, quinoa has been a staple in the diets of many cultures for over 5,000 years, but only recently has this “super-grain” become popular in the United States. The research behind the FAIR Vodka process totaled two years, and is a collaboration of French distillers and Bolivian farmers who are part of ANAPQUI (Asociacion Nacional de Productores de Quinoa), which was established in 1983 as a collaborative effort for small farmers to collectively sell and market the quinoa they grow.

I can’t wait to introduce my friends and family to my mad-mixing-skills this Memorial Day weekend with the inclusion of FAIR Vodka as the spirit of choice. Barbeques with booze are my favorite, and I would love to swap recipes for mixers to try out. Here are two of my favorite cocktails:

The Cape Cod (or Vodka Cranberry)*

1 1/2 oz FAIR Vodka
4 oz Organic Cranberry Juice

Combine in a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime, and serve.

Espresso Cocktail:*

3/4 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
3/4 oz FAIR Vodka
1 oz Fair Trade Espresso
Prepare a martini glass with a brown-sugared rim. Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into the prepared glass, and serve.

*Recipes for a single serving

Please feel free to share your favorite recipes! And remember drinking responsibly for yourself and the planet is easy!

-Hannah Bybee

If you are an avid AP blog reader, you will know that our staff is made up of vegetarians and vegans.  Everyone at AP has chosen this lifestyle for a variety of reasons ranging from environmental issues, animal rights, and health. Although we often encourage the lifestyle, including posting fun recipes, we understand the lifestyle is not for everyone. That’s why we are excited about a new campaign spreading throughout the country and world: Meat Free Mondays! Meat Free Monday is an organization spearheaded by Paul McCartney and his daughters. Yes, the Paul McCartney. He began the campaign to bring awareness about the meat industry’s effect on the environment and the fact that meat consumption is  simply not sustainable, with the hopes of educating the world on how we can cut back and make changes to our environment.

So why should you give up meat on a Monday or any day for that matter? Well there are a host of reasons, however, the movement largely focuses on environmental impact. It has been shown that 18% of greenhouse gases come from meat production. This is largely from  methane and nitrous oxide, which are actually more toxic than CO2. The amount of waste emitted from large scale meat production is shocking, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports that livestock production generates more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry! In fact, many studies show that meat production is more harmful for our environment than driving that gas guzzler! The National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan reports that the pollution emitted to produce 1kg of beef, for us Americans that is 2.2 pounds,  is the equivalent the same amount of  carbon dioxide emitted by driving a standard car a whopping 155 miles a day! Wow, that means for one person to eat one or two days worth of meat produces the same amount of pollution for one person to drive across the entire state of Massachusetts and into New York!

In a study published by the University of Chicago, they found that if Americans reduced their meat intake by at least 20%, it would have the same same impact on our environment as a person switching from a Camry to a Prius. Americans on average consume about 8 ounces of meat daily! If Americans cut out at least one day a week of meat consumption, they could reduce their meat intake at almost 20%. It is a small impact but it would be the equivalent to changing from a gas run car to a hybrid.

This is where Meat Free Mondays come in! It is now a worldwide idea and is spreading fast.  Some cities have even begun promoting it. Recently, ever progressive San Francisco recently passed a Meat Free Mondays Resolution encouraging city restaurants to serve meatless meals on Mondays throughout the city. The resolution states that the city will “encourage restaurants, grocery stores and schools to offer a greater variety of plant-based options to improve the health of San Francisco residents and visitors, and to increase the awareness of the impact a Green Diet would be on our planet.” We think this is a great step for the city of San Francisco and hope it will influence others around the country to get on board with Meat Free Mondays! If you want to be a part the Meat Free Monday movement, check out their website or fan them on Facebook.

If you are willing to commit to at least one day a week meat free, your impact on the world would be greater than giving up your car for the day. And think how great of an influence it would have if the entire country did the same. So please, if you aren’t already vegetarian, think about refraining from meat on Mondays, weekdays, everyday or at least cutting back. Environmental issues can seem daunting and it may feel there is little you can do. But by adjusting your lifestyle just a smidgen, you can make a huge influence on the world. It is one area where you can have some control in an out of control world.

It was a beautiful spring day in Boston and we were packing up from Earth Day festival, when a calm yet concerned police officer came by shouting “have you heard of the water ban?” At that particular moment, we had not and the officer proceeded to inform us that the main water line to Boston had sprung a leak causing millions of gallons of fresh drinking water to spill into the Charles River. On top of the wastefulness, the water now pumping into Boston and the surrounding areas was untreated back-up pond water. This meant the water was technically unsafe to drink and could cause illness. The city issued a boil water announcement, asking residents to boil water for at least a minute or use bottled water before drinking or washing dishes and hands.

Honestly, I didn’t mind it so much. It was kind of an adventure to process my own water and who really cared if the shower smelled a bit like a lake?  However, an uproar was heard throughout the city when residents quickly realized this order caused hundreds of restaurants and cafes to either shut down or not serve such modern necessities like coffee. I have to admit, I was a little upset about not being able to enjoy one of my favorite drinks, but this still seemed a small price to pay. Bottled water, a despised product by environmentalists, had become a hot commodity and were flying off the shelves at exorbitant prices. Most people just went along with daily life and saw the issue as a minor inconvenience.  Within a few days the city had fixed the  leak and normality resumed with no reports of disease.

But this all got me thinking, this is how millions of people live every day. We are lucky we have such easy access to water. Those four days, we experienced not only how life was a few hundred years ago, before all our modern conveniences, but how much of the world still lives today. And many of those people, have it even worse as they have to travel miles to gather the water and sometimes it still may not be safe after boiling. Access to clean drinking water is a serious issue with over a billion people affected. This being compounded by economics, politics and serious environmental issues.  And with Climate Change knocking on our doors, this is likely to get worse. In fact it is estimated that by 2050, a third of the world will not have access to clean drinking water!

