By Guest Blogger Lorraine LoBianco
On a recent Sunday night, press and photographers gathered at the Loew’s Santa Monica hotel to film celebrities as they arrived. It was not the latest Hollywood film premiere but The Green Lounge, an eco-luxury experience and wellness symposium.
A recycled green carpet replaced the traditional red and even the soft LED lights were green-tinted. According to the program, Limo service was provided by LAcarGUY, who uses hybrid and clean Diesel limos. Starlets in formal gowns mixed with hipsters in jeans. The music pulsated, the hors d’oeuvres and food (organic, locally grown food provided by Whole Foods Market Santa Monica) were passed around by formally-attired waiters using recycled or biodegradable napkins and cups and recyclable flatware and silverware. All surplus food was composted and donated to charitable organizations. At the bar, wine, and wine, tequila and Ginger Cosmos flowed.
The Cosmos were made with a non-alcoholic ginger-based cocktail mix called Elixir G. Described in the literature as being “made in small batches from the finest ginger in the world, Elixir G has been recognized for its excellence by the Western Food and Hospitality Expo in Los Angeles, where it was awarded Best in Show.“ Elixir G is all-organic and has the bite and fragrance of fresh ginger. CEO Bill Tocantins poured the drinks himself. A funny, friendly man, Tocantins takes pride in his product – and justifiably so. Elixir G is delicious. The hand-out for Elixir G featured several recipes, including the Ginger Cosmo – 2oz Vodka, ½ oz. Triple Sec, a splash of Elixir G, and a splash of cranberry juice. Many more recipes can be found on their web site www.elixirg.com.
On both floors of the event booths staffed by manufacturers displayed furniture, jewelry, water, cosmetics, skin care, candles, clothing, – even hair dye. They all had one thing in common – environmental responsibility. D’Bodinus showcased a beautiful couch from their Eco-Luxury™ collection made from environmentally safe materials including sustainably harvested woods, water-based low VOC glues and finishes, and NAF (no added formaldehyde) Plywood. The cushioning is 100% Rubber Latex and the springs and staples are made from recycled steel. The fabrics are eco and organic wool, and natural, organic and AZO-free textiles. D’Bodinus is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. www.4greendesign.com
EcoSkin showed their Holiday ’09 collection of clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics including Hemp Silk and Bamboo Tencel, which they describe as requiring “no pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers. Bamboo is also one of the world’s best sustainable resources, as well as the world’s fastest growing plant. It fights global warming by taking in 400% more greenhouse gases and produces 35% more oxygen than standing trees. It removes CO2 and releases oxygen as a by-product. It is 100% biodegradable. In addition, Bamboo whisks away moisture and keeps you dry. It is three times more absorbent than cotton. The result is the garment feels cooler and more comfortable. It is antibacterial, antifungal, and antistatic. Tencel is 100% Organic and a natural raw material. It is extracted from wood pulp and is 100% biodegradable, taken from tree farms that only practice sustainability. It contains no toxic substances. EcoSkin is committed to donating a percent of proceeds to animal and earth friendly organizations and charities.” The collection features softly-draped dresses and jumpsuits, off-the-shoulder knit tops, and silk cocktail dresses. www.ecoskincollections.com
Vito Esposito Salon, located at 308 North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was in attendance promoting its vegan and organic hair care products and “green initiatives [that] make it the new IT spot for incredible green divas and gents of LA”. Color Lock by BES was featured - sulphate free, 100% vegan shampoos, conditioners and protein sprays that help prevent colored hair from fading. www.besbeautyscience.com
After an hour of cocktails, food and browsing the items, the symposium began. The stage was lit with LED lights, the backdrop made by Green Earth Print and Design, and bordered by a potted tree and a screen made of moss and natural elements by Big Red Sun, who produces “full service architectural, environmentally conscious landscape design for residential and commercial space as well as spectacular living arrangements and décor for stylish events”. They are based in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, where they use only local elements. www.bigredsun.com. Nicole Sherwin, founder of Green Lounge, spoke of being raised by a natural homeopathic doctor father who instilled in her a lifetime of eco-consciousness. Green Lounge was her attempt to inspire rather than be preachy and to prove that being eco-friendly doesn’t’ mean you “have to compromise on style and fabulousness.”
