The Mobile Food Collective

Adding to my post from last week, here’s just another great example of how building awareness is working to change the future of food… except in this case, these guys are bringing that awareness to you, and parking it right next to the hot dog cart.

The Mobile Food Collective is literally an urban garden on wheels, and again, not designed to feed the masses, just wake the masses up to the brilliance of fresh food.

You should really “Like” these guys on Facebook, and if you’re in Chicago, maybe swing by the cart and send us some pictures/video?

Spring Colorado style

Although March 21 marks the first day of spring, it hit Colorado a little late this year. Snow in April is typical, but two snowfalls in May caused a bit of frustration. While the bulk of the snow could be found in higher elevation, the Denver Metro area did see some flakes of its own.

When it finally sprung, around the office I heard buzz of travel plans and summer activities, including camping, hiking competitive runs and more – many of which involving food. Below is what spring brought to my life… and I’m ready for Summer, which starts today by the way…

Living at an elevation of 8,500 feet takes some getting used to. I moved to Conifer, Colo. about three years ago, and quickly learned that snow in May is not uncommon – we moved in on May 18 and welcomed a snowstorm on May 24. The same rung true this year, pictured above, on May 12.

I traveled to Moab, Utah, one of my favorite places in the West, for a camping and four-wheeling trip.

Other than the high winds, we enjoyed the experience and found it a great way to kick off the travel season.

I was never a big runner, but WhiteWave’s involvement in the Bolder BOULDER race inspired me to sign up for my first competitive 10K run. With my only goal being to finish the race running, the enthusiasm around that race made it easy to do…all while enjoying a marshmallow and a piece of bacon here and there from the crowds lining the streets.

You've heard the term "staycation”, right? For mine I took a week’s worth of vacation for a cooking class in Boulder at the Culinary School of the Rockies. My love of cooking has grown over the years, and the class gave me the opportunity to hone my skills as well as enjoy good, whole food with good people.

One of the things I like about WhiteWave is the way employees come together to support one another. On June 5, a handful of us joined employee Rebekah Lyle at a charity run/walk to benefit the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance. In its first year, 1,700 participants helped raise more than $100,000!

Beyond summer vacation plans, I’ve more frequently overheard more conversations about food. Perhaps people get more excited about food in the summer. After all, fresh fruits and vegetables make for more variety. And, they are readily available at farmers markets.

Colorado has a plethora of farmers markets in season from April through October, which is quite an impressive season considering how often our weather changes.

So fracking scary…

A few months ago I wrote about one of the best and most compelling movies I’ve seen in a long time – Gasland. I’ve since been waiting to hear where and when it would be released so that I could share it with everyone I know. Well, I just found out that it’a premiering on HBO this coming Monday, June 21 at 9 p.m. EDT.

Variety has said “Gasland may become to the dangers of gas drilling what Silent Spring was to DDT” and in case you still don’t care, this synopsis of the movie should reel you in.

The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States, but the hydraulic fracturing drilling technology (called “fracking”) that unlocks this “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” beneath us may not be safe…When filmmaker Josh Fox was asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarked on a cross-country road trip to find out just what the environmental consequences of fracking are. Along the way, he meets residents of a Pennsylvania town which was recently drilled who show him how they can light their drinking water on fire, and that’s just one of the alarming and astonishing revelations in the movie.

You can join the Gasland fan page on Facebook in order to access to the film’s viewing guide, which contains tips for hosting a green screening, a list of 10 actions you can take now to fight fracking and a post-screening discussion guide

Failure that feeds

We’ve touched on urban farming before, mostly discussing success stories. Great stories, no doubt. But great stories don’t always have to be about success, as this recent article from GOOD about a failed urban garden points out.

A guy named Manny takes to his backyard and attempts to grow enough food to sustain himself for a month. He starts with a promising plan, but issues with aquaponics, low-libidoed rabbits, and the first tornado to hit his town in 118 years (high winds = low crop yield) unfortunately lead to Manny failing.

But as premised earlier the story here isn’t about the garden’s failure as much as it is about Manny rekindling his relationship with food. After seeing first hand how hard it is to bring food from seed to table, I bet he has a much deeper respect for the food he eats and where he gets it.

It’s an idea that echos the current state of urban farming – it isn’t about feeding the world (yet). The current state is about people connecting with what they eat, with where it comes from, and not just what they grow in the backyard. Urban farming, famer’s markets, home gardens – they bring us closer to all food, from the grocery store to the deli. That’s a big first step in how society is beginning to shape the future of food. More and more people are starting to pay attention and ask questions. As a food company we’re paying close attention to that, and thinking about the bigger question of how to best feed the world.

