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August 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: August 2004

August 2004

Our new colors have arrived!

Whimsical and Periwinkle...

If you're looking for a Laptop Lunch and you'd like something fun and different, check out our new colors at So far they've been a big hit! Order early for back to school (and back to work) . . . and please feel free to pass this announcement on to friends and family who might be interested in this exciting news.

NOTE: In order to better serve you, we've added new features to our online store. We're very excited about these new bells and whistles, but if you find any glitches, please let us know!

In Search of Oprah Winfrey...

As you might have guessed, we spend a great deal of time talking to people about Laptop Lunches, waste-free lunches, healthful eating, and of course...the story of how we got started. And at least once a week, someone says to us, "Boy, you guys should contact Oprah. You're addressing all the issues that are near and dear to her heart: health, childhood obesity, the environment, and you're working with kids."

At your urging we've tried calling, writing letters, and emailing--to no avail. So this month we thought we'd try a different approach--sending out a plea to our readers. If you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who may know Oprah--even if it's your next-door neighbor's sister's former colleague, please forward our newsletter to that person (or persons?) and ask them to tell Oprah that we're trying to reach her. Thanks in advance for your help! (We'll keep you posted...)


In this issue, you'll find:

  • Summer Camp Menus
  • Ecotourism Resources
  • Smart Food Choices
  • Computer Recycling Programs
  • Laptop Lunches in the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Summer Camp Menus

Are you starting to run out of ideas for summer camp lunches? Here are a few menus to add to your current selection.

#1: Garden Delight

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Almond butter and banana sandwich

  • carrots with ranch dressing

  • Green beans, raw or lightly steamed

#2: Mediterranean Spread

  • Whole wheat pita bread with hummus dip
  • Fresh organic grapes

  • Fresh cucumber slices
  • Sugar snap Peas

#3: Light and Lovely

  • Nonfat cottage cheese
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Low-fat granola (buy in bulk!)
  • Roasted cashews
  • Shelling peas


The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." Those who provide and participate in ecotourism activities should adhere to the following seven principles:

  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate.
  • Support international human rights and labor agreements.

While many ecotourism projects achieve these goals, many fail for a variety of reasons. To play an ecotourism game, visit

To see a list of ecotourism destinations, visit the Conservation International Web site at

For more information on The International Ecotourism Society, visit the TIES Web site at

Smart Food Choices

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure your child eats at least 2-3 servings of dark green, red, and orange vegetables daily. Purchase organic and locally grown produce whenever possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. These fiber-rich choices help reduce the risk of diabetes, constipation, and some types of cancer; and they can lower blood cholesterol. And remember, people who eat high-fiber foods are less likely to overeat.

  • Whole-grain breads, crackers, bagels, muffins, pita, lavash, tortillas, rice, pasta, and cereal instead of white varieties. Whole-grains provide vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein.

  • Beans, nuts, and whole grains for protein instead of meat, eggs, and whole-milk dairy products. They contain more fiber, less fat, and fewer preservatives. Avoid the milk and meat from animals that have been treated with hormones and antibiotics.

  • Water instead of juice, fruit-flavored drinks, fruit punch, or soda. Water is what our bodies need. When children fill up on sugary drinks, they may not have room for more nutritious choices, and sodas deplete the body of much-needed calcium.

  • Limit fats, especially hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.

  • Limit sweets. In addition to the increased risk of obesity, excess sugar consumption is thought to depress immunity. It has been linked to diabetes and heart disease and may increase the risk of cancer. Sugar consumption can also increase the incidence of tooth decay.

  • Limit sodium. Sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

  • Limit processed foods, which tend to be high in fat, sugar, sodium, and other additives.

  • Emphasize plant-based foods.
  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Avoid overeating.

  • Buy certified organic and locally grown products.

(Excerpted from: The Laptop Lunch User's Guide: Fresh Ideas for Making Wholesome, Earth-friendly Lunches Your Kids Will Love, by Amy Hemmert & Tammy Pelstring, Morning Run Press, 2002. Available online at

Laptop Lunches in the San Francisco Chronicle



Joseph Connelly, Special to SF Gate

Laptop Lunches

It's nearly August -- time to start thinking back-to-school. Why not do the green thing this year and send Junior and Missy to class in style with their own Laptop Lunch boxes, fashionable, reusable kits that help save the environment -- and look a whole lot better than that old "Scooby-Doo" lunch pail.

