April 2011


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You may know them as the “cougar and cub” couple or from their many films such as “The Butterfly Effect” or Ghost, but there is so much more to Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.  We have discussed many different celebrities that have done a variety of things to help our world, but here is a power couple that is doing the same.  This duo has been trying their hardest to educate the world on human trafficking and how to stop it. After meeting and talking with a girl who was trafficked in the United States, Ashton and Demi decided to take action and created the DNA Foundation.

This foundation was created by Ashton and Demi to raise awareness about sex slavery. They believe it is in our DNA, and a basic human right to be free. The global market for sex slavery generates more than $32 billion in revenue each year and about 2 million children are subject to it. There are between 100,000 to 300,000 children in the U.S. alone that are enslaved and sold for sex. DNA believes in spreading the knowledge about the issue and forcing slavery out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

One of the campaigns that Ashton and Demi have created is the “Real Men” advertisements. These are to promote that real men don’t buy girls. The ads will relate men to different situations and promote that “real men don’t buy girls” all while starring A-list celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Eva Longoria.  Ashton and Demi were receiving some heat from these ads because of the generalization that it is men. Men may not be the only ones involved in the crime, but it is a real issue and if people didn’t buy women, men, and children for sex, than it wouldn’t be a $32 million dollar industry.

Sex trafficking is a serious problem all over the world; however, there aren’t too many people who are aware of the degree of the situation. The truth is that the average age of entry into this industry is thirteen. I think this fact alone is enough to make someone listen. Sex trafficking is the modern day slavery and can be induced by force, fraud, or coercion.

Victims of sex trafficking can be affected psychologically as well as physically.  It can be traumatizing to any person, but especially a young child. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 made the horrendous act a violation against the Federal Law, however the problem still persists.  Victims can face various health issues such as addiction, physical injuries, or diseases. Any and all affects of sex trafficking can have a lifetime, traumatizing affect which no one should have endure.

Handcuff Necklace via GoodMenProject

In order to help raise money for the DNA foundation, Ashton and Demi created a line of handcuff motif necklaces. They worked with the renowned jeweler Jack Vartanian to create the line. The couple hopes the handcuffs will serve as a symbol and will help create more awareness for the child sex slave industry and human trafficking. The pieces are available in white, yellow, and rose gold, as well as black or white diamonds. Although the prices are a bit expensive, the necklaces serve more importance than just a fine piece of jewelry or gift, they represent freedom to men, women, and children all over the world.  In case the necklace is a little too pricey for you, the DNA Foundation also takes any size donations as well as selling cute and hip tees.

We applaud Demi and Ashton for using their star power to the issue of sex slavery. Unfortunately, with all the issues plaguing our world, human trafficking is often overlooked. To learn more about human trafficking check out Not For Sale and the DNA Foundation.  And to learn more about the power couple’s work, watch this video of Demi and Ashton on CNN.

-Lauren Bowler

Today is the 41st Earth Day and with the current environmental issues plaguing our planet, this day is increasingly more important. In the last year we saw devastating, catastrophic events such as the Gulf Oil Spill, Coal Mine Accidents, and the recent Nuclear Reactor explosions in Japan. The truth is: the Earth is hurting at an alarming rate and Earth Day should be used to bring awareness and make actual change.

This day is as a diving board to make real Earth friendly commitments in our daily lives. Although, today is a holiday, we need to keep in mind every day should be Earth Day. To help you celebrate, we’ve put together a quick list of great simple ways to celebrate Earth Day.

1) Events: There are plenty of them! All over the country you will find fairs and festivals dedicated to living green. This is a great and fun way to celebrate with your whole family. Many events include educational booths, new eco products, live music, and even speakers. This is the perfect way to introduce yourself to new ideas or help get your reluctant family member off the fence. To find events near you check out the Earth Day Network.  And if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come check us out at the San Francisco Earth Day Festival, Saturday on the Civic Center Plaza. Come say hi and check out our new gear!

2) Volunteer: Today is the perfect day to go get your hands dirty, literally. Many cities and communities have organized Earth Day Clean Ups of their rivers, streams, or streets; others have planned  plant a tree campaigns in their local parks. A quick search on google will find some in your neck of the woods. And if you can’t find anything, organize your friends and family and help your community!

3) Educate: Earth Day was founded on the premise of bringing awareness to the environmental cause. Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to spread  the word and educate! If you have children or are a teacher, the day offers great lessons and activities for your kids. There are a number of great resources for this and fun interactive games to do at home!

