Posts tagged Food

What Is Your Business Doing For The Planet? By Julie Gengo

Believe it or not this is Earth Day’s 40th anniversary. Of course everyday is Earth Day around here. Thankfully this is not a Hallmark holiday (if it is, I wonder if their cards are made sustainably?) but rather a day to reflect and energize on preserving this planet. So maybe you are doing your part but what about local and global businesses? To my surprise, many have already taken the initiative by reducing their energy consumption amongst other things that lead to CO2 (and other warming gases) reduction. I subscribe to the Environmental Leader daily newsletter which does a great job at filling me in on who is doing what. Maybe most of these companies aren’t making changes for altruistic reasons but rather changes that will save them a ton of money while saving tons of emissions along the way. I can certainly live with that.

One of my goals is to help companies become more sustainable whether by helping them revamp their building energy usage or working with them to green their supply chain. The first thing to do is to take simple steps like changing light bulbs and turning off computers and equipment. According to sustainability specialists, spending a little bit of money up front can save you millions in just a few years.

In SoCal, we have a fast-food restaurant chain called Rubio’s Mexican Grill and I am happy to report that they are one of the emerging businesses who, without mandate of any kind, are doing a tremendous job at reducing their carbon footprint in all aspects of their business. The food is pretty good as well. Go Rubio’s! Check out their eco site and learn more. From hosting local beach clean-ups to, implementing recycling programs to serving sustainable food, Rubio’s is an excellent example of a company that is giving back to the planet with the best interest of the community in mind.

Here is one area where they are making an impact:

Environmentally-Friendly Packaging & Printing
“With an eye towards a greener tomorrow, we plan to eliminate Styrofoam packaging and implement eco-friendly packaging. In several of our restaurants, we are currently testing eco-friendly take-out packaging, with the goal of a 2011 system-wide introduction. In addition, we are exploring compostable plates and take-out bags. In the mean time, it is our hope that our guests will act responsibly and recycle plastic bags rather than dispose of them in the trash. Some of the changes we have already made to improve packaging and printing include:

* Reusable Rubio’s a-Go-Go® Catering bags
* Conversion to Bottle Box™ salad bowls in May 2010. These bowls are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and are 100% recyclable.
* Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)-certified paper cups
* Conversion to bio-plastic (compostable) beer cups
* Compostable bleach-free napkins
* Paper menus made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and 10% recycled materials

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Eating Wild Foods in the City – A Blog Post by Kyra

I like to share inspiring blogs from other people. This one especially caught my eye.

Eating Wild Foods in the City
By Kyra

Sea of Pansys by Julie Gengo

Sea of Pansies by Julie Gengo

Perhaps due to being raised in the country I have a propensity for eating random wild plants. Only when I moved into a urban setting did I begin realizing how fortunate I was to grow up in an environment where I wasn’t taught to be afraid of the living things around me. It was also then that I realized that people were often completely unaware of the amazing resources for free food surrounding them.

One common example I can think of is the dandelion. In the city, Dandelions are usually regarded as annoying weeds that must be exterminated at all costs. However, dandelions have multiple other uses, such as winemaking with the heads and/or roots, tea, and salad greens (the young leaves are extremely tasty, but once they get older they turn very bitter). Along with dandelions, violets, roses, clover and vetch all have edible flowers and can be used fresh in salads or whatever else you like.

Of course it’s important to consider the pollution factor with this. Picking plants to eat from next to a highway, for example, might not be all that advisable. And planting a garden in the city is a bit more complicated what with the need for soil tests etc. But my general feeling is that the amount of chemicals, hormones and radiation that most grocery store food is subjected makes eating it not a lot better than eating wild foods from the city, or food grown in city soils. There was a lot of debate over this in the Permaculture group I’m part of…people seem to feel much less comfortable with toxins they are immediately aware of. So it’s up to you where your comfort zone is.

Something else you might want to take notice of is if your city is actually planting edibles. In a city in Illinois where I was living the local University had hundreds of Aronia bushes growing around their buildings- Aronia happens to make lovely wine! In Montreal where I now live the city has started using chard and dill, among other leafy greens and herbs, in their planters city wide! Keep your eyes open.

A great project could be taking on the creation of a fruit/bush map for your city. This would involve going around and finding all the hidden apple trees and raspberry bushes which have been built around and squashed into alleyways and bike paths that could be a source of free food for you and other animals. You will undoubtedly find a plethora of resources at your fingertips! For some helpful tips and examples of fallen fruit maps, go to Fallen

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