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A Green Weekend

Posted Oct 23 2008 1:19pm
J visited our local branch of theChicago Public Librarybright and early on Saturday for their annual book sale. He bought the three books you see here for an impressive $2.25. Uma apparently approves of our purchases.

Does anyone have any favorite recipes fromVegan Vittlesto recommend?

The big event for the weekend was Chicago's firstGreen Festival, held atMcCormick Place, which is the largest convention center in the country. I must say that the facilities were a little startling in their scale - I felt like I was in the never-ending building or some sort of weird city of the future.
The actual festival was held in only a small portion of MP, though. Here you can see the swarms of people waiting to get in. For $14, J and I got admission for two days, subscriptions toThe NationandPlenty, a one year membership toGlobal ExchangeandCo-op America, and an organic Green Festival t-shirt. What a bargain!

Once beyond the entrance, visitors were transported to an eco-friendly free-for-all. Really, the organization of this event was not top-notch (hey, it was their first year here, so I cut them some slack) and it was very crowded, but I don't have many complaints beyond that. Booth after booth was filled with organic clothing, sustainable housing solutions, fair trade products, and various non-profit organizations and service providers.

One of my favorites was the organic and sustainable furniture. Wouldn't our dwelling spaces be so serene if we all had furniture like this, that wasn't outgassing and making us ill? Very comfy, too.

Of course, there were many speakers to see, as well. On Saturday, we sat through ten minutes or so of Amy Goodman's presentation before deciding it wasn't really for us. We saw Jim Hightower later that evening, which was entertaining. Pictured above is Frances Moore Lappe, author of many books including the famousDiet for a Small Planet, which I have actually never read. Overall, I liked what she had to say, although for some reason I had thought she was vegan (all the presenters, including her, kept mentioning dairy farms for some weird reason).

Lucky for me, I don't need to summarize what all the presenters said because their presentations will be available forfreein May on theGreen Festivals website- so you can all hear them, too.

Somewhere down in the front of this picture is a shadowyDavid Wolfewith his slide of cacao beans. As usual, he was hyped up on caffeine. We found him less inspiring than we did in our last encounter back in September, yet when we visited Whole Foods on the way home, we found ourselves sucked into buying a jar of cacao powder and a bag of goji berries. Seriously, he has this effect on people. I don't know if it's subliminal messages or what.

I was curious to know what he thought about the globalization of our food supply, especially since the raw food diet is so dependent on tropical food products. He kind of answered my question before I asked it, when telling a story of a young man who came up to his booth, drinking coffee, and telling him that he shouldn't be selling chocolate because it's not local. Wolfe scoffed at this man's hypocrisy and apparently told him that they could reduce carbon emissions from transportation down to zero by utilizing wind power (read: sail boats) to ship tropical foods, like they did "back then." J and I thought this was silly on a number of levels, but I still wondered what he would have said to me, a non-coffee drinker.

Amid Mr. Wolfe's cacao-induced fantasies of wishing he were Montezuma, I did learn an interesting fact about cacao that I did not know before: the trees grow beneath the canopy of old-growth rainforests - and nowhere else. Planting cacao trees serves to protect areas from deforestation since they are such a valuable crop.

The highlight of the festival was the chance to seeCongressman Dennis Kucinich, the only presidential candidate who accepted the Green Festival's invitation to attend. Here you can see him, as well as hisyoungwife (on the far left with the red hair). His speech gave me hope that not everyone in the government is completely off their rocker. He spoke a lot about communing with nature as a basic human right and broadening the US railway systems (as in Europe)...

...and the people approved. He received more than one standing ovation. At one point, though, when speaking about the impact of our food choices on the environment, he said, "any of you who are vegans will know what I mean," and J and I were two of maybe six people to applaud. Still in the minority, even at the Green Fest - oh well.

J and D - forever captured on "film." I must say that the K-man is pretty cool in person - my only question is,why is he a Democrat?Couldn't he be somethingbetter? At any rate, it's really too bad he has no chance of winning in 08...

Finally, there was plenty of great food from a number of local restaurants. The best part was that all the food being served was 100% VEGAN! There were a few booths outside the "food court" that were giving out samples of yogurt and cheese, but there was definitely no meat in sight. I was so impressed that all the visitors would be eating vegan meals all weekend.

In the picture above you see our dinner from Saturday night: a raw burger with cashew mayo and a flax cracker fromCousin's Incredible Vitality. It tasted pretty good (excluding the yucky olives), but it made me realize that I'm not missing much by not eating prepared raw recipes like that anymore.

Lunch on Sunday consisted of the largest slice of vegan lasagna I've ever seen, fromChicago Diner, with a pumpernickel roll and veggie salad. Delicious and filling - lots of tofu. Surprisingly, the tomatoes (which I haven't eaten in months) didn't really bother my stomach.

And there were some treats to be eaten, too, naturally. Here we have a vanilla/vanilla cupcake fromChicago Diner...filled with vanilla pudding, much to my surprise. I don't think I need to tell you that there's no way this could have been bad. The cake itself almost tasted like sweet cornbread - very tasty.

The last hoorah - something I never thought I would see - vegan waffle cones (when was the last timeyouhad a waffle cone??). I think this must be what they serve in vegan heaven. This particular cone was filled withChicago SoyDairy'scookie dough Temptation soy cream. Not only is this brand local, but it is theonlyproducer of vegan "ice creams" that doesn't share equipment with dairy products. Sadly, they are being taken off the shelf of many Whole Foods Markets, but you can still find them in locally-owned natural food stores.

That concludes your tour of the Chicago Green Festival. Next year, they are adding Seattle to their list of cities (in addition to the already established San Francisco and DC). This weekend was exhausting but fun - a great way to spend Earth Day...but shouldn't everyday be a day that we celebrate the earth?
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