Friday, August 15, 2008

'Tis the season

Growing up in the Garden State, I gained a great appreciation for this time of year- gardens and groves are at their peak, and local produce abounds in heaps of corn, apples, peaches, cucumbers... they've been basking in the sun all summer, and now, finally are ready for consumption.

The best tasting of any of the above items I've sampled, were from local farmer's markets, road-side fruit and veggie stands, and wooden tables set up in driveways, offering the freshest from a cared-for garden or private family farm.

Yes, I was blessed with the garden goodness that is New Jersey. But wherever you live, there's likely an opportunity for you to support local farmers and their goods. By buying local, you support your local economy and cut back on the harmful effects of transportation. Hell, go all out: bike to a local farmer's market, load up veggies, herbs, fruits, honey, etc! in a canvas bag from the folks who grew 'em, and have yourself an eco-picnic in the late summer sun.

In celebration of my favorite time of year, here's a few of my personally favorite ways to enjoy late summer produce:


Peaches and cream
Toast a piece of pound cake or angel food cake in a toaster oven and place in a dessert bowl. Slice up a large juicy peach and add to bowl with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Add the zest of a lemon over top and eat slowly with eyes closed.

Cucumber salad
Easier than pie: Peel and slice up fresh cucumbers and mix with desired amount of mayonnaise, chopped fresh mint, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Refrigerate for about an hour, and enjoy the cool savory treat.

If they’re ripe, juicy and in season, just sprinkle a bit of salt on a wedge and eat alone! Or, create a tri-color salad by slicing and layering with mozzarella and avocado slices. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and chopped basil. Just before eating, add a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Corn on the cob with butter
Pretty self explanatory, huh? Grill up some corn, and serve with creamy, high quality (full fat! No substitutes!) churned butter. (Preferably bought at a farmer’s market) It’s the real thing :)

Monday, August 4, 2008


Ahhhhh, Lolla. Lollapalooza is not only my favorite summer festival here in Chicago, it is also working its way up to being my favorite summer festival, well, pretty much anywhere. My body is a little tired, my brain feels a little fried, my back is a little sunburned, and as adorable as I thought my favorite metallic flats looked with my bright yellow vintage dress on Saturday, my feet feel like they could, at any time, completely fall off my legs. Thanks for the blisters, favorite flats. Despite the fact that my body doesn't seem to bounce back from the Lolla-experience like it did when I attended the traveling version of the festival way back in my high school days, the glow of the event is still surrounding me, with the phenomenal performances (um, wow, MGMT, I didn't think I could possibly have even more of a music-crush on you until this weekend), impromptu dance parties with my best friends, and sustainability galore still dancing in my head. Did I really just list sustainability as one of the best parts of an urban music festival? Why yes, I did. Read on for more.

We all know that everyone and their granny has jumped on the eco-bandwagon these days, and as exciting as it is to find those companies/organizations/brands/events (like music festivals) out there who truly care about making a change in the state of the earth, let's face it - for as many who truly give a crap, there are three times as many who call themselves "green" for no real reason other than marketing schemes to increase sales. I have always been a live music lover (I even spent months at a time on Grateful Dead tour in my late teens - true story). Combine that with Mountains of the Moon's experience exhibiting at music festivals for many years, and mix in the fact that my boyfriend is the stage manager for a touring band, and I am fortunate (and sometimes not-so-fortunate) enough to see the in's and out's, backstages and frontstages, paperwork and production plans of almost every major music festival that goes on in the U.S. Because of that, I have been witness to quite a few nameless festivals who advertise themselves as "green" and fall very, very short. Lollapalooza, my friends, was the real deal.

Take the biodiesel that the festival used to run the generators, the fact that styrofoam was banned (compostable and recycled plates only), the volunteer tees that were 100% organic and the merch tent that used only biodegradable bags, the fact that every ounce of paper used was recycled (including toilet paper in the in the porta-potties) and that there was a ban of any kind of paper fliers/handouts, and combine it with the Be Green Fan Tag, which you could purchase for a measly $5 to offset the festival carbon emissions, and I was pretty eco-impressed.

I am a major skeptic when it comes to anyone - whether an individual, a business, or a major event like this - who blatantly advertises themselves as being eco-friendly. But I did my research, in person, at Lollapalooza this year, and walked away with more than memories of friends and musical bliss, blistered heels and a major need for a full night sleep. I also, dear readers, walked away feeling satisfied, rather than disappointed, with the festival's efforts to truly walk the eco-walk and not just talk the (I can make lots of money by claiming to be sustainable) talk. Recycled paper ain't enough, big music festivals, to throw around around words like "sustainable" and "eco-friendly," mmmkay?

Hopefully some of the other major music events out there will take serious notice of the success of Lolla's green efforts, and perhaps in the future, concerts and festivals will no longer have to advertise themselves as eco-friendly at all - it will just be a given.

Hurry up, Lolla '09!