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February 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: February 2006

The Laptop Lunch Times

February 2006

Obentec large lunch jars and travel flasks are back in stock!

Once again we apologize for under-estimating the popularity of these new items. If you've been waiting for them to come in, they're now available at Happy eating!

Amy and Tammy

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Monthly Menu
  • Hearty Salads
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailers
  • Eating for the environment
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories
Nutritious, waste-free lunches for the whole family

Monthly Menu

Hearty Salads

It's February once again, a time when fresh fruits and vegetables may be difficult to find. And there's only so much you can do with broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. If you're in need of some winter vegetable ideas, try these hearty salad recipes.

#1: Fruity Crouton Salad

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 medium yam
  • 3/4 cup juice-sweetened dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup roasted & salted whole cashews
  • 1 cup baby romain lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 fresh pear
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs mild vinegar or lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Toast the bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.
    2. Cut the yam into 3/4-inch cubes, steam until soft but not mushy, cool, and set aside.
    3. Peel the pear, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.
    4. In a medium bowl, combine the bread, yams, cashews, dried cranberries, cubed pear and baby romaine lettuce, and toss gently.
    5. Sprinkle with the olive oil and toss again.
    6. Sprinkle with vinegar or lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste, and toss.

#2: Warm Garlic-Herbed Potato Salad

  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice (For example: parsley, dill, basil, cilantro, oregano, tarragon, sage)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dry (powdered) mustard
  • 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam the potatoes until tender but not mushy.
2. Remove from pot and set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, combine the fresh herbs, minced garlic, lemon juice, paprika, and mustard and mix well.
4. Add the olive oil to the herb mixture and whisk thoroughly.
5. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and toss gently in the herb mixture.
6. Add salt and pepper, mix gently, and garnish with the chopped scallions.


Green Opportunities

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

  • Looking for an eco-friendly way to recharge your cell phone, mp3 player, PDA, or other 12-volt electronic device? Check out the solar Power Pocket charging units at

  • The Sustainable Group sells non-vinyl binders and folders made out of recycled content. For more information, visit them online at

  • If you missed World Environment Day 2005, you undoubtedly missed The Scraphouse, built by a team of San Francisco architects, artists, contractors, city officials, and engineers. The two-story house was constructed entirely of scrap and salvaged materials. To take a video tour, view images, or read what visitors had to say, visit

  • If you haven't visited the Freecycle Web site at lately, give it a go. They're well on their way to building the worldwide gifting movement that they envisioned, reducing waste, saving precious resources & easing the burden on our landfills. If you've got stuff you don't want or need, or you're looking for something that someone in your area is likely to have, then visit their site, join the freecycle group in your area, and start gifting. If a group has not yet been set up in your area, go ahead and start one. As we go to press, Freecycle boasts 1,961,561 members in 3,362 communities worldwide!

  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium has just updated all seven Seafood Watch pocket guides and added a National pocket guide in Spanish. The following versions are now available on their Web site at Hawaii, West Coast, West Coast-Spanish, Central US, Southeast, Northeast, National and National-Spanish.

    They've also partnered with Environmental Defense ( to expand their advisories on contaminants in seafood. About a dozen species now have red asterisks, a recommendation to eat these items once a week or less.

New Retailers

Conscious Cookery
2183 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 284-8277

New Leaf Community Markets
2351 Mission Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-1306

Roots and Wings
81-6372 Mamalahoa Hwy.
Kealakekua, HI 96750
(808) 323-2229

Eating for the Environment

What should I eat? Each time we ask ourselves this question we have an opportunity to lessen our impact on the earth.

Most of the food produced and consumed in the United States today is part of a highly mechanized, industrial system where the highest value is placed on producing crops and meat as cheaply as possible. However, the hidden costs of the system include air and water pollution, land erosion, and loss of wildlife habitat, not to mention human health risks associated with pesticide exposure and antibiotic resistance. We pay these costs through tax dollars used to clean up "factory farm" pollution and health care bills from treating agriculture-related illnesses.

The good news is you have another way to spend your food dollars, by supporting farmers who take care to raise animals and crops responsibly. With that in mind, here are some environmentally friendly answers to the question "What should I eat?"

Buy locally produced food.

