Bringing the Farm to L.A.

Robert Jacobson: Hi everybody this is Robert Jacobson from GatherGreen and I am with Nick Spano founder of LA City Farm. Good day Nick.Nick Spano: Aye Matey.Robert Jacobson: Thank you, yes, I decided to dress up today in honor of Wednesday, of hump day. I’m not really sure why we have the pirate theme going on but we do. So Nick how are you doing?Nick Spano: I think it’s great. I’m doing fantastic. It’s a great day.

Robert Jacobson: Nick, how did you get involved with running farmer’s markets here in the Los Angeles area? It’s probably not the most typical career path but exciting.

Nick Spano: Yeah, I don’t think anything I’ve done is typical. There’s definitely not one solid through line in anything that I’ve chosen to do with my career. Started off in entertainment for 15 years as an actor, was successful in that and started to invest in real estate in my own business six years ago opening the first solar powered spa and it was through that experience as a business owner and someone who was really engaged in the community that I found farmers markets. Obviously, well, I grew up in Pasadena, in Los Angeles and I come from a big family. I Have eight siblings and so farmers markets were a common part of my childhood. And in 2008 when the economy was really struggling and there was a lot of business owners struggling to stay open I sensed there was a real need to create community. Find a way to get people out together and support each other and one of the ways that I think farmers markets have the potential to do that. And so I started seeking out farmers to start our own farmers market. This was in the Cahuenga Pass  near Universal Studios and that was pretty much it. Six months later I was able to get he confidence of a few local farmers and several other vendors to start our first market. That was met with some resistance from the community in terms of the demand for parking and the kind of traffic it would bring in on a Sunday morning. So we eventually had to move that market which we did. We moved it to a restaurant called Yamashiro on the Hollywood Hills and it was really from that point forward that it kind of took off and became a real popular event. And we have since then been able to participate in developing and managing five other markets. So that’s kind of how it all came together.

Robert Jacobson: And what are those markets, Nick?

Nick Spano: We have Yamashiro, Warner Brothers., Cal State Long Beach where I’m at now, we’re on campus with a small farmers market we do here. We have on in Carson, SouthBay Pavilion. We had one at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park on Saturdays which we just recently closed at the end of 2013 and our newest market which has been a great success so far in the city of San Marino.

Robert Jacobson: Terrific. So I want everybody to go to and you can see the markets listed there, there’s a calendar and there’s some good kind of food related blog posts and you know in farmers markets, you touched on something, they’re about a lot more than just bringing healthy food but bringing people together. It seems like farmers markets are a place in Los Angeles where we can socialize, we’re not in our cars, we get to see our friends, our neighbors, our restauranteurs, the people that are providing the food for our local restaurants. Really great quality food that we can bring into our own homes to feed our families.

Nick Spano: Yeah, for us that’s really the main point that we try to drive home whenever we are developing a market. You know I’m not an expert in agriculture. I’m not an expert in organic farming. It’s really about creating a space for all of that to happen. You know San Marino is a very tight knit community, a very wealthy community but strangely enough there’s really no gathering space for everyone to interact and one of the responses we got when we opened the market was how exciting it was to see their neighbors out and I think it’s, so many things today have lost that common interaction with each other. Especially in business, you know? Right now you and I are communicating via webcam, you know? It serves a certain need or demand, at the same time there’s really nothing that can replaced that face to face interaction. It’s important for business to be able to shake the hand of your customer. It’s important for relationships to be able to sit down and talk with each other. But not only that it’s really important in terms of what we eat to have that personal relationship with where our food is coming from and everything today is so disconnected. You have no idea where most of the food that you put in your body is coming from. You have no clue and nowadays we don’t even think to ask. We just consume, consume, consume. I think farmers markets really bring us back to the basics and create a great space for relationships for great relationships with friends, family, and neighbors for a stronger community, but it creates relationships with, you know, entrepreneurs and new businesses that are trying to start out and also it reestablishes the relationship with the farmers where our food comes from.

Robert Jacobson: What message would you maybe shaw with people that aren’t in the Los Angeles area that maybe there isn’t a farmers market yet and maybe somebody wants to start one or or or doing something in terms of community building along with the food. I mean how would you tell people to start if they want to explore this in their own community?

