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June 2007

Laptop Lunch Times: June 2007

June 2007

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • End-of-year Party Ideas
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Green Reads
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

A NEW OBENTEC FACE: We’re very excited to introduce you to the newest member of our team, Jeanne Johnson. She comes to Obentec with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Welcome aboard, Jeanne!

PINK CARRYING CASES COMING IN JULY: In just a few short weeks we'll be launching our pink carrying cases and pink Laptop Lunch systems. Once they're available, they'll be listed with the rest of our products on our Web site at Look for an arrival announcement in the July newsletter as well.

A FEW REMAINING MISMATCHED BENTO SETS: From time to time we end up with "extra" containers in combinations that, if assembled, would not equate to full primary sets or whimsical sets. Instead of recycling them, we assemble them into "mis-matched" sets, which are neither primary nor whimsical, but a combination of colors from both. We're currently offering these to schools and organizations in boxes of 24 only for a flat price of $342.00/box including shipping. For more information, click HERE. (This item is available only in boxes of 24.)

YAHOO SNAFU: If you're a yahoo email user and did not receive your May newsletter last month, it's because Yahoo blocked our mail server. If you'd like to catch up on what happened last month, you can read the newsletter at We've been working with Yahoo to resolve the issue and hope that our Yahoo subscribers have received this June issue.

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

Email it to us at [email protected], and we'll publish it here!

Here's a photo of my 12 year-old son's lunch for today.

  • Peppered turkey and provolone with greens and vinaigrette on pesto-garlic wrap
  • Pink grapefruit segments
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Almonds
  • Green Apple
  • Toffee-chip cookie

"Thanks for a great product! I've been having much fun making laptop lunches for my kids to bring to school each day. The kids love them too--my daughter reports that her friends clamor around her to ask "what feast did you bring today?" Her response is, "Feast your eyes on this!" with a grand ta-da moment when she opens the bento.

        --Maura Harvey, Maitland, FL

Organic Rainbow Fruit Platter

This easy-to-assemble end-of-year party treat is simple, fun, nutritious. and educational!

  • 1 basket of strawberries
  • 9 apricots
  • 1 banana
  • 1 bunch of green grapes
  • 1 basket of blueberries
  • 2 cups of bing cherries

   Arrange fresh fruit on an oval platter in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

Artichoke & Tomato Bruschetta

  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • ¼ cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Makes 16 pieces
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Toast the bread lightly on both sides.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the scallions, artichoke hearts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic.
4. Gently fold the diced tomatoes into the mixture.
5. Spread the mixture onto the toast and serve.
6. (Optional) Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake until cheese has melted.

Green Opportunities

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

  • PHANTOM LOAD Did you know that many of the electronic devices in your home and office use energy even when turned off? That's called "phantom load," and it may account for a whopping 6% of your energy use. Help conserve energy by unplugging these devices when not in use. Visit to calculate your phantom load.
  • FOOD CO-OPS– Co-ops can be a powerful tool for creating local food economies. If you don't have one in your area, you may want to consider starting one. The Cooperative Grocer's Information Network has put together a free, downloadable 74-page How To guide to help facilitate the process. Check out their Web site at or download their informative guide at
  • WHAT'S IN A FISH? – Mercury contamination of seafood is a widespread public health concern. The Food and Drug Administration warns that pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who might become pregnant, and children should not eat swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel because of their high methylmercury content. The FDA also warns women and children to limit their consumption of tuna. To find out more specifically how much fish you can safely eat, check out Type in your body weight , choose the type and amount of fish you plan to eat, and find out how much mercury your selection contains.
  • GREEN ONLINE SHOPPING – Although finding sustainably made products in your local strip-mall may be difficult, there are an increasing number of independently owned retailers, coops and online businesses where you can research and/or buy products from green companies. The Organic Consumers Association has teamed up with to bring you one of the world's largest directories of green and organic businesses. Find green products and services in your area and nationwide at

Laptop Lunches in the News

The Today Show, May 23, 2007

Gay Browne of Greenopia discusses 8 Ways your kids can go green, including, of course, packing a waste-free lunch. This informative clip can be viewed at:

New Retailers

Kids Kloset
2 Maplewood Shops Suite 20
Northampton, MA 01060
(413) 586-0333

Hellers for Children
514 Fourth Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
(877) 456-5533

GreenTree Cooperative Grocery
214 N. Franklin
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
(989) 772-3221

Healthy Green Goods
702 Main Street
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 864-9098
Citrine Chiropractic & Doula Services
Fort Worth, TX
[email protected]

Visit 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.

