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July 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: July 2004

July 2004

We hope you're enjoying summer as much as we are!

Here's what's new at Obentec...

American Express: For your convenience we are now accepting American Express (as well as VISA and MasterCard) on our Web site! Thank you for letting us know that this is important to you!

New Colors: August marks the official launch of our new 2004 container colors. Look for a purple outer container, brightly colored "whimsical" inner containers...and more. And...yes, we'll still continue to offer our very popular primary color sets. Look for new color options on our Web site soon!


In this issue, you'll find:

  • Travel Menus
  • Gardening with Children
  • Laptop Lunches Benefit Schools
  • Laptop Lunches in the Los Angeles Times
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Travel Menus

Whether you're traveling by plane, train, bus, car--or even bicycle--this summer, don't forget to pack your Laptop Lunches for the trip!

  • Choose foods that will hold up well.

  • Pack enough water for the trip. (Consider freezing some so it stays cold longer.)
  • If you're traveling by car, bring an ice chest for restaurant leftovers. Pack the leftovers in your Laptop Lunches. The containers hold up better than disposables, are easier to eat from, and can be reused.

  • For air travel, avoid foods with strong odors that might offend fellow passengers.
  • Don't forget your ice packs.

Going to camp this summer?
Try some of the following menus.

#1: Snack Pack

  • Grapes
  • Veggies & Dip--carrots, red bell peppers, green beans, and cucs with dip
  • Pretzels (Try spelt pretzels for extra nutrition.)
  • Lowfat cheese, cubed.

#2: Cool Treat

  • Organic apples, peeled and cubed
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Low-fat granola
  • Lightly steamed broccoli (not mushy!), cooled

#3: Legume Plus

  • Freshly ground peanut butter
  • Whole-grain crackers (without hydrogenated oil)
  • Banana
  • Carrot sticks
  • Steamed soy beans (edamame)

Gardening with Children

Are you and your children ready to hit the dirt this summer? Caprice Potter, Life Lab Instructor at Gateway School in Santa Cruz, CA offers these tips for getting started.


  • Make sure you have the right tools for the jobs you need to do.

  • Purchase adult tools instead of kids' plastic tools, which tend to cause frustration and may break. (Make sure the size and weight are appropriate.)

  • Demonstrate how to use each tool properly and allow the children to practice under supervision.


  • Make it organic. Keep harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers out of the garden.

  • Elicit safety rules from your children. Write them up and post them where they can be seen.

  • Encourage all gardeners to say "red alert" if they see something that appears unsafe. When they hear those words, they should stop, look, listen,
  • and then correct the problem.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen.

  • Here are some rules that children will likely come up with on their own:

    Keep the metal end of the tool down.
    Don't leave tools on the ground.
    Work in an area where you have plenty of space.
    Share tools with others.
    Don't touch unfamiliar tools and substances. Ask an adult first. In fact, always ask an adult before eating anything as not everything in a garden is edible. (Sweet peas, for example, have beautiful, fragrant flowers, but their seeds are poisonous.)

    Make it Fun and Educational

  • Start out small. (Make sure you design a garden that will be manageable.)

  • Allow the children to be in control of the process as much as possible.
  • Watch the plants as they grow.

  • Observe seasonal changes.

  • Infuse fun facts of science.

  • Explore the parts of the plant.

  • Dissect flowers.

  • Explore the physics of digging. Shovels are simple levers. One hand is the fulcrum, the other is the effort hand, and the soil is the load.

  • Grow something that you can eat. (Allow children to follow the process from breaking ground to the meal on the table.)

  • Compost to teach children that the soil needs to be fed before it will feed us.

  • Teach the benefits of homegrown, organic foods.

  • Children love to water plants. Observe the soil to see how far down the water percolates. Dig wells around the plants to prevent water from running off.

  • Adults should do the bulk of the weeding, but allow the children to pull some weeds so they learn how to do it.

  • Monitor seasonal weeds and weed diversity.

  • Explain the importance of weeding, that weeds compete for water, nutrients, light, and space.

  • Don't forget to plant edible flowers.
  • They're beautiful, nutritious, and tasty in salads. Children love to stop and eat the flowers!