Nick Spano: I think the most basic way to start is to start. That’s the first thing you have to do. I’m not an expert at really anything except for getting things done. You know sometimes I sit on a panel, I sat on a panel at USC and I’m a Bruin so it’s kind of funny to begin with, but, I was at a panel on sustainability and everyone there has a great title as a professional of some kind and I don’t really see myself in that same category, you know? I consider myself a doer and when it comes down to it you can have a lot of great ideas and great intentions but you have, you’re unable to start. Or you don’t know where to start or you’re looking for the perfect place to start. There is no perfect place. There is no perfect path. It’s simply just get out and start doing it and you will figure it out. You’ll find your way and especially with community. You will hit so many hurdles and so many people that don’t agree with maybe the direction that you’re going in and if that’s going to stop you then you won’t ever get anywhere. You kind of have to just, hit the streets, you know? Really start, start working the beat as they say. But, the other thing is if you can find support within the city. That’s a huge help. When we started our first market we got the support of Tom Lebonge our city councilman and that was very helpful especially when we had to move the market. But that was also, there was some challenges there as well because they have to tell it to their constituents and when the constituents weren’t happy with the parking situation they were also the first one to let us know that we couldn’t continue. So, but that relationship was a really important one to establish because it set the tone for our next market. So I think that, and the same thing in San Marino. In San Marino we approached the city manager and a farmers market had been proposed to city council wife in the previous years and had been shot down. So once we went to the city manager and kind of got their blessings with some background on the challenges that farmers market proposal had faced in the past it really allowed us to address some of the concerns of he community and made sure that we did go to city council, we were well prepared and we had the city on our side at that point and we also had the chamber of commerce on our side at that point. So, you know, you taken, whenever you’re trying to take on any community event you really take on the role of a political figure in some ways.

Robert Jacobson: Terrific. So whether, so there’s a little bit of politics involved whether you like it or not in terms of you know, you have to make sure the neighbors are happy, address their concerns, the local politicians, city managements and of course you want to provide a, you want to be a good revenue source for these farmers.

Nick Spano: Absolutely. At the end of the the day it’s a business for these guys and I try to remind everyone of that too that you know, everyone wants to see a market, they love it, they want the farmers to come out. Well for these farmers it’s a job, it’s, they don’t really want to be at the table selling they want to be in the field working. They want to be cultivating crops, that’s what they want to do and so if they’re going to spend three hours that night before loading the trucks and then a three hours to drive in the morning to get to market and then a three hour drive back they better make some money. And it’s our job to make sure that they make money. If they don’t make money they’re not going to come to our markets anymore. So we’re only a good as our last market. If we have a successful market where the farmers know they can, they can make a profit then they’ll keep coming to our markets. And it’s even more challenging with organic. Everyone wants organic but the cost of the product for the organic farmers is much more than your conventional farmer. So, you know, they have to make almost twice as much as the conventional farmer does to be in a market. So, it’s an education for everybody, not just in terms of the food we’re eating and where it’s coming from but really the business, you know, the business of farming.

Robert Jacobson: Thank you very much Nick for sharing. Hopefully that will be a little bit, it’s insightful for me and hopefully everybody else who may be watching this out in cyber land. That’s about all the time we have for today but I want to thank you Nick. Nick Spano from founder of LA City Farm. You can find them at Cal State Long Beach,Warner Brothers. Yamashiro, which is I guess seasonally, is that correct?

Nick Spano: Correct, yeah.

Robert Jacobson: And in San Marino, I think I’m missing one.

Nick Spano: Yeah, in Carson.

Robert Jacobson: Carson.

Nick Spano: SouthBay Pavilion.

Robert Jacobson: So everybody check out and You can subscribe here for more hangouts and we appreciate Nick for spending a little time for us on a farmers market day.

Nick Spano: Thanks Robert.

Robert Jacobson: Thank you Nick. Bye!

Nick Spano: Take care.

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Meal And A Spiel: Do It Yourself Snacks



Robert:  Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening wherever you are at. My name is Robert Jacobson. I’m with Gather Green and with Elana Horwich, of Meal and a Spiel. Elana, welcome.

Elana: Thank you. Hi Robert.

Robert: How are you doing?

