Archive for ◊ December, 2009 ◊

• Monday, December 28th, 2009

This is a great idea! Entrepreneurs can buy one of these containers that fold out into an off-the-grid food stand and have them shipped virtually anywhere in the world. These would be great in rural Hawaii (Molokai or the Big Island), national parks or any place that gets lots of sunshine and is not connected to the grid.

Source: Scrapbook

Daniel Noiseux is the man behind Mubox… a successful restaurateur with a background in architecture and graphic design. The business is positioned to sell self contained restaurant units made to order to the prospective restaurateur/operator’s gourmet menu offering. The “ready to ship” Muvboxes are easily transportable by rail, road or sea. The Muvbox has incorporated solar powered batteries, recyclable materials, and biodegradable packaging for customers. The notion of offering a sustainable restaurant solution to operators, coupled with healthy culinary menus, contribute to Noiseux’s ultimate mission: TO DELIVER A FUN EATING ENVIRONMENT THAT RESIDES COMPLETELY ‘OFF THE GRID’.

• Saturday, December 26th, 2009

This has real potential as a solution to re-define wealth that calls back to an earlier definition:  a roof over your head, clothes on your back, running fresh water and fresh food grown nearby. And the concept is analogous to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where many individuals invest in the health and prosperity of a nearby farm.

Source: Alternet

The goals and structure of the the [Slow Money] movement are fairly amorphous — cynics might say squishy — more on the philosophical than pragmatic level for the time being. Tasch’s recent book “Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered” (Chelsea Green) aims to spark and incubate investment at all levels in local or regional food systems. This means not only organic farms, dairies and ranches, but food processing facilities, food artisans (makers of jelly, cheese, etc.) and retail or distribution networks, restaurants and stores.

“It is two things: a new way of thinking about money at a macro level, in terms of philanthropy and social investing, and on the ground it is getting money into local food systems,” said Tasch. “Our objective is a very robust network at regional and local levels across the U.S. — many, many players who are all interested in the same goal: rebuilding local food systems.”

Butterworks Farm in Vermont practices "Slow Money"

Butterworks Farm in Vermont practices "Slow Money"

“People joining CSAs and shopping at farmers markets is the beginning of this sea change. People think of those as consumer rather than investment dollars, but they are a kind of investment.”

How much Slow Money can raise remains to be seen. Rather than using a venture capital model they are seeking to mobilize hundreds of thousands of members contributing millions of dollars per year which will then be used to seed the nurture capital industry. Founding members — 150 of them — contributed at least $1,000 each. And the overarching goal, Tasch said, is connecting investors with food systems in their own regions.

Lazor said organic farms will likely never be as profitable for investors as more traditional stocks, but he thinks people are increasingly seeing such investments as an attractive option in the holistic sense.

“People’s perceptions of good [financial] risks are the traditional exploitative and extractive industries that are ruining the earth,” he said. “Folks that have the dough are going to need to be satisfied with a lower return on their dollar, and get their satisfaction from knowing they’ve made the earth a better place.”

Slow money involves the belief that investment in sustainable local food systems is likely to pay off financially in the long run, since it simply makes more sense and curbs the costly environmental and health damage wrought by industrial agriculture. But it may not pay off quickly — hence the “slow” — and the payoff may not come in direct dollars back to the investor but rather tangible or intangible benefits to food producers, the environment and the general public.

Slow money proponents see the economic crisis, paired with increasingly alarming news about the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, as an opportunity for a new economic and agricultural paradigm.

“Our historical experience with global industrial finance is now in question — people are not completely sanguine about the prospects of venture capital and investing in China as it has been practiced,” said Tasch. “There’s a lot of economic uncertainty, so just the idea of diversification, putting one percent of our money to work in local food systems, is more attractive. And the number of people just interested in food is at an all-time high, people are starting to understand problems with industrial agriculture, industrial food.”

Tasch is hoping to get thousands of signatories to the Slow Money Principles, which include, “We must bring money back down to earth” and “We must build a nurture capital industry.” Whether or not people invest or donate, he hopes people use the holiday spirit to forward the principles far and wide.

• Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Here’s a solution to a problem commonly seen at holiday parties, or any party for that matter where people share food. When you bring your homemade spinach dip or guacamole to a party, you must remember to take back your container (usually a “Flubberware” of plastic poison), or even worse, use a disposable container that ends up in landfill.

With edible containers, you don’t have to worry about polluting or retrieving your container after the party is over.


Diane Bisson, a Montreal design professor, has developed edible materials that can be moulded into containers. She insists that they are unlike the corn- or potato-based comestible plates that have been tested in Europe and taste like cardboard.

“I’ve spent a year testing about 400 different samples to come up with 40 recipes,” said Bisson, 49, who teaches at the Université de Montréal’s School of Industrial Design.

“The whole purpose of this is sustainable design,” she said. “It’s all about reducing disposable objects, the cardboard and plastic plates that are in every food court and every home. Objects like that get used once and then are thrown out. They’re filling the landfills. We have to find something better…

In 2011, she will work with scientists to refine her recipes for the market.

“We intend to have different flavours and tastes but they will be more neutral and the shapes will probably be closer to the shapes people know,” she said.

“But right now I’m being very creative so we can perhaps open new ways of handling the food, perceiving food and thinking about sustainability.”

Category: Waste  | Leave a Comment
• Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

The 2010 Green Consciousness Guide is Montreal’s only Green Guide and Local Coupon Book.

Green Coupon Book

Green Coupon Book

There are coupons for shops like Yoga Studios, Organic and/or Vegetarian Restaurants, Organic/Fairly Traded Tea & Coffee Houses, Independent Bookstores, Natural Health Practitioners, Local Gyms, Responsible Clothing Stores, Bike Shops, and far, far more.

The purpose of the coupon book is:

  • To encourage local, Quebec and Canadian businesses.
  • To promote environmental awareness.
  • To promote health & self development.
  • To replace the standard fund raising products with The Green Consciousness Guide, something that is beneficial to everyone.

$20 to order from Conscience Verte.

Category: Economics  | One Comment
• Wednesday, December 09th, 2009

Source: Charles Hugh Smith

Resilience is a key attribute of sustainability. We cannot speak of sustainability without considering resilience, for a fragile system is only sustainable in the short-term and at great cost…

…A family with three sources of income is more resilient than one with a single source, and a household in which all three incomes are earned at the same enterprise is less resilient than one with three incomes from three independent sources…

…Transparency adds, obfuscation and lies detract, as they destroy trust and legitimacy.

Mutual benefit adds, benefitting only a tiny Elite detracts.

Extraction of wealth from the community and exploitation of its people detract, as institutions which do so are dependent on fragile systems of dominance and control.

Leverage and debt both dramatically increase systemic fragility. Savings and capital increase resiliency.

Inner strengths such as integrity, faith, and goals are resilient; inner weaknesses such as greed, self-absorption and lack of integrity are fragile.

Shared goals create resiliency, a welter of competing self-interests leads to fragility.

Taken together, these attributes help us understand why the status quo in the U.S. is so extremely fragile, from the household level to the highest levels of government.

Just as over-leveraged banks are fundamentally insolvent, so too are over-leveraged households fundamentally insolvent.

A culture dependent on lies, obfuscation and propaganda is terribly fragile, as the truth eventually topples all seemingly invulnerable fortresses built on half-truths and outright lies. The same can be said of individuals who have constructed their lives on artifice, dishonesty, denial and self-absorption.