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February 2009

Laptop Lunch Times: February 2009

February 2009


In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Creative Curries
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailers
  • No More Excuses. It's Time to go Organic.
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site: www.sierraclub.org/howgreen

From Our Desk to Yours...

Happy Valentine's Day! We hope you can carve out some quality time with friends and loved ones this month.

If you're looking for a practical, eco-friendly gift this Valentine's Day, please consider one of our Laptop Lunches. (We've got both the pink and red color options in stock!)


Amy and Tammy
Valentine's Day Bento
Photo courtesy of KidsFunCards.com.

Got a favorite photo to share?

Email it to us at [email protected], and we'll publish it here!
blood orange, dried apricots and a heart shaped cutout from an apple pie Larabar,
satay noodles with cucumber star, cucumber and carrot stars
  • blood orange
  • dried apricots and a heart shaped cutout from an apple pie Larabar
  • satay noodles with cucumber star
  • cucumber and carrot stars

"I've really been enjoying your Laptop Lunches."

                     -- Laura, Hayward, CA


Creative Curries

Tofu Potato Curry

There's nothing like a hot curry on a cold day. Make it mild or spicy according to your preference. Serve over brown rice, or take the opportunity to introduce yourself to a whole grain that you've never tried before.

  • 1 can Vegetable Broth
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbs. Curry powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Brick of Firm Tofu
  • 2 White Potatoes
  • 2 Red Potatoes
  • 4 Carrots
  • ½ medium Red Pepper
  • 1 Serrano Pepper (optional)
  • 1 Stalk of Lemon Grass (optional)
Curry
1. Cut tofu and vegetables into cubes.
2. Mix broth, coconut milk, and curry in a sauce pan.
3. Add peppers, lemon grass, and tofu.
4. Cook on medium heat until liquid comes to a low boil.
5. Turn heat to low and add potatoes and carrots.
6. Cover and cook until carrots and potatoes are tender.

  Pictured above:

  Long Grain Brown Rice
  Tofu Potato Curry
  Fuji Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
  Square of Dark Chocolate


Curry Pasta

This recipe is can be served hot or cold.

  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. curry powder
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews
  • 1 cup peeled chopped apple
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 8 oz pasta, cooked

Curry Pasta and Tomato Soup

1. Boil the pasta per the instructions on the package.
2. Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, curry powder, soy sauce, and relish in a large bowl.
3. Add the roasted cashews, chopped apple, red onion, and parsley. Stir well to mix.
4. Add the cooked pasta and toss to mix thoroughly.

  Pictured above:

  Tomato Soup
  Curry Pasta
  Sliced Green Pepper
  Italian Dressing
  Sliced Red Pear


Green Opportunities

Some earth-friendly tidbits that have landed in our office in recent weeks...


  • GLOSSARY OF MEAT PRODUCTION METHODS – If you eat meat and are confused about the many labels in use, check out the Sustainable Table's wallet-size folding glossary of sustainable farming practices. Take the guide with you to the market for a full understanding of terms like pasture-raised, organic, cage-free, non-confined, no added hormones, no antibiotics, and more. Available at www.sustainabletable.org/getinvolved/materials/GlossaryofMeatProductionMethods.pdf.
World Watch Institute
  • 10 WAYS TO GO GREEN – How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. www.worldwatch.org/resources/go_green_save_green

  • COLLEGE REPORT – Whether you're a college student, a college grad, or looking at colleges, you'll enjoy a visit to www.greenreportcard.org. Compare sustainability records for the 300 schools in their database to see how various colleges stack up.
College Graduation

Cool the Earth
  • KIDS AND CLIMATE CHANGE – Cool The Earth is a ready-to-run program that educates K-8 students and their families about climate change and inspires them to take simple actions to reduce their carbon emissions. The program is successful because it’s fun and empowering for the kids, and their enthusiasm is contagious! Check out their Web site at www.cooltheearth.org.


