March 2012


Passover begins a little early this year on April 6th. The seminal piece of the holiday being the sedar, where dishes are fixed to represent aspects of the Israelites enslavement in ancient Egypt. One key dish at any Passover sedar is the traditional Charoset. The Charoset is a paste made of fruit, usually apples, and nuts that is designed to symbolize  the mortar used to build bricks in Egypt. Unfortunately for most vegans out there, Charoset is usually made with honey and standard sugar. However, our vegan recipe of the week is a vegan version of the traditional Charoset. Happy Passover!

Vegan Passover Charoset  

  • 3 Medium Organic Apples (Macintosh work well)
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Unshelled Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Kosher Vegan Sweet Red Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Evaporated Cane Juice or Agave
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon

Chop apples in small cubes and set aside. In a food processor or blender add all ingredients and pulse until pasty but not too much. The consistency should leave some crunchiness of apples and walnuts. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and serve.

Just like Earth Day and World Fair Trade Day, World Water Day is an excellent way to bring attention to very serious.  Days likes these draw awareness to serious issues such as water scarcity. They garnish a lot of press and attention, but what happens the day, month, or even year after? It is important to use these days to remind ourselves of real issues our world is facing together, yet we must take the lessons beyond just one day.

The theme for this year’s World Water Day is Food and Water. Water related issues are directly connected to food. In fact, most of the water used around the world is consumed via food production such as agriculture and animal husbandry. According to the World Water Day site, “Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day…producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.” For more facts on water and agriculture check out these videos from the UN World Water Day YouTube Channel:

The numbers are pretty shocking and water issues go beyond these videos. As the population grows, water will become increasingly scarce. It is projected that “by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.”  One doesn’t have to look far to see the current affects of the water crisis. Droughts in East Africa have led to deaths and left millions of people famished and in need of water and food. 

Water scarcity is an issue we all must face together. World Water Day has done an excellent job of getting the conversation going, but where do we take it from here? What can we do in our day to day lives to help ease the water scarcity issues?

There are several steps we can take to make positive changes in our lives. The number one thing you can do is to think about your purchases and conserve where you can. Be mindful of the amount of water you use for things such as watering, dishes, showers, and even flushing your toilet. When you are purchasing food try to make more sustainable choices such as small farmed vegetables rather than mass produced meat. Install new technologies such as low flushing toilets, greywater re-use systems, or rainwater harvesting system. Or perhaps grow your own food using less water or water recycling technology.

One last, but most certainly not least tip is to educate yourselves and others. There is a lot of new information out there. You can read up on facts via the National Geographic Water Issue Site or the World Water Day site. Another great way to learn is a couple of great documentaries out there such as Flow and Blue Gold. Try starting by using the Water Footprint Calculator to see how your current habits match up and where you can make changes. 

Now take what you’ve learned, celebrate World Water Day today, tomorrow and everyday while telling everyone you know about it. 🙂

This weekend is St Patrick’s Day and on top of all the partying and drinking, many people love to cook Irish recipes. In my own household, my Mother would make Irish food for the holidays even though she was born in Hawaii and comes from an Asian background. The point is, everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day or at least pretend they are. The bad news is most of the recipes are laden with meat and dairy. But the good news is they can easily be converted to a vegan diet. Just check out our previous recipes for Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread, and Shepherd’s Pie for easy conversion ideas. However, if you want to get really ambitious, try out the following recipe for Mock Corn Beef & Cabbage or as some might call Boiled Dinner. As you become Irish for the day this weekend, make sure your meals are just as Irish and vegan alternatives.

Mock Corn Beef & Cabbage 

  • 1 Package or about 6-8oz of Vegetarian Beef or Seitan
  • 4 Cups Organic Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Head Chopped Organic Cabbage
  • 2 Organic Potatoes
  • 2 Medium Organic Onions
  • 4 Organic Carrots
  • 2-3 Organic Celery Stalks
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Gloves of Organic Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Horseradish
  • 1 Tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Sage

Chop up all vegetables in large chunks and finely chop the garlic. In a large pot add in the olive oil. Sautee the onions and garlic until a little brown but not over done. Add in the vegetable broth, water, all the veggies, and all the remaining seasonings. Leave on medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Add in the vegan beef to the mixture and cover again. We suggest using Gardein Beefless Tips or seasoned seitan or even tempeh. Cook for another 10-15 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove all the veggies and keep warm on a serving dish or tray. Keep the broth on medium heat and stir in the flour. Add water if needed, but mixture should make a thicker gravy. Pour gravy over veggies and beef substitute and serve.