What makes the Laptop Lunch kit different from a standard-issue lunch box? The kit includes a traylike set of five dishwasher-safe food containers, a stylish fork and spoon and a book of creative lunch-making ideas, and it all sits inside an insulated carrying case with a water bottle.

Amy Hemmert, co-founder with Tammy Pelstring of Obentec, manufacturer of the Laptop Lunch kit, says she had the idea for the handy lunch box after living in Japan, where everyone brings bento boxes to class or the office, in the late '80s. "When I returned to the U.S., I continued taking my bento box to work, and, when my kids started school, I began packing bento boxes for them as well," she adds. "But, as my kids grew, I realized that the Japanese boxes didn't accommodate American foods very well." Hemmert noticed that the food most children were bringing from home was prepackaged, processed and nutrient poor and created a lot of unnecessary trash. The Laptop Lunch box makes it easier for parents to send their kids off to school with healthier, homemade meals and to minimize waste by utilizing the sealable, reusable containers.

But how about that company name? "Bento is a Japanese word used to describe a portable meal carrier," she says. "We added the Japanese honorific O to the beginning and ec to the end because our products are both ecological and economical. Laptop Lunches help families waste less, spend less and eat well."

For a wealth of additional information about the Laptop Lunch box, visit the Obentec Web site (see the link above), or call (877) 623-6832. In addition to the lunch kit and the book, Hemmert and Pelstring send out an informative monthly e-newsletter, "The Laptop Lunch Times," that includes product updates, success stories and recipe ideas. To subscribe, send an e-mail to [email protected].

Dell and HP Announce Computer Recycling Programs

After years of pressure from environmental groups and shareholders, the world's
two biggest PC manufacturers announced free computer
recycling programs. From July 18 to Sept. 6, 2004, Hewlett-Packard will
recycle, free of charge, any computer, monitor, digital camera, fax
machine, cell phone, or other gadget dropped off at any Office Depot
store -- one gadget per person per day. The free, in-store
recycling is the first program of its kind in the United States.

Details on the two new programs can be found online at and

What Works...Success Stories

  • "We live in Virginia (way far away from CA) and I get comments all the time about our Laptop Lunches. My boys each have one, my kindergartener, my preschooler, and my toddler. It works for each of them! I love it because packing lunches is so much easier. I donít have to fiddle with bags or other packaging! "

       --Sarah Weller, Alexandria, VA


  • "We received the lunchboxes last week and I already love them. My husband and I are engineers and we really like good "gear." I couldn't believe the yogurt didn't leak when I sat the box on end for a couple hours! I also love the dip container. I have looked everywhere for something that size which is reusable. Everything I found was way too large for the small amount I needed to send. I have already recommended your product to some friends and family. I am going to print your home page and see if our daycare will post it on the bulletin board. My oldest (5 years) loved writing her name on the little tag also :)"

       --Michele DeCroix, Los Alamos, NM

  • "We receive and enjoy the newsletter. Great article about gardening with kids. My 4-year old daughter planted her first garden this year and is growing peas, carrots, beets, beans, herbs and flowers- she can recognize the type of seed and what it will grow into, and she planted them all in relatively straight rows. Thanks for spreading the word about healthy food and a healthy planet."
  •    --Susan Kanzler Rochester, WA

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

Featured Web Site:

Are you looking for a way to recycle your old cell phones and cell phone batteries? If so, check out to find a drop-off site near you. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation is a nonprofit, public service organization created to promote the recycling of portable rechargeable batteries and cellular phones.

How does it work? You drop off your cell phones and rechargeable batteries at a store near you. The store will ship them to a recycling and refurbishing facility. The cell phones are either refurbished for reuse or recycled in an environmentally-sound manner. The rechargeable cell phone batteries are sent to a state-of-the-art facility where they are recycled to reclaim reusable materials that are used in stainless steel production (nickel and iron) and to make new batteries (cadmium).

Give it a try!

September Highlights

Nutritious back to school snacks, green opportunities, and tips for cooking with children!

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

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© August 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."