Archive for March 2011 | Monthly archive page

Right, wrong and on the fence. Sometimes it’s straight forward, right?

Wrong: when you fail to mention your boyfriend to a guy who offers to buy you drink, and then you slip away to “the bathroom” upon receipt of said drink. Wrong.

Right: When you then take said drink to boyfriend waiting for you in another part of the bar. Right.

In between: When you tell your boyfriend you bought it for him. Grey area.

Being green can be similar.

Wrong: Throwing away aluminum cans and taking 40 minute showers. Wrong.

Right: Taking aluminum cans out of the trash and putting them in the the recycling, then only taking a long enough shower to get the trash smell out of your hair. Right.

In between: Buying the occasional plastic water bottle and justifying it because “you recycled it” and then taking a semi long shower because you never do it.

However, it’s impossible to determine right and wrong without some amount of informed decision making. You KNOW that aluminum cans are recyclable. You KNOW that we don’t have enough water to go around. You know that plastic isn’t that bad if you…oh…uh…do we know that? Fact Check? Bueller?

Plastic has its uses and its place in this world. Yup. There are many effective and important uses for plastic. But here are eight facts you may or may not have known about how detrimental it can be to us and to our environment.

“BPA is a synthetic estrogen and commonly used to strengthen plastic and line food cans. Scientists have linked it, though not conclusively, to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike.” (From Raw Earth Living) And you think, what about IV tubes? Aren’t those useful and good? Yeah, they are. However, there is a pretty nasty chemical that goes in to making an IV what it is. Known as di-ethylhexyl, this substance can leech from an IV into the bloodstream, and cause complications in more susceptible members of the population, such as infants. The average American produces half a pound of plastic waste per day. ‘The bodies of almost all marine species, including some of the most vulnerable and wildest species on the planet – animals that spend nearly their entire living far from humans – now contain plastic.” (Mail Online) For every 1,000 plastic bags distributed, 3 wind up in the ocean.  That doesn’t seem terrible, unless you consider that one billion bags are distributed every day. Plastics in the U.S. are made primarily (70 percent) from domestic natural gas. (Earth911.com) More than 260 species have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris. It will take 50 to 80 years for a plastic cup to decompose. (Greenfeet.com)

If you’ve walked or driven up Broad Street near the Mission in the last couple days, you can’t possibly have missed the new mural, now virtually completed, by the visual artist and bamboo aficionado known as Pacha. Thanks to her impeccable handiwork, the entryway to Bambu Batu is now adorned with a mesmerizing depiction of the Sanskrit symbol OM in the center of a spellbinding burst of orange and green rays. We can’t imagine a better way to say “Welcome Om.”

The next logical thing to do is explain the meaning behind this ancient Indian symbol, so often seen, so difficult to thoroughly understand. You could always peruse the original Mandukya Sutra of the Upanishads if you want to engage in some serious scholarship. But for a quick and accessible exposition, check here.

And, if you’re looking for something fun to do this Friday night, just remember, Om is where the Art is. The first Friday of each month, Bambu Batu showcases local wine, jazz and art at the Art & Craft Bazaar After Dark. Remember, there’s no place like Om!

 

As an expert in his field, Arroyo Grande beekeeper David Maislen can explain the bee crisis known as Colony Collapse Disorder far better than I can. So here he is, in his own words. Thank you , David, and thank you Tribune for running the article two weeks ago.

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I’m a beekeeper. I’ve been keeping bees since 1996, first in Southern California and then in Arroyo Grande since we moved here in 2003.

I started losing bees to colony collapse disorder in 2006, lost all of my hives in 2007 and 2008 and have experienced smaller losses in 2009 and 2010. I have carefully read all that I can about colony collapse disorder, followed the research being done worldwide and I think I’m finally getting a practical handle on it.

The light went on when I saw the DVD “Nicotine Bees,” directed by Kevin Hansen. The Bayer Chemical Co., headquartered in Germany, started producing a group of synthetic nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids in 2004. The most popular trade name is imidacloprid.

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So I’ve been going back and forth lately. To eat meat, not to eat meat. Being a former vegetarian then vegan turned back to fish only, then full blown omnivore once again, I’ve gone through the ringer  (or more appropriately, the food processor) of dietary decision making. Currently reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s treatise about his same struggle, the issue has sprung to the forefront of my mind once again.

One thing, in the midst of my lack of conviction in the situation, is certain: I prefer out and out, to support places that provide options for all colors of the dietary rainbow. I also prefer to support places that have organic, free range meat should they choose to serve it (even better if it comes from their own family farm). I prefer places that have good beer on tap. I prefer places that are clean, and locally owned and operated. Also, I prefer places that are open 24/7. Does such a thing exist in this little town? Yup. Enzo’s New York Eatery.