Green Reads

By Tammy Pelstring

Ah, this is my favorite time of year, when the days grow longer, the late night homework and early morning school routines cease to exist, and I have more precious time to read. I use the first couple weeks in June to ask my friends for suggestions and to pour greedily over the New York Times Book Review and my local independent bookstore's suggested reading list to come up with my own "Summer Reads" list. I try to have a well-rounded list that offers selections in different genres. This summer, to further round out my summer collection, I'll be adding a "green read" category, books that enlighten or inspire us to live more sustainable lives. If you're looking for some green reads this summer, check out these green choices that I heartily give a "green thumbs up" to (o.k., well maybe not so green as my browning Ficus will attest to.)


Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Earth by Linda Schwartz

Be prepared this summer for the moment that's sure to come, when your child speaks the words "I'm bored!" This book offers creative ideas with easy-to-follow instructions that show kids how to make their own paper, compare phosphate levels in detergents, test the effects of oil pollution, conduct a recycling survey, create a trash sculpture, redesign a package, chart a flush, measure acidity, and make a difference in many exciting ways.
The Lorax by Dr. Suess

This is a great parable that many of us grew up with, a perfect "little green read" to share with your child. Use this book as a spring board for a discussion about natural resources. What are they? How were they used in the story? Why do you think they got all used up? What would have been a better way for the Once-ler to live? Does this happen in our world? What can you and your family do to conserve resources and be more like the mossy, bossy Lorax? This book, first published in 1971, was banned in some schools and libraries for its "anti-forestry" content. The Lorax is a wonderful thought-provoking tale for the little "Truffula Tree" hugger in your family.

Tweens and Teens:

If you're planning a road trip this summer, consider avoiding fast food restaurants along the way by packing wholesome food you can picnic with instead. Here's a book that will give your tween and teen a better understanding of your choice to sail on past the fast food exits.

Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson

Author of Fast Food Nation, Eric Shlosser presents the fast-food industry to tweens and teens, focusing on aspects that will interest them the most, such as the nonconformist teen entrepreneurs who founded the industry, the mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses and employees in restaurants, the effects that too much fast food can have on growing bodies; and the impact of the industry on schools, communities, and the earth. More than just a lecture on the dark side of the fast-food industry, Chew on This is clear about why kids need to be informed. And in an effort to make it interesting to young adults, Schlosser and Wilson profile real teens whose lives have been affected by the fast-food industry. They talk to an eighteen-year-old boy who decides to have gastric bypass surgery, a twelve-year-old girl who launched a "Stop the Pop" campaign to remove soda machines from her school, a teen who organized the first union in a McDonald's, and two sisters living on a cattle ranch.


The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists by Michael Brower and Warren Leon

I'm one of those people who loves to make lists and prioritize the things on that list. Strange, I know, but I get excited when I read lists that do all the thinking and prioritizing for me. Take, for example, "The Top 5 Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles to Drive" or "The Top 10 Worst Non-Organic Fruits and Vegetables" or "The Top 10 Foods that Make You Look and Feel Younger." Easy, no Brainer, right? Well here's a book that takes a giant step beyond a quick list of top tens. It's a book that offers a practical prioritized guide to living responsibly. It outlines choices consumers can make to reduce their environmental impact, and it provides scientific evidence as to why these choices are important. Many people know what they can do to help the environment, but few know which ones count the most. Recycle or turn out the lights? Paper or Plastic? Read this book to find out which has the most impact.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

I've been watching this book make its way up the New York Times and the Northern California Independent Booksellers best sellers lists. I haven't yet purchased it but was recently inspired to do so when my son pointed out that the organic pear I packed in his lunch was not a good choice. How could it not be? I purchased it from our local natural foods store. Well, as my little "smarty pants" discovered while spending a school work day at an organic farm, pears are not in season, and even though my pear was organic, it had to travel thousands of miles from a country in the southern hemisphere. Duh! Organically grown isn't enough; locally grown and in season is important too. And that is exactly what Pollan wants the reader to think about in this book. The author traces two "organic" meals--one from a local farm and one from a Whole Foods Market--back to their local or corporate sources, then compares them with a meal from McDonald's and a meal that Pollan hunts and gathers himself. Don't you just love it when your children point out how much you don't know? You can bet I'll be up late reading this book so I don't have any more of those Duh moments!

