Archive for November 2012 | Monthly archive page

Bamboo feeds, clothes, adorns, and can even save lives. Growing up in Afghanistan, inventor Massoud Hassani used to play in raging war zones and fields studded with landmines. He and his brother would construct small spheres from scrap metal that would roll along the desert floor, powered by the wind. Sometimes, their contraptions would travel dangerously close to the bombs.

For his final project at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, Hassani drew upon his childhood experiences to create a giant version of his old playthings. Nearly 20 times bigger than the original, the heaver and sturdier Mine Kafon is made from bamboo and biodegradable plastic. Propelled by the wind, they can meander through dangerous terrain, saving lives with each mine they trigger. It has been estimated that through conventional methods, its costs up to $1,200 to remove a single landmine. Hassani’s design costs only 40 Euros, and can be used multiple times before needing to be replaced. With every explosion, the Mine Kafon looses only one or two legs, allowing it to keep moving and remove up to three or four explosive devices in a single journey. He hopes to track his inventions by GPS, monitoring their paths and keeping tabs on how many bombs they clear.

Massoud’s work can currently be seen at the MOMA in New York and will be shown at Gallery Slott in Paris later this year. Visit the link to see the Mine Kafon in action!

Bamboo Massage

Bamboo has always been able to lend a helping hand with clothing our bodies, furnishing our homes, and even filling our stomachs. Yet, who knew it could also help release our tension and ease our aching muscles?

Bamboo massage is a technique that utilizes pieces of bamboo of varying lengths and diameters in deep tissue body work.  Some practitioners incorporate elements of shiatsu, aryuveda, and traditional Chinese medicine.  Bamboo has also been used to help drain the lymphatic system in some Thai disciplines.  Some choose to heat the sticks and apply essential oils during the session.  Bamboo helps to improve circulation as well as reduce the strain on the hands of the therapist. Unlike stone massage, bamboo is easy to clean and does not need a crock pot of water or additional equipment to maintain.

Being strong, flexible, and sustainable, the grass is an excellent tool for massage.  There are those who believe that the silica surrounding the cell walls of the plant also help to restore the body’s electromagnetic balance, similar to the effect of quartz crystals on connective tissue. The electric potential created by the mechanical application of the bamboo to muscles may help restore the health of abnormal fibers and bone. Heating the sticks also produces an electrical charge, allowing ions to polarize the material, further amplifying the its healing potential. The pressure provided by the pieces of bamboo and hands of the therapist help to release toxins, relieve excess heat surrounding areas of the body, and helping poor circulation of blood and fluids. Acupressure techniques are often used in conjunction with the massage.

One of the first to fuse bamboo and massage in the United States was Nathalie Cecilia, a French Thai massage therapist living in Florida.  She began using bamboo after a larger male client requested more pressure for shoulder work.  Having previously used a long bamboo pole to help with her balance for Thai massage, she decided to use the tool for his sessions.  After a positive response, she began to develop what is now known as Bamboo-Fusion massage, an entire massage routine that uses bamboo and rattan pieces of different sizes. The series is now approved by the NCBTMB and has been taught to many practitioners across the country and overseas.

“While doing traditional massage, I experienced pain in my thumbs and wrists after only two months of opening my business,” Cecilia says in a statement to Massage Therapy. “The Bamboo-Fusion technique allows you to easily adjust the pressure, making deep-tissue work easy. I can effectively palpate using the bamboo and am able to easily locate muscle tension and treat trigger points. Using bamboo is now like a continuation of my fingers. There is also a beautiful quality to the material; it has a luxurious feeling and both you and the clients feel very energized and revitalized, but also relaxed. Aesthetically, I’ve also noticed that the skin actually becomes more supple.”

Bambu Batu would love to hear from those who have had a bamboo massage!  What was your experience like?  How does it compare to traditional deep tissue work?  Who are your favorite practitioners on the Central Coast?

The holidays are upon us, which means family, friends, and dishes that we look forward to all year long. However, with some delicacies, there are reasons why they are only revealed and recreated for special occasions.  Some take massive amounts of effort, others are definitely acquired tastes, and some are only available at specific times of the season. Here are a couple of creations that are gracing the tables of celebrations across the world!

Panettone Bread- Tired of the traditional fruitcake?  Want to avoid the awkward smile and forced “thank you” when you unwrap the sugary brick from its paper at a family gathering? Then panettone might be for you! This Italian Christmas bread originates from Milan and is enjoyed primarily in Europe and areas of South America. Each large, circular loaf stands about 12 to 15 inches high, and can weigh up to 1kg. The dough is made through a process similar to sourdough where it is cured for a long period of time before baking. Proofing can take several days, making the texture light and fluffy instead of the dense doorstops we are used to in the United States. Commonly found folded into the body are fruits such as raisins, citron, candied orange, and lemon zest, but you can find variations that are plain or paired with chocolate. Eaten in slices with sweet hot beverages or wine, many choose to eat panettone with marscapone cream.

Lutefisk- Norwegians are not known for their sense of humor, and lutefisk may be the reason why. Made from white fish or cod, the perfectly good animal is dried and prepared in a series of lye treatments, turning the flesh into an extremely pungent jelly. When cured, lutefish has a pH of 11-12, meaning that it is caustic and has to be soaked in water for several days in order to be edible. Afterwards, the delicacy is ready to be carefully cooked, so not as to fall apart. There are several ways to cook lutefisk, none of them particularly appetizing. It can be steamed, baked, parboiled, and even microwaved.  Once consumed, it is very important to wash the residue from dishware and surfaces immediately as it can become impossible to remove and permanently destroy silver.

To quote Garrison Keillor: “Lutefisk is cod that has been dried in a lye solution. It looks like the desiccated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks, but after it is soaked and reconstituted and the lye is washed out and it’s cooked, it looks more fish-related, though with lutefisk, the window of success is small. It can be tasty, but the statistics aren’t on your side. It is the hereditary delicacy of Swedes and Norwegians who serve it around the holidays, in memory of their ancestors, who ate it because they were poor. Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm.”

Veggiedukken- Not enough of a carnivore/glutton for the Turdukken? Good, you may have saved yourself a fortune on medical bills.  As a more healthy alternative, set your forks to stun and take a bite of Dan Pashman’s the Veggiedukken.  Instead of animals forced inside each other like some sort of culinary Spanish Inquisition, the Veggiedukken features yams inside leeks inside a banana squash. Each layer is separated by vegetarian stuffing, making a filling and surprisingly easy-to-prepare centerpiece that looks and tastes impressive.

Cherpumple- Another a variation on the Turducken, the Cherpumple is a diabetic coma-inducing delicacy that consists of a triple layered pie embedded in a cake. The original version of this decadent dessert was made from a cherry, pumpkin, and apple pie wrapped in a layer of cake. If you decide to create and ingest one of these-I guess the proper term is “monstrosity”- then make sure you have a healthy helping of vegetables beforehand.  May I suggest a Veggiedukken?

Versatile, attractive, and even decorative, bamboo is certainly a treasure. Perfect for clothing and as a building material, the grass is also an beautiful and sustainable choice for adornment. Why wear precious stones or valuable metals that need to be extracted from the earth when you can decorate yourself with one of the fastset growing plants in the world? Bamboo is renewable, and generally far less expensive than most costume or fine jewelry.

-Designer Yvonne Hung uses a lasercutter to create her gorgeous geometric and organic sets of earrings and necklaces. Highly graphic in appearance, Hung first began her work with the lasercutter in architectural school working with models. Inspired by patterns from both nature and human-made structures, her line of jewelry looks modern in composition while still retaining a warm texture.

-For its engraved pendants, SilverBug Studio uses bamboo as the perfect canvas for lasercut illustrations. From lotus flowers to trees, each creation is lightweight, lovely, and inexpensive.  Beginning at $24, the charms are great gifts that will go will find a place in almost anyone’s wardrobe.

-Folia Design based in San Francisco works exclusively with bamboo, pairing the pendants and earrings with gold-filled hardware. Fashioning insect wings, leaves, plant pods, and grids from the hearty grass, Jessica Coleman has a wide assortment of designs to choose from.

-Looking for a rustic wood aesthetic with a sustainable twist? Cabin + Cub Design brings the great outdoors into the home and onto your person with their collection of whimsical earrings, brooches, and tie pins. Featuring forest creatures, maps, and quirky quotes, this is accessorizing with a sense of humor.

-For the gentleman, a bamboo watch will certainly make a sustainable statement. Reveal’s bamboo watch sports a casing and wrist band made from the material, trading in metal or leather for an organic, earthy look.  As an added bonus, energy giant BP has partnered with the watch-maker to raise money with each purchase to continue with the Gulf spill cleanup efforts.

Bambu Batu is delighted to offer this new line of natural fiber products made in India exclusively for Yala Designs. We wanted to share with you the steps that go into producing this block print collection.

Many skilled hands are involved in creating these prints.

First the blocks must be carved. The elaborate designs are carved into wood blocks by hand. Each color and pattern requires a new block. It takes one week for a block maker to carve the nine blocks for the Blue Lotus Quilt.

The vibrant colors are hand mixed, using a well-worn “recipe” book as a guide to create the unique colors. The colors for printing are derived from minerals, plants and Azo-free dyes.

A skilled craftsman dips the hand-carved block into the dye and then stamps the fabric. Once the first color has dried the process is repeated with each color.

The front and the back of the Blue Lotus Queen Quilt requires more than 1250 stamps. It takes a team of two printers one full day to print enough fabric for four queen size quilts.

Washing, setting the dye, and drying the fabric takes about six hours per queen quilt. After this process, the fabric will not shrink and is completely colorfast.

It takes an experienced quilter a full day to place the organic cotton filling and hand stitch one quilt.

A queen size quilt has passed through more than 30 pairs of hands on its journey from plain white fabric to becoming a quilt. These local artisans are grateful that you appreciate the care that goes into each quilt and thank you for supporting and preserving this ancient art form.

These unique quilts are available from Bambu Batu in three colors — Blue lotus, Gold fleur and Plum razia — and each is reversible with coordinating patterns. We offer them in three sizes — throw (52″x72″), queen (90″x94″) and king (108″x94″), prices starting at $149.95.

Living here in the first world, if often feels as though we are so far removed from the problems of developing nations. How can we help communities in need when they are thousands of miles away? How can we make sure that the money we donate goes directly to the people who can use the funds? Kiva is an organization that connects donors to borrowers across the globe to help alleviate poverty through microfinance loans. Each loan starts at $25, and each borrower or project is chosen directly by the lender. After contributing the capital, the patron can follow the progress of the plan online and receive updates. All of the repayments are the lender’s to keep, but Kiva hopes that the fulfillment that comes from making a positive difference for those in need will encourage people to donate again.

Founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, Kiva works with over 168 “Field Partners” or projects in need of finance. With the help of 450 volunteers across 66 different countries, the non-profit has raised $369,959,950 to date. With repayment rate of 99%, Kiva is a safe and powerful way to assist entrepreneurs.  Interest gathered through the loans cover the non-profits operating costs along with personal and corporate donations. The group has been particularly effective in helping women enter the workforce, with 82% of their borrowers being female. This holiday season, consider helping those help themselves by financing a business, school, or non-profit through

Sadly, you can’t win ’em all, and this past election cycle California’s Prop 37 to label GMO’s went the way of so many rotten tomatoes. However, all is not lost, and there are ways that you can avoid genetically modified foods with a little research, vigilance, and by asking the right questions.

Go organic: Anything certified organic is also free of genetically modified materials. Look for the label on processed foods, at your farmers markets, and opt for heritage breeds of fruits and veggies where you can find them.

Label it yourself: The website is a decentralized, grassroots campaign that uses #LIY to show fellow consumers what contains GMO ingredients via the web. The site allows you to download and print your own labels, and encourages activists to stick them on products, snap a photo, and upload it to their Tumblr account.

Use your phone: For a little help identifying GMO’s, use your smartphone and the True Food Shopper’s Guide for android and iPhone, brought to you by The Center for Food Safety. The application is constantly updated to bring you the newest list of GM foods, activist campaigns, and tips on how to buy healthy, non-manipulated foods. Other programs include ShopNoGMO, and the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide.

Buy whole, local foods: When you can, take a trip to your local farmers markets and buy whole, local produce.  Make sure that the produce is grown to your standards, and do not be afraid to ask a couple of questions. We put our trust in Jerry Rutiz and the Rutiz Family Farms in Oceano.  One of the best ways to avoid hidden GMO’s in processed foods is to bypass the frozen dinners altogether, and cook with fresh ingredients.  Tastier, more nutritious, and supporting your local economy, opting for local fare is a healthy choice all around!



It is that time of year again.  The leaves are falling, the Halloween decorations are getting swapped out for hand-turkeys and cornucopias, and sample ballots are being mailed to homes across California.  This season, citizens of the Golden State have an opportunity to make history with Proposition 37, a measure that will require genetically modified food to be labeled for consumers.  As a business that supports transparency, responsibility, and the rights of customers to make the decisions based on accurate information, Bambu Batu would like to support passing Proposition 37.  Before voting, here are a couple of things to consider.

· Who is funding the proposition and who is against it?  Turns out the major force against Proposition 37 is Monsanto, donating over $7 to stop the law from being passed.  Other opponents include Pepsico, Syngenta, DOW, Nestle, ConAgra Foods, and Coca Cola, all massive corporations that either produce or use GMO’s.  Those in favor of the bill are a collection of health food brands, family farms, and organizations such as the Organic Consumers Fund, The Center for Food Safety, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar and Company, UFW, California Nurses Association, and the Sierra Club.

· 61 other countries have labeling requirements for GMO’s.  Labeling would occur at no cost to consumers and create no new bureaucracy.

· The Union of Concerned Scientists give Monsanto an “F” grade in sustainable agriculture, citing their value of the bottom line and production of engineered seeds over conservation and long term viability.  Not only are they falling short on feeding the world, their products and practices foster chemical resistance, spread gene contamination, encourage dangerous monocultures, reject alternatives that are more expensive, suppresses research, and direct enormous amounts of time and money lobbying congress.  Not surprisingly, the gigantic company is the largest opponent to Prop 37.

· GM foods have caused a number of problems in the environment and for small farmers.  Those who do not wish to support the actions of agribusinesses should have the right to opt out of buying these goods.  For example, there have been peer reviewed studies that have shown GM plants have contributed to the rise of genetic resistance to certain pesticides, and to the decline of certain plants and animals.

· Some who disagree with Prop 37 believe that if consumers were aware of GMO’s in their foods, they would shy away from those brands because of a negative stigma.  If GMO’s are as safe as we are told, why should these businesses worry?  If we label trans fats and sodium, we should be able to let consumers know other ingredients are in their foods, where they come from, and how they are cultivated.  The foods are not banned, just labelled.