Empowerment coach Jason Nelson, led the audience in breathing exercises, stressing the importance of using creative power and intuition to visualize our life’s purpose and to think differently about creating a sustainable home and finding new ways to recycle.
Darren Moore, former host of Alter-Eco on Discovery Networks’ Planet Green channel, used hard facts. Quoting Al Gore, Moore said that 40% of the energy consumed in the United States is by buildings; the best way to improve the indoor air quality of your home is by simply removing your shoes immediately upon entering; and that by composting food scraps, we can reduce landfills by 20%.
Debbie Levin was the next speaker. Levin is President of the Environmental Media Association, a non-profit organization that works to introduce green themes into Hollywood film and television productions. Celebrities and the media can drive trends and be a significant leader in making sustainable living “cool” to the general public. Arriving at awards ceremonies in stretch limos and Hummers is “decidedly uncool”; EMA has worked to convince celebrities to arrive in hybrids, instead.
Businesses also drive sustainability. EMA partners with studios and production companies to make the studios themselves more green. Many studios have environmental departments for the executive buildings but not on the lots where the programs are produced. By working with the studios, EMA has been able to give their green-seal of certification to over 100 productions.
Levin is also involved with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create organic gardens in low income schools. They hope to take the program nationally and to unify splinter groups who are working toward the same goal. Celebrities can be crucial in promotion because they can influence children merely by sponsoring the gardens. They can encourage kids to view a tomato as something more than just a vegetable that comes from a store; as something that they themselves can grow, thereby changing the child’s view of their own potential and how they live. This is something that the Young Hollywood Board wants to become more involved with. And, of course, where celebrities go, the media follows.
Los Angeles news anchor Christine Devine of Fox 11 News spoke of growing up “with the weird mom who recycled, did yoga, and washed out plastic baggies.” Her family was eco-friendly before the term had been coined. Devine praised Fox 11 for the large amount of ecological stories produced for the newscast and the awards won for their series on eco-friendly cars.
Actress Alicia Silverstone, author of “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet” which is currently number five on the New York Times Best Seller list, was the final speaker. Silverstone’s diet is “kind to you, the plant and all creatures.” Worried at first that eating a vegan diet would “be the end of eating good food,” the self-described foodie said it took about two weeks for her to figure out how much good food there was available that didn’t include meat. Eating a vegan diet made her feel lighter, walk lighter upon the Earth, and opened up her heart. At 21, she wasn’t interested in eating healthy and her body reflected that – she was heavy, sluggish, and her nails brittle and dotted with calcium spots. By changing her diet, Silverstone was able to stop taking asthma shots after only two weeks. When her doctor asked her why she was quitting, she told him about her diet. The doctor admitted that he had heard similar stories. Her goal in writing the book was to take hard medical fact and important information and make it palatable to the general public. Explaining that the origin of the word “diet” comes from the 16th century, meaning “a day’s journey,” Silverstone wants to restore the original meaning to the word by helping people make better food choices, rather than be on a “diet” every day. Now in her early 30s, Silverstone has realized that getting older can also mean becoming more vital, stronger and connected to yourself. Rather than having the reader immerse themselves in a vegan diet all at once, “The Kind Diet” is done in stages – “Flirting” – where meats and animal products are slowly replaced, “Vegan” and then “Superhero” which is a more macrobiotic diet.
Making healthier food choices also helps the planet. Silverstone informed the audience that six months of water used in showering goes into one pound of beef production. That industry also consumes 20-28 billion gallons of oil a year. The United Nations panel on climate change recently stated that a plant-based diet, even if only followed one day a week, will have the biggest impact on climate change.
The Green Lounge was produced by Nicole Sherwin Green Events, which focuses on elite, special events with sustainability.
Lorraine LoBianco has spent most of her life in Southern California where she has worked in the television industry as Director of Programming at Fox Movie Channel and more recently in Florida as Director of Program Planning and Acquisitions at ION Television. Currently, she is a monthly contributing writer to Turner Classic Movies Interactive and is interested in moving to Northern California for writing, editing and/or television jobs.