Elana:  I’m great. How are you?

Robert:  I am really well and I am looking, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite subjects, which is food. And I’m a big snacker, and we have our sort of premier debut promotion with you on Gather Green. Before we get into that, how did you get into, you’ve been kind of a lifelong culinary master. How did you get interested in spending a lot of time cooking and then sharing it with the world? Tell us a bit on your entrepreneurial story.

Elana: I will. I’ll share that with you. I just wanted to say, a lifelong culinary master, well it did. I started cooking as a child and the joke is that basically the kitchen was the only place in the house my mother couldn’t find me, because she was a not a cook and no one cooked in my house, so that’s where I would go to play. So I did start cooking at a really early age, but when I was 20 I took time off of college and circumstance, luck brought me to Italy, and I ended up staying there for nearly five years. And I learned to cook a lot from my friends’ mothers and so I really had a huge appreciation for Italian food.

I didn’t actually do that professionally. I was, for a long time, it was just something that I was really passionate about and really learned a lot about cooking. And I also, I grew up in California. I grew up in LA. I happen to have food allergy, so I’ve been eating on this healthy, wheat free, low sugar thing for a long time. And so I’ve sort of made a marriage between these two particular types of food, and I started doing it for myself really. And a few years ago a friend of mine, who didn’t know how to cook at all, mentioned that she would like to learn to cook, but that she would have, but she said she would be unable to because she didn’t have the feel for it. And I, in the moment, like whipped up a plate of pasta with her from whatever we found in my fridge, and it was so good and so easy that she told her mother and they called me the next day and offered to pay me to teach them to cook.

And basically my cooking school started from that. Like I had a full, I had like six people, and then the next class I had a full class of people, and there’s a need for people to learn cook, and what I learned in Italy is needed. What they do in Italy every day, I just happened to learn and now I get to share it with others, and I love doing that.

Robert:  And so, for the promotion, the deal that you’re running with us, Do it Yourself Snacks, what I like about it is, II’m gluten free, and this one I know is particularly, it’s a no dairy, gluten free and low sugar Do it Your Snacks. Can you give us a couple examples on what the experience is gonna be like participating in one of your classes?

Elana: Well, participating in one of my classes is always, I have to say it’s a lot of fun. Like, people have a lot of fun. It’s a really intimate environment. It’s in a private home, which is really nice because you’re learning to cook in a kitchen that’s going to mimic your kitchen, and that’s very different from a lot of other cooking classes. And, just to say like, we even start each cooking class just going around the room saying our name and what level of cooking that we’re at, so we create a group unity and there’s just a lot of support. It’s a really fun environment.

The Do it Yourself Snacks class, I mean, this is the way that I eat. This is the way that like, people always want to know what do I eat when, what do I make for myself. This is the kind of food that I eat. And it was actually, the idea for the class came from a mother who wanted to have, a few mothers who wanted to have a class for their tween daughters, like 12 and 13. It’s sort of the age when girls begin to put on more weight, because self-conscious about their bodies. And opposed to trying to put these girls on diets, which is like, just kind of a traumatizing thing for girls that age, I know from personal experience. Like, let’s just teach them to eat healthy and thing that are gonna taste really good. And as we discussed this in a class, other adults in the class wanted to do it as well.

So I opened up the class and put it on the schedule for everyone to do. So we’re gonna make brussel sprout chips. So yummy, something that I just recently started making and I’m like in love with them. And I’m gonna show some of like the, desserts that I’ll make for myself late night when I have munchies. So, like my Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with my sunflower seed butter, and just things that really will meet your cravings, don’t take a long time to make, and are good for your body. They’re not gonna set you back.

Snacks usually set us back in our health regime, and like, this is just to show you how you can have a lot of options so that you can stay on your clean eating path or start a clean eating path and feel really satisfied.

Robert:  Very good. I’m looking forward to, I know I’m gonna at some point this spring, I intend to take, to participate in one of your classes and join up. And then you have a lot of other great classes there. People should check out, and the promotion will be running through So there’s some really fun looking dishes, I mean like, I’ve not heard of a brussel sprout chip. That sounds great. And snacking is something we all do, probably siding a little more on the unhealthy side, so learning how to make healthy snacks sounds wonderfully tasty and fun.

