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Eco-Epicurean Awards

From a project that's converting lawns into vegetable gardens to a venture aimed at improving the quality of public-school lunches, the winners of F&W's first-ever Eco-Epicurean Awards are all busy making the world a better—and more delicious—place.

beauty innovator

pangea organics

Pangea Organics's cosmetics, from its French Rosemary with Sweet Orange toner to its Japanese Matcha Tea & Goji Berry facial mask, are made with a chef's care and an eco-activist's sensibility. Joshua Onysko, 30, a globe-trotting high-school dropout, founded the company six years ago to fund his travels. "My mom freaked out when I told her I'd bought a one-way ticket to Bombay," Onysko recounts, "so I appeased her with a mother-son soap-making project." Today, those handcrafted bars are sold in 18 countries and made with ingredients sourced from all over the world, including organic olive oil from Tunisia and shea butter from a women's cooperative in Ghana. Products come in ingenious zero-waste packaging: When the fiber boxes are moistened and planted, embedded seeds sprout herbs like basil. Operating out of a wind-powered office in Boulder, Colorado, Pangea's staff eats lunches made with produce from a sizable on-site organic garden. Onysko has such respect for his ingredients, he's found a second use for the açaí and goji berries used in Pangea's face mask: At home, he makes them into ice cream.

-Jen Murphy

eco-furniture emporium

vivavi furniture

More and more furniture dealers are selling eco-friendly designs, but not all their pieces are tempting enough to lure buyers. An exception: The online furniture retailer Vivavi (vivavi.com), founded in Brooklyn, New York, four years ago by 35-year-old Josh Dorfman , finds designs that are irresistibly modern and sleek. Adopting the slogan "Live Modern. Tread Lightly," Vivavi seeks out hip yet functional designs like Material Furniture's Flipper Screen, made of certified sustainable wood, which can be used as both a room divider and a shelving unit. The indoor-outdoor Spoon Lounge makes creative use of liana vines, an aggressive weed. Vivavi also offers a companion site, Modern Green Living (moderngreenliving.com), which lists environmentally responsible interior designers, contractors, even apartment buildings. This spring the resource guide was expanded into a book, The Lazy Environmentalist, covering everything from organic crib bedding to retailers of cardboard coffins; it will also serve as a companion to Dorfman's Sirius Satellite Radio show of the same name. He believes environmentalism will succeed only if it appeals to the laziest, and he counts himself among the most inert. "I love long showers, and I hate sorting the recycling," he admits.

-Emily Kaiser

conscientious chocolate

theo chocolate

The Pacific Northwest is known for fanatical coffee roasters who travel the world in search of the best sustainably grown beans. Now there's a new eco-minded food obsessive in Seattle: Theo Chocolate. Launched last year, it's the only 100 percent organic and fair-trade chocolate manufacturer in the U.S. (The Fair Trade Certificate goes only to eco-friendly products made by workers who are paid enough to cover basic needs and reinvest in their operations.) Theo's conscientious chocolates are delicious: nuanced and intense, like its dark, single-origin bars from cacao-producing nations like Ghana and Madagascar. Founder Joseph Whinney, 40, is so passionate about chocolate that he hired a biologist to genetically map Theo's beans. Not all of Theo's endeavors are so serious: 3400 Phinney bars, named for the factory's street address, come in whimsical flavors like the salty-sweet "Bread and Chocolate" with bread crumbs; it's perfect with afternoon (preferably fair-trade) coffee (theochocolate.com).

-Kristin Donnelly

school-lunch visionary

revolution foods

Joining a growing movement led by Alice Waters and other culinary luminaries to bring healthier lunches to schools, California-based Revolution Foods is proving that better food does not have to cost more. Since 2006, the company has been cranking out more than 1,500 tasty, nourishing meals a day for some of Oakland's public schools, at prices within the district's small budgets. Revolution Foods is run by Kristin Groos Richmond, 32, Amy Klein, 30, and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, 29. While Tobey and Richmond handle the business side, Klein, a graduate of San Francisco's Tante Marie's Cooking School, creates meals like beef tacos with Spanish-style brown rice and chicken "bites" coated with crunchy panko. The meals not only meet the state's nutritional guidelines, but they're also at least 60 percent organic; the meat and dairy are free of added hormones and antibiotics, and almost all of the packaging is recyclable. This summer, as part of a planned national expansion, Revolution Foods moves to a larger production facility—in a former McDonald's. "We're still figuring out what to do with the drive-through window," says Tobey.

—EK

garden activist

edible estates

In the hands of artist, designer and architect Fritz Haeg, 38, the humble vegetable garden has become a powerful eco-epicurean statement. In 2005, the Salina Art Center in Salina, Kansas, invited Haeg to contribute to its show on food and society. Haeg replaced a local family's front lawn ("an antisocial no-man's-land," he says) with a flourishing garden, growing produce from corn to okra to herbs—including 10 different kinds of thyme—and named it Edible Estates. Since then, Haeg has installed three more Edible Estates, one in Los Angeles, one in New York City and one in London, commissioned by the Tate Modern. Over the next few years, he plans to convert a total of nine front yards across the U.S. into prototype gardens, in places where they can provoke the strongest reactions: "There's no point in my putting one in a neighborhood full of hippies who would be totally into it, and already aware of the environmental issues," he says. Arts and community organizations that help financially support the projects will create corresponding exhibits after the gardens are complete. While Haeg still considers his Edible Estates to be works of conceptual art, he wants them to offer concrete lessons. "I want kids to see these gardens and start to ask questions about where their food comes from," Haeg says. A book about Edible Estates will be published in the U.S. in the spring of 2008 (fritzhaeg.com).

—KD
Published August 2007
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