Entries in organic food (14)


New Video: So All May Eat

We're excited to release our video about SAME Café in Denver, Colorado, which we visited at the end of our Southwest Tour. This unique restaurant serves delicious organic food on a pay-what-you-can model. And if you don't have a few bucks in your pocket, you can always volunteer in exchange for a healthy meal. The restaurant covers 75% of its total costs with what people put in the anonymous payment box and the rest is covered by grants and individual donations.

The owners, Brad and Libby Birky are two of the most amazing people we've ever met. We left after our day of filming feeling truly inspired by their commitment to making healthy food accessible. They're not just talking about organic food "being too expensive for average people", they're doing something about it! And in the process, they've created a community of customers and volunteers that you can tell feel part of something great.

If you'd like to donate or get more information, please visit the SAME Café website.


SAME Café in Denver: Making Good Food Accessible To All

In many ways we saved the best for last with the final video shoot of the Southwest Tour, visiting SAME Café in Denver, and leaving inspired and with full bellies. SAME is an acronym for "So All May Eat," and it refers to the pay-what-you-can system of the restaurant.

SAME Café drew our interest because organic food is often criticized for pricing out lower-income people who can't afford to shop at boutique groceries like Whole Foods. SAME Café owners Brad and Libby Birky provide a place where everyone can enjoy a great meal made of high quality (and mostly organic) ingredients -- regardless of whether they can afford it.

It works like this: After eating a meal, you either put a few dollars in the donation box on the counter, or you can exchange some volunteer work for a meal. For the video shoot, Dorothée put on an apron and some rubber gloves, and worked with volunteers in the kitchen for about two hours, chopping vegetables, cleaning lettuce, and preparing salads. Because of the pay structure, the clientele at SAME is as diverse as you'll ever find in a sit-down restaurant; college students, homeless people, and families all eat the same food.

Brad and Libby are truly some of the most amazing people we've met on this tour, and I hope more restaurants like SAME Café start sprouting up all over the country.



Organic Pick of the Week: Late July Organics

Hands down my favorite organic snack, Late July Organics makes sandwich cookies with a crunchy chocolate outside and creamy vanilla-bean & green tea or dark chocolate on the inside. A family owned and operated company, Late July Organics makes cookies are produced without pesticides, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or preservatives.

My favorite flavor is Vanilla Bean with Green Tea, which is crafted with sustainably-harvested organic vanilla, organic evaporated cane juice and organic brown rice syrup plus a hint of organic green tea extract. They come in convenient four-packs that have proven to be a perfect road-trip snack.


Full Disclosure: Late July Organics is one of the fabulous organic food brands that has partnered with us for the Southwest Tour.


Flip Clip: Update from Eastside Cafe in Austin, TX

We rolled into Austin, TX on Thursday night, and one of the first stops we made was to the Eastside Cafe, a restaurant that uses a lot of organic and local (some very local) ingredients. One thing that sets the Eastside apart from other restaurants is the organic vegetable garden located behind the restaurant. Most restaurant gardens I've seen consist of little more than a few rows of herbs and micro greens, but the garden at Eastside Cafe clearly produces a lot of food.

A large chicken coop abuts the restaurant, and there are several rows of raised beds with lettuce, cabbage, kale, herbs, and wildflowers. There are also lots of cool-looking bird houses and a couple of unconventional beds, like the bed frame pictured below. Coming from Chicago, we were amazed to see how far along the tomatoes are, but we've since learned that tomatoes are harvested in June and July in Texas.



Organic Pick of the Week: Bora Bora Bars

Eating whole foods -- fruits and vegetables, grains, and fish or meat -- is ideal, but when preparing a home-cooked meal isn't an option, we still want to reach for a snack that's nutritious and made from pure ingredients. So when we hit the road for the Southwest Tour next week, we'll be snacking on Bora Bora bars, a certified-organic granola bar loaded with fruit, nuts and oats.

Unlike some of the candy bars masquerading as granola bars that have flooded supermarkets in recent years, Bora Bora bars contain actual sustenance, and in addition to being organic, they're gluten-free, and they contain no artificial ingredients. The bars are sweetened with organic brown rice syrup, honey, and organic agave syrup, which contains no no processing chemicals. And of course, they're really tasty.

Another thing we like about Bora Bora: The company donates 10 percent of its profits to sustainable farming and renewable energy initiatives.