Most food sold in the United States travels an average of 1,300 miles from the farm to the supermarket. Purchasing locally produced food reduces agriculture's contribution to fossil fuel use and pollution and supports the many regional small-scale farmers who share a commitment to environmental conservation and land stewardship. Farmers' markets, roadside stands, membership-based farm groups known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and even some supermarkets offer opportunities to buy local vegetables, fruit, cheese, eggs, and meat.

Consider eating less meat.

Raising food for animals exacts a greater toll on natural resources than other types of food production. Most meat, eggs, and dairy products come from animals raised part or all of their lives on factory farms--facilities that crowd animals into tightly confined spaces, creating an ideal breeding ground for animal diseases (which is one reason why the animals are fed a steady diet of antibiotics). Factory farms pollute our air and water by generating enormous amounts of animal waste. Growing grain to feed animals depletes water resources and pollutes ecosystems with large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers. Consider reducing your consumption of meat and, when you do eat meat, buying from farmers you know or looking for labels you can trust--such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal.

Choose organic products.

The USDA organic seal identifies foods that have been produced using practices that are less destructive to farmland and surrounding ecosystems. Organic farms do not use synthetic pesticides and fertillizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, or genetically engineered seed or feed.

Make informed seafood choices.

Farmed or wild? Atlantic or Pacific? Consumers today enjoy a wide array of seafood options, but much of it has been harvested in ways that severely damage ocean ecosystems and threaten species with extinction. Printable wallet-sized guides, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program (see sidebar), will help you choose seafood that has been harvested to maintain healthy supplies of fish and other marine life.

In the end, some of these decisions might cost you more money, but there will be far fewer hidden costs to humans, animals, and ecosystems. In addition, your dollars will support farmers who go the extra mile to protect the environment and public health. Learn more by visiting the USC Web site ( or those listed below.

Jenn Palembas is outreach specialist for the Food and Environment Program.

2005 Union of Concerned Scientists

Reprinted from Catalyst, Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 2005, published twice a year by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

For Help with Your
Food Choices

Institute of Agriculture
and Trade Policy
Suppliers of sustainably raised meat and dairy products.

USDA National Organic Program
Information on organic regulations and labeling requirements.

Suppliers of food produced in your area.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Ocean-friendly seafood choices.

What Works...Success Stories

  • "I am loving my Laptop Lunch box. I made my very first vegan lunch just the other day. As someone who has a habit of mindlessly overeating (and being a Weight Watchers member), I thank you for a great product!"

              --Erin Murphy, Chicago, IL

  • "I love your newsletter, especially the link to I also recommend Click on the images to see what's in the box and occasionally how the child liked it. Thanks again for sending out the newsletter every month--I really appreciate it."

            --Traci Knutzen, Mercer Island, WA

  • "I love my Laptop Lunch box and use it every day. I have food allergies and your product makes taking my 'safe home-cooked' meals with me 'on the go' very convenient!"

             -- Tammy Garland, Magnolia, DE

  • "My 2 sons and I have been using your Laptop Lunches for several weeks and are really enjoying them. My kids like the bright colors and snazzy-looking bag, and I love the reduced waste & cost of lunches...and the fact that it's really getting me to re-think how we've been doing things. Thank you!"

  •         --Miriam Duman Goldberg, Los Angeles, CA

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

Featured Web Site:

Eating fish contaminated with mercury, a poison that interferes with the brain and nervous system, can cause serious health problems, especially for children and pregnant women. The NRDC Web site at offers information on the effects of mercury and its sources, tips for eating fish more safely, and strategies for reducing your exposure to mercury. You will also find answers to your questions about mercury in vaccines, thermometers, and dental fillings.

Large predatory fish generally contain more mercury than small fish. For this reason, the NRDC recommends eating chunk light tuna instead of albacore because it's made from smaller species.
Nearly all fish contain traces of mercury, but the most common way Americans are exposed to it is through canned tuna. Much of the mercury comes from industrial polluters that release mercury into the air. When coal, which contains mercury, is burned to make electricity, mercury is released through smokestacks. Old chlorine manufacturing plants use mercury to convert salt to chlorine gas and lye. When mercury is exposed to air, it escapes from these plants through evaporation. After its release, it rains down into our waterways, polluting plants and the aquatic animals we eat.

March Highlights

Breakfast for Lunch, Green Opportunities, and Tips for Greening Conferences and Events


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

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February 2006 Obentec, Inc.

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


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