Water issues are a major problem throughout most of the world. Boston’s recent boil order was just a little slice of that life. It really emphasized how much we take for granted in urban and suburban United States. For the time being, many in the US have access to safe drinking water, but it is a luxury and we should be thankful for it. Actually, not only should we be thankful for it, but we should take action to help others in this country and around the world who are not as fortuitous as we are. For some ideas on how you can help and more information about the world water crisis, please read an earlier blog of ours entitled A Tale of Thirst: A World in Crisis.

While the city of Boston was able to quickly cure their water leak and life soon returned to normal, I couldn’t shake the lesson I had learned. The order issued by the city, hopefully made many no longer take our plumbing and water infrastructure for granted. I know I won’t.  Water issues around the world will still be on my mind. I hope other residents of our city will see this as a sign and will influence us to help others. It is interesting where and how we learn the lessons of life. After all, sometimes something amazing can spring from a leak.

-Gina Williams

Unless you have been living under a rock or on an outer space adventure the past few weeks, you have undoubtedly heard about the tragic oil spill off of the Gulf of Mexico. 200,000 gallons of oil continue to flow into the sea as efforts to quell the flow of oil have been unsuccessful thus far.

In addition to the tragedy of the eleven men who lost their lives as the drill rig Deepwater Horizon sank into the Gulf on April 22nd,  worries continue to multiply about the long term negative effects this immense spill will have on the environment and its many inhabitants for weeks, months and years to come.

While history has taught us that oil spills such as this one come with dire consequences for the ecosystems surrounding the area of the spill, the long term damage created by this most recent spill remains to be seen. Immediate effects are beginning to become more crystallized, as Reuters is reporting that seven dolphins and over a hundred sea turtles have washed onto shore dead as what officials are assuming is a result of the oil spill.

Environmentalist, such as Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network, are quick to criticize the lack of information being offered about the damage being done to the environment as a result of this catastrophic spill.

Viles  states, “There’s a lot of concern now about the marine impact and we’re not getting a truly transparent response from NOAA(the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Resulting criticism concerning this disaster are not limited to NOAA or other groups one likely has never heard of before, but are  also being directed at President Barack Obama and his Administration, who in recent months announced plans to expand offshore drilling efforts in the United States.

The President,  after resolving  to temporarily suspend the development of  new offshore drilling locations pending  a government safety review of the drilling process,  asserted, “Let me be clear, I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security.” Even though this tragic oil spill highlights American unsustainable dependence on oil, it is not quite enough to move the administration to focus on weaning the country away from gas and petroleum based products.

Funnily enough -not so much in a “haha, this Garfield comic is a hoot!“ kind of way,  but in a more “Hmmm, that is an interesting coincidence” type  of way- on April 28th,  just days after the devastating Gulf spill,  the development of  the first wind farm offshore of the U.S was announced by Government officials.

This is not  to declare a massive, multi-tiered conspiracy is taking place.  The creation of this wind farm is a step in the right direction for the energy future of this country. Regardless of whether or not the timing of the announcement had anything to do with a skillful PR move in order to throw environmentalists a bone during this hugely criticized oil crisis, it still was a plan years in the making, so it is likely a happy coincidence. (She says as she reaches for the tinfoil to wrap around her over sized noggin’. I kid, I kid…or do I? DUN, DUN, DUN!)

Conspiracy theories aside, this wind farm alone will only act as a band aid on a gunshot wound, or a huge oil spill as it were. Halting offshore drilling until the oil slick clears is not enough.This tragic occurrence should not be swept under the table or downplayed.  This sinking oil rig may as well have been a huge blaring alarm clock- one that screeches endlessly and comes with a dangerous snooze button.

We can not afford any more snoozing;  putting off radical changes to the way we as a society treat the energy crisis for another 10 or 15 years because we are too lazy to think about it in the here and now. This is not a time to sleep in or to do what is easiest when we know what is right.

It is time to wake up and take action! We must roll out of bed and painfully pull ourselves into our reality. No matter what you think of driving or plastic bags, the truth is the planet simply does not contain enough oil to sustain the current culture’s lifestyle. We have to make some serious global changes in our energy, transportation, manufacturing and everyday lives. There is just no way around it and this oil spill is like a hotel wake up call to make these changes.

Sadly, like my affinity for stone-washed  jean chaps, the public at large does not appear to share in my opinion on the permanent halting of  the expansion  of offshore drilling efforts.  A recent telephone poll conducted by the Associated Press finds that American adults are unmoved by this latest tragedy in terms of their opinion of offshore drilling. A shocking 50 percent of those polled report still favoring offshore drilling, opposed to the 38 percent who disapprove.

I will be damned if I can not drive the three blocks to 7-11 for a Big Gulp, but it ain’t no skin off my back if a bunch of weirdo fish die.” – Some thirsty guy  driving a Hummer to 7-11. *(Quote may or may not be fictional.)

*It is.

Weaning ourselves off oil will not be an easy task. As a people we will need to learn to conserve energy- walk to 7-11 when that Big Gulp thirst hits you.  Heck, you can even roller blade- which, may I add, would look even cooler , if you sported some jean chaps on your stems while you bladed. Just sayin’.

As for the government, they need to take this alarm clock blaring in their ears as more than just a minor inconvenience that causes them to temporarily shelf foolish plans to expand offshore drilling  and make a real commitment to renewable energies that does not include amplifying our already gargantuan dependence on oil.

If real changes are not made the next alarm may start sounding on your shore and no amount of snooze buttons or delays are going to halt the reality that awaits us.

-Meghan Hurley

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