Waste Not, Want Not

We all love those prized Palisade peaches that are so easily devoured, crate after crate, at the end of summer every year. But did you know that one out of four peaches doesn’t even make it out of the orchard? Or that after 253 miles of transporting them to Boulder County (about 10 gallons of gas per truck, round-trip), there’s no guarantee that any particular peach will even hit the shelf before it’s discarded to make room for the next day’s shipment? If the peach bruises or over-ripens in your kitchen, do you know what your options are, besides (God forbid) the trash?

Thankfully, Boulder is home to a slew of proactive efforts dedicated to save foods like the very peaches we love (and tons of other produce) to create an overall better environment and community for future generations. Jamie Harkins, sustainability coordinator for the City of Boulder, says decreasing food waste is increasing in priority for the local government. By updating the City’s Climate Commitment and Action Plan, continuing educational projects and expanding the Food Waste Awareness Week program this September, things are looking bright on Boulder’s food waste reduction horizon.

But locals are also leading the charge: Here are three Boulder County organizations and businesses helping the City reach its zero waste goals.

Boulder Food Rescue

In 2011, Hayden Dansky kick-started a food recovery program named Boulder Food Rescue, which bridges the gap between problems in Boulder’s food infrastructure and food insecurity. “There’s food waste on all levels,” Dansky says — the farm, transportation sectors, distribution systems, grocery stores and, ultimately, consumers, who contribute 60 percent of overall food wasted, according to the 2016 City of Boulder Food Waste Audit. Dansky, who is the program’s executive director, endorses the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which pinpoints “source reduction” and “feed hungry people” as the top two prerogatives when it comes to managing a more sustainable food system. After finding out that 40 percent of food produced ends up in a landfill, Dansky began to reach out to grocery stores and restaurants to see if businesses would donate any excess produce. Grocery stores such as Sprouts, Lucky’s and Whole Foods now participate in the program, resulting in 1,200 pounds of produce that’s redistributed to low-income communities every day. These businesses benefit by reducing trash collector fees and receiving an incentivized federal tax credit, and the community benefits from the nourishment.

Looking ahead, Boulder Food Rescue plans to create a more engaging environment for the people they serve by sharing the community’s stories about food insecurity. They also plan to continue educating businesses about food donation policies and working with the City of Boulder to develop strategies to reduce even more local food waste.

Eco-Cycle

In the summer of 2015, the City of Boulder, along with the green minds behind Eco-Cycle, passed the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance that requires all restaurants, businesses and schools to reduce waste by recycling and composting. Eco-Cycle has been in the pro-environmental game since 1976 — when founders Roy Young and Pete Grogan started to collect recyclables on an old school bus — and the organization has helped create recycling facilities and conduct research programs for Boulder County ever since. Nowadays, Eco-Cycle focuses on educating the community about composting and how they can dispose of organic waste both curbside and in their own backyards. 

Communications Director Harlin Savage says businesses have many questions and obstacles to address when first learning about the logistics of composting, such as space constraints, but the long-term benefits to composting have sparked interest in working beyond these hurdles. Composted soil adds nutrients to the land, it’s more resistant to erosion and grows plentiful produce. “By diverting waste, it prevents methane gas’ heat trapping power,” Savage adds, a toxic emission that is many times more powerful than carbon dioxide. 

In the next 11 years, Eco-Cycle envisions Boulder achieving their zero-waste milestone and continuing intensive compost research within the county.

The Stone Cup

The Town of Lyons has committed to becoming a zero-waste community and The Stone Cup’s owner Mindy Tallent is fully on board. While it’s a costly practice for the restaurant and a continual process of educating customers, Tallent says it’s worth it because the country’s astronomical food waste needs to be addressed. Within her shop, Tallent uses ceramic ware and stainless steel silverware for dine-in guests and compostable to-go containers. Customers are encouraged to bring in their own mugs. She also use an in-house composting and recycling program through Eco-Cycle.

The Stone Cup hopes the current government will address climate change and pass legislation that causes change in manufacturing, production and purchasing so it will be more affordable to be environmentally responsible. “Our hope is that folks become more educated about how our environment is impacted by our decisions and actions,” Tallent says. “As business owners, we will continue to do what we can in educating [others] and leading by example.” 

Written for Boulder Weekly. Original article here.

Where to Go When Eating Solo

Here’s what you might guess about the Boulder food scene after a casual stroll downtown: it’s alive and thriving. You might need to trust us on this one (and perhaps erase years of societal conditioning), but the scene is also quite welcoming to the solo eater. We’ve scouted five of the best spots to visit if you’re wanting to immerse yourself in an authentic Boulder dining experience or grabbing a quick bite to eat alone. So read up and take yourself out on a date; you deserve it.

