Super Hunger Brunch at the Fireplace

As part of Brookline Climate Week, Climate Action Brookline has been encouraging people to eat at Brookline restaurants that are recognized for “green” practices such as sustainable operations and menus composed of organic or locally grown food.  The Fireplace in Washington Square is certified by the Green Restaurant Association and prides itself on offering New England-grown seasonal produce.  Even better, this Saturday the restaurant was participating in the Greater Boston Food Bank’s Super Hunger Brunch with a special menu for $25.  This annual fundraiser uses the proceeds – vouchers for specific restaurants available on the website a few weeks ahead of time – to stock the food bank that provides over 500,000 meals each year.

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The waitstaff had to adjust the menu a bit for vegetarians.  The brunch cocktail, yogurt parfait and croissant stuffed with egg, cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts were delicious and a great value!

Posted in Charity, Food, Restaurants, Sustainability | 2 Comments

Friday Night Services With Beantown Jewish Gardens Director Leora Mallach

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Tucked away on Beacon Hill’s quiet Philips Street is an early 20th century synagogue known as the Vilna Shul.  Originally serving Lithuanian Jewish immigrants living in Boston’s West End neighborhood, it no longer has a full-time congregation but is being slowly restored to its former glory while hosting a few religious and cultural events each month.  Once a month, Friday night services are held with a guest speaker invited to give a talk.  This past Friday, Leora Mallach, co-founder and director of Ganei Beantown (Beantown Jewish Gardens), spoke about biblical laws dictating a rest year for the health of agricultural land.  Ganei Beantown seeks to build community by educating and promoting the connection between Judaism, food and agriculture.  Among their work has been the establishment of organic gardens at synagogues and an annual sustainability-themed conference.

Mallach’s talk was timed to coincide with the upcoming minor holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the “new year” for trees which technically serves as a reference date for laws relating to tithing and land use.  However, in modern times it has become a day for ecological awareness in Israel and many people have adopted the practice of planting trees.  Traditionally, though, the custom is to eat fruits that begin to appear at this time of year in Israel including dates, grapes and figs.

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My Holiday Haul

I have always thought holiday shopping is a great metaphor for all that is unsustainable about our culture.  Shopping, much of it manic and mindless, for large quantities of cheap goods that turn out to be of questionable value and you can never be sure they are actually wanted.  University of Minnesota economist Joel Waldfogel coined the phrase “deadweight of Christmas” with research that essentially indicates whatever you buy as a gift for another person during the holiday season will turn out to have less to no value for the recipient.  While I have no issue with holiday gift-giving I do think it should evolve into something less wasteful.  So I do apply certain principles when choosing gifts for others – sustainably produced, environmentally friendly, etc. – however I don’t have much control over what they buy for me.  This is not the most comfortable of topics to bring up with people.  There is no polite way to say “please don’t buy me anything made in a Bangladeshi death trap factory.”  I started by dropping hints that I preferred edible and drinkable gifts and that went surprisingly well.  I have even noticed that people find it easier to buy chocolates or a bottle of wine.  As I have babbled about my concerns on consumer goods over time, it seems my friends and family have responded.  Among the items I received this year were:

Señorío de Vizcántar organic olive oil from Cordoba, Spain
Taza Chocolate, organic and sustainably produced from the cacao growers to the factory in Somerville
Lodge Cast Iron Fry Pan, made in the USA from a 100-year old company
Reusable Produce bags from Crate and Barrel

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Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider

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Not being a beer-drinker, I am a big fan of Woodchuck Hard Cider which is hand-crafted in Vermont and thankfully available at so many Boston bars and restaurants.  I was very excited this year to try the limited-edition Pumpkin variety which is only produced for 2 ½ hours and so is somewhat difficult to track down.  It is sweeter like the Amber variety but with a freshness and tanginess that is not overtly pumpkin and it does not have the spices with which other pumpkin-flavored drinks often come.  I will definitely horde more next year, YUM!

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