New Retailers

Punky Doodle Bugs
13307 NE Hwy 99, Ste 105
Vancouver, WA 98686
360-253-2229
www.pdbugs.com

Brain Zoom, LLC
5501 Merchants View Square Ste. 240
Haymarket, VA 20169
703-754-1149

Lily Pad Kidz!!
Shipping: 158 S. Broad Street
Pawcatuck, CT 06379
860-599-1981
www.lilypadkidz.com

Kahala Kids
Kahala Mall Shopping Center
4211 Waialae Avenue, C-1
Honolulu, HI 96816
808-737-6200

KinderGarden Boutique
Ship: 103 E. Main Street.
Ripon, CA 95366
209-599-7050
www.kindergardenboutique.com

Baby Earth
21 Cypress Blvd. Suite 1120
Round Rock, TX 78665
512-275-6935
www.babyearth.com


Nature Store at the Environmental Education Center
4050 E. Chandler Heights Road
Chandler, AZ 85249
480-782-2890

www.hosbarn.no
www.bgranola.com
www.responsiblemommy.com
www.familieswithpurpose.com

Visit www.laptoplunches.com/retail.html for a complete list of retailers.

Want to see Laptop Lunches at a store in your neighborhood? Email us at [email protected], and we'll give them a call.


No More Excuses. It’s Time to Go Organic.

By Linda McNair

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, humans must satisfy basic needs--food, water, and shelter--before we can address higher level needs like personal achievement and self-actualization.

Eating organically is about fulfilling those basic needs – eating well and staying healthy, and we're helping the planet too--securing a future for our children and grandchildren. So teaching children why eating organic is important and putting it into practice will continue this legacy for generations to come.

How bad is conventional produce?

Linda McNair

You may be thinking that eating conventional produce is the most practical option. How bad can these pesticides possibly be? Well, here are some statistics from one of my favorite organizations, Sustainable Table (www.sustainabletable.org):

  • According to the EPA, over 1 billion tons of pesticides are used in the U.S. every year to eliminate pests. These chemicals are known to damage the environment and human health.
  • The American Association of Poison Control Centers estimates that in 2002, 69,000 children suffered from pesticide related poisoning or exposure to poisonous pesticides.
  • According to the EPA, agricultural practices are responsible for 70% of all pollution in U.S. rivers and streams.
  • Many operations consume water at an unsustainable rate, causing aquifer depletion and ground subsidence.
  • Conventional produce is shipped an average of 1,500 miles before reaching consumers.

That’s right. In addition to poisoning our bodies and the soil, that poor tomato you’re eating has guzzled up an enormous amount of fossil fuels. It was probably picked when it was green in Mexico or Chile, then flown in and put on a truck where it was driven hundreds of miles before getting to your grocery store. And who knows how long it was sitting there before you put it in your cart.

How good is organic produce?

Organic farmers are committed to growing food in a natural manner – free of pesticides – and harvesting it when the time is right. Organic farming practices protect our land and water from being poisoned, which means we all have safe water to drink and nutrient-rich soil that continues to yield healthy produce for us to eat. Organic farmers are less reliant on non-renewable fossil fuels because we sell our products to local stores, at our farm stands or farmers' markets, or through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. When you buy organic products, you're supporting your local economy. And when you eat organic products, your taste buds will dance because the flavor is undeniably delicious.

With all of these benefits, why isn’t everyone eating organic food? Many cite the high cost, but it's important to realize that at least 30% of our crops don’t make it to you. Nature does its thing, of course, and we let it. Organic farming is laborious. We plant crops seasonally and harvest them when it’s time. That means we watch over our crops every day, harvest every day, and deliver every day. Finally, the demand for organic produce isn’t big enough to push prices down – yet.

How do I go organic – affordably?

With the economic issues we’re facing these days, it’s hard for me to sell the idea that investing in healthy food today will pay off in dividends tomorrow – for example, fewer health issues, lower medical expenses, and a safer planet for ourselves, our kids and future generations. Families are trying to save precious cash.

If you want to make an affordable change now, buy conventional items that naturally protect themselves from absorbing most of the pesticides – bananas, melons and most citrus – and invest in those that cannot, such as organic apples, grapes, berries, pears, lettuce, and tomatoes. The skins of these items are thin and easily absorb toxins that no amount of scrubbing or washing can remove.

Organic Carrots

Some say we’re all doomed anyway, so there’s no way to make a difference. Well here are three very simple ways:

  • Buy fresh. Buy local. It’s the mantra organic farmers have been chanting forever. Shop at your local farmers' markets or purchase through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Patronize restaurants that buy from local sources. Even some chains are adopting local business practices because they realize the financial and community benefits.
  • Buy organic at your grocery store. If your market doesn’t carry organic food, ask them why. If they do, check where it came from and observe how it's packaged. If it's excessively packaged or orginates beyond a 100-mile radius, ask why. The store is there to serve its customers, to help us feed ourselves and our families.
  • Grow your own.The Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in New York (www.stonebarnscenter.org), created by David Rockefeller, states in their must-read report, Taking Root: Five Seasons of Growth 2004-2008, “An alternative food culture is emerging. There is an increasing interest in growing at least some of our own food.” It’s like a classic piece of clothing; it never goes out of style.