LOHAS meet up this week…

If you’re hanging in or around Boulder this week, before the LOHAS conference next week, swing by Bombay Bistro this Thursday night where we’ll be hanging out with friends from Gaiam, Elephant Journal and W1SDØM. Great libations, great conversations. Also, Door prizes and a chance to win a free one day pass to the LOHAS conference.

For more details, and to RVSP…

The Goodness of Grilled Cheese

This might surprise some of you that know me, but I once sold grilled cheese sandwiches at Phish shows. It was a short lived little venture in my twenties, but I tell you this because I know firsthand about spreading joy via grilled cheese.

Reading Triple Pundit the other day, I realized I had missed an opportunity to be more altruistic with my grilled cheese sales. I stumbled upon this article about other people harnessing the universal power of a grilled cheese made with local and organic ingredients.  Feel Good World is founded on faith in the innate goodness of people, coupled with the belief that given the right tools we can all be agents of change. They believe they can end world hunger one grilled cheese at a time.

Just like the same Cafe here in Denver, the Feel Good student-run Delis work on the “pay what you can” principle with a donation jar instead of a cash register. The Delis, which are located on college campuses,  donate 100% of proceeds to “organizations with a proven track record of sustainably eradicating extreme global poverty and empowering self-reliance.”  Since its inception, FeelGood has donated almost $1 million to help end world hunger.

There are currently 23 chapters on college campuses across the country, including Penn State, Clemson and Berkeley with plans to add 10 more in the upcoming school year. It’s just such a cool idea, I wish I was in college so I could start a chapter. I already have the mad grilled cheese skills.

Changing the oil (can you?)

As millions of gallons of oil continue to drain into the Gulf Coast, a deeper sense of sadness and helplessness has set in for many of us.  As is often the case with a national or international disaster, you see these awful images on the news and wonder what you – a lone person in Smalltown, Middle America – can possibly do to help. To me, it’s the same idea as voting in a presidential election.  Does my vote really count?  There are a lot of people who will tell me not really.  Do I do it anyway?  Sure, and I’m proud of it.

It’s the same thing here.  You can either talk about how one person can’t possibly make a difference in the face of such a horrific catastrophe, or you can actually give it a try.  And while you’re probably not going to be personally responsible for the restoration of the Gulf Coast, you will at least be able to rest easy knowing that you did something.

So aside from the old stand-bys like taking stock of your oil usage and riding the bus instead of driving, or the dramatic, i.e. coating yourself in chocolate and standing in front of your local BP station in protest, what can you do to help?

We’ve outlined three great opportunities below.

Donate

  • Alabama Coastal Foundation: www.joinacf.org. 100% of donations will go towards Gulf Coast clean-up efforts.
  • Our Gulf Waterkeepers: saveourgulf.org. Donations help provide everything from clean-up supplies and protective gear, to emergency office space and food for volunteers.
  • National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund: Easily donate $10 to support the NWF’s oil spill cleanup efforts by texting “Wildlife” to 20222.  All money goes towards helping their on-the-ground volunteer and restoration efforts.

Volunteer

You can register as a possible volunteer for several organizations that are taking on the heavy task of tackling clean-up.

Lobby

A number of advocacy organizations have crafted letters you can send to elected officials.

For those inclined to send a political message about the need to restore the Gulf Coast, the National Wildlife Federation has created this form letter. Those in favor of halting all ocean drilling can use this one from the Sierra Club.  Or, you can choose from the Gulf Restoration Network‘s menu of missives to the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, secretary of the interior, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and President Obama himself. They all urge the government to accurately assess and address the damage from the spill.

I like dirt… Dirt don’t hurt

I am so excited about something I just read on treehugger that I have to tell you about it.

Here’s the jist: dirt makes us smarter. According to a study of mouse behavior at The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, mice that were fed a soil bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae navigated a maze faster and with less anxiety than the control group. The theory is that this natural soil bacteria not only makes animals—including humans—smarter, it also acts as an antidepressant. We probably don’t need a study to tell us spending time outdoors is good for us—our minds and our soul.

Still, I like being backed by science. So the next time I let my son pick up and eat the sandwich he just dropped on the ground, I don’t have to feel guilty. In fact, I can feel downright good about it. That dirt-speckled sandwich may help him get into college one day.

Bolder Boulder breakdown…

Amazing time at the BolderBoulder yesterday. Rather than recap it in words, we’re going to let the Duzer give you guys a taste…