Wednesday, September 16, 2009
On another track, with a tight economy and ever-evolving philathropic scene, it seems like fund-raising events have been trying to keep up with the Jones' and there's pressure to make each one bigger and better than the last and the others. It's major competition to raise money for non-profits these days. And ironically some non-profits are finding these huge events don't net any more than the smaller ones of yesteryear.
Well, we're starting to see the first phenomenon mentioned combine with a sort of rebellion to the second. Check out this birthday party/fundraiser put on by Mindy Cooper -
She's reaching out to her friends and creating a small, intimate event to share something she cares about and raise some money. I think it's an awesome idea. She's taking a celebration centered around an individual and adding a greater cause. I don't know if she's read much on personal branding, but I think her party will do wonders for it. I also don't know her well, but I already like her for the creative way she's supporting good causes and reaching out to the community for support to make it more than just a birthday party - she's getting food and beverages donated by local companies, including Greenling. We're happy to support this! I'm guessing we'll start to see a lot more of these. I hope we do at least cause it obviously raises less than the larger events. But if just a few people host these events on a regular basis it could have a big effect for non-profits.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Okra has one of the prettiest blooms in vegetable land. When you think of okra, this probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. This hearty vegetable from the hibiscus family has a lot more up its sleeve, too, and is making its first appearance in the Local Box and on our website this week.
Most people I meet either love okra or hate it. It's a polarizing food that can break up dinner tables. The hate usually stems from the gooey slime that can sometimes coat these 'lady fingers.' Well, I'm here to spread the word that it doesn't have to be that way! If you like it like that, more power to you! But if not, keep reading.
Any cooking that involves water (boiling or steaming) will increase sliminess and any dry cooking (baking or frying) will reduce sliminess. Also, overcooking increases slime. One paradoxical tip is to cut off the tips (but not piercing the inner-pod) and blanch the okra for just a minute. Then throw in some ice water, and dry. Keeping okra whole is the best guard against slime. If you must cut, cut lengthwise in as few slices as possible. The more you cut it when raw, the slimier it will get.
We're used to it being stewed in gumbos. But it can be fried a million ways, pickled, grilled, baked, sauteed, eaten raw, stuffed, and blanched. The seeds can be ground for coffee and the leaves can even be used to treat skin wounds!
Okra is also a nutritional powerhouse. It's high in fiber (2.5g per 6 pods), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Protein, Niacin, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, and Iron.
Seriously, folks. Rejoice in the amazing Okra! And enjoy it while it's here for the summer.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Agriculture uses 3 times as much potable water as all other forms of human consumption, COMBINED. A full 80% of the water we use in the US is for agriculture. Organic agriculture uses 30%-50% less water than conventional ag. Agriculture also consumes more oil than any other activity except for driving. 400 gallons of oil per year per citizen is consumed for our food. Only 20% of that is from seed to harvest. The rest is in transportation.
You really can make a huge difference for Sustainability just by what you eat. Here are 10 great ways to eat for Sustainability:
Someone emailed me about this article skeptical about the numbers I was quoting. You can fact check here, but his question was that if Organic ag was so much more water and energy efficient why was it more expensive? Great question.
So, the #1 contributing factor to higher Organic prices, according to market research by NMI, is supply and demand. There's simply not enough to go around. And supply can't respond quickly to demand because it takes 3 years for farmers to get certified Organic. Also I mentioned that most agriculture land gets special water rates so water savings are not substantial. Further, energy efficiency can easily be offset by increased labor costs. We still haven't figured out how to tell a machine to only pick weeds and not the crops.
But to me something to always keep in mind is that Organic farmers actually have agriculture expertise and knowledge which has been eroding from conventional farming. Just go see King Corn to see how a conventional commodities farmer lives. They plant and spray and wait. Maybe spray some more. Organic farmers have to constantly monitor their crops. They have to react quickly to pests and disease or risk losing their whole crop. Without easy chemical fixes, farming can be quite a daunting task. Organic farmers put up with it out of love for the planet and for us. Nothing sounds more fulfilling to me. I used to think I was way too lazy to be a farmer. Joel Salatin (of Polyface Farms and the hero of Ominvore's Dilema) came to speak to TOFGA this year and completely mesmerized me. He made me want to be a farmer and I hope someday I can be.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Local Food Restaurant Reviews
Returning to my local food adventures I've really been frequenting 2 places in south Austin - Thai Fresh and Somnio's. Both of these places say they support local and organic when they can and I gotta tell you - they both live up to this claim. Jam from thai fresh will go to the farmer's market and then incorporate whatever she finds there into her dishes. The Pad Sea Ew is probably my favorite and the green curry with chicken is my second favorite. The vegetables change with what's in season, but they're always tasty. She gets all of her meat locally and they even run cooking classes. Look for an upcoming Local Box workshop to happen there.
