Rushing the Door at the “Sneak Peak” of SweetGreen Bethesda

April 29th, 2009

A new eco-friendly sandwich and salad spot, SweetGreen, opened in Bethesda, Maryland yesterday for a “sneak peek” for friends and family. However, passersby were so intrigued by the “green chic” aura of the trendy new lunch spot that the owners quickly gave up on the idea of keeping the party closed and opened the doors to everyone. What a deal. For just a $5 donation to community sustainability group Bethesda Green, diners were able to enjoy salads and wraps featuring local and organic produce as well as all natural yogurt.

You may be shocked: it’s not all organic, and yet I’m blogging about it. Why? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of studying the green and organic market, it’s this: organic does not always mean green and sustainable, and green and sustainable does not always mean organic.

The emphasis at this Green Certified Restaurant is on sustainability. Everything from the menus, which are lined with wildflower seeds so that they can be planted instead of recycled or thrown away, to the compostable cutlery and bowls, to the re-usable items for sale (salad bowls and stainless steel bottles), is carefully designed following sustainable principles.

Greenies may think that’s the best part, but there’s something for everyone: the food I sampled with friends is simply fantastic. Count on about $8 to $9 for a salad or wrap. My favorite? The Curry Gold. Chopped romaine with a kick of coconut, almonds and cranberries, it’s a really unique twist on chicken curry.

With the addition of Sweet Green, Bethesda now boasts a handful of organic, green and sustainable restaurants that didn’t exist a year ago. It’s a great trend, one I see at other spots throughout the Mid-Atlantic. We’re finally catching up to long-time green leaders like Portland, Seattle, Berkeley and San Francisco.

Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of SweetGreen, or if you have tips for other sustainable restaurants. (And if you’re in Washington DC’s Georgetown or Dupont Circle neighborhoods, you can check out SweetGreen’s locations there).

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

10 Tips for Eco-Friendlier Fast Food Dining

May 20th, 2008

Let’s face it, it’s the rare person who does not at some point end up in a fast food joint. As we’ve discussed here before, trying to eat healthy & organic while on the go can be a real dilemma.

The fact is, there truly is no Broccoli Heaven. So when you find yourself in a McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King, or other fast food place off the interstate, don’t despair. Here are ten steps you can take to make your dining experience a wee bit more eco-friendly.

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1. Bring your own cup.
2. If you didn’t bring your own cup, request a glass or regular cup — you know, the type that can be washed! Otherwise, odds are you’ll be given a plastic disposable cup or “kid cup.”
3. Remember that salad dressing will be brought to you in a plastic cup or pouch unless you request otherwise. You can skip the dressing, or ask for it to be poured directly on your salad. (You might want to ask for half the usual amount!)
4. They’ll bring too much stuff. Ask for just ONE condiment cup instead of TWO.
5. Go topless. Why use lids? Save the plastics!
6. Don’t take a “doggie bag” (often a Styrofoam container) unless you are really certain you will eat the leftovers. Do you really want all those extra calories anyway???
7. Tell your server that you don’t want a straw. No plastic straws!
8. Order vegetarian. Meat products are a significant contributor to global warming. Think pizza, fries, or a garden salad.
9. Bring your own napkins to avoid using paper napkins (keep cloth napkins in your car).
10. Don’t take more plastic cutlery than you need – you’re not setting the dinner table!

Works for me!

If it doesn’t work for you, talk to the manager. Customers have power!

Oh, and to answer my bloggy friends Gift of Green and Julie – with no Broccoli Heaven around, we went to Pizza Hut!

Broccoli Heaven

May 18th, 2008

Ah, spring weekends – the time to hop in your fuel-efficient car and head out to the beach or parts unknown. But with kids in tow, you’re decidedly less footloose and fancy free than you used to be. We’ve had discussions here before about what a dilemma it is to be Organic & On the Go. Where do you find a decent place to eat off America’s highways?

This weekend, DH and I really thought we had the problem licked. A simple 2 1⁄2 hour trip and we were loaded and ready:
Organic Apples, washed, and knife – check
Organic Rice Cakes – check
Organic American Cheese – check
Organic Carrot Sticks – check
Home Made Organic Whole Wheat Bread – check
Biodynamic Cookies – check
One gallon water jug and BPA-free cups – check

Unfortunately, traffic lengthened our trip and before long we heard the incessant whine every parent dreads. The “I’m hungry!” kindergartner whine.

“Eat your rice cake,” was our response.

