Category Archives: Go Local

Sustaining Your New Year’s Resolutions

This Word by: Emily Holden

We are officially one week into 2011! Have you kept up with your New Year’s resolutions? Among the most popular New Year’s Resolutions this year are to lose weight, be happy, eat, drink, learn, or try something new, and a New Year’s resolution trend in Houston, to live in a green and clean house. If one or several of these objectives sounds familiar to you, then you might consider how sticking to just one or two of these goals can actually help you achieve all of them.

Studies show that people who commit to fewer resolutions and approach old problems in new ways are more likely to stick to their goals. Due to such research and an OMPP obsession with high quality, delicious, and local foods, we feel compelled to focus on how resolving to consume good food and drink may help you lose a few pounds, be happier, and keep a green household. And what a relief it is to know that food and drink are still essential ingredients in your 2011 recipe for success!

Drink local wines to optimize personal health and environmental benefits. According to Ron Saikowski, Texas wineries are producing more and better quality wines than ever, with some like Red Caboose Winery leading the way in green and organic viticulture. So, chose local wines and you can boost the Texas economy while funding environmentally sound wine production.  Also, this is good news for you ladies, research reveals that drinking a glass of wine each day may actually prevent weight gain over time in women and provide other health benefits like lower glucose levels and more optimal kidney functioning. Why not resolve to drink one glass of local red wine a day (moderation being the key of course) in order to lose weight, boost your mood, and maintain a green lifestyle?

If changing this one behavior is not quite enough to satisfy your New Year’s declarations, make grocery shopping a part of your fitness routine by walking, jogging, or cycling to your local markets. By taking this step towards change you can control many aspects of your life in a single errand. Aim for local markets and you’ve set an achievable destination for a day’s workout.  Surround yourself with local and organic foods and you’ll be faced with an abundance of smart, healthy food options to pick from. Limit the amount of items you can carry and you’ll buy only what you need for dinner or for the next few days, and you’ll be forced to make another fitness filled grocery run at least a couple of times a week. Stop by the Rice University Farmers Market every Tuesday, where we get the best organic, local goods for our menu!

Keep on ringing in the new year with us by making the little choices count for a lot. We’re right here with you working to make some big changes in 2011 through fundamental choices, choosing to serve local and fresh foods to keep our community healthy, happy, and green.

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Are your holiday traditions sustainably outdated?

This Word by: Ginny Torok

Holiday traditions are an important factor in creating holiday cheer. Does your family have a tradition? For as long as I can remember, Santa has left apples by our beds Christmas eve. In the morning, we awake, ecstatic for the huge red apple left mysteriously on our bedside table. When I think about this now, what a rip off – where’s the candy?! But hey, that’s one way to get kids to eat their fruit!

Family traditions have been in effect so long, no one notices their dihar need for an update, sometimes a sustainable one. We all look forward to piles of gifts under the tree, making this one of the most needed areas of a sustainable re-do. Just as you always should, think about where your gifts are coming from. The holiday season generates almost $500 billion from Americans alone. Think of how much economic growth you could create in your community if you contain most of your gift shopping within city limits. Every dollar you spend locally is more likely to get recycled through the community, resulting in a $5 to $14 value in that community!

Oh, the sweet smells of the holidays. Fresh baking pie, cinnamon apple cider, pine needles and sweet, sweet…landfill? One million extra tons of waste are accumulated nationwide during each week of the holiday period. Check out Green Solutions Magazine for some tips on holiday season recycling.

Remember, your Christmas tree doesn’t have to turn into a wasteful post-Christmas lawn decoration. Buy a live Christmas tree with roots and plant or pot it when you’re done. If you must get rid of your tree, make sure you find a place that recycles trees in your neighborhood. You can use Earth911 to find places to recycle your tree, along with all other types of recyclable materials, in your area.

Do you compete with your neighbors for the best looking decorations? This year, impress them with the best and brightest lights, when you use sustainable LED or solar powered lighting! LED lights use up to 95% less energy than regular bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours. Solar powered lights shine beautifully with no use of electricity. Also, try making your own decorations out of recycled, biodegradable, and reusable materials. See About.com Green Living for some sustainable Christmas decoration ideas.

Last, but never least, holiday food! As always – think local. Cater your holiday parties from local vendors. Leave it to us at OMPP to make your holidays delicious with an assortment of warm seasonal pies. If you wish to make your own holiday meals, remember to source ingredients from local vendors and farmers markets. See our Thanksgiving post for some tips on local holiday meals. And stay posted for an upcoming local vendor spotlight, who we think will ROLL right into your heart. 😉

Happy Holidays!

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Local 3: Your Houston Thanksgiving Feast

This word by: Ginny Torok

I bet when the Native Americans and Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving they didn’t imagine that in almost 400 years 79% of seafood, 39% of fruit and 13% of vegetables would be imported from other countries. This Thanksgiving, show your pride for America, and support local businesses. We have found the best vendors for three of the most important parts of the Thanksgiving meal.

1. Let’s just start with the obvious: Turkey! One awesome Houston turkey-wrangler is located just north of the bustling city, in Waller, TX. Georgia’s Texas Grassfed Beef and Natural Meats also sells grass fed beef and lamb, pork, pastured poultry and of course, free-range turkey. You can even order your meat online and have it delivered to you house. If you don’t need to stock up for an order, track them down at several local Houston farmer’s markets. To find another source of local meat and turkey anywhere in Texas, use Eatwild’s farm and ranch search.

2. We all know what is next on the list of Thanksgiving celebration importance. We’re talking about booze, folks! 16% of wine and beer is imported from other countries. Are we not proud of our settlers’ hard work? Let’s be serious – you can’t rightfully toast the Mayflower with glasses full of imported goods. When you shop any grocery or liquor store for wine, always take a look at the Texas selection. You can order wine online from Messina Hof Winery, with vineyards located just outside of Houston in Bryan, TX. Our always favorite choice for local beer, St. Arnold’s Brewery, sells pretty much any beer you and your guests could dream of for the perfect Thanksgiving feast compliment. For a more complete list of Texas-made wine, beer and spirits check out the Texas Food and Wine Gourmet.com.

3. Last but certainly not least, carbs and dessert! Our number one artisan bakery Krafts’men Baking, located in the Houston Montrose neighborhood, serves up fresh breads and pastries that, if Thanksgiving weren’t exempt from all caloric intake, would go straight to your thighs. Their products are made from high quality, often organic, ingredients and are never mass produced! You can stop by retail cafe to pick up your grain-goods, or visit them at the Midtown Farmer’s Market every Saturday. For your huge family feast, order Krafts’men products for wholesale delivery by phone or email. Slow-made, freshly baked bread at your door with the click of a button or dial of a phone? Bet the Pilgrims didn’t guess that one either!

This Thanksgiving, remember how lucky we are to live in America – don’t outsource your American celebration! Houston has some pretty amazing vendors. Let them put the food on your table, and you’ll have the best Thanksgiving on the block. Remember, the more you support Houston vendors, the more Houston’s economy will flourish. Money out is money in (and some good food in – your belly – too!) Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

This Word by: Ginny Torok

As the little guy, it’s not easy, but we do it. At OMPP we are committed to creating the smallest footprint possible – that’s why we use biodegradable materials, compost all our waste, and support local businesses and farmers. Our question is: if we do it, why can’t they?

Being sustainable and local as a business doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come cheap.  As a small business it can be a challenge. With fewer employees, and less money to throw around, the obstacles of being the little guy and being green can be pretty tough – but since it’s what we believe in, we go the extra mile. We have noticed more and more corporations going green and going local – we say, “It’s about time!”

Corporations have more resources, people and money, to use green practices. Businesses such as, Starbucks, HP, Coca Cola, Adidas and Walmart, have all begun to pave the path for green corporations. Starbucks and Walmart are also doing what they can to support more local artists and farmers.

Walmart recently announced its plans for sustainable agriculture. These plans will strive to put more locally grown produce in stores, and monitor the efficiency and sustainability of their produce providers.

Corporations of this size announcing dedication to sustainability and the local movement shouldn’t be so shocking. After all, these corporations are the guys with the resources to make such moves possible. Why aren’t all corporations following suit?

Our challenge to you: think about the businesses you support. Are they making moves to run sustainably, support local, or other green practices? Think there’s nothing you can do about it? Think again! Part of the reason any corporations are practicing in a more sustainable matter is because they have realized it is what people want. The people have spoken, have you?

Check out this Global 100 list of the top 100 sustainable corporations – If a corporation you support is not on this list, tell them! Like any good relationship, communication is key. Tell them what you want! Write on the customer service Web page, submit a comment in their store, do anything you can to get your voice out there – if enough people are talking, they will hear you.

With more corporations being more socially responsible, hold yourself responsible for making the right decisions too. Support the businesses making sustainable choices over the ones that haven’t stepped up. These kind of sustainable actions in big businesses are just the start. We are at the threshold of a major movement in which you can take part. Do your part.

Of course, you should always support locally owned businesses when you can, because like we said, it’s not easy being the little guy – and being green!

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Green Eggs and Easter

Hold on Easter Bunny – ditch those old wasteful Easter baskets! there is still time to make this Easter local, sustainable, and green…

First, act sustainably and reduce waste by re-using your Easter baskets. Choose a nice, high quality, wooden or tin basket that will last for years. Easter basket painting can also act as a great craft for kids prior to the big day. A neat idea from SuperEco.com is to consider growing your own grass in each basket, instead of using more non-biodegradable grass of the plastic variety. But, if you are going to use plastic grass,  save it and reuse it each year – it will not go bad!

To fill those baskets we suggest, as with most other holidays, buying fair trade local chocolates and candies. You can easily find a candy shop in Houston to buy fine, organic, fair trade candy, but if you are looking for some bags of bulk candy for the kiddos, a good place to find them is Whole Foods or the like. They will have a large selection of fair trade, organic candies. Also, think about hand making your Easter basket gifts. Can you knit, sew, or even braid a friendship bracelet? Let’s face it – kids will love almost anything fun, colorful, and sugar-filled in their basket, so why not act sustainably and save some money by making your own gifts?

Next, let’s focus on the main event – Coloring Easter eggs. Put down the food coloring and step away from the mixing table. Check your fridge for a few simple ingredients that can color your eggs any shade of the spectrum, naturally. Here is a list from suite101.com of some ingredients to make a few colors, but you can go wild with any natural dye combination you can think of: Purple grape juice (for lavender), Red cabbage (for blue), Spinach (for green), Carrot tops, orange peels or lemon peels (for yellow), Coffee or black walnut shells (for brown), Yellow onion skins (for orange), Beets or cranberries (for pink), Red onion skins (for red). Find more instructions on how to color your eggs naturally here.

We hope these few tips will get you thinking about sustainability this Easter. It is important, always, but especially during each holiday, to remember how to stay green while you celebrate. Now that you have all these tips for a sustainable Easter, go out there and celebrate, Easter Bunny style!

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Forget Pink and Red: Make this Valentine’s Day GREEN!!

This year we’ve asked the environment to be our valentine!

When it comes to a holiday like Valentine’s Day, all we want to do is impress our sweetheart. Most of us aren’t thinking about the environmental impact that Valentine’s Day has. This V-Day, be creative with your cards and gifts; be green this Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is the second largest card sending holiday, with around a billion valentines sent globally each year. Although we want you to think your sweethearts keep those cards, ultimately, paper cards create a lot of unnecessary waste. According to Rainforest Web, the United States has under five percent of the world’s population, yet consumes more than thirty percent of the world’s paper: that includes those valentines! So, cut back and choose to send cards made from recycled paper, or tree-free paper (details available: http://tinyurl.com/cfaw2l). It is easiest (and more heart-felt!) to make your own cards out of these special forms of paper. Or, just send an e-card…who needs paper these days anyway!

Chocolate: Over 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year. Imagine how much you could help to boost your city’s economy by buying that chocolate from a locally owned shop! Another suggestion is to buy fair-trade chocolates or other food products. Additionally, if you are searching for a gift certificate, make sure you are searching locally. For example, find independent spas that use all natural products. Reserve dinner plans at a local restaurant that uses organic, local, and/or sustainable products. Give an OMPP gift card (Pie is SO romantic!)

Another common V-Day gift, jewelry, will not only hurt your wallet, but comes at a cost to the environment and human life (I.E. “blood diamonds”). Gem and precious metal mining destroy thousands of acres of land a year and release harmful chemicals, needed to process the minerals, into the environment. Cyanide and mercury are among a few dangerous chemicals released in processing gold. Obviously, you can opt to not buy precious gems and metals by choosing jewelry made from nature’s other beauties like shells, glass, and wood. But if your valentine just HAS to have those jewels, find jewelers who are certified to be sourcing products that are mined with the least ecological and social harm. Or buy a unique, used, vintage piece that none of the other gals in town will have!

If you are interested in actively helping out the environment this V-day, Woodland Heights students from Hogg Middle School host a pretty fun annual event http://www.greenvalentine.org/ This 2010 Green Valentine project, they are asking for shovels, wheelbarrows, gloves, etc. and volunteers to plant trees, distribute mulch, prune, and clean up reforested areas around the White Oak Bayou. Don’t worry, you won’t have to get messy before your big Valentine’s date… this event takes place February 13 at 1 pm. Antidote Coffee and breakfast pastries by Dacapo’s will be served too! How can you go wrong?

Wishing you, and yours, a Happy Valentine’s Day! (If you don’t have a valentine this year, pish posh…the environment is your lover!)

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Sustaina-Bowl

With the super bowl right around the corner, we’re all going crazy about who the better team will be – saints or colts?! Or we’re just excited for commercials and high calorie snack food. Staying green around this time of the year may be the last thing you want to worry about while planning your party, but its easier than you may think!

First, we have put together a collaboration of some of the best sustainable and local recipes we could find. A great way to be sustainable for your super bowl party is to “think veggies”. Of course we don’t mean you can only eat veggie trays and crackers. The super bowl deserves some heavy, cheesy snacks – Hey it only comes around once a year! Planet Green has some yummy, filling, veggie recipes for this super bowl like, Baked Potato Skins, Mini Calzones, and Upscale Nachos (these are not your average every day nachos!) Check out those recipes here: http://tinyurl.com/yc5z69u Mother Nature Network also has some delicious sustainable recipes including hearty Vegetarian Chili and flavorful Hummus: http://tinyurl.com/ykshg9m If you just can’t have your super bowl party with out the meat, check out this delicious sounding recipe for Chicken Kebabs with a Yogurt Cilantro Sauce: http://tinyurl.com/ybby86b Use all organic chicken for a perfect party meal. Hungry yet?

Also, keep in mind, “local, local, local”! Make sure you know what veggies are in season in your area and try to use those as main ingredients. Some good veggies this season in Texas include, broccoli, greens, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes! Mmm sweet potato fries with ranch dressing dip – perfect for your party! Use our favorite site for finding your state’s in-season vegetables: http://tinyurl.com/ylkagau If you live in Houston, shop for your fresh vegetables at the Highland Village Farmers Market http:/hvfm.com/

Now, what kind of serving dishes are you using? If you answered styrofoam or plastic, get off our page! – Just kidding, but really…don’t use those! Opt for something more sustainable, like biodegradable or paper plates. These can be torn up and thrown right into your compost, if you have one. If you don’t have a compost, paper plates are still better than styrofoam for numerous reasons such as, styrofoam’s hazardous effects on our health and its inability to biodegrade quickly (see our previous post all about this dangerous plastic). At OMPP we use all biodegradable materials – even down to our cups. Check out http://www.greenhome.com/ where you can order large numbers of sustainable party plates and drink ware for some pretty good prices.

Lastly, anytime you’re throwing a party, consider local and/or organic beer and liquor. One of our favorite local Texas beers is Saint Arnold: Learn more about them and their brewery http://www.saintarnold.com/ We found this blog: http://tinyurl.com/8grvj3 with a great guide of a few organic liquors.

As planning any party can be stressful, we hope our tips can help you to plan the perfect super bowl party this year. Your friends will be GREEN with envy (…sorry, had to)! Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, safe, sustaina-bowl 2010!


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