Admittedly, my first experience at Enzo’s could be easily discredited. It was four (AM). But still, it was sooooo clean and sparkley. And then I ordered the french toast. I was expecting Denny’s style french toast of course. It couldn’t have been further from. Legit French toast, with just the right amount of cinnamon, butter, vanilla, and yeah, they had peanut butter.

I was sold. And then, when I went back in for a second cup of coffee, I noticed on their giant red menu, a substantially large section with the heading “Vegan Menu.” I had to look again, because not too far from the menu was a very nice meat counter, offering up cold cuts and house made sausage… as it turns out from the family farm. No, that was right. Vegan pizzas, pastas, all kinds of stuff.

So not too long after my introduction to my new favorite eatery in SLO, I had to drag my other half, being that he happens to have a weakness for a good philly cheese steak. He too, was more than sold on the good vibe, reasonable prices, organic and free range meats, selection, and of course, the authenticity of his cheese whiz covered entree.

In sum, places like this don’t come along every day in SLO, so please. The next time it’s three or four in the morning, and you happen to be with your vegan best friend, yet you have the worst craving for a real hot dog, pay them a visit. And then pay them another one in the light of day. You’ll be equally as impressed.

Enzo’s Eatery is located at 733 Higuera St., between Mother’s Tavern and Bubblegum Alley.

 

 

 

Do you ever wonder where we come up with all these stories, tips, tidbits, recipes and trivia that we share everyday on our Blog and our FaceBook page? Of course, we pick up an occasional story with our wind-powered radar made entirely from bamboo, which spins around the clock, but what else? Well, truth be told, we actually spend a lot of time searching on the interwebs. Believe it or not, there’s actually quite an amalgamation of useless information lurking inside this invisible media source, but once in a while we strike a nugget of pithy wisdom.

1. When it comes to comprehensive eco-news, few sites can rival the Daily Green. As their name implies, this page is worth visiting on a very regular basis to keep up with issues that matter most to the environmentally conscious.

2. The Tiny Green Bubble provides another voluminous source of news from around the world about environmental living.

3. If you thought you were too poor, too lazy or too insignificant to make meaningful eco-conscious lifestyle choices, here’s a site for you: The Lazy Environmentalist.

4. It’s taken a long time to dispel the myth that going Green will put your business in the Red. Check out the Triple Pundit for the green business news that you might not see on Fox or NBC.

5. For green living design and style tips for your home, take a look at the Pure Green Living Magazine.

6. Looking for an off-the-beaten-path blog about green building, check out the well-informed commentaries of Barry Katz, one of Connecticut’s leading proponents of sustainability and green building.

7. Maybe you can’t dismantle your not-so-friendly neighborhood nuclear power plant, but the Lighter Footstep has a host of practical suggestions on how you can reduce your carbon footprint, easily and affordably, and a thousand reasons why you should.

8. Finally, check out these fun DIY project ideas and useful shopping tips on how to upgrade to a greener lifestyle, from the Green Upgrader. (Including the re-used plastic bottle lighting system pictured above!)

Let us know if you have any favorites that we missed, and in the meantime, stay informed and keep it green!

 

 

 

 

So with recent disasters and revolution, some of us find ourselves feeling ill-at-ease in our once comfortable illusions  of an overly secure existence. The “that won’t happen here, or to me, or to my family” subconscious thought process that we operate on more than we care to admit, for some, has been shaken by the aftershocks, tsunamis and nuclear disaster occurring just across the ocean. For others, there is an utter denial about our own vulnerability and lack of control of the world around us.

So somewhere between the media hype, the denial and the panic, we need to look at what we as citizens can learn from other people’s tragedy and misfortune. While it may be a bit absurd for people to build bunkers and stock up on ammo for the impending zombie apocalypse, it is more than reasonable for those of us on the coast of California to look around and think “hey, we’re on a fault line and right next to a nuclear power plant. Maybe I should have some emergency supplies at the ready in CASE something goes wrong?” Here are eight things you can do to keep yourself safe in the event of a major disaster.

Without going overboard, you can keep yourself stocked on some necessary items. It is important to have to canned food and water around, in case things run out, or you’re stuck inside for a while. If you take any kind of prescription medication, it is important to have a surplus on hand.  Extra cans of PBR are always a good idea as well. Depending on what part of the country you live in, it would be a good idea to have some sort of means of creating heat on hand. Blankets, fire wood, etc. They don’t take up much extra space, but a little extra warmth can make a huge difference. Keep the most extensive first aid kit around that you can afford, or have room for. In the event of an earthquake, you never know how badly you and yours could be injured. And while there’s not a whole lot rubbing alcohol can do for a broken bone, and can keep a nasty gash from becoming infected. If you are evacuated form an area near a power plant, it would be helpful to have not only tools in your vehicle, but some of the same things you have in your garage in terms of food/water/heat sources/sleeping and camping goods. It sounds a bit extreme, but really, that sort of thing is more likely to happen than anyone would care to admit. During an earthquake, if you are inside, make sure to stay there. Get underneath a very strong/stable surface. If you are outside, keep clear of objects that could fall or power lines. If you are cooking indoors, be sure to turn of the stove. In the event of a nuclear disaster, only leave your home if you are absolutely certain you have a destination to arrive at, and the means to get there quickly. You don’t want to be stuck in stampede. You’d be safer indoors… provided you’ve stocked up on necessary goods. If you live in a coastal region and survive a major earthquake, it is a good idea to get to higher ground as quickly as possible. A tsunami is likely to follow in the seismic aftermath. If you are driving in an earthquake, be sure to pull over slowly, out of range from power lines and bridges.

While some of these are sort of common sense, it never hurts to have a reminder. We can’t prevent a natural disaster, and we can only try to prevent man made disasters, but we can do our best to avoid personal disaster and loss. If you’re looking for supplies to put in your own personal earthquake kit, come in to Bambu Batu for some sustainable and sturdy camping materials.

 

 

Spring has sprung once again. It’s fast approaching that time of year when less clothing is more desirable and brighter colors attract the eye. Dreamsacks, one of our favorite companies, has now evolved in to Yala, and with that evolution comes some exciting new designs for spring and summer.

Here are my three favorite new goodies that we have in stock now from Yala.

3. What’s old is new again, with a new shade to look upon. The lovely and youthful Clara tunic now comes in a bright and cheerful yet tasteful Raspberry.

2. Who says spring is no time for scarves? You never know when a spring breeze is likely to come ruffle you up and make you regret the decision to wear that tanktop and mini skirt. But wait, thankfully you have your brand new Pashbu Scarf (maybe in that delicious new shade of yellow called Limoncello) with flirty frayed edges. Just light enough for spring, and just enough to keep you warm, just in case.

1. If you like a top that you can wear to your favorite summer outing, or just around the house, then you’ll love the brand new Gathered Samantha Top. With a hip hugging waist and a flatteringly loose mid section, this lovely new work comes in four different colors: Raspberry, Jade, Deep Purple and Black.

There are plenty of new and exciting things to see here at Bambu Batu. Come spring forward with us!

 

WHAT does Japan have to do to earn a little grace from the universe? Was there some curse placed upon those poor people that they will be exposed to more radiation than any other nation in the world? And more importantly: Do we know enough about nuclear power? It seems, watching footage of Japanese officials speaking on the subject, that they’re as uncertain about the consequences of a nuclear meltdown as we are. So, for education’s sake, here are eight things you might not know about nuclear power (but probably should)

1. On the home front: Here in California, both of our nuclear power plants (at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre) are the same model as Japan’s.  While they are designed to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0/7.5, the occurrence of a devastating quake such as the one in Japan might present unforeseen problems. Each of these plants, after all, was built right on a fault line.

2. While Germany is closing down seven of its nuclear power plants in response to the disaster in Japan, America has not flinched. In fact, quite the opposite. The latest federal budget proposal includes 36 billion dollars in subsidies to nuclear power plants across America.

3. If you happen to live in this paradise we call the Central Coast, you should know that Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets are available from the County Health Department, to be taken in the event of a nuclear mishap at Diablo power plant, specifically for the protection of your thyroid gland. While officials have stated that there is no reason for taking the pills now in response to the Japanese catastrophe, the county does offer them “in the unlikely event of a radiation release from a nuclear power plant emergency.” For specific instructions, visit the SLO County Health Dept.

4. The Japanese people were not careless about the construction of the Fukushima plant. In the event of an earthquake, they had installed not one, not two, but three backup power systems. Unfortunately, two of those were destroyed in the following tsunami. The third was a battery-powered generator designed to last for twelve hours.

5. There has been a lot of talk about Chernobyl and three mile Island. Those being the only nuclear disasters we have to compare this event to. Many have said it isn’t as disastrous as the tragedy in Russia, and are comparing it more to Three Mile Island. Others have reason to believe that the the Japanese government either doesn’t know the extent of the damage the disaster will bring, or may be unable or unwilling to release all facts publicly; meaning that we might not have a full scope of the severity of the situation until it unfolds. In the case of Chernobyl, however, the defining differences lie in not only the lack of a containment wall, but the Soviet government’s denial and irresponsibility in responding to the crisis. Quite the opposite, the Japanese government is evacuating withing 20 miles of the site of the plant, and is doing everything it can to contain the radiation and protect its citizens.