Full Disclosure: Bora Bora is one of the fabulous organic food brands that has partnered with us for our upcoming Southwest Tour.


Organic Pick of the Week: Newman's Own

Those who know me are probably familiar with my passion for chocolate, so it comes as no surprise that Mocha Milk Chocolate is one of my favorite items in the Newman's Own Organics line. Their chocolate is satisfyingly rich and creamy and it makes me feel good because it's certified organic and made from cocoa beans grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. 

So, what does that mean? The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal guarantees that the cocoa was grown on farms that meet comprehensive standards for sustainable farming, protecting soil, waterways and wildlife habitat as well as the rights and welfare of workers, their families and communities.

Here are my thoughts about a few other favorites from the Newman's Own Organics line:

Fig Newmans - What I love about these cookies is that they are healthy without tasting healthy, you know what I mean? Made with organic figs, organic sugar, organic flour, and without hydrogenated oils, Fig Newmans are sweet and filling - be sure to try their Wheat-Free/Dairy-Free variety!

Pretzels - These baked pretzels are crunchy and have great flavor. The Minis include spelt which has a light, slightly sweet, nutty flavor. With a stronger outer hull than either oats or wheat,  it seems to keep more of the nutty grain taste and good nutrients locked inside. By using yellow pea flour, they've created a high-protein pretzel with 5 grams of protein per serving - perfect for a snack.

Newman-O's - Hands down the best Oreo cookie alternative out there. These cream-filled chocolate cookies are made with no hydrogenated oils and no trans-fatty acids. Instead, they contain organic palm fruit oil, which is low in saturated fat and comes from a protected region of Colombia. My absolute favorite flavor is Hint O' Mint.

Newman’s Own Organics was established by Paul Newman's daughter Nell as a division of Newman’s Own in 1993, and became a separate company in late 2001. Nell's commitment to organic foods and sustainable agriculture led her to convince her father to let her establish an organic division of Newman's Own. She won him over by creating a completely organic Thanksgiving dinner and then suggesting organic food products for the Newman's Own line. (I was honored to meet Nell at the 2009 Organic Summit where she gave the keynote address).


Full Disclosure: Newman's Own Organics is one of the fabulous organic food brands that have partnered with us for our upcoming Southwest Tour.


Organic Pick of the Week: Lifeway Organic Kefir

Part smoothie, part yogurt drink, Kefir is a creamy beverage that goes down easy in the morning but can also be sipped throughout the day.

I was a bit nervous to try kefir at first because I'm lactose intolerant. Lifeway sent their organic raspberry-flavored lowfat Kefir for a review and I found it delicious, plus I had no allergic reaction to it. Why? Probiotic cultures actually "predigest" some of the lactose in dairy products.

Research has also shown that the probiotic cultures found in Lifeway Organic Kefir can enhance the immune system and balance digestive health. That's because kefir can help by replenishing protective intestinal flora, stimulating the production of immune cells and suppressing an inflammatory response. Some research even suggests that probiotic-fortified foods can help alleviate seasonal hay fever! 

With flavors like Pomegranate Acai, Strawberries & Cream, Peach and Wildberries, Lifeway's Organic Kefir is a real treat. Check out their probiotic Kefir bars as well!



Happy Easter! Our Favorite Organic Candies

Ukrainian style easter eggEaster egg made by Dorothee using Ukranian dyeing technique

We hope everyone has a lovely spring weekend and if you're celebrating Easter (my favorite holiday), here's a list of some of my favorite organic sweets:

  • Surf Sweets - naturally-flavored gummy bears and jelly beans
  • Crispy Cat - delicious candy bars (the mint coconut flavor is our favorite)
  • Divine Chocolate - creamy fair trade chocolate (try the hazelnut milk chocolate bar)




Food Curated: NYC's Early Bird Granola 

As you may have noticed, we're pretty big fans of Food Curated, the NYC-based website that produces videos about local food. Recently, and to our delight, filmmaker Liza DeGuia (aka SkeeterNYC, who was recent nominated for a James Beard award) has been producing new videos at a furious pace.

In the latest, she checks in with Nekisia Davis, founder of Early Bird Granola in Brooklyn, who mixes the granola herself using mostly organic ingredients. "Every bag of Early Bird Granola is handmade, hand-mixed and hand-packed with 'salt, olive oil and love...it's all about the love.'" It's all about the olive oil, too. When making granola in the past, I've used canola oil, but after watching this I'm anxious to try olive oil.