On March 17th people all over the country will be sporting the color green in honor of St Patrick’s Day.  It’s not just the people, as bars begin serving green drinks, shamrock shaped anything sells in stores, and even the Chicago River runs green for the day. With all this green being thrown around one would think everyone was celebrating the environment. But in all actuality St Patrick’s Day can be the complete opposite. With many disposal decorations, often plastic, that end up littered on the street eventually rest in landfills. It’s not only the decorations that are harmful but massive amounts of beef is consumed as well as harmful chemical dyes added to drinks and food.

How do you avoid using this Irish themed holiday to be wasteful and make sure you turn your St Patrick’s Day thoroughly green? It’s actually easier than you think! By using the age-old wisdom of reduce, re-use, and make responsible choices. Here are a few of our suggestions to green your St Patty’s Day.

Re-purpose Decorations: This year, if you must walk around with shamrocks on your head or decorate your office in all shades of green, consider re-purposing items around your house. You may still have plenty of green items left over from Christmas laying around or perhaps from last year. It can be a fun family activity or craft party with your friends. You may also try hitting up your local thrift stores as many of the items not sold the previous year end up in their possession.

Re-use Clothing: Dying to wear green on St Patrick’s Day? Look through your closets for already existing items that you can use for the day rather than purchasing something new to wear. A thrift, vintage shop, or Etsy trip would be a great place to find previously worn green clothing to celebrate the big day.

Go Organic: Hold the dye and choose some organic brewskis for your festivities! There are plenty to choose from including Bison Brewery and Peak Organic. For a whole rundown of organic beer and your best choices, check out our old posts. You should also consider some eco-friendly breweries such as New Belgium and Brooklyn Brewery who are both run on wind power. If you are baking cupcakes or Irish favorites make sure all your produce choices are either local or organic.

Hold the Meat: Another great way to keep your St Patty’s Day feeling green is to cut back on the meat. Many traditional Irish recipes call for meat such as colcannon, corn beef, and shepherd’s pie. Alas, do not worry, there are great vegetarian and vegan versions of every favorite St Patty’s recipe. We have a terrific vegan Irish recipes including Irish Soda Bread and Stew, as well as Irish Coffee.

Re-usable Cups: Instead of spending the day and night drinking out of that plastic solo cup, use-reusable cups.  Yes the dishes can be annoying, but in the end you will feel better about not sending a stack of plastic cups into the landfill.  Another options is to choose recyclable or compostable cups.

Today is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the accomplishments of powerful gender of female. But also, it is a day to highlight the struggles that continue for women today. The theme of 2012 is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”  We thing it is a perfect theme for Fair Trade to embrace, as Fair Trade is a viable and empowering alternative to conventional life for many women. In several countries around the world, Fair Trade is sometimes the only outlet woman have to find work to send their children to school and thus improving the lives of their families.

As a female owned and founded business, International Women’s Day is important to us. We thought in honor of the day, we would highlight some of our own Fair Trade woman warriors. One of our products that uses plenty of female Fair Trade power is our footwear. Ethletic sneakers, flip flops, and rain boots are all made from Fair Trade sourced rubber, tapped right out of a certified sustainable rubber forest. Many of the female workers here are Tamils, which have long been disenfranchised and oppressed by the ruling government. Many women in the region do not have many options available to them. But working at the Fair Trade Rubber Plantation is a viable option. The women who work there receive health care for themselves and their children, assistance with school, and they banded together to bring water and electricity to their villages. Society and the government does not give these women advancement or access to their needs, so they have empowered themselves and are working for Fair Trade ideals. Now that their children can go to school and electricity is running in their towns, the next generation will have even more opportunity then the last.

Another great female empowerment story is behind the Proxy Jewelry we carry. The jewelry is made by a women’s worker owned cooperative in Guatemala. The women live in a community outside Guatemala City and had very little opportunity to find work. That’s when they decided to take their lives into their own hands by starting a co-op. As owners, they have full control over their lives and work, in fact every member of their cooperative has an equal vote. Using their awesome jewlery making abilities and sewing skills together, they now run a cooperative where the children receive help with school, healthcare, and child care as well. They also now run a soy milk store and school through their cooperative. We are completely impressed with their story and find it inspiring. Since they could not find work through conventional means, they made work for themselves and have improved their own lives as well as their families and most important their children.

Both the female Fair Trade workers of Sri Lanka and Guatemala have met the theme of International Women’s Day by connecting each other and definitely inspiring the future. They have chosen to provide for their families and inspire their daughters to make an even better future for themselves. And every time you support the products they have made and other Fair Trade items like these, you are empowering them even further.

In celebration of all the awesome women behind our Fair Trade workers you can find the Ethletic Flip Flops on sale for only $5.50 (that’s a 75% savings) and all the Proxy Jewerly 10% off.  Both are great to add to your upcoming Spring wardrobe and even better you can tell their story every time someone compliments your style. So here is to all the female workers of the world: Happy International Women’s Day from the women workers at Autonomie Project. ❤

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