4) Community: Now is the time to get active in your community. Join local groups who are working to protect your local parks and wildlife. Or get involved with local or even state policy procedures. You can also start a community network if your town doesn’t have one and focus on a cause both the Earth and your community can benefit from. For more ideas, look to the Earth Day Network and their Pledge an Act for ideas!

5) Kick Your Dirty Habits: You know that one thing in the back of your mind you haven’t quite given up, like switching out your light bulbs or starting a compost bin? Well, today is the day to do it and leave those dirty habits behind! Maybe you’ve been wanting to commute less by car and switch to a bicycle or public transportation or start purchasing more organic and local produce. Make today, the day you commit to these new changes, sort of like an Earth Day New Year’s Resolution. Now is the time to make the change.

As for us, we will be living green and celebrating at Earth Day San Francisco!! So, how will you celebrate?

Easter is just around the corner and it is time to start baking! This year’s Easter recipe is delicious Vegan Carrot Cake. Bring it along to your family dinners or serve in fun cupcake form. Carrot cake is the perfect way to welcome Spring, celebrate Easter, and satisfy your sweet tooth, all with vegan goodies! In case you are looking for other dishes for Easter, check out our previous postings: Eggless Deviled Tofu, Vegan Scalloped Potatoes, and Vegan Creamy Artichoke Dip. Happy Spring!

Organic Vegan Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 40 Minutes    Bake Time: 30 Minutes

Cake
1 1/3 Cup Organic Flour
1 1/2 Cup Graded Carrots
3/4 Cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (or other sweetner)
1 Cup Chopped Organic Walnuts
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Tbsp Organic Earth Balance
2 Tbsp Organic Brown Sugar
Egg Replacer, equivalent to 3 Eggs
2 Tbsp Organic Earth Balance
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Organic Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Organic Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Organic Ground Allspice

1/2 tsp Salt

Frosting
8 oz Organic Vegan Cream Cheese
2 Cups Organic Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Organic Earth Balance

1 tsp Organic Vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and use either non-stick pans or use oil/margarine to cover your pan. Shred and chop the carrots and walnuts. In a mixing bowl sift all dry ingredients together: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. In another bowl combine the Egg Replacer and water to the equivalent of 3 eggs (directions on the box). Add in the margarine, oil, and cane juice until a smooth liquid exists. Next add in the vanilla and carrots until combined. Once together, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined and moist. Add in the walnuts and mix together. Pour mixture into the pan and cook for 20-30 minutes.

While the cake is baking, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Place in the fridge to cool. Once the cake is finished, let cool for at least an hour, frost, then cool in fridge for at least an hour. The cake should be served cold.

To my environmentally conscious, music-loving friends,

I have some good news and some bad news.  The good news: If you have retired that old dirty habit of driving to your local record shop to purchase a new Cd (complete with a leaflet, jewel case, and shrink wrap), and are now downloading music to your iPod, your impact on the planet is starting to look up. It is no secret that there have been environmental consequences for the creation of the compact disc, but have you ever thought about the impact that one Cd’s life cycle has on the planet?

Let’s break it down. A compact disc consists of three layers of materials: polycarbonate plastic, aluminum, and acrylic (some manufacturers use gold or silver instead of aluminum). These materials produce chemicals that are both, biologically and environmentally harmful during their creation and destruction. After the disc is made, it is placed in a jewel case and sealed.  That little jewel case housing your new Cd is an even bigger threat than the disc, itself.

The case is made of a material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health, and other regulatory bodies have classified PVC as a human carcinogen.  According to an affidavit of the New York Attorney General’s toxicologist on the hazards of PVC, vinyl chloride exposure is a cancer agent, and is associated with adverse effects on a wide variety of target organs including the nervous system, liver, lungs, blood, immune system, cardiovascular system, skin, bones, and the reproductive organs.

As far as the environment is concerned: In  2002 a report was conducted by John Thornton, Ph.D., for the Healthy Building Network:

PVC is one of the most environmentally hazardous consumer materials ever produced. The PVC lifecycle presents one opportunity after another for the formation and environmental discharge of organochlorines and other hazardous substances. When its entire lifecycle is considered, it becomes apparent that this seemingly innocuous plastic is one of the most environmentally hazardous consumer materials produced, creating large quantities of persistent, toxic organochlorines and releasing them into the indoor and outdoor environments. PVC has contributed a significant portion of the world’s burden of persistent organic pollutants and endocrine-disrupting chemicals—including dioxins and phthalates—that are now present universally in the environment and the bodies of the human population. Beyond doubt, vinyl has caused considerable occupational disease and contamination of local environments as well.