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

I first heard of this book while speaking to an architect at the Green Festival a couple of years ago. He was so excited by this book and how it inspired him to ply his trade using "cradle to cradle" design methods instead of "cradle to grave." His enthusiasm convinced me to add this book to my "must read" list.

McDonough, also an architect, and the German chemist, Braungart, articulate a new and practical design philosophy that challenges the current industrial design method of cradle to grave. In an effort to illustrate their point and "walk the talk," their book is a 'treeless' book, proving that synthetic books--like many other products--can be used, recycled, and used again without losing any material quality. It's printed on synthetic material made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, designed to look and feel like high quality paper. It is also waterproof and less prone to tearing.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver , Camille Kingsolver, and Steven L. Hopp

I've always been a big (o.k. huge) fan of Barbara Kingsolver. Some of my all time favorites include Animal Dreams, The Bean Trees, The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer. Imagine my excitement when someone in my book group told me that Kingsolver had written a new book on a subject very near to my heart: food. This non-fiction narrative talks of her family's move to a farm in Appalachia, two hours from her childhood home. As Kingsolver explains, they moved back because "family called" and they "wanted to live in a place that could feed us: where rain falls, crops grow, and drinking water bubbles right up out of the ground." For one year, Kingsolver and her family pledged to eat only what they could grow or purchase from within an hour of their home. Her story documents what it was like to eat the way our ancestors did, back when food didn't have to travel thousands of miles to make it to our dinner table.

What Works...Success Stories

"I am happy to say when I pick my son up from school we have to make sure he has picked up his own Laptop Lunch because so many of the other kids now have them. He decorated his with skateboard stickers so it's easy to tell apart. Way to get your product out there ladies!!!!!!"

      --Bonnie Keet, Main Street Elementary

"Tammy/Amy. Thank you for the laptop lunch times. I really like the help with preparing a good healthy lunch."


"You have a great product! My 9-year-old loves hers! I can pack her a healthy homemade, vegetarian lunch daily, and she actually eats it all! Can you believe that a funnel cake and pork sausage is considered a healthy school lunch in our Southwestern Ohio school district??? ICK!"

        --Annie Keeber (the happy mom) & Sarah Longoria (the healthy eatin' kid!), Lebanon, OH

"Every day I pack lunch for my 7-year-old daughter. I make a variety of sandwiches and salads. Before we started using the Laptop Lunchbox, she would eat half of it, at best. A friend of mine had gotten a Laptop Lunchbox for her daughter. I loved the look of it and the practicality, so I got one for my child too. We have been using it since September, and I have seen a great improvement in her eating habits. She likes the presentation; I make sure it looks pretty and appealing, combining the colors of the vegetables with the colors of the containers. But she mostly likes to have a little bit of varied food, rather than one sandwich. Five of my friends who work at the school have already bought Laptop Lunches for their children."

         --Anne McKinney, Phoenix, AZ

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

Featured Web Site:

When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles—call it "the SUV diet." On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. Learn more about their journey at

On this site you'll find...

  • Read an Interview with James and Alisa.
  • Find tips for tracking down local markets and farms.
  • Read stories from members across North America -- and share your own.
  • Download their print-friendly brochure.
  • Read the Getting Started guide.
  • Use the online mapping tool to find your own 100-mile ‘foodshed.’
  • Sign up for news and action alerts.
  • Purchase their book.

  • July Highlights

    Picnics, Green Opportunities, and Sustainable Paper!


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    June 2007 Obentec, Inc.

    849 Almar Ave., Suite C-323
    Santa Cruz, CA 95060


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