Somnio's is another gem. It's on S 1st street next to a vintage store. The sides vary by what is available from farmers and they buy produce from Greenling. So it's the same veggies that come in your local box. I had a side dish of Swiss Chard for the first time in my life and it was awesome. I've enjoyed everything I've had there, but my favorite is probably the Richardson Farms 'crazy crunch' pork medallions.
Monday, May 18, 2009
'Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something'
You don't have to completely change your life in one weekend to help change the world. But you have to do something. Then you have to do something else. You just have to.
Former President Clinton just received the Harry S Truman Public Service Award. In his talk, he reiterated that 'by tackling problems through small, grassroots community efforts, Americans could achieve results of global significance.' There are lots of statistics out there that are huge. They can be overwhelming. They often make me depressed. And there's so many facets of Sustainability!
But, my fine furry friends, that's what makes it so easy. Here's one idea - start with the easiest thing to change and green up. Do it. Do it right now. Then tomorrow change the easiest thing (hopefully it's slightly harder than the previous day). Repeat and rinse. Are you really recycling? Or do you just have the recycling bin out in your garage? Do you use reusable grocery bags when shopping, or do they just decorate your front closet (go to blueavocado.com to get the coolest bags)? It can be hard to create habits. If you stop doing something eco-friendly, that's ok. Just start again when you can. You're not a bad person. I think you're taking one small step just by reading this newsletter. And celebrate when you do something for the environment or something for your health. Even if you don't succeed, celebrate that you tried. And, occasionally, celebrate for no reason at all. It's fun to celebrate.
Here's pretty cool article with tons of tips on going green. I don't necessarily agree with everything they say, but it's a big list of small things to do and they break it down into easy chunks in common categories -
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Obviously with Greenling's produce you don't have to worry about this. But when you're out and about or can't get to your Greenling box, use this handy shopper's guide to remember the worst polluted fruits and veggies (which you should never eat anywhere unless it's Organic) and the least polluted that you can eat conventionally when in a bind.
Environmental Working Group tests around 50 different fruits and vegetables for pesticide content. And not just on the surface. The wasth he produce and peel it! They test the inside of the produce. They have released a new update for the shopper's guide - their 5th edition has the latest government data. Click here to get a printable version of the wallet-sized guide.
Not surprisingly, Peaches topped the list again of the worst polluted produce item you can buy. Don't be fooled by those beautiful Fredericksburg peaches - unless they tell you they don't use pesticides they're going to be covered in them.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
He'll have to explain it fully, but from what I remember there's some scientist who was able to do a bud graft or something of that sort to get Mangoes. I think they can't survive early life in Texas soil, so they have to graft the branches onto existing trees of similar varieties. I'm speaking beyond my knowledge here, but wanted to give you an idea of what kind of feat this is.
And it's wonderful. We should expect the first crop to be producing this summer, I think he said.
Whoa! I mean, WHOA! What in Sam Hill is going on? Information spreads so fast these days if we don't have something new to gab about for too long....well, we blow something way out of proportion. First HB 875, now swine flu.
Fact - The seasonal flu is more likely to lead to hospitalization or even death, as it kills roughly 35,000 each year, though it's fatal more often in the very young and elderly and those who have a compromised immune system.
Ok, so....it's not that big of a deal...but is it the first time a pig virus has jumped over and spread among us homo-sapiens? Nope, wrong again. There have been several swine flu outbreaks in the US recently including in 1976 and 1988. Does anyone remember national panic for them?
Alllllrighty, then....um, let's take a deep breath and move on to more important things like what to do with the Mitzuna in your Local Box this coming week. But if you're not convinced and you want to avoid swine flu make sure to confirm your Greenling delivery. They say to avoid grocery stores with all those people touching the same things over and over. Local, organic food, home delivered. Yep, we can save the world from all sorts of pandemics.