At this point, we have only begun to explore the creation of the disc and the jewel case it is placed in.  The environmental harm continues with the packaging of the disc, the transportation to the retailer, the transportation to the consumer, the use of the disc, and finally the recycling process.

So the good news is if you are no longer investing in these toxic gems, then you are no longer an active participant in its volatile aftermath.

Now for the bad news.  Although it is an exceptionally better alternative to buying Cds, your iPod isn’t a device that Mother Nature owes you thanks for.  There are many different kinds of devices similar to the iPod, and there are many variations of the iPod, itself.  For the purpose of making a point, let’s look at the iPod Classic. According to an environmental report released by Apple, one iPod Classic releases an estimated 23 kg of greenhouse gases during its entire life-cycle.

A single Cd releases an estimated 3.2 kg of greenhouse gases. Considering production, transportation, and use, roughly 7.5 Cds equal the entire life of one iPod.  Assuming you owned more than 7 Cds before you got an iPod; comparatively speaking the iPod is a much more environmentally friendly choice. Just because the iPod is a greener alternative, it doesn’t mean the planet won’t pay the consequences for its existence.

Grist.org writer, Daniel K. Gardner, published an article that detailed aspects of the manufacturing process which are often overlooked, and are definitely not included in Apple’s environmental report. The coal that powers that Foxconn plant in China, where the iPods we cherish so dearly are manufactured, is mined in Shanxi, transported to coal terminals, and then shipped to the factories (all of which account for substantial amounts of greenhouse gas emissions not accounted for in Apple’s report). Gardner made another excellent point that most literally hit home for me.  The air about the factories moves east and in about 3 weeks, it is looming over the city of Los Angeles.  Between the coal mined for the factories, the transportation of the coal, the manufacturing of the iPod, and the residual pollution that makes its way to California, your green alternative is making its mark on the environment in ways that even I don’t want to consider.

So the bad news is that even though your iPod is a gentler alternative to expanding your Cd collection, by no means is it a sweet kiss on the cheek of Mother Nature.  I do not wish to point fingers (I have an iPod and love it like a family member).  I do wish to emphasize that every aspect of every one of our lives has a great impact on our beautiful planet.  Don’t worry, I am not suggesting that you do without for the sake of the earth, but there are things that you can do to ease your imprint.

Next time you want to trade in your current music platform, instead of rushing to the Apple store to purchase an ungodly overpriced iPod, why don’t you purchase a recycled one instead? And if you are feeling particularly generous, maybe you could walk or ride your bike to make the purchase, instead of driving your car?  Yes my friends: every iPod comes with a consequence, but with new technology and a greater awareness, there comes hope for a greener future.

-Jaclyn Bauman

Spring is definitely in the air and the Jewish population is preparing for Passover. Like most holidays, Passover is centered around some tasty dishes. Due to strict Kosher and diet rules during the eight day holiday, many vegan staples are restricted such as most grains and for some all legumes (this means beans, tofu, and tempeh). Due to these restrictions, it may seem impossible to make great vegan dishes for your Passover seder, however there are plenty of options. This year, we have put together a yummy Sweet Potato and Carrot Kugel, although there is no high protein base, the sweet potatoes are the most nutritious veggie out there and does contain protein. A quick tip: Quinoa is not a grain but a seed and is accepted during Passover, thus is easily added to most dishes to up your protein intake. For other ideas, see our recipes for Vegan Latkes, Vegan Matzo Ball Soup, and Vegan Potato Matzoh Kugel.

Vegan Sweet Potato Carrot Kugel

Prep Time: 15 Minutes   Bake Time: 45 Minutes

1 Cup Grated Organic Sweet Potato (with or without skin)
1 Cup Grated Organic Carrots
1 Cup Matzo Meal
1/2 Cup Organic Earth Balance 
2 Tbsp Organic Maple Syrup or Agave
2 Tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Organic Nutmeg

1 Tsp Organic Cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. With a food processor or grader, grate the sweet potatoes and carrots and set aside. Grease a casserole dish with a little extra margarine. In a large mixing bowl, combine the matzo meal, Egg Replacer, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Add in the sweet potatoes and carrots. On the stove top, melt the Earth Balance. Next, pour the melted butter and maple syrup into the bowl and mix together. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover with lid or foil, and bake for 45 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove the lid to brown the top. Garnish with extra cinnamon and nutmeg.

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