Elana, tell us, so do you typically, how many people do you have in your class? These are pretty small. They’ree pretty intimate. Is that correct?

Elana:  Yeah, they’re intimate. We have about, it depends who signs up. We have around 10 people per class, so that’s basically the number that we go for.

Robert:  Perfect to bring a friend, relative or meet a new friend there.

Elana:  Absolutely. People definitely make friends, and it’s also really fun, it’s also fun date night. People, it’s whoever. If you want to come alone you’re totally in good hands. I just want to tell people that, that they don’t need to bring a friend. A lot of people show up on their own and they will feel incredibly comfortable immediately, because I make that a priority. So I just want to let everyone know that if you just want to come and learn some snacks, and you don’t know anyone, you don’t know me. No problem. Like, you will be welcomed into the family immediately.

Robert: Spoken like, it seems like, just spoken like from the good Jewish tradition of just bring it all into the family.

Elana:  Absolutely. [laughter] Exactly. I was raised well. What can I say? [laughter]

Robert:  Elana, thank you very much for joining us today, and everybody subscribe to the YouTube channel for more hangouts. Check out where they’ve got other classes too. And then we’re going to have the promotion on snack fuel over on So Elana Horwich, founder and chief, I guess culinary master of Meal in a Spiel, thank you very much.

Elana:  You’re welcome. Thank you. Thanks Robert.

Robert:  Thank you very much. Bye everybody.

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Chocolate as Functional Medicine: YES CACAO

GatherGreen Hangout with Justin Polgar, Founder of Yes Cacao.



Speaker 1: Hello everybody. This is Robert Jacobson from GatherGreen and I’m with Justin Polgar of Yes Cacao. Good afternoon Justin.

Speaker 2: Yes, yes, yes, it is a good afternoon.

Speaker 1: How are you doing?

Speaker 2: I’m feeling pretty fresh, pretty renewed. I mean as far as breathing, that’ good. I’m hydrated. That’s also good. So check, check, I’ve eaten a good dose of chocolate today so that’s also doing good.

Speaker 1: So chocolate is our theme today. So Justin you have a special brand that you have been working on for a number of years that your, wonderfully gifted world. And tell us a bit about your medicine bars, your special chocolate from yes cacao.

Speaker 2: So, something that we have going on is original medicine bars here. Something that I was trying to figure out exactly what it is that these bars are called because what we are doing is we are taking wild cacao and we are infusing medicinal herbs into the cacao, so what is that called? Is it a chocolate bar? Yes, but it’s also kind of like this herbal daily dose of your herbal medicine. OK cool so what do we call it? It’s called an original medicine bar. The beauty of that is a) original we are talking about original medicine not our allopathic pharmaceutical medicine so we are redefining that. Original as in we are going back and using ayurvedic herbs, Taoist herbs South American superfoods really old school herbs and medicines and then it’s also original in that these are original formulas that came through me. I am very grateful to have a sensitive palette and a sensitive vessel here. Yeah, original medicine bars is what we came up with as our offering for now at least.

Speaker 1: And you just had the privilege of taking a little business trip down to Ecuador. You have to get your beans somewhere and you have to do some of your own original research on the ground. Tell us about your experience in Ecuador and what you did there and why you went.

Speaker 2: Well, in continuing, it’s important for me to have clarity about what I am doing, what I am offering to be able to speak from a continually strengthened integrity. I want to know what’s going on down there so sometimes we have to bite the bullet so to say. We have to take important trips and sacrifice our time and go down to tropical Ecuadorial countries and explore. In this case really what I was there to explore I really wanted to make a connection with the land with the beans themselves and with the source which is a unique source because we are getting it from the wild meaning this is wild cacao. We are not working with farms which I can go on with and there are some blog posts and there will be more blog posts going into the details why I believe that working with wild cacao has some benefits. And GatherGreen customers you guys are conscious pretty awake peeps so you are aware that when you put good things in your body good things come out in your expressions so yeah I went to Ecuador to explore and got to see some donkeys taking down like sugar cane from volcanic soil which is beautiful knowing that goes into the chocolate that we are using. Also, harvesting some wild cacao and feeling really connected to the, just really, really connected to the source of it and something else I leaned while I was down there is the importance of the fermentation process which there’s a lot of controversy and also a lot of conversation more so around how you ferment chocolate to bring it to its absolute best really to make it so it’s most beneficial to humans. And part of the process of the fermentation is cultivating the microorganmistic [sp] activity the live in the cacao that opens the pineal gland. That’s what we are really going for. We want chocolate for waking up. So that along with the herbs really helps a lot.