We don't have Early Bird in Chicago, but we do have Milk & Honey Granola, which is my personal favorite. What kind of granola do you eat?



From the Archive: Organic Beer in Portland, OR

Have you ever tasted a rainbow? Me neither, but I've tried the Treehugger Porter at Laurelwood Brewery in Portland, and it wasn't too shabby. To honor St. Patrick's Day, tip one back with Dorothee and Laurelwood's head brewer Chad Kennedy, and learn about the process of brewing certified-organic beer.



PHOTOS: Mission Pie in San Francisco

While visiting the Bay Area last week, we stopped by Mission Pie in San Francisco to shoot a new video. Mission Pie gets its name from the street and the neighborhood where it's located, but the cafe also has a mission of sustainability that's pretty extraordinary. Not only are the ingredients in the pies organic, and wherever possible, local, but Mission Pie also forms partnerships with local farms and nonprofit organizations.

We got to go back in the kitchen and watch them make some pies, and then we tested some delicious apple-cranberry and pear-blueberry pies. (It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.) We haven't finished editing the video yet, but feast your eyes on these photos, and check out the rest at our Flickr page.


Mission Pie San Francisco Mission Pie San Francisco
Mission Pie San Francisco Mission Pie San Francisco
Mission Pie San Francisco
Mission Pie San Francisco

Organic Food, Farming and Health (VIDEO)

Check out this informative and beautifully shot video for Earthbound Farm about organic food, farming and health. I think it's an effective commercial and I hope more sustainable brands reach out to consumers in this way!

Here's the text for the video: Of all the different green options before you, the most important choice is what you eat. Not everyone can drive a hybrid or ride public transportation, but everyone can make choices about their food. Organic farming means farming with Mother Nature and the more people know about the benefits of organic, the better our environment will be. Let organic become the conventional of the future.



Students Dig In at Yale's Sustainable Farm 

During our recent East Coast tour, we stopped at Yale's organic farm in New Haven, Connecticut where we found students hard at work building, digging and weeding in the sunshine. As more and more young people rediscover farming, Yale's program has proven to be one of the best in the country.

The Yale Sustainable Food Project was founded in 2001 by Alice Waters and members of the Yale faculty. The Project now operates a one-acre organic farm in New Haven, where more than 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers are produced. Over 850 students take a course related to food and agriculture, and the university also offers a sustainable dining program.

During our visit, we met with Yale Sustainable Food Project Director Melina Shannon-DiPietro who told us about the explosion of interest in organic farming among students at Yale and across the country.

For more information visit: www.yale.edu/sustainablefood


Books We Like: 'Cook Food' by Lisa Jervis

Salt early and taste for adjustments along the way. Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. Cut vegetables evenly so they cook evenly. These instructions could probably be found in the Culinary Institute of America standard-issue textbook The Professional Chef, but I pulled them from a different source, Lisa Jervis’ Cook Food: A Manualfesto for easy, healthy, local eating. The skinny, 130-page “manualfesto” is a training manual for beginning home cooks with an an organic and activist bent.

I worked as a line cook during college, and although I know my way around the kitchen pretty comfortably, I found Cook Food to be a good refresher on some useful techniques (deglazing pans, pressing tofu), and it also has some great recipes.

Jervis starts by listing all of the necessary kitchen-building tools and ingredients, from the pantry to the spice rack, offering tips for the thrifty shopper on what pans and tools should and shouldn’t be bought used. Along the way, she offers some useful tips on technique, including some basic instructions on how to cook grains, the various ways to cook vegetables, and some tips on seasoning. Veteran cooks can ignore much of this, but for rookies, most of Jervis' explanations will be invaluable. The back end of the book includes 20 of Jervis’ original recipes, and a handful of “nonrecipe recipes” (tips for snacks and other easy-to-make foods).

Jervis isn’t a chef by trade; she’s a prominent feminist who founded BITCH magazine. Her activist side shines through occasionally in Cook Food, when she writes about food politics, advocating for organic, unprocessed foods, but she steers clear of proselytizing. The book is most useful when Jervis addresses some of the more pragmatic issues facing home cooks, like how to eat organic, ethically-produced food on a tight budget.