    What to Grow

    Visit your local garden center to find out what will grow in your area at this time of year.
    Here are a few ideas for children's theme gardens from the Gateway School Life Lab Program:

    1. Salad in a box (in summer: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots) (In fall: salad ingredients that do not produce fruits or seeds--roots, stems, leaves, and some edible flowers like lettuce, celery, carrots, radishes, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, edible flowers, beets, and bok choy
    2. Three sisters (corn, beans, pumpkins)
    3. Popcorn garden (Buy organic popcorn at your natural food store and plant it in your garden.)
    4. Spaghetti garden (spaghetti squash, tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic)
    5. Pesto garden (basil, parsley, garlic)
    6. Salsa garden (tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers, mild chili peppers like Anaheim--or scrape out seeds and inner skin from jalapenos-- garlic, cilantro)
    7. Herb garden (basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, thyme, sage, chives, oregano)


  • The Growing Classroom: Garden-Based Science Activity Guide, an award winning resource book containing step-by-step instructions for setting up a garden-based science program and outdoor classroom activities. Topics include working together in the garden, growing, nutrients, garden ecology, climate, nutrition, gardening tips, and food choices. 496 pages. Available online at

  • Gardens for Growing People,

  • The National Gardening Association (,, and

  • The Gardeners Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz

  • How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons

  • Rodale's Organic Gardening Magazine (

Caprice Potter, the life lab science teacher at Gateway School, started the Gateway life lab program 16 years ago with a single garden box. It now spans 1/4 acre! Caprice's earliest gardening memory? "My mom asked me to go into the garden to pick the male zucchini flowers for the flower pancakes she was making. I remember her showing me how to tell the females from the males and how the females had little fruits or zucchinis growing at the base of the flower. She showed me the pollen inside the male flowers too. She said the insects helped us by carrying the pollen from the male flower to the female flower. Otherwise, we wouldn't have zucchini, pumpkins or most fruits."

Laptop Lunches Benefit Schools

It's not uncommon to find Tammy and Amy visiting local schools. Last month Obentec participated in the Scotts Valley Ice Cream Social, an annual community event that raises tens of thousands of dollars for local schools.

Obentec also conducts educational workshops at schools in the Santa Cruz, CA area and provides information about the benefits of packing nutritious, waste-free lunches to students and teachers across the US.

If you'd like us to provide information to someone at your school, or if you have a school event you'd like us to know about, please contact us: 831 - 457 - 0301 / [email protected].

Laptop Lunches in the Los Angeles Times

June 6, 2004

Judi Dash

Gear & Gadgets
Boxed up neatly for departure

Eating on the go — for you or your loved ones — gets easier with these new products.

Movable feast

The Laptop Lunch System: This new lunchbox should appeal to travelers who want or need to take their meals with them, whether a picnic lunch or dinner. Inspired by the Japanese bento lunchbox, the kit is composed of an insulated carrying case — designed to fit on an airplane tray — holding a hinged plastic outer container with five brightly colored plastic inner containers (two with lids), a plastic drink bottle, a fork and spoon. To comply with airline carry-on rules, there's no knife. The carrying case has an outside zippered pocket and inside mesh pouch, as well as a built-in handle and a detachable shoulder strap. It also comes with a "Users' Guide" that has healthful eating tips and recipes.

Laptop Lunch System (item 310030) is $33.99 from Obentec, (877) 623-6832;

What Works...Success Stories

  • "Thank you for such a wonderful product. My son loves to take his Laptop Lunch to school. I will be purchasing several more in another year or two as my youngest gets bigger and my nieces and nephews get older also. Thank you so much!!!"

       --Mollie Burch, Moore, OK


  • "I am enjoying my Laptop Lunch system SO much - it was a little adjustment getting used to 'no lids'... but now I wouldn't have it any other way. You've got a GREAT product -- I wish you every continued success! "

       --Wendy Mendes, Visalia, CA

Do you have a success story or Laptop Lunch photo to share? Email it to us at [email protected].

Featured Web Site:

Would you like to expand (or start) a recycling program at work or school or some other place where you see too much trash headed for the landfill? If so, then visit for downloadable recycle bin signs. They've got just about any category of waste you might be looking for--paper, glass, aluminum--and much more, including plaster and bricks. They offer both tiff and eps files, and they're set up to print on stickers for either the front or top of your bins. Check it out--and don't forget to get the kids involved in making recycle containers from salvaged materials.

August Highlights

Summer camp lunch ideas, smart food choices, and eco-travel resources!

Comments, questions, concerns? Please email us at [email protected].

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July 2004, by Obentec, Inc.


Feel free to reprint or forward this newsletter with the following acknowledgment and contact information clearly visible: "Thank you to Obentec, Inc. for permission to use this copyrighted material. For more information, contact Obentec, Inc. by email at [email protected] or by phone at 831-457-0301, or visit their Web site at Reprint permission granted with this full notice included."