If you're in the Austin/San Antonio area and curious whether or not you have swine flu, check with this website - http://doihavepigflu.com
And remember folks, we're no experts on swine flu! Don't take this media jab as medical advice. We read several online sources that made us feel better about our situation, including this one -
Lastly, please remember that the only reason anyone is concerned about this is because of factory farms. In confinement lots, viruses can transmit and mutate at a much accelerated rate creating many of the super bugs we're concerned with right now.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
|The Meatrix I |
Take the red pill and watch the critically-acclaimed, award-winning first episode of The Meatrix Trilogy.
|Our heroes Moopheus, Leo, and Chickity return in The Meatrix II: Revolting to expose the dark side of the dairy industry.|
|The Meatrix II ½ takes us to a processing facility, where we learn how we feed our Fast Food Nation|
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Well, they changed their menu to say 'American-raised.' I understand if maybe they originally had Texas meat and just had not updated their menu or something. It's completely understandable, but also made me want to be a little more aware of their menu.
As I've mentioned before, I have made the decision to not eat any meat that I can't verify it's source and feel assured they were treated humanely. So, while there last I noticed they said they carry Sterling Silver beef that was all-natural, hormone & antibiotic free. I went ahead and looked them up at the table. Their website (www.sterlingsilvermeats.com) doesn't say anything about 'natural' or free of anything. It just has some basic content saying it's premium, aged, and graded. Then it talks about how it's owned by Cargill foods, the largest privately-held company in the US ($120Billion revenue), and that just this premium meat subsidiary employs 35000 people. This made me suspicious enough to not order any meat and investigate further later on. I don't think big companies are inherently bad, mind you, but Cargill is a pioneer in confinement lots and has come under a lot of criticism, including for their recall of @ 1 million beef patties for E-coli contamination. So I asked where their chicken comes from and he had to go ask the manager who informed him it comes from Labatt's distribution. Not encouraging. So I got some farm-raised catfish....which I may swear off one day, but for now I'm ignorant enough of their problems to order it.
So, this week I called Sterling Silver. They say that their meat is, in fact, certified 'natural' according to this USDA definition:
A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as - no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)
For my purposes, that leaves a lot to be desired. First off, none of the actual definition applies to antibiotics or hormones added before the meat is processed. It's just saying they don't paint it red or pump it with preservatives. It also doesn't touch the treatment of the animals. The rep at Sterling said he would email me full information. I haven't received it yet. I hope it has pictures of happy cows in fields. I really do.
I don't mean to pick on Hyde Park, I really have liked them as a restaurant. It's just that I get the impression they care about their food and ingredients. If they weren't making claims about the quality of their ingredients I would be less picky. I wouldn't eat there, but I wouldn't call them out. With so many great choices for quality meat these days, I just don't see any excuses and I hope more restaurants start making the right choice, like even fast-food restaurants do (read P-Terry's and TerraBurger).
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It's not pretty. So, what's a self-respecting, Sustainability-oriented company to do? Well, we carry Sustainable wines not from Texas and will wait for intervention for the poor Texas grapes. I hear that Becker vineyards is working on some wine from imported, organically grown, grapes. At least that would be locally produced. And our good friend, Scott Collier, at Rockroom wines has some incredible wines that are just waiting on Texas Distribution.
It was an incredibly tough choice to leave these off the menu. The best way to achieve the advancements to get to Sustainable Texas wines is to encourage and support Texas wines. But we just can't support anything that damages the environment. We hope you understand. And if you know of any environmentally responsible Texas wine operations, please let us know!
When we introduced the Parducci Sustainable Red and White, sales shot up above any other wine and I wondered if there was a misconception about our wines. Every single one of them can be called 'Sustainable,' though they may have different approaches to the term. Here's the skinny on just a few of our wine choices -
Bonterra - These guys were one of the first to get Organic certification for their wines. They're a great $15 bottle that supports people who are committed to the Organic seal.
Chimango - From Argentina, this is one of the lowest priced certified Organic wines combining the seal with affordability. Pick up the Cab or Malbec Rose for only $8.99
Joseph Drouhin - This winery has been cultivated by the same family for over 130 years. Using biodynamic farming (some call it 'beyond Organic') the Drouhin family uses only natural products with the utmost respect for the soil, the vine, and the environment. Learn more about them here - http://www.drouhin.com/en/index.php
And many more! Great wines you can feel good about buying and drinking. I'll talk about our beer selection next time. Add beer & wine to your order here (As usual, I'm sorry to report that TABC only lets us deliver alcohol in Travis County) - http://www.greenling.com/categories/35/products
And a quick side note on the TABC - It's actually quite incredible that we're able to deliver wine and beer at all! We're very happy to have worked with TABC to ensure we have the right security measures in place and the right kind of permit. It actually took 18 months to work through all of this. One of the rules we just couldn't work around was that we can only deliver within the county where we're located. So, there you have it. We've thought about having satellite locations in surrounding counties so that we can deliver all over....but we'll only go through this long, arduous process again if sales of these items really pick up.