Speaker 1: So once you get these beans and you bring them back to your magic lab, what are some of the flavors that you currently have going? I know it there but I think people at home need to try them because they are wonderful.

Speaker 2: They are truly unique in the flavor profile and then as well in your experience in the physiological sensation. I am really a fan of instead of saying there are things in these chocolate bars I want people to really feel. I want you to eat the bar, you make a wish you take a bite. It’s the only rule and I want you to feel in your body the sensation of shifting into a better version of yourself. A more awake, a more alive version.

We have three bars that we currently offer. The dirty chocolate bar which is the original bar of yes cacao. And it’s a very grounding bar it has shalijit in it which is the conqueror of mountains, destroyer of weakness also has Tulsi which a lot of people are familiar with. Tulsi is like an analog of an anti anxiety. So those are the king and queen of ayurveda also we use Reishi mushroom so for those mycologists out there and fans of the mycelial world this mushroom is just spectacular for both opening up your connection and then strengthening your immune system. It also has a peppermint fennel thing going on which is really nice.

Then another bar we have is the caramel which happens to be the best seller. It’s a golden chocolate bar. There is just nothing like it in the flavor profile. When I ask people so what does this taste like to you? I get a lot of like this reminds me when I was 5 years old at this campfire. So I get like this smore thing. Some people think it’s graham crackers. Sometimes it’s caramel. Sometimes it’s like is that spicy or is that sweet. It’s got a whole profile. That one is all brain food functionality. So that’s actually we are using a 96% curcumin cold water extracted turmeric, it’s a medicinal grade turmeric in the chocolate to open up the flow of blood and oxygen to the back of the brain where we then use other herbs like bacopa and lions mane mushroom and gingko to clear up the synaptic channels so you are actually thinking a little bit more on your feet and able to pull things out of the amazing mind that you have there. And then the last bar that we put together is Gaba Baba which is fun to say. You guys can

Speaker1: Gaba Baba

Speaker 2: Chant that out as much as you want. Gaba relaxation bar, that one is allowing us to pull out of fight or flight. Gaba is gamma amino butyric acid which is a naturally produced hormone in our brain that balances melatonin and serotonin. When we can be really relaxed that’s when the creativity flows. This is also a bar that you can eat right before you go to sleep. Because of the relaxation of the gaba and it also has kava kava and blues lotus you are cruising

Speaker 1: Good stuff

Speaker 2: We are super stoked to team up with gathergreen and offer some deals if you will on these bars.

Speaker 1: Everybody you want to learn more at yes and we will be offering some periodic promotions of yes cacao via but it’s really something you can read about it. Justin does a wonderful way of articulating about this but until you really experience it, it is different than any chocolate that you find out there. I say that. I’ve enjoyed all of them and even some of them that predate days of you making some of the bars so I’ve tasted the alchemist, I guess some of your roots.

Speaker 2: It’s an evolution all of my fans and family of fans of yes cacao who witnessed the evolution and especially now we moved into a new production facility and updated our equipment so the texture, the smoothness of bars has come a long way which is great for palatability and to draw out the flavors. .Some people like chocolate as a candy some like a healthy snack now that we are learning about antioxidants in dark chocolate. I choose chocolate more as a staple food and more of something this is daily dose. This is my vehicle to get my herbs. If I get to eat chocolate and get the herbs that are maintaining my ability to be awake, aware enthusiastic and alive say yes to life that’s win win win win win so come win with us.

I know we have a deal where we have one of each so you get like a variety pack so one Dirty, 1 one Karma Mellowl, 1 Gaba Baba, and I believe that’s $15.99 and we are doing free shipping as well. So that’s the deal. As well we are also doing a deal with an 18 pack. Anyone who is familiar with taking herbs, it just gets better. The more regular that you eat the bars, the more regular that you take these herbs, the more compounded the effects are, the more natural way of living in your power, in your yes as we like to say it.

