Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vegging Out

I am writing this, nestled in on my couch, in my favorite tank, which reads "I veg to differ." It's from an organic farm and winery in Sonoma County owned by Lou Preston, a man I came to know during my month-long goat farm internship last year at Pugs Leap Farm, not too far from Lou's. Lou would stop by once a week to pick up the fresh whey (from the last few days cheesemaking production) to feed his pigs. We talked a bit about food, farming & politics, when Eric and Pascal - the goat farmer and cheesemaker, respectively - said we should have a picnic there some afternoon (except when Pascal says "picnic" there's an extra syllable, making him sound a bit like Smokey the Bear). Turn down wine and good food? Never!

Lou's winery is a find like few others. Organic produce, pigs and chicken, and fresh baked bread - and, oh yeah, amazing wines. Plus, his land is open to the public to have a picnic any time - so long as you don't arrive in a tour bus. Eric and Pascal arranged our picnic table with antique English china and crystal over freshly starched linens, much to the envy of the other picnickers. Fresh baguettes, the most amazing creamy fresh goat chese from their farm, washed down with Lou's "Grape Wine," a fruity, yet complex blend of rousanne, marsanne and viognier grapes all grown organically there.

I returned home insistent on adding a few goats and chickens to my current stable of 5 dogs. Eric & Pascal had even chosen the lady Edith for me to take away from their family - a goat who was probably a bit more uptown than their simple farm. But when I brought this up to my husband, he said it was out of the question. Why? The goats would eat all of our plants, and the dogs would eat the chickens! Still seemed surmoutable, but then I realized that so many of the edible fruit trees we have are actually toxic to animals, and that poor Edith might literally eat herself to death (which task, at the moment, is relegated to my parents' 16-year-old Dalmatian Patch). So Edith still reigns supreme at Pugs Leap, and the chicken battle is ongoing. But our garden has survived. In fact, thrived. And since some of you have asked about my garden, I thought I would point you to this little video of my berry patch, with music by my good friend Calman Hart's band Berkley Hart.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Cups On Being Green

So, I'm working our Cups booth yesterday (where we sell not only our Cups and coffee, but also jars of freshly harvested chamomile tea from my garden, as well as strawberry milk - even better, the milk and Cups are available as free samples too!) at the farmer's market in La Jolla when a woman approaches me, says she has read about us in the local paper-most recently about our 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant®. Then she says that she noticed that we had a large white SUV sprinkled with Cups logos, and wonders how this jives with our green status. Interesting point.
So I explain to her that we actually have three delivery "vehicles" - a tricycle which we use for deliveries in the village, a vespa for deliveries outside that 10-block radius (which I was standing next to during our conversation), and finally, yes, a large old white SUV that once belonged to my husband (for his weekendly nursery runs), which, rather than trade-in or sell, I added flair to and added to the Cups fleet for when we needed to make large deliveries. I explained that we keep it parked near our store on Girard most of the time. That we only use it for big events, where we might need to bring 2-3 people, tents, tables, and an unlimited supply of Cups (like the farmer's market, e.g.). She nodded, not disapprovingly, but neither with approval either. Was she satisfied? Am I?
My good friend Jean (the "hall monitor of my life") recites this as her Green mantra: REDUSE, REUSE, RECYCLE. I suppose I could reduce the SUV - not to one of the new hybrid SUVs, which we have, because unfortunately they're not as big YET - to either a minivan or van. But is that really reducing? Isn't that really meant to apply where one has two vehicles and one would be enough? Because if I attempt to sell the old SUV, I may either not be able to sell it, because it's old and has a lot of mileage, in which case it heads to the dump; or I do sell it, to someone who needs it as a primary vehicle and does with it what I don't - drives it to the Starbucks drive-thru solo, instead of leaving it parked 90% of the time. Since this was already a car in our family, my taking it for Cups constitutes a reuse, but is that better than my purchasing a new minivan, with clearly superior mileage? I don't even know where to begin with recycle, as I'm not sure what we actually do with that never-ending supply of cars smashed on top of one another.
I guess the point is there are very few clear answers. I know we all try to do the best we can in any given situation. I once watched a TV program with a Green expert who was discussing the use of air conditioning in a car - to me an obvious no-no. But, of course, the answer was not that easy. Turns out, that up to certain speeds (I think the answer was 35 MPH, though I'm not positive anymore) use of air conditioning was worse than opening the windows. However, with speeds greater than that, opening the windows instead of using the air conditioning was actually worse, because it reduced the car's mileage!
So I confess to not knowing all of the answers - indeed, being probably ignorant of most. If anyone out there can offer some insight into this SUV situation I'd love to hear it - bad or good. Until then, I'll keep trying to stay on the best path I know.

Side note: The SUV's use at home was limited to the following: football games, where we would cart all 8 attendees in a single vehicle, and once-a-week trips to the nursery, where my husband and I would load up on plants for our garden. He wanted to trade in the SUV for a pick-up, which he now has, because we couldn't fit the more mature fruit trees in it. With the fruit trees and other plants we carried to our home on the weekends in the SUV, we now have enough citrus, berries, and herbs to feed ourselves, our friends and families, as well as supply my store.


Monday, April 5, 2010

CUPS is only 3 Star Green Certified Restaurant in San Diego County!

We just received notice that we have been certified as a 3 Star Green Certified Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association ( - its highest rating. This 3 Star status makes Cups the only 3 Star bakery in all of California, and the only 3 Star restaurant of any kind in all of San Diego County.

We worked very hard to achieve this status, and we are very proud to have obtained this highest level awarded to any restaurant in the country. As a restauranteur, it is neither easy nor inexpensive to secure this status; its positive impact, however, can't be quantified.

We are one of only 20 restaurants certified as 3 Star Green Certified Restaurants since the Green Restaurant Association began awarding this designation to green restaurants in 1990.

The Association looks at every aspect of a business, from the building materials used in the building or remodeling of the space, water and utility utilization, to the foods served and the containers they are served in.

We here at Cups are so honored to be part of such an environmental friendly assoication.

The Cups Team