Image Credit: The Lancet
Click Here for Full Size Food, Agriculture, GHG, and Health Diagram
"We are learning that the health of our planet and the health of our people are tied together. It’s difficult for one to thrive without the other," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Climate change is not a problem that one country or one organization can solve on its own. It’s a problem that affects us all."
The household energy paper showed that introducing low-emission stove technology, specifically replacing biomass stoves in India, could improve respiratory health. The study says the technology is one of the most cost-effective climate-health linkages, given that indoor air pollution from inefficient cooking stoves increases respiratory infections in children and chronic heart disease in adults.
The food production study showed that the food and agriculture sector contributes about 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and that a 30 percent reduction in consumption of saturated fats from animal sources would reduce heart disease by about 15 percent while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The study found that in Britain, a 30 percent lower intake of animal-source saturated fat by adults would reduce the number of premature deaths from heart disease by some 17 percent -- equivalent to 18,000 premature deaths averted in one year. The scientists said global action was needed to maximize the benefits of cutting meat production and consumption.
The transportation study showed that cutting emissions by reducing motor vehicle use and increasing walking and cycling would bring substantial health gains by reducing heart disease and stroke by 10-20 percent, dementia by 8 percent, and depression by 5 percent.
The Lancet Study details are here, and the full text on the Food and Agriculture Study is here.
Global Green's 5th Annual Gorgeous and Green Gala is one of the Bay Area's premier green lifestyle events. This event has done much to expand the perception of what it means to be truly sustainable without sacrificing style.
Gorgeous and Green
Tuesday, December 8th 2009
Hosted by W Hotel - San Francisco
5:30pm: Patron Pre-Reception Cocktails
6-7:30pm Patron Dinner
7:30pm: Eco-Fashion Show and Cocktail Party
More information and registration is here.
The evening before the Net Impact Conference in Ithaca, New York, Emily Sadigh, Young Women Social Entrepreneurs Board Member and Net Impact Lifetime Member, organized a dinner for some San Francisco Bay Area Net Impact Friends at Moosewood Restaurant. I had heard about Moosewood Restaurant from my friend Martina, and I was lucky to be in the Ithaca area to experience the Autumn-inspired Dishes. Moosewood Restaurant has operated for thirty-three years and has been known for its creative, vegetarian cooking in addition to being named one of the most influential restaurants of the 20th Century by Bon Appetit magazine.
Neil Minnis, one of the owners, gave me a tour and authored the Ginger Tea recipe in their newest cookbook: Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health which includes more than 200 new vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Melissa, the Front House Manager, mentioned to me that sometimes customers come into the restaurant at 3:30pm and ask what's for dinner. Sometimes the Chefs don't know because the food shipment hasn't arrived from the farm yet. It's that Fresh! Per Melissa, the food is "local, organic, fresh, and as sustainable as possible", and it's "not fancy, but home-style".
Most of the menu's Appetizers, Soups, and Entrees have the option of being made vegan.
A delicious mixed Appetizer plate was brought to our table:
1. Macedonian Vegetable Salad on greens
2. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with tomatoes, olives, and toasted sesame pita
3. Avocado-Tomato Salsa with organic corn tortilla chips
Lentil Sambar was another delicious entree shared by the group. It featured cauliflower, sweet potatoes, multicolored peppers, onions and lentils simmered with curry spices tamarind and coconut milk, served on rice with apple-apricot chutney.
My entree was Stuffed Squash with local and organic sweet dumpling squash baked with savory tofu, mushroom and walnut filling, served on wild rice pilaf, with orange-ginger sauce.
Melissa mentioned comfort food, and this entree is just that; a perfectly nutritious and delicious fall entree!
I highly recommend you visit Moosewood Restaurant and check out the new cookbook: Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. Please share your favorite recipes from the book by commenting on this Blog Post. Thanks! :-)
Additional pictures from the visit include Melissa and Mary, Neil Minnis, Net Impact San Francisco Group, Pumpkintini, and Kitchen.