Speaker 1: Justin, wonderful. Thank you very much for joining us. Again we have Justin from yes cacao. I want everyone to check out yescacao.ocom and go to so you can take advantage of this wonderful introduction from yes cacao. Oh wow look that is the grounding bar so you have got some dirty chocolate there.

Speaker 2: little cameo there

Speaker 1: Yeah there you go. He has got a cool design too. The packaging is definitely. I like, well you guys have to experience it for yourself.

Speaker 2: Jump on the yes train just come over

Speaker 1: That’s right. Thanks Justin.

Speaker 2: Thank, Robert, always a pleasure to hang out.

Speaker 1: Until the next hangout. Bye everybody.

Speaker 2: Bye gathergreeners

Speaker 1:And subscribe to us here on youtube channel. Go to Youtube/gathergreen. A little shameless self promotion. Alright, ciao.

Speaker 2: Ciao Ciao

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21 Days to Better Health: Interview with Monica Klausner of Veestro

GG Hangout with Monica Klausner of Veestro: Monica will share about a new offering of meal deliveries.

Transcription of interview:
Speaker 2: Hi everybody. This is Robert Jacobson from Gather Green and I’m with Monica Klausner of Veestro. Good day!

Speaker 1: Hi Robert, how are you?

Speaker 2: I’m doing great Monica. Thanks so much for joining us. So this is our second hangout. It’s, we’re getting a lot better at this. It’s becoming a little easier each time we’re doing one.

Speaker 1: At least we’re trying.

Speaker 2: We’re trying. Yeah, we’re making use of the technology. So we have a new offering today that we’re going to be sharing to Gather Green subscribers. A 21 day challenge. Want to tell us a bit about that?

Speaker 1: Yeah. So we created this 21 day challenge because a lot of people are interested in kind of jump starting their body into a new healthy lifestyle — or healthier lifestyle. And, they just don’t really know where to start. So, you know, it takes 21 days to form a specific habit. So we figured, if we put a package together that allows you to eat one healthy meal a day, for 21 days, then it will give you that push that you need to kind of get you in the habit of eating healthier.

So, we made it pretty flexible. You know, we created it with 21 meals and six juices. So the juices can be used to get a cleanse going, to kind of just like get you started. So you would drink, you know, the juices for two days and then get started with the food. Or you can just use the juice as breakfast or with breakfast or as a snack. And just kind of go along with it.

Speaker 2: Terrific. So everybody, check out That’s V as in Victor, and so you can get all the details on this great deal. We don’t want to share everything so you got to check it out.

And make sure to, you know, if you like this company and end up buying the deal, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter. You know, follow them on social media. And the really — one thing I love about Veestro is ship, you include shipping.

Speaker 1: Yes. Actually this package is a particularly interesting package because it will get you started on a road to a, you know, better health. But once you get done with this, what you can do is come back to us and just basically pick and choose the things that you like. Or do another 21 day challenge. Or we are about to launch a subscription-based weight loss plan. So there’s a lot of exciting things coming up for Veestro. So check us out!

Speaker 2: Well everybody, check out Veestro. And Monica — we had Monica Klausner, co-founder of Veestro. We want to thank you very much for joining us today. And we are looking forward to hopefully our next one having an in-kitchen visit which,

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Which would be a fun, future hang out.

Speaker 1: That would be great. Anytime Robert. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2: Thanks Monica.

Speaker 1: Bye.

Speaker 2: Bye.

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Thank you: Message from GatherGreen

Friends of GatherGreen,

Today, we are renewing our commitment to each of you in building a prosperous and sustainable community. Our collective mission to build a more enduring, sustainable economy goes unchanged. 

**If you know of a business who could benefit from working with us, please let us know. We’d be happy to make that referral worth your time (the most valuable asset we might all have).** 

Reach us via email, Support AT GatherGreen Dot com or call us (323) 393-0190.

We’re in this effort together to make the world a better place and are appreciative of your continued support. 

Have a healthy and prosperous 2014.