For people-watching: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill
Locals, college students, visitors… they’ve all gravitated to the whimsical neighborhood bar and grill that is the Dark Horse since 1975. Its unassuming exterior obscures a playful inside maze full of knick-knacks such as mechanical gears, boots glued to the ceiling and peanut dispensers. After 3 p.m. it’s self service, so mosey your way up to the food counter to order a juicy burger, then find a seat at the bar for a local brew while you wait for your name to be called. With tons of seating space, great happy hour specials and a weekly trivia night, this bar is a great pit stop for the solo traveler.
2922 Baseline Road, 303-442-8162, darkhorsebar.com

For your weekly cleanse: Zeal
Everything about Zeal is Zen. Not only are you treating your body to flavorful and nourishing superfoods, you get to do it al fresco by the babbling Boulder Creek. Follow the never-ending signs through the tiled garden path to a quaint and intimate patio setting, complete with cavernous umbrellas and twinkling lights. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a refreshing acai bowl, wholesome mighty bowl (packed with quinoa, chickpeas, sauteed greens, sweet beets, carrots, cucumber and lentils), or filling grass-fed meatballs and zoodles in an addicting tikka masala sauce.
1201 Arapahoe Ave., 720-252-3398, zealfood.com

For a sweet breakfast fix: Foolish Craig’s Cafe
Forget pancakes and Belgian waffles to start your day: Foolish Craig’s has just the right idea with its sweet crepes (which are so good, it made that TV host with the wild hair stop by. Cough, Guy Fieri, cough.). Order “the whole thing” crepe, a sweet and spongy crepe filled with hot, oozy Nutella and topped with caramelized bananas, walnuts, cinnamon and whipped cream. Wash it down with an iced Americano (spiked version also available upon request).
1611 Pearl St., 303-247-9383, foolishcraigs.com

When you’re craving sushi: Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar
Asian fusion, when done well, is exciting cuisine. Such is the case at Hapa. Known for its delicious blend of Japanese and Hawaiian nosh, this sushi favorite has those tropical and savory flavors down. Grab a seat at the sushi bar and watch the masters craft your roll, or sprawl out on its sunny patio, where you can watch the passersby stroll through Pearl Street Mall. We go for the lunch special, which comes with a sushi roll and tuna poke salad in a fried rangoon shell. You also can’t go wrong with the Hawaiian pork sliders or Red Bird chicken katsu bowl with Japanese steak sauce.
1117 Pearl St.,303-473-4730, hapasushi.com

Where it feels like home: The Kitchen
What draws us back to The Kitchen again and again may have something to do with its always amicable staff, its perfect juxtaposition between industrial and classic design in an airy layout and, of course, its fresh takes on American cuisine. Go at midday for the seasonal lunch menu, like the Munson Farms grilled corn on the cob, topped with Aleppo chili, charred green onion mayo and popped sorghum (a type of cereal grain). Then treat yourself to a butterscotch pot de crème.
1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973, thekitchenbistros.com

Written for Boulder Weekly. Read the original article here.

Where To Find Denver’s Best Pizza

Clockwise from top left: Blue Pan Pizza’s Brooklyn Bridge; Enzo’s End Pizzeria’s Spinaci; Pizzeria Lui’s Lawn Boy; a seasonal pie from Brava! Pizzeria & Cafe. Photo by Aaron Colussi

Denver may not be known for America’s favorite food, but as it turns out, there are myriad excellent versions around town (we should know; we ate them all). No matter how you slice it, there’s never been a better time to be a pizza lover in Colorado.

A written collaboration with 5280 Magazine. Read the full article here.

ChowSun

Filipino cuisine has been gaining traction nationally for a few years, and Denverites in the know go to Aurora’s Filipino-Thai joint ChowSun to get their fix. Housed in a nondescript strip mall, the four-year-old fast-casual eatery serves a full Thai menu, but we go for the bold, pork-centric Filipino fare, which marries Spanish and southeastern Asian influences. Our ideal meal starts with “lumpia” (crispy Filipino-style egg rolls) dipped into sweet chile sauce. Next, a savory-and-sour bowl of pork adobo or indulgent “lechon kawali” (fried cubes of juicy pork belly) served with a Filipino staple: fluffy steamed white rice. For dessert, order the halo halo sundae, a layered shaved-ice treat made with “ube” (purple yam) ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, red coconut jelly, jackfruit, and coconut slivers. 830 S. Buckley Road, Aurora, 720-410-2135

Written for 5280 Magazine‘s “Where We’re Eating in November”