“No, I’m really hungry. For a real meal. Not these SNACKS. I want to go to McDonalds.”

“There are no McDonalds along this road, honey,” I responded.
“There’s only Broccoli Heaven.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a new organic fast food place where they serve broccoli. And you can get organic milk too,”I jested.

“I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BROCCOLI HEAVEN, I WANT TO GO TO MCDONALDS!”

“Well, we’re not going to McDonalds. Eat your rice cake.”

“You’re starving me!”

“Honey, we’re not starving you. Look at all this food in the car!”

“These are snacks. I want a meal at McDonalds. And besides, Broccoli Heaven doesn’t exist.”

“Really? Why do you say that?”

“Because broccoli doesn’t go to heaven.”

Boy’s got a point. Can’t argue with that.

Wonder how McDonald’s is coming along with their Organic and Eco-Friendly Happy Meals!

Happy trails!

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

McDonalds on Eco-Friendly Happy Meals

April 1st, 2008

Every parent knows that being stuck on the road with a hungry kid is a dilemma. It’s so hard to find healthy fare on the road that even some Green Eco-Moms find themselves in McDonalds. More importantly, most American kids eat at McDonalds. Think of the huge environmental impact McDonalds could make by greening the Happy Meal and replacing the Cheap Plastic Crap Happy Meal toys with an eco-friendly alternative toy!

The Wall Street Journal recently published a report about McDonalds Corporate Sustainability Blog. I wasn’t familiar with McDonalds environmental initiatives, so I checked out their blog, and left a comment suggesting McDonalds could do even more for the environment by introducing organic Happy Meal selections and eco-friendly Happy Meal toys.

Take a look at McDonalds response via this link.   And let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

And by the way, their response came 13 days after I left the comment! (The date doesn’t  show up on their blog, but I have it via email).  

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Healthy, Organic & On the Road: A Dilemma

January 4th, 2008

The holiday season really got me thinking about how to maintain a healthy, mostly organic diet while traveling. The traffic down Route I-95 reminded me that I’m not the only one with this challenge.

Sure, you can pack healthy snacks to combat hunger while on the road. But when traffic pile-ups occur, or fatigue sets in, there’s no substitute for pulling off the highway and into a restaurant. But where to go? Even those who normally avoid fast food will confess that fast food restaurants can seem like welcome outposts off a major interstate. So it’s at these roadside McDonalds, Denny’s and Pizza Huts that you will find the bewildered vegetarians and organic foodies, desperately looking for something – anything – healthy to eat. And while some of these fast food restaurants have made great strides in offering healthier options, the food is not organic or locally grown. Sometimes it doesn’t even taste fresh!

Following is a listing of the best options I’ve found for organic on-the-go eating that should be easily accessible from most major interstates. No, they’re not perfect – I still dream of Broccoli Heaven, my fantasy roadside snackbar. But they’ll do in a pinch! What’s been your experience? Leave a comment and share!

Panera Bread – Panera features two kids’ menu items with partial organic ingredients – a grilled organic American cheese sandwich and a “Kid’s Deli” sandwich, which is organic cheese with your choice of roast beef, ham or turkey. Both items are served with Horizon organic milk* and Horizon squeezable organic yogurt.

Target – Yes, Tar-zhay! The in-store cafes feature a Kids organic mac n’ cheese meal, which is served with Horizon squeezable organic yogurt and Horizon organic milk. True confessions: as our local Target overlooks busy railroad tracks, which my 5-year-old son adores, I am a frequent diner at Target. That’s how I know that they are often sold out of the squeezable organic yogurt. This poses a problem when the well-meaning clerk asks if my son would like “fruit snacks” instead – as in the high fructose corn syrup, GMO variety. Of course, he would like some of this “special treat” – some GMO corn syrup and sugar to go with his organic meal! Arrggh….

Chipotle – While Chipotle does not have purely organic meals, some of its beans are organic, and its chicken and pork are sourced from non-factory farms. Chipotle also recently announced that it would serve only rBGH-free sour cream at its more than 530 restaurants. For a cool graph that shows where Chipotle’s “naturally raised” meats are available nationwide, click here.

* You may have heard of claims that Horizon milk is not truly organic. There were lawsuits filed alleging that the cows were not being treated in accordance with organic standards. However, the suits did not allege that the cows have been treated with growth hormones or antibiotics or fed unnatural substances, as can be the case with conventional milk. Given this, Horizon organic milk is a better choice than the conventional milk available at these fast food outlets.

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania