START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Oct 22, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Green Up Your Gadgets

We've discussed one element of the energy consumption created by electronic devices: standby power. As we all own more electronics these days, we also need to think about the energy they consume while in use, as well as the toxins contained in most devices.

According to ENERGY STAR's podcast series on consumer electronics, the percentage of our home energy use that goes to powering home electronics has more than doubled since 1980, from 5% to 13%. The easiest way to know that you're purchasing electronics that rate highly in terms of energy efficiency is to look for the ENERGY STAR label. The government programs rates most common electronics devices, including televisions, DVD players, home audio equipment and computers.

The other time we need to think about the impact of our electronics on the environment is at the end of their useful life. According to Earth911:

Electronic circuit boards, batteries, and color cathode ray tubes (CRTs) can contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium. If improperly handled or disposed, these toxins can be released into the environment through landfill leachate or incinerator ash.

Fortunately, electronics recycling services are widely available; some companies, like Dell computers, for instance, will take back and properly dispose of or reuse old equipment. Standards now exist to evaluate the environmental impact of new products: EPEAT, for instance, is a voluntary certification standard that ranks home computers on their environmental attributes.

Your Action for Today:
Find Greener Electronics Options

If you're in the market for a computer, a television, a cell phone, or another electronic device, make sure to take a look at ENERGY STAR's database of products that qualify for its label. EPEAT standards tell you more about other environmental issues, such as recyclability and reduction of toxins.

Note: The Consumer Electronics Association's My Green Electronics site also contains a products database; unfortunately, the site contains no information on the standards used to label a product as "green" except for EPEAT standards for computers.

Tomorrow: Shopping for Green Home Decor


Green Options

The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 22, 2007 3:20am
Oct 3, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Eat Local and Reduce Your Food Miles

Huh? Food miles? While that may sound like one of those strange units of measurement we learned in high school physics, the concept of "food miles" is quite simple: how far has the food on our plate traveled to get there. It turns out that much of the food we buy at the grocery store has traveled much more than many of us ever will: produce like grapes and broccoli may have logged 2,000 miles in moving from farm to plate. The items you serve to your family and guests may have racked up quite a carbon footprint of their own.

Clearly, our food has an environmental impact that goes beyond the methods used to grow and harvest it (which we'll cover in a future lesson). Additionally, food purchased from local sources hasn't been stored in a shipping container for days or weeks, so you'll enjoy fresher and more flavorful fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products.

Your Action for Today:
Find Sources for Local Food

While you can find some locally-produced food at your grocery store, you'll have better luck (and more choice) at a farmer's market. As more people have started to think about the sources of their food, farmer's markets have sprung up all over the United States. Local Harvest provides a comprehensive listing of local food sources, including farmer's markets, co-operatives, farms that sell directly to consumers, and even restaurants that use local ingredients. Plug in your zip code and find out what's available to you.

List some of the places you can shop and eat locally in your Green Journal. If you've already patronized these businesses, let others know what you think about them.

Tomorrow: Create your plan for living a greener life!


Green Options

The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 3, 2007 8:44pm
Jun 4, 2007

At Cafe Gratitude, you can find self-affirming appetizers and deep-down satisfying desserts.

by ann parker

Sentinel restaurant writer

Try this. Say out loud: I Am Worthy. I Am Passionate. I Am Perfect.

Was that comfortable? Consider yourself primed to visit Cafe Gratitude, where you'll utter phrases like these each time you order — because each dish is named with an affirmation, from the I Am Generous guacamole to the I Am Lovely fruit cobbler.

Now imagine saying it to a server. Anyone ordering I Am Generous better leave a good tip.

Cafe Gratitude isn't just a restaurant; it's more a philosophical phenomenon. With two locations in San Francisco, one in Berkeley and a brand new site in San Rafael, these organic/vegan/raw food bistros offer unusual cuisine as well as a unique menu.

What Are You Grateful For?

Michael and Terces Engelhart opened the first Cafe Gratitude three years ago in San Francisco, their signature "What Are You Grateful For?" slogan arching over the doorway. The restaurant essentially evolved as a vehicle for the couple's original inspiration: an interactive board game called "The Abounding River"

"We surrendered ourselves to inner guidance and had an insight about designing a game of abundance," Michael said, making it sound easy. But before their game was produced, two years later, the couple first created an Abounding River logbook and workshop — and opened the first Cafe Gratitude. "It was a backward process," Michael said, laughing. "The cafe is like a gaming parlor, where people eat good, healthy food"

A millionaire who founded the phenomenally successful Flax clothing company with his former wife, Jeanne, Michael married Terces in 2002. He and Terces were alumni of the Landmark Forum, a program which promotes empowerment and self-realization.

At Cafe Gratitude, Michael said, "I'm about the vision; Terces [who recently co-authored the "I Am Grateful" recipe book] is about the food"

I Am Initiated

My neighbors, Claudia and Bruce described Cafe Gratitude by saying, "Well you really have to experience it yourself"

So the three of us drove to San Francisco to visit the original Cafe Gratitude on Harrison Street. We parked nearby [there's gratitude for you] and chose a sunny corner banquette in the bustling, colorful little restaurant. A stained-glass canopy glowed above the central bar; people chatted at tables laminated with the Abounding River game.

Charmaine, a beatific young server, greeted us warmly and invited us to "have fun and be nourished" She beamed, and said, "Are you ready for the question of the day?"

"Sure," I said warily. She asked, "Where in life do you experience complete freedom?" and sailed away.

I froze. Freedom? Freedom? I hadn't felt complete freedom since ... "in the water," I heard myself say, remembering leaping into a mountain pool. "In the garden," Claudia said firmly. "In the shower," Bruce said, chuckling.

We Are Hungry

Bruce and Claudia hadn't warned me that ordering any of the 170-plus menu items, from cold-pressed coffee to "live" desserts, meant saying names like I Am Ecstatic, I Am Eternally Youthful, I Am Surrendering, etc. Ordering at Cafe Gratitude is fun if you're open to it — and discomfiting if you're not.

I bet some people just point at items or recite descriptions. But I have to admit feeling a certain pleasure in saying to Charmaine, "I Am Charmed," ordering my cardamom-spiced green tea. Claudia giggled, "I Am Sassy" [virgin lemon margarita] and Bruce declared, "I Am Rich" [orange, carrot, lemon and beet juice].

We also ordered I Am Prosperous [arugula salad], I Am Heroic [quinoa tabouli] and I Am Celebrating, the day's special salad. Claudia announced, "I Am Cheerful — with cheese" [pumpkin seed and walnut burger topped with macadamia nut "cheese"]. For dessert, we were "Magnificent" [raw chocolate mousse] and "Awakening" [key-lime pie].

Charmaine soon returned with our drinks, saying to each of us respectively, "You Are Charmed. You Are Sassy. You Are Rich" I only felt slightly silly; my aromatic tea charmed me and Claudia's drink was indeed sassy. Bruce's drink, however, was glorious: a vegan pousse-cafe of orange, purple and yellow embodying sweet carrot, earthy beet and tangy lemon flavors. We Were Pleased.

And We Were Delighted with our salads and entrees, delivered on cheery Fiestaware inscribed "What Are You Grateful For?" All of the generously portioned food was attractive, interesting and flavorful. I especially enjoyed my minty quinoa tabouli [Heroic] and the veggie-loaded spinach salad [Celebrating] topped with marvelous Meyer lemon pesto and chewy flax "crackers"

But We Were Ecstatic over the scrumptious "Awakening" chocolate mousse and a truly "Magnificent" key-lime pie with coconut meringue and macadamia nut crust. And remember: no dairy, no eggs, no refined sugars.

And no big bill bite: our meal was reasonable as well as delicious.

Sacred Commerce

Michael Engelhart describes Cafe Gratitude as "sacred commerce" and says the popular restaurants have exceeded his expectations, although he admits more profit would be nice. "Our food is labor intensive with expensive ingredients," he acknowledges, while noting wanting to keep prices customer-friendly.

The cafes employ an unusual approach to food production, pre-preparing ingredients in one central kitchen and then delivering it by refrigerated biodiesel van to the four sites. "Raw foods are preparation-heavy, with lots of juicing and soaking," says Michael's son Ryland, general manager of the new San Rafael cafe. "Food prep starts at midnight, until about 8 a.m" All-organic local produce, he explains, is outsourced by Veritable Vegetable organic distributors.

And Cafe Gratitude workers are given a unique perk. "We promise our employees a life breakthrough," Michael says matter-of-factly. Charmaine, a Cafe Gratitude employee of six months, told me, "It's completely transformational"

Will Cafe Gratitude come to Santa Cruz? It's a future possibility, says Michael; the next site planned is Los Angeles.

About the "Abounding River" game that started all this. You can see the extraordinarily detailed, award-winning board design on Cafe Gratitude's Web site Or I could describe the matching cards, bearing quotes like "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one" [Albert Einstein] and questions dealing with values, pleasures, illumination, forgiveness.

But you really have to experience it yourself.

{ cuisine: Very good [all organic vegan, mostly live foods. service: Very good, enthusiastic, energetic, personal. Atmosphere: Colorful, relaxed, unconventional, and where else can you play a game during your meal and say things like "I Am Triumphant" Prices are reasonable, drinks, shakes and smoothies, $2 to $7.50; appetizers, soups and salads, $5.50 to $10; entrées, $8 to $12; desserts, $3 to $7 }

Where to go for gratitude

All four Cafe Gratitudes offer the same menu and philosophy but distinctly different atmospheres. For more information, visit

  • Cafe Gratitude, San Francisco, No. 1, 2400 Harrison St. (at 20th Street). (415) 824-4652, option 1. Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The original Cafe Gratitude: bright, airy, colorful and cheerfully funky.
  • Cafe Gratitude, San Francisco No. 2, 1336 9th St. (at Irving). (415) 824-4652, option 2. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cozy with a pretty courtyard; attracts doctors and patients from nearby medical centers.
  • Cafe Gratitude, Berkeley, 1730 Shattuck Ave. (at Virginia). (415) 824-4652, option 3. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The busiest of the four cafes; its unusual and appealing building is all brick, inside and out.
  • Cafe Gratitude, San Rafael, 2200 4th St., (415) 824-4652, option 4. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The newest location; Marin's influence is felt in the graceful design and wisteria-draped patio.

What are you hungry for?

All 170-plus items offered on the Cafe Gratitude menu can be viewed by visiting A few favorites:

Appetizers, soups and salads:

  • I AM BOUNTIFUL live crustini: Four different toppings on live toast: Fresh tomato, basil, garlic; thinly sliced avocado with Himalayan crystal salt; hemp seed pesto; raw olive tapenade ($8).
  • I AM INSIGHTFUL live samosas: Two spinach-wrapped samosas filled with cauliflower and macadamia 'otatoes' and carrots; comes with spicy fresh mint chutney ($8).
  • I AM THANKFUL Thai coconut soup: Coconut curry soup with avocado, tomato, cucumbers, and shiitake mushrooms ($7).
  • I AM DAZZLING Caesar salad: Romaine lettuce, live croutons, Caesar dressing and Brazil nut parmesan, with or without capers ($9).

Entrées and warm grain bowls:

  • I AM FABULOUS pad thai: Veggie noodles with shredded kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, teriyaki almonds and almond butter thai sauce ($12).
  • I AM ABUNDANT sampler plate: Chili con queso with chips, Asian kale-sea veggie salad, hemp seed pesto crustini, olive tapenade, live hummus and a mini soup of the day. Served with assorted live crackers and almond toast ($12).
  • YO SOY MUCHO Mexican bowl: Shredded kale under a choice of grain; topped with guacamole, spicy salsa and sprouts ($10).
  • I AM ACCEPTING stir-unfry: Steamed Bhutanese red rice tossed with raw vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and Asian sesame dressing; served with romaine leaf wrappers ($8).

Specialty drinks and desserts:

  • I AM INSPIRED Masala chai latte: India-inspired almond milk chai sweetened with agave nectar ($3).
  • I AM TRANSFORMED elixir: A shot of wheatgrass juice in fresh Thai young coconut water ($5 small, $8 large).
  • I AM LUSCIOUS healthy raw chocolate smoothie: Fresh Hazelnut milk, figs, dates, raw cacao and vanilla ($7).
  • I AM DEVOTED live coconut cream pie: Rich coconut cream pie in a coconut date crust.
  • I AM ADORING live tiramisu: Raw cacao and almond tiramisu cake, with sweet cashew cream and raw chocolate espresso filling.
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Posted: Jun 4, 2007 2:29am
Oct 23, 2006
Focus: Health
Action Request: Poll
Location: United States
Good food, wicked food: Take the quiz and find out your nutrition IQ

The Sacramento Bee

About 30 percent to 40 percent of all cancers are related to our lifestyle choices, including the foods we eat, how much exercise we get and how well we watch our weight. Are you making the right choices? Here's a quiz based on a report on cancer prevention from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

1. Exercise helps prevent colon cancer. True or false?

2. A plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans seems to decrease colorectal cancer risk. True or false?

3. A diet high in red meat, processed meat and fat in- creases colorectal cancer risk. True or false?

4. Fiber may reduce the colon's exposure to cancer-causing substances by moving wastes out quickly. True or false?

5. Vitamin supplements help prevent cancer. True or false?

6. A diet high in salt has no effect on cancer risk. True or false?

7. Overweight and obesity has no effect on cancer risk. True or false?

8. Grilled foods cause cancer. True or false?

9. Green tea may have anti-cancer benefits. True or false?

10. All berries, particularly strawberries and raspberries, are especially rich in a substance called ellagic acid, which has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast in laboratory studies. True or false?

Answers: 1) T. Exercise speeds the movement of food through the intestine and decreases bile and acid secretion. 2) T; 3) T; 4) T; 5) F; 6) F. Diets containing a large amount of salted fish (such as those in Asian countries) increase the risk of stomach cancer. 7) F. Research shows that obesity is not only a risk for diabetes and heart disease but also for several types of cancers. 8) T. Research shows that exposing meats to direct flame, smoke and intense heat can cause the formation of carcinogens. 9) T. In laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer development in colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. 10) T. This phytochemical acts as an antioxidant; it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens, and it helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells.

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research,

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Posted: Oct 23, 2006 8:42am


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