Founder & Cookie Monster - www.Greenling.com
Friday, March 20, 2009
We were at Paggi house (they’re not paying me for this) last night and I wanted a filet, but was very worried that even this great place might just say ‘Wynn meat co.’ or ‘Ciscos.’ To my pleasant surprise they said ‘Niman Ranch,’ which is fairly well-known. And they’re a great step in the right direction. They’re not perfect from a Sustainability standpoint…..they still grain finish their cattle - which means they pasture raise them, but a few weeks before they go to slaughter they feed them grain to increase marbling and fatten the cattle up. There are balances in all areas of life - you don't always expect your dessert to have vitamins & minerals in it, right? And in terms of humane treatment, this is not a huge problem. But studies and anecdotal evidence from Betsy Ross Ranch (they test nutrients in their meat) show that most of the good qualities in the meat from grass-feeding cattle are lost within 2 days of grain-finishing the cattle. CLAs and vitamins are up to 90% depleted in that short time. Cattle just aren’t meant to eat grain! Period. It’s not good for them.
But, I appreciate Paggi using a vendor that pastures their cattle, uses no hormones or antibiotics, and humanely slaughters them.
Many people have been asking me where the best places to eat out for local, organic, and natural are. While I think the best choice is to eat at home, I want to highlight my adventures in eating out and share what I learn as I grill waiters in town (just kidding).
Monday, March 02, 2009
We've added a couple of great new options to the dining scene in the past few weeks:
First, and this one is really, really cool, is Daily Juice cafe. It is phenomenal. We have eaten there about 8 times in the last month and every single dish we've tried was just amazing. It is completely raw, dairy-gluten-soy-wheat-meat free food and is often Organic. They've got a great ambiance with some cool paintings on the wall. They give you cloth napkins and real silverware to use and free water. Here's a sampling of what I have had:
BBQ Sandwich - they take coconut meat and marinade it in a spicy BBQ sauce made from chili, tomatoes, & spices then add some guacamole, almond dijon mustard and some veggies. Throw it on some of their homemade chia seed Daily Bread and you've got a filling sandwich. Amazing!
Land & Sea Salad - Really flavorful combo of organic sesame marinated greens, arame, olives, sprouts, carrot, radish, dulse, and cherry toms served with a blackberry vinagrette.
We've also tried the Avocado Ceasar and the Enchiladas. Both incredibly flavorful.
Really good prices, too, considering you're getting raw food dishes. These things not only have a lot of ingredients, they take a long time to prepare. If you go to a California raw food cafe you'll pay $15-$20 for dishes that cost $6-$10 at DJ.
The DJ cafe is located at 45th and Duval in the Hyde Park area of town. Here's their website and full menu:
Next is Terra Burger. I haven't been there yet, but tried their burger at the Austin Green Living Expo. Will definitely be trying the restaurant soon. Really nice people and they are working hard to make everything Organic that they can. They also happen to get some of their product from Greenling, so that's cool too. They just opened at Dean Keeton & Guadalupe. Check them out!
Friday, February 20, 2009
We started dreaming of all the glorious dishes we could make with it, so that night we ordered one at www.rawguru.com. (Buy the Spiralizer here). They're not paying me, but they should. Mylie graciously prepped some veggies for me to obliterate with this awesome tool. I'm a pretty good prep cook for her, though in the kitchen I'm one of those employees that you have to tell what to do constantly. And at any moment of inactivity I just might disappear into another room to email or make a call. So she keeps me busy. First up was carrots and then kohlrabi and beets (all from Greenling, of course). You can spiralize just about anything! Mylie nixed my tomato idea, though.