6. One of the biggest dangers that can affect us globally is the environmental aftershock of a disaster of this magnitude. While the radioactive particles are not expected to reach any farther than the immediate surrounding areas, the lasting effect in our food and water supply is a hidden danger. Milk and meat in particular are the most silent threats after a nuclear disaster. (Now might be a good time to reconsider that vegan thing.)

7. Perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of this crisis is the potential for a full on meltdown. Reactor no 3. contains plutonium and uranium. If they fail to keep the reactor cool, an explosion would release both of those substances in to the air; a terrifying prospect, when you consider that both (but plutonium in particular) are HIGHLY carcinogenic in very small doses.

8. In the case of Three Mile Island, the incident was contained very quickly, there were no explosions, and the aftermath was arguably minimal. Currently, Japan has 48 hours to cool the reactors in order to avoid a full meltdown at the plant’s core.

9. Today there are over 440 operational nuclear power plants in the world. In Japan, there are 55. A large number for a small island. In America there are over 100. Germany has 17. France has 58 (and is the only country to rely SOLELY upon nuclear energy.) Russia has 14, and China – who has suspended further construction until a re-evaluation of safety standards has been conducted – has 11.

10. While former president Ronald Regan took the opportunity to point out the fact that, “All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk,” he chose not to highlight the amount of environmental destruction possible, or the threat to human existence that results from dependence on nuclear energy. There has to be another way.

To learn more visit Mother’s for Peace, Greenpeace International, or The Good News About Nuclear Destruction. Also check out our outspoken new line of anti-nuclear apparel.

 

 

Okay, so maybe I’m a bit behind the times. I just discovered author Jonathan Safran Foer. Where have I been?! The author of “Everything is Illuminated” and “Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud” has written another gracefully worded work, full of wit and charm and intelligence, but this time, he’s taken on a fairly meaty topic.

The title of his newest work “Eating Animals” would deceive anyone into thinking that Foer has written some persuasive propaganda. However, vegetarians and omnivores alike will discover something else.

This work is not a clear cut case for vegetarianism (though Foer himself is a vegetarian, and spends a good part of the introduction describing his humorous struggle, only moving on to discuss why we should consider dog meat as a viable form of sustenance.)

No, instead the book is more of an internal debate, and a journey to discover what eating animals really entails, what farming means in America today, and whether or not there’s a clear and easy decision.

Foer charmingly balances both sides of the argument on his sharp blade of written word. It’s impossible not to fall in love with his portrayal of where fact meets feeling. A must read for any vegan, vegetarian, omnivore or carnivore.

 

 

The first time I heard about Kale Chips I thought it was some kind of joke: a recipe concocted by The Onion magazine as something a hairy hippie might serve as an appetizer to go with a glass of patchouli-carrot juice.

Don’t get me wrong. I like kale as much as anyone. I’ve actually got at least two varieties growing in my backyard garden. We steam it, we stir fry it, we throw it into our soup pot. Its nutritional properties are formidable, its uses are manifold, but I had no idea.

Then my wife presented a bowl of dark green, crispy kale chips. In three minutes or less the entire bowl had been devoured, inhaled actually. (They’re pretty light.) Yep. That good. And it was a big bowl, too. No kidding. But it gets better because — guess what? —  the preparation could not be simpler.

Here’s how it’s done. You can make it more complicated if you want, but all you really need are two bundles of kale, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a little salt. A dash of nutritional yeast helps too.

· Begin by separating out the fibrous spines of the kale, either by hand or with a knife, and set them aside for your compost.

· You’ll probably want to rinse your kale too, but just be careful to dry the leaves very thoroughly. If it goes into the oven wet, it will cook rather than dehydrate.

· Then cut the leaves into large bite-sized pieces. (Remember they will shrink down during the dehydration.)

· Now throw this heap of kale bits into a large mixing bowl, and add 2 tablespoons (1 Tbsp per kale bunch) of high quality olive oil. (I get mine from SLO Grown Produce.)

· Go ahead and add a couple pinches each of salt and nutritional yeast, and stir thoroughly. You might not think you’ve got enough oil, but once you’ve mixed the leaves, you’ll see that two tablespoons is really enough.

· Now spread the leaves evenly, don’t crowd them, on a couple of baking sheets. (see photo above) It’s probably going to cover about four baking sheets all together. Place them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 300º, and pull them out when they’re thoroughly dried — thin and crispy.

· That’s it… serve and enjoy!

One last thing, you might want to brush afterwards, before going into public, because those crispy flakes of kale have a tendency to stick all over your teeth.

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