Mary Vincent, Cornell University
This year's Net Impact Conference theme was 'Advancing Sustainable Global Enterprise: Changemakers, Innovators, and Problem Solvers'.
I moderated this year's Net Impact Conference Panel on 'The Future of Organics: Big Business or Not?' with Panelists: Sarah Endline, Founder and CEO, Sweetriot and Jessica Rolph, Founding Partner and COO, HappyFamily. Sarah has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors from The University of Michigan. Sweetriot started by sourcing their cacao directly in Latin America, using recyclable, reusable packaging which features emerging artists, using all-natural, healthy ingredients for their dark chocolate ‘peaces.’ Happy Family aims to change the way babies and children are fed by offering nutritious alternatives to over-processed foods; they launched in five stores in 2006 and are now selling in over 5000 stores including Target, Whole Foods, and Babies R Us. Jessica is a Trustee for RSF Social Finance and received a BA and MBA from Cornell University. Both Sarah and Jessica are inspiring and successful entrepreneurs!
The panel topics ranged from what inspired them to start their businesses to how they plan for Profit, Marketing and Branding Strategies, Financial Pitfalls, and Production Efficiencies. Audience questions ranged from investment interest to organic product trends. I discussed Organic Food and Beverage Sales Trends, Food Carbon Facts from the UN Climate Change Report, the EatLowCarbon.org Website, Slow Money Investing book, new Organic Farmers Business Handbook, and the upcoming NRDC Growing Green Awards 2010.
For the 5th year in a row, Cafe Gratitude (no affiliation with Gratitude Gourmet) will be offering a free vegan meal to diners on Thanksgiving day. It's their way of thanking customers and fans for their support and patronage throughout the year. This year, four out of the five Bay Area cafes – San Francisco, Berkeley, San Rafael and Healdsburg – will be open from 11am to 3pm to serve the Thanksgiving appreciation meal. For Café Gratitude, the day is operated on 100% volunteer efforts from employees and customers. Meals are served on a first come, first served basis until the food is depleted.
I wanted to thank all of you for your support of Gratitude Gourmet over the past year. The Gratitude Gourmet site officially launched in November 2008, and has featured a variety of food policy and global warming news, best practices, and fun events and giveaways. I hope this information has helped provide additional food perspectives for you and your communities. Would you like to see additional story ideas and themes? Please leave a comment here and let me know. Thanks, and I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Please Vote for my Fortune Brainstorm Green 2010 Panel Suggestion: Food Companies Reducing Carbon Emissions Via Their Food Practices. It's easy... just click the Thumbs Up Icon on this Page. Thank you very much in advance!
Fedele Bauccio, Winner of the 2009 NRDC Growing Green Award and CEO of Bon Appétit, an onsite restaurant company providing café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities and specialty venues in 29 states, has been a pioneer in recognizing and addressing the connection between food and climate change through its Low Carbon Diet initiative, which is on track to reduce its associated carbon emissions by 25 percent from 2007-2010. I interviewed him for a Gratitude Gourmet feature at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference. Bon Appetit has realized the impact that the meat and dairy industry has on climate emissions, and reduced meat and cheese in its operations by 20%.
Fedele recently announced in a blog post that nominations are open for the NRDC Growing Green Awards 2010 for outstanding individuals in any of the four categories, including Food Producer, Business Leader, Thought Leader, and Water Steward. Nominations are due December 4, 2009.
An estimated 25 percent of the emissions produced by people in industrialized countries can be traced to the food they eat, according to recent research in Sweden. Per this New York Times article, new labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, from whole wheat pasta to fast food burgers, are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around Sweden with the goal to cut the country's emissions from food production by 50 percent. Citizens are asked to substitute beans for meat which isn't a surprise since cattle was noted by the United Nations organization to produce more greenhouse gases than transportation, and a recent WorldWatch Institute Study including recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.
Credit: Farm Sanctuary
If you haven't attended the Celebration for the Turkeys Event in Orland, CA, I highly recommend you attend and experience this for yourself.