In Gratitude,


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Something the US Gov is Getting Right :: Solar Decathlon

We took a field trip yesterday to the 2013 Solar Decathlon which is a creation of the U.S. Department of Energy. 20 collegiate teams from across the US, Canada, and Europe design, build and operate their solar powered homes. It’s an outstanding event, free to the public that is open through Sunday, October 13th.  If you want to see something related to government that actually works really well then the Solar Decathlon is that place. Bonus: it’s family and dog friendly too.

We were particularly impressed that each team took a local approach to their take on a solar home. Although we are local to SoCal and support SCIARC/CALTECH’s DALE house and USC’s FLUX home, the Austrians have “crowned” themselves the winner.

Our bet is the discerning American will go for West Virginia’s warm and welcoming home, PEAK.

If the current second place contender keeps it up, we might all be living the desert lifestyle via DESERT SOL

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Is Vegan Mainstream?


Originally posted by Vegworld Magazine

Ten years ago, the word vegan might have evoked for you an image of a scrawny, pale-faced youth who most likely smoked pot and ate nothing but pasta and lettuce. Today however, this image has been transformed into that of someone with golden glowing skin and a chiseled body gleaming with health, youth, and vitality. Eating a vegan diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with low incidences of nearly every type of disease. Cancer patients and people with heart disease are healing themselves with plant-based diets. Even chronic diseases like diabetes and Crohn’s disease are being stopped in their tracks with this switch to veganism.

Fortunately the medical community and our society at large are beginning to recognize the very real results people have when they make these diet changes. It simply can’t be ignored, especially when we have so many celebrities in the mainstream media helping veganism gain popularity and credence. Olympic gold medal winner Carl Lewis, famous boxer Mike Tyson, former president Bill Clinton, and countless stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Liv Tyler, Ellen Degeneres, Brad Pitt, Ben Stiller, Scarlett Johanson, Ozzy Osbourne, and Alyssa Milano all know the benefits a vegan diet has on their health and their public support of veganism is helping to change many lives. There are even several celebrities who have embraced a raw vegan diet! Robin Williams, Nathalie Portman, Uma Thurman, Jason Mraz and Woody Harrelson have all been heard talking about their raw diets and the amazing health they’ve since come to know as normal.

vegan_mainstream_02The thing is—it is normal. There’s a good reason that most of us know someone who is vegan or who’s at least dabbled with vegetarianism. While the media has a lot to do with this sudden acceptance of veganism, the real-life results speak for themselves. Despite the debate over whether humans thrive on a diet without meat, the facts are overwhelmingly in support of a well-planned vegan diet filled with fresh fruits, greens, and vegetables. These are the foods that are provided to us by the earth to meet our nutritional needs. What could be simpler or more intuitive than that?

Dozens of films have been produced over the past few years to help usher in a growing awareness of the problems with the standard American diet, as well as the healing power of vegan and raw vegan diets. The most well known is “Supersize Me”, in which Morgan Spurlock decides to make himself the guinea pig in an experiment that clearly demonstrates the damage done by eating fast food. While being followed around by a team of doctors, Morgan commits to eating nothing but McDonalds food for an entire month. During this time he gains about 24 pounds, experiences dangerously elevated cholesterol levels, and watches his health go down the drain. His doctors urge him to stop, but he finishes out the whole month-long commitment. It took him another 14 months on a strict vegan diet to undo the damage done in that month.

Then there’s “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead”, which follows Joe Cross through his journey from obesity and depression to radiant health with the help of juice fasting and a raw vegan diet. We watch Joe lose weight and transform his health along with that of everyone around him.

“Forks Over Knives” explores the perplexing dichotomy between our advances in medicine and the fact that more people than ever are suffering from chronic and degenerative diseases and terminal illnesses. It all points to a logical conclusion. Let’s see if you can guess what that conclusion is.


“Get Vegucated” (see story on pg. 25) begs us to consider the fact that “We are digging more graves with our forks than with anything else and it’s not just our graves, it’s the graves of the future.” It’s a heavy statement. But when three random people are challenged to go vegan for six weeks, their journey through fisheries, slaughterhouses, and the discovery of the toll meat eating takes on our environment and health takes these individuals passed the point of no return. After all, how can we go back after we’ve been shown the truth.

Now I challenge you to ask yourself: Does my refrigerator look like a garden or a morgue? You are what you eat. Are you eating for life?

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