It creates this small core in the middle and you end up with a disk at the end. I think it's to keep it from flying off the spiralizer, but I'm not totally sure. I knew Mylie would get a kick out of em, so I lined up the little towel rods on the counter after each spiralled masterpiece. She loved them so much they became garnishment for our salad and I gotta say, it worked. The most festive salad I'd ever had resulted. I felt like putting on some Kool & The Gang. Tomorrow we'll venture into the world of veggie pasta.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I'm not sure this will really help...It may be hard to get them to pay attention. But, you can certainly try to opt out and if we all do it, they'll have to stop. Here's where:
So, tell them to stop sending you the Yellow Pages! Those directories are still a $13 Billion dollar industry in the US, but I'm sure it's fading. We don't support them at Greenling. There are much more green ways to advertise. If everyone stopped advertising in them, they'd go away and the 540 million of them that are printed would still be trees instead of door stops or wasted space.
Seriously, folks, Google even works on dial-up out in the country. Unless you live somewhere that flat out does not have internet, there's just no need for the Yellow Pages anymore. At all.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Just wanted to drop a quick note to to let you know about a couple things.
Feria Para Aprender (para padres, niños, and maestros)
We are looking for one or two Spanish-speaking volunteers to represent Urban Roots at this Festival next Saturday, February 7th from 10am-2pm at the Burger Activity Center. We are excited to be at this event, but just realized that our Spanish-speaking staff cannot make it. Please contact us soon if you are able and interested in helping out. Thanks!
Carly Blankenship joined Urban Roots as a VISTA volunteer in mid-December. She comes to us after having served for a year with American YouthWorks’ Environmental Corps. Carly has hit the ground running on many fronts and most recently has gotten us organized for our Farm Intern interviews this weekend. Please help us welcome Carly to Urban Roots!
Kelly Stolpman, our first VISTA volunteer, is just finishing her year of service with Urban Roots and is moving on from Urban Roots. She has been an instrumental part of our first year and we are sad to see her go. (On a happy note, she has accepted a position within YouthLaunch in the No Kidding program as a Program Specialist, so she is staying in the YouthLaunch family).
We are currently in the process of accepting applications for another VISTA. Click HERE for more information. The application deadline is February 19, 2009.
All the best,
7756 Northcross Drive
Austin, TX 78757
Contact Name: Russell Smith
Telephone Number: (512) 342-0424
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This is one of the most exciting things for the Organic industry this year. The USDA has done very little to help the Organic industry and in fact has adopted some measures in the past that have significantly hurt the industry (like making Organic farmers pay a premium for insurance and then only reimbursing them for conventional prices of their crop).
But this is a good step in the right direction. It's still does not come close to reflecting the size of the Organic industry in their support. The USDA spends billions of dollars in agriculture research. Despite Organics being almost 3% of the US food system, the industry received less than .5% of the research dollars. Not fair? Tell me about it.
Here's where you can go to apply for funds (and yes, anyone can apply):
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Low Income Fourth Graders Face Heightened Risk of Diabetes from Too Many Calories, Not Enough Nutrients
A Texas team studied the diets, weight, body mass index, and diabetes risk factors for a cohort of 1,402 fourth graders composed of Mexican American (80%), African American (10%), Asian (5%), and non-Hispanic white children (5%). Nearly 75% of the children lived in households with less than $20,000 income.
Almost half lacked adequate calories in their diet, yet 33% were obese and already, in the 4th grade, 7% had high blood glucose levels. Diets were composed of energy- and calorie-dense foods like cookies, chips, and ice cream, and were low in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
The authors concluded that these children faced a high risk of developing diabetes and were in need of substantial dietary interventions, increasing in particular daily intakes of nutrient-dense foods.
Source: Roberto P. Trevino et al., "Diabetes Risk, Low Fitness, and Energy Insufficiency Levels among Children from Poor Families," Journal of the American Dietetic Association, November, 2008: pages 1846-1853
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Mason Not just less of the bad, but more of the good in Organic produce - http://budurl.com/organic4.
Party - Dinner Party
Time and PlaceDate:
Sunday, January 25, 2009
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Catarina's House - RSVP for exact address
Potluck! Catarina will whip up a few vegetarian dishes and everyone is encouraged to bring a dish (can be omnivore creations, too) made primarily from Greenling Organic food! Greenling will bring some of our new wines that we're carrying too!
Let's mix and mingle and enjoy amazingly nutritious, healthy, and tasty dishes prepared by friends.
Guest list limited to 30 people because of host constraints, but hopefully we'll be able to do this more often.
No theme, dress, or rules this time around. Just good food and good conversation.
This will also be a Greenling tweet-up so if you've been wondering what twitter is, go sign up & we'll talk about it at the party!
Friday, January 02, 2009
Just for sharing Greenling with friends & family.
See Details Here: