Smartblogs.com reports that Denver salad chain MAD Greens has added truly locally grown salad to the menu. The company got its first produce order from Vertifresh, a local startup that uses hydroponic technology to grow lettuce and other greens in retrofitted shipping crates in a warehouse in an industrial part of Denver. The warehouse — dubbed a “farmplex” — holds five 20-foot-long re-purposed shipping containers, each capable of turning out the equivalent of 2.5 acres of lettuce every 27 days, about half of the time of a traditional crop grown in soil, without using herbicides or pesticides. The closed system uses 90 percent less water than traditional fields. The lettuce costs about 50 percent more than they would pay for the lettuce from California. MAD Greens offers a local salad for a slight upcharge and reports that customers have been willing to pay it.
Aspen reaps $3,950 from paper bag fees
The Associated Press reports that a 20-cent fee that customers pay for each paper bag they use at Aspen grocery stores has generated thousands of dollars. The fee, which took effect May 1, brought in about $3,950 in its first two months of existence, representing about 19,750 paper bags. Grocers haven’t said how many bags their customers used before the fee was enacted, so it’s not clear if the fee is encouraging people to use fewer bags.
Boulder school menu: potstickers, tamales and a chicken pesto sandwich
Dailycamera.com reports that the Boulder Valley School District had already added salad bars in every cafeteria, nixed most processed food and removed foods with added trans fats. But new USDA school lunch guidelines still required the district to make its wheat tortillas smaller this year, and add more vegetables and beans to its taco filling recipe. The school district’s new menu items include nitrate-free pepperoni pizza, potstickers from Boulder County-based Sisters’ Pantry, tamales and a meatball sub. The district also is making all its salad dressing from scratch, and bakes its regular and sweet potato french fries. An “Iron chef-”style student cooking competition yielded a chicken po’boy sandwich and a chicken pesto sandwich. There’s a meatless option every day.
The next ban: plastic restaurant take-out and doggie bags
Commissioners in Santa Cruz County, Calif., will hold a public hearing next month to reconsider a ban on plastic takeout bags at restaurants. The measure was originally part of a larger bag ban that took effect in March but was dropped as a condition of settling a lawsuit with a pro-plastic group; 27 area restaurants have come out in favor of the ban.
Bittman: Getting real food to more people requires changes
“We need to not cut but raise the amount of support we give to recipients of food stamps. … We need not only to attack the nonsensical and wasteful system that pays for corn and soybeans to be grown to create junk food and ethanol, but to support local and national legislation that encourages the birth of new small- and-medium farms. We need to encourage both new and established farms to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, to raise animals in sensible ways and, using a combination of modern and time-tested techniques, treat those animals well and use their products sensibly. In short, we need more real farmers.” – Mark Bittman, New York Times
– Staff and wire service reports