If you're worried about the cost of buying organic produce, here’s your ticket. You won’t believe how much one pack of seeds can produce! If you don’t have a plot of land to create a garden, pick varieties that can grow well in containers on your balcony or porch.

Get the kids away from the computer, TV, iPod and gaming machine and involve them in the process. I guarantee they will eat what they grow, and once they try fresh, organic produce, they won’t go back.

Many feel they don't have enough time to garden. If that's the case, enlist your kids, you know – feed the dog, make your bed, and check the garden to see what we can pick today.

Some feel that they don't know how to garden, claiming “I kill everything I grow.” I'll include a shameless plug here: Try My First Organics seed starting kits (www.myfirstorganics.com). For only $14.99, you have everything you need to begin an adventure on your windowsill. It takes 5 minutes to start, it’s a natural, interactive and fun activity that lasts for months, and you’ll save money too!

How much? Well, I went to my local Safeway today and found that a pint of organic cherry tomatoes, about 36 of them, costs $4.79. Each tomato plant, and you get 8 of them in our kit, produces hundreds of tomatoes. So your kit will pay for itself after harvesting just one plant. Plus, you’ll enjoy several pickings throughout the season.

Surf City Growers

Linda McNair is co-owner of Surf City Growers in Aptos, CA (www.surfcitygrowers.com) with her husband, Trent. They have 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and hopefully chickens this year. They left the high tech world to help families and schools eat healthier, support local organic farming and do their part in saving the planet. Their product, My First Organics seed starting kits, is available for individual purchase and to schools and youth groups as an educational, healthy and eco-friendly fundraising alternative. Learn more at www.myfirstorganics.com.



What Works...Success Stories

"I bought 3 Laptop Lunches for my grandkids 4 years ago, and the insulated outer cases are finally reaching the end of their lifespan! The kids are excited about the new colors for the cases. I did order 3 extra sets of inserts with my original order 4 years ago and would recommend everyone do that. Now I will have 2 outer boxes for each child, which will eliminate late at night trips to school for forgotten lunch boxes! I can't begin to figure out how much I have saved in food and packaging costs over the past 4 years with Laptop Lunches! Thank you so very much!"

        -- Mary Ehlert, Milwaukee, WI

"My 8 year-old has been using his new lunchbox and he is thrilled with it. I was afraid he wouldn't want anything 'different.' You know how they are at that age, but he thinks it is so cool and loves seeing what I've prepared for him each morning. This is only our second week of school, but we are really enjoying coming up with his menu for the week. I am so happy to be able to provide the kind of lunch for him at school that I would at home. He said he never wants to take a plain old sandwich ever again. :o) Thanks so much for the great product. I knew that I was going to love it. I just had no clue how much! "

        -- Amy Patterson Mobile, AL

"I just received my Laptop Lunch systems for my kids, and I love them! I've been telling everyone about it and even blogged about it. Thanks for providing such an easy way to pack school lunches. My kids love filling the 'boxes' as they call the compartments. You can check out my review, if you like, at http://doucette.typepad.com/wedothings/2008/08/worth-the-purch.html. I feel so good packing my kids' lunches and knowing that we're not wasting any packaging. I also love the lunch ideas that came in the book. My daughter is thrilled to try a few out this week."

        -- Alisa Doucette, Santa Clarita, CA

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


Featured Web Site: http://www.sierraclub.org/howgreen


It's not easy being green, but you can use this innovative tool on the Sierra Club Web site to see how you're doing. Quizzes are available in the following areas:

Cuisine, Bathroom, Pirate Ship (Yes, you read that correctly!), Dorm Room, Destination, Getaway, PC, Screen, Bike Ride, Laundry

Sierra Club

On this site:

  • Take Quizzes
  • Sign up for the Green Life Newsletter
  • Navigate to the Rest of the Sierra Club Web Site
  • Provide Feedback

For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org/howgreen.

March Highlights

Luscious Lentils, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview


Obentec

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

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© February 2009 Obentec, Inc.

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