Blogs > June 2012

A First Foray into the Organic Wine Movement



  Contributed by Julie Fornaro, Public Relations Strategist, NewGround PR and Marketing 


I love a fabulous glass of wine. The region and varietal is less important to me than the love and care the winemaker puts into her creation.  I’ve tasted many incredible vinos but ironically have never really delved into the world of organic.

So when greeted by an Italian wine sommelier at my neighborhood wine store, I decided to give his region’s organics a try. I had recently returned from a mouth-watering jaunt through Tuscany and was forever changed. And when I selected four bottles, each from a different grape and region in Italy, I had high hopes. 

But my palette just wasn’t inspired. Each selection left me wondering if being organic meant the wine automatically lacked personality. I admit it could have just been the luck of the draw. However, just when I was about to give up completely on organic wine, a colleague introduced me to Ehlers Estate.

A Napa vineyard at the forefront of organic and biodynamic farming practices, Ehlers was established by French entrepreneur and philanthropist Jean Leducq in the classic Bordeaux winemaking style. One taste of the full-bodied, rich and juicy Ehlers “One Twenty Over Eighty” Cabernet Sauvignon took me on a journey through blackberry jam, truffle and chocolate perfection.  The aroma intoxicated me while the notes ignited my passion for wine all over again.

Ehlers will convince anyone that the organic wine movement is indeed both alive and doing quite well. And to boot, 100 percent of the profits from Ehlers goes directly to funding international cardiovascular research. Who can say no to organic heart health?




Posted: 6/26/2012 12:35:46 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

Building Community in the Field



 Contributed by Carol Ruiz, Principal, NewGround PR & Marketing 


There’s a lot of talk these days about the freshness and quality of farm-to-table meals, but what really can’t be beat is when the table is located right on the farm itself. A growing phenomenon called “dinners in the field” or “harvest dinners” provides just that experience – a dinner specially created from ingredients harvested that day by a well-regarded local chef is served at a communal table right on the farm.

While local farms and producers organize many of these dinners in the field, one company has expanded the concept across two continents. For more than a decade, the folks at Outstanding in the Field have partnered with prominent chefs and local farmers and ranchers to host dinners in the field, starting first in Northern California and expanding across North America and into Europe. Their 2012 North American Tour features dinners in 34 states and 3 provinces, many of which are already sold out.

These dinners in the field have a natural appeal to foodies, but have the potential to be a transformative experience for all who participate. Dining on a farm increases the awareness of where food comes from and a deeper appreciation of the connection between the production of ingredients and the consumption of a meal. In addition, the deeper beauty of dinners in the field lies not just in the pastoral surroundings or the just-picked fresh foods on the table – it’s in the sense of community and conviviality that comes with dining with friends and others who appreciate the pleasure of a great meal. Listen/read NPR’s story here.

To find a harvest dinner near you, browse the list created by Eating Well magazine or search for a family farm near you.






Posted: 6/22/2012 4:17:12 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

Slow Food Grows, From the Grassroots Up



 Contributed by Carol Ruiz, Principal, NewGround PR & Marketing


For much of the past century, technological advances have been focused on making work and life faster, more streamlined and more efficient. While the industrialization of agriculture, which began around the turn of the 20th century, increased production to feed the world’s growing population while lowering food prices, it did so with tremendous environmental, health, societal and economic costs.

A recent wave of books, movies and television specials have brought these costs to the forefront of the public consciousness, but all have their root in a movement that sprouted nearly a quarter century ago – Slow Food.

The "slow food" movement is a global grassroots phenomenon that has been growing since the mid-1980s. It originated in Italy with a protest against the opening of a McDonalds near Rome’s historic Spanish Steps, organized by individuals concerned about the homogenization of food. Today, the Slow Food USA movement, (which includes more than 100,000 members in 150 countries numbers 27,000 members in 225 chapters), seeks to protect local food traditions and encourage sustainability in agricultural production. The central tenets of the movement are GOOD (“Good food tastes good and respects season, place and culture.”), CLEAN (“Clean food is grown in a way that protects the environment and gives health to those who eat it.”) and FAIR (“Fair food is accessible to all and gives dignity and fair wages to the people who grow and pick it.”).

The height of the movement’s prominence and momentum in the United States seemed to come around 2008, when Slow Food USA hosted the Slow Food Nation festival in San Francisco. Yet with prominence came struggle, as the movement increasingly had to defend itself against charges of elitism leveled by critics who said that the movement’s focus on artisanal and heirloom foods didn’t take into account the ability of lower-income individuals to pay for quality food, and the belief that organic farming couldn’t scale to meet the needs of the world’s growing population.

Today, the slow food movement is still growing in the U.S., but in an even more decentralized fashion, and with an eye toward increasing the ability of all to benefit from healthier food choices, locally-sourced ingredients and educational programs. It is seen in the rise of the farm-to-table movement, the growth in farmer's markets and campaigns to support small businessesLast year, Slow Food USA introduced the $5 Challenge which encourages individuals to cook healthy meals that cost less than $5 per participant; more than 5,500 individuals took up the challenge, hosting their own $5 dinners on September 17, 2011. Even the White House took up the challenge as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, hosting two events that showcased the ability to create healthy family meals on limited budgets. School Gardens, urban farming programs and the FoodCorps service program are all working to bring nutrition education and slow food principles to low-income communities.

Proponents of Slow Food are making great strides in changing the dialogue about food production and healthy eating in the U.S., but it is especially heartening to see the conversation go beyond food as a commodity, and address the cultural and social benefits that family and communal meals and the enjoyment of good, healthy food provide.

You can keep up with the work of Slow Food USA on Twitter.



Posted: 6/20/2012 12:09:05 AM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

The Urban Farmer



 Contributed by Shelley Miller, President NewGround PR & Marketing


Being from Los Angeles, one of North America’s largest metropolitan areas, one of NewGround’s favorite new trends is urban farming. Growing your own food is not just for country folks anymore – city dwellers are getting their green thumb on nowadays too.

Los Angeles has over 70 community gardens, which serve nearly 4,000 families. LA has a history for growing its own – as recent as the 1950’s our fair city grew enough produce to provide for its population. What we are seeing is a resurgence of the urban green thumb.

Below are a few of our local heroes that help make the LA skyline a little greener.



Recently featured in the Huffington Post, Farmscape is dedicated to bringing homegrown goodies back to LA one garden at time.  Think of them as gardening consultants. Many urbanites are reluctant to start digging into the dirt simply because they have no idea where to begin. Farmscapes addresses that need quite adeptly. They swoop in from beginning to end. A Farmscape farmer will visit your urban farm weekly and help with plantings, pest and disease control, crop rotation, and irrigation maintenance.



Mud Baron

His name is Mud. Let us give you a crash course on our hometown hero who’s in the middle of a personal revolution – to teach kids how to grow (pun totally intended).

As a former policy deputy for the LAUSD, the Mud Baron has uses his expertise to personally teach thousands of students about gardening. His program oversees LA school campuses was a program that no one saw succeeding in the era of budget cuts and reduced school services, but Mud (or “Discovery Channel,” as his students liked to call him) persevered. His passion for gardening is infectious, and his message is at once clear and powerful: “Kids who grow good food, eat good food. Kids who cook good food, eat good food.” He is a whirlwind of activism, overseeing nearly a thousand school gardens with a deeply-felt passion for them as engines for environmental empathy and community, as well as drivers for better academics, and healthier choices for students. And Mud Baron doesn’t limit access to his knowledge and experience; he’s known for providing seeds and guidance to other districts and programs, and he frequently tweets to his 25k + followers under the handle @Cocoxochitl (ancient Aztec for dahlia). Garden by garden – he is helping our city kids grow.



Posted: 6/14/2012 12:37:12 AM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

Farm-to-Glass: Vodka!

Contributed by Jamie Latta.

Let’s start our green mixology with one of the most popular drinks in the world – Vodka. Vodkas are prized for their purity, so the idea of using organic vodkas is eco-exciting. Whether your favorite drink is a gimlet, martini, screwdriver or any of the countless vodka concoctions – there’s now a wide array of organic options for your aperitif of choice. We have assembled a list of organic vodkas that are both better for you and the planet. It’s not just farm-to-table anymore. It’s all about the farm-to-glass.

Organic Vodkas to Help Stock Your Environmentally Friendly Bar:

TRU Organic Spirits boasts not one, not two, but THREE types of handmade organic vodkas: 
1. TRU Straight is made with 100% certified organic American wheat
2. TRU Lemon infused with organic California lemons
3. TRU Vanilla Infused with hand scraped organic Bourbon vanilla beans
Adding ECO to Organic – TRU plants a tree for every bottle of TRU purchased to protect the environment.

Square One Vodka is made from 100% organic American rye and water from the Snake River in Wyoming. For all the kosher-foodies out there, you’ll be happy to know that Square One’s fermentation process is not only certified organic, it’s kosher. What we love as Green Chix is that owner majority is in female hands. Founder Allison Evanov started Square One with the philosophy that the same creative impulse lying behind everything culinary served on a plate also apply to what’s served in a cocktail glass. Her goal was to create great spirits capable of inspiring culinary cocktails. Well played and goal accomplished!

Ocean Vodka is USDA organic approved, gluten-free and made with Aloha…or 100% Hawaiian Seawater! Handcrafted on the beautiful island of Maui, Ocean Vodka is the only spirit in the world made with deep ocean mineral water and organic sugar cane. This family own and handcrafted vodka is made with the spirit of aloha – positive energy and harmonious living and a portion of their profits are donated to ocean conservation organizations. We say Mahalo and bottom’s up!


Posted: 6/6/2012 2:57:57 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

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Cute name. Serious commitment.

Welcome to the Green Chix blog. Each month we are exploring topics that we hope you will find relevant, interesting and supportive of a sustainable way of life. Join Green Chix and become a fellow ambassador for Mother Nature and help us to influence the world and spread the word on sustainable living.

Confident, smart and inspired, Green Chix are teachers, activists, business leaders, mothers and philosphers, infused with the power of nature to bring about positive change to a world in turmoil.








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