It will feature a Gourmet Thanksgiving dinner highlighting local, sustainable vegan fare (menu designed by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau), inspirational guest presentations, and a silent auction to benefit the animals and meet all your holiday shopping needs. Quality time with the sanctuary animals and the unique “Feeding of the Turkeys” ceremony, in which turkeys are the guests of honor and feast on their favorite treats: squash, pumpkin pie and cranberries!
More information and registration is here. You need to register soon because this sells out!
Bàrbara Mesquida Mora is a fourth generation winemaker at Jaume Mesquida in Porrores Mallorca. After an online search for Biodynamic Mallorcan wineries yielded one hit of Jaume Mesquida, I drove to the winery to explore the winery and wines for myself.
I videotaped Bàrbara describing why her winery decided to transition to Biodynamic. In addition, I'll include more information about the winery, pictures, and a description of the two wines I tasted and brought back to the United States.
The Jaume Mesquida winery at Carrer de la Vileta, 7 in Porreres, Mallorca owns 22.2 hectares of vineyards and buys additional grapes from producers in Mallorca. Their practices include:
- Abandonment of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers (fungus problems were treated with copper, sulphur, and infusions of nettle and horsetail and biodynamic preparations of silica with an aim to reduce copper and sulphur doses in the future)
- Using vegetable cover during Autumn and Winter (grasses protect soil from erosion and invite earthworms to fertilize and aerate the earth)
- Scattering compost with biodynamic preparations
- Tractor use reduction (large machinery causes soil compaction and loss of fertile soil due to overworking) and returning to manual labor
- Labeling bottles in Braille and offering wine tours for unsighted tasters and visitors
- Recycling the majority of generated waste and installing a solar array heating all sanitary water
- Promoting a fourth quarter season of activities of dance, theatre, and music called 'Culture, Earth, and Wine'
Sirà and Cabernet Sauvignon
Bàrbara recommended I try two wines: the 2006 Sirà and the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. Incidentally, the Jaume Mesquida Winery produced the first Cabernet on the island of Mallorca in 1982. Both wines have a complex array of intense, fruity flavors. I tasted other Mallorcan wines, and this Sirà and Cabernet are the best Mallorcan wines I've tasted. You must try them.
Below are some pictures I took at the Jaume Mesquida Winery! Salud!
Today, I was talking with a very nice lady originally from London and Jamaica who has lived on the southern tip of Mallorca for seven years. Her Mallorcan neighbor is 75 and every morning she walks out of her house wearing her swimming suit and jumps off the bank into the Sea and swims. The London-Jamaican expat asked her neighbor what her secret was to being strong and fit at her age. She said it was olives and olive oil.
Normally, I buy Trader Joes' organic olive oil in the States.
While in a grocery store in Mallorca, the corked glass bottle of Núñez de Prado 'Agricultura Ecologica' Olive Oil caught my eye and eventually the palate. To produce the elite Flor de Aceite, the handpicked olives grown without pesticides in Baena, Spain are channeled into an underground crusher where they are ground to mash by three-ton granite cones. From the crusher, the oily paste rides a conveyor to the Núñez de Prado’s Thermofilter, invented in Malaga, Spain in the last century by Marquis of Acapulco. The Thermofilter consists of two giant stainless steel rollers covered in a tight wire mesh, one atop the other, which slowly lift and turn. Oil from the crushed olives drips by gravity, strained through tiny holes—50 per square millimeter—and runs out through a trough at the bottom to a separate decantation system. What results is called the Flor de Aceite (Flower of the Oil). This oil is not pressed; it drips from the fruit naturally. Normally, a pressing yields a kilo of oil for every five kilos of olives; however, it takes eleven kilos of olives to make one kilo of Flor de Aceite. To qualify as extra virgin, olive oil must contain less than one percent acidity. Fine Italian oils are near 0.5 percent. On average, Núñez de Prado ranges from 0.09 to 0.17 percent; the low acidity minimizes the disturbance of the flavor compounds.
Núñez de Prado Extra Virgin Olive Oil is available in either glass or porcelain 500 ml bottles, and each individually numbered bottle has a label. You can find it at Dean and DeLuca in the United States.