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Via Organica’s Zero Waste Campaign: Be Part of the Movement!

Let’s Make San Miguel the First Zero-Waste City in Mexico!

The objective of the Zero Waste movement is to move all reusable, recyclable, and organic matter out of landfills. Composting is an important part of the Zero Waste movement— food waste that would previously be rotting in the landfill, releasing dangerous methane gas and making garbage pickers sick, is instead transformed into an essential ingedient in healthy soils.

In the United States, green-minded cities like San Francisco and Seattle have now passed laws requiring all household and commercial food wastes to be separated and composted. Let’s follow their lead and be pioneers in Mexico’s Zero Waste future.

Join Vía Orgánica’s Zero Waste Club:

How? Become a member with a $50pesos donation. We will give you two buckets; a small, black one for your kitchen scraps and a big, white one for storage until you deliver it, full, to Via Organica. We will take your food scraps to our farm and turn it into healthy compost! When you drop off your full bucket we will give you a clean one in return.

When? Monday and/or Friday 8-8:30 am

Do Compost

    All your vegetable and fruit wastes, (including rinds and cores)
    Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, noodles: anything made out of flour!
    Grains (cooked or uncooked)
    Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
    Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
    Old spices
    Outdated boxed foods from the pantry
    Egg shells (crush well)
    Corn cobs and husks (cobs break down very slowly)

Do Not Compost

    Meat or meat waste, such as bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc. (unless from organic production)
    Fish or fish waste
    Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. (give them to your house pet)
    Grease and oils of any kind

Want to help even more? Separate:

    Paper and cardboard
    Glass
    Aluminium

If you separate your garbage before it goes to the landfill, garbage pickers won’t have to, making it more likely that the materials will get recylced and the garbage workers will not get sick or injured picking through our trash.

Organic Doesn’t Mean Expensive!

By Molly Blakemore

One myth about organic food is that it is too expensive. Given that organic food contains less water and 25-50% more nutrients, gram for gram, organic food is often cheaper than chemical food and chatarra, or junk food. It’s possible to be frugal and still support local organic farms. Here is a recipe for a three-course, gourmet, organic meal for a family of four for about $60 pesos per person. All ingredients can be found at the Via Organica tienda at Margarito Ledesma #2 Col. Guadalupe.

Vegetarian Green Enchiladas

Serves 4

3 Enchiladas per person

Ingredients

    1 kilo organic tomatillos $25p
    1 package organic tortillas $16p
    1 bunch organic spinach, chopped $17p
    2 cloves whole organic garlic $2p
    3 cloves chopped organic garlic $3p
    ½ small organic onion, cut into large chunks $5p
    1 organic Serrano pepper $1p
    1 cup organic cilantro, cleaned $3p
    2 tsp organic olive oil $2p
    200g grated organic Manchego cheese $38p
    1 cup organic sour cream $10p

___________

Grand Total: $122p

Directions

    In a large pot of boiling water, cook tomatillos, whole garlic and Serrano pepper until soft (about 12 minutes).
    In a blender combine tomatillos, garlic, Serrano pepper, cilantro and onion and blend until smooth.
    Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat, sauté spinach and 3 cloves chopped garlic until al dente.
    Mix together cheese and sour cream (or blend together with the tomatillo sauce).
    On a Comal or in a skillet, heat tortillas,  flipping often until soft.
    Roll spinach mixture into tortillas.
    Set rolled tortillas in a glass baking dish in a single layer.
    Cover tortillas with tomatillo sauce and cheese mixture.
    Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
    Enjoy!

Green Bean Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

    ½ kilo organic green beans $25p
    5 organic radishes, sliced thin $4p
    1 bell organic bell pepper, chopped $5p
    ½ small organic red onion $5
    1 head organic lettuce of your choice $10
    ½ organic oil (olive, corn) $3
    1 pinch organic Mexican oregano $2
    2 tbs. red or white vinegar $2
    1 clove organic garlic, minced $1
    Salt and pepper to taste $1

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Grand Total: $63p

Directions

    Steam green beans until al dente, about 10 minutes.
    Mix oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper for dressing.
    Toss beans, radishes, bell pepper, onion and any additional ingredients together with dressing.
    Serve on a bed of lettuce.
    Enjoy!

Optional Additions

Preparing a kilo of beans lentils and cannelloni and freezing them for later use is a cheap, quick and healthy way to add protein and fiber to a meal.

    4 tbs. organic lentils, cooked and drained (1 kilo $28p)
    4 tbs. organic cannelloni beans, drained (1 kilo $33p)
    Feta or Ranchero cheese, crumbled (200 g $48p)

Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

    2 ½ cups cooked organic sweet potatoes $32p
    2 tbs. organic flour $1p
    2 tbs. unsalted organic butter $4p
    2 cups organic milk $10
    ½ tsp. ground organic ginger $2
    ½ tsp. ground organic cinnamon $1
    ½ tsp. ground organic nutmeg $2
    2 ½ cups water
    Salt and pepper to taste $1

___________

Grand Total: $53p

Directions

    In a heavy saucepot, over medium-low heat, cook the flour and butter, stirring constantly until roux achieves a light caramel color.
    Add water bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
    Stir in the sweet potatoes and spices, bring to a simmer again, and cook for 5 minutes more.
    In a blender, puree the soup in batches and return to saucepot. Add the milk, and reheat soup.
    Season with salt and pepper
    Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve.

Consumer Alert: Beware of Pesticide Contamination of Non-Organic Foods

By Danielle Dellorto, CNN, June 1, 201

If you’re eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides with it, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

The group, a nonprofit focused on public health, scoured nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine what fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue.

Most alarming are the fruits and vegetables dubbed the «Dirty Dozen,» which contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. These foods are believed to be most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides.

«It’s critical people know what they are consuming,» the Environmental Working Group’s Amy Rosenthal said. «The list is based on pesticide tests conducted after the produce was washed with USDA high-power pressure water system. The numbers reflect the closest thing to what consumers are buying at the store.»

Special report: Toxic America

The group suggests limiting consumption of pesticides by purchasing organic for the 12 fruits and vegetables.

«You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80 percent by buying the organic version of the Dirty Dozen,» Rosenthal said.

The Dirty Dozen

Celery

Peaches

Strawberries

Apples

Domestic blueberries

Nectarines

Sweet bell peppers

Spinach, kale and collard greens

Cherries

Potatoes

Imported grapes

Lettuce

President’s Cancer Panel: ‘Eat Organic, Ward Off Cancer’

By Marion Nestle, The Atlantic, May 12, 2010

Thanks to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times («New alarm bells about chemicals and cancer») for telling readers about a report on chemicals and cancer released last week by the President’s Cancer Panel.

I had never heard of this panel—appointed during the Bush Administration, no less—and went right to its 2008-2009 annual report (PDF).

The Panel says that the «risk of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated,» that «nearly 80,000 chemicals [are] on the market in the United States, many of which are … understudied and largely unregulated,» and that «the public remains unaware … that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults.»

Evidence suggests that some environmental agents may initiate or promote cancer by disrupting normal immune and endocrine system functions. The burgeoning number and complexity of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compel us to act to protect public health, even though we may lack irrefutable proof of harm.

I’m guessing this report will cause a furor. Why? «Lack irrefutable proof» means the science isn’t there. In this situation, the Panel advises precaution. Check out these examples selected from the recommendations:

    Parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children’s exposure to toxics. Ideally, both mothers and fathers should avoid exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
    It is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.
    Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing … food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers [translation: organics] and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues.
    Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feedlots can be minimized by eating free-range meat [translation: don’t eat feedlot meat].

Expect to hear an uproar from the industries that might be affected by this report. The American Cancer Society (ACS) doesn’t like it either (see Denise Grady’s take on the report, also in the New York Times), since the report implies that the ACS hasn’t been doing enough to educate the public about this issue. The ACS said in a report:

Elements of this report are entirely consistent with the recently published «American Cancer Society Perspective on Environmental Factors and Cancer» … Unfortunately, the perspective of the report is unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer, and by its dismissal of cancer prevention efforts aimed at the major known causes of cancer (tobacco, obesity, alcohol, infections, hormones, sunlight) as «focused narrowly» … it would be unfortunate if the effect of this report were to trivialize the importance of other modifiable risk factors that, at present, offer the greatest opportunity in preventing cancer.

ACS says the Panel does not back up its recommendations with enough research. Maybe, but why isn’t ACS pushing for more and better research on these chemicals? However small the risks—and we hardly know anything about them—these chemicals are unlikely to be good for human health. Doesn’t precaution make sense? I think so.

Vía Orgánica: The Organic Way–One Year After

By Molly Blakemore

In May Via Organica celebrated the one-year anniversary of our organic grocery store and affiliated restaurant, our organic farm school, and our website. Many of you are probably familiar with one or another of our projects here in San Miguel. Perhaps you shop at our store in the Guadalupe neighborhood (Margarito Ledesma #2) or have attended an organic farming workshop (at the greenhouse in the Parque Landeta), or visited our booth at the San Miguel Eco-Fair in March. But many of you may not know about the full range of our work locally and throughout Mexico.

Working in conjunction with progressive local officials, as well as dozens of small farmer, organic, and environmental networks, Via Organica (VO), is rapidly becoming a leading force in the organic movement in Mexico. Via Organica’s successful projects include a thriving full-line organic food store, organic wholesale business, and restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, which employs 25 people and buys organic food from over 100 regional small farmers; an ongoing organic agriculture school for small farmers that has already attracted over 500 farmers from all over Mexico; a model organic farm plot and greenhouse; a forthcoming organic farmers market; and a public education outreach program utilizing Via Organica staff and visiting speakers, newspaper articles, radio, public events, and the internet.

On March 19-21 Via Organica co-sponsored a major Eco-Fair (Expo Feria Ambiental) in San Miguel, which attracted thousands of participants and visitors interested in organic food and farming, solar and wind energy, and green building and permaculture practices. The fair was a huge success, demonstrating that with the support of Mayor Nuñez and her administration the «organic way» message has the potential to spread, not only across the municipalidad, but all of Mexico.

Via Organica’s daily updated Spanish website www.viaorganica.org is up and running. After this inaugural issue of VO¹s bi-lingual Spanish and English language, electronic newsletter, Boletin Via Organica will continue to go out every month to thousands of green-minded consumers, students, and farmers across Mexico. Via Organica has joined an initiative sponsored by Consumers International (CI) and Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco (CEJ) called «Ciudades Semilla» or «Seed Cities».

The November 2009 meeting brought together a network of like-minded individuals in cities across Mexico and Latin America that are determined to change the way cities deal with major environmental issues such as transportation, energy use, consumption, garbage, water, and food. Via Organica is also in the process of becoming an affiliate member of Consumers International, which has member groups in 100 countries.

In mid-April, several Via Organica staff members traveled to Cochabamba, Bolivia for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. More than 35,000 delegates from social movements and organizations from 140 countries participated in this «grassroots climate summit,» organized as an alternative to the failed Copenhagen Climate talks.

Via Organica and hundreds of other groups are now planning for demonstrations and teach-ins at the next UN Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico (November 29-December 10, 2010), billed as the next round of Copenhagen. Via Organica plans to organize a sizeable delegation of North American organic consumers and farmers to attend the Alternative Climate Summit in Cancun. If you are interested is being part of the Via Organica delegation, please contact us.