Sunday, May 17, 2009

Green Festival

Mom went to the Green Festival yesterday with Sashi, a fellow zoo docent. It was Mom's first time going to the festival and she was very excited to learn about new products, initiatives, and campaigns of the green movement. I, of course, could not attend the festival. The festival wasn't a pug free zone, but a dog free zone. I wasn't too upset that I got to stay home and hang out with Dad all day because I knew that Mom would fill me in on the details when she got home.

Green Festival is a joint project between Global Exchange and Green America. The Chicago festival showcased more than 350 local and national green businesses. There were also speakers who gave presentations and participated in panel discussions. Mom and Sashi went to see Alice Waters speak, but Alice could not attend the festival due to a health issue.

Green Festival is more like an expo or tradeshow than a festival. Booths were set up in a massive hall at Chicago's Navy Pier and Mom and Sashi basically walked around checking out the booths. Since it was Mom's first time at the festival, she had really high expectations. I don't want to say that she was disappointed that she attended, but it sounds like she will not go back again next year.

Mom really liked the local aspect of the festival. All the food booths were at one end of the hall like a food court. Local vegetarian and vegan restaurants featured their best fare and from what Mom could see, it all looked really good. She only sampled a couple of desserts, but Sashi had lunch and said it was really good. The festival was totally meat free and when I heard this I was glad that I couldn't attend.

There were many local NGO's spreading their messages about various causes. The ones that Mom liked most were Chicago Wilderness Magazine, celebrating the rich natural heritage of the Chicago region by telling inspiring stories of the people and organizations working to protect local nature, Great Lakes Forever, an organization protecting and conserveing the natural wonders that are the Great Lakes, Chicago Biofuels, an organization that educates schools, organizations, public officials, and the general public about alternative fuels, and The Land Connection, an education NGO with a vision of community -based food systems in the Midwest where every farmer has the opportunity to grow food in a sustainable manner, and every person has the choice to enjoy local and organic foods.

Mom said that the best part of the festival was meeting and talking with Ken Lee, co-founder of Lotus Foods, a speciality rice company. Mom and Sashi sampled different varieties of rice and then got educated about rice and about SRI, the system of rice intensification. Ken spent a lot of them, answered all their questions, and really changed how they view rice and rice production. In an effort to spare you the confusing details that emergered from Mom's scatterbrain when she tried to explain things to me, the following information is from the Lotus Foods website:

SRI – One Seed Revolution
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which is at the forefront of a grassroots rice revolution, is an ecologically sound method of rice production that helps resource-limited farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America to improve their yields, health, livelihoods and environment while producing better quality and more nutritious rice.

Optimizing the Potential of Each Individual Seed with SRI
SRI is a set of concepts and practices that change the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients used in growing rice. Normally, farmers transplant seedlings 3 to 6 weeks old, randomly and closely-spaced into flooded fields. With SRI, farmers take tiny seedlings, less than 2 weeks old, and plant them into unflooded fields at wide spacing and then use simple tools to remove weeds that aerate the soil. Plants are not kept submerged in water. Fields are periodically irrigated and then dried out. Organic fertilizers replace chemical fertilizers and make pesticides unnecessary.
These alternative methods have dramatic impacts: Farmers can increase yields from their traditional varieties by 50-100%, using 25-50% less water and 80-90% less seed, with less drudgery, and few or no purchased agrichemical inputs. Nearly a third of the world's population depends upon rice for their subsistence and livelihoods, and rice production has to increase by 30-40% percent over the next 25 years. With diminishing land and water, SRI represents a significant innovation to meet these needs.

SRI Rice – Better for You, Better for the Planet
When you buy SRI-grown rice you are not only getting some of the best tasting and healthiest rice in the world, you are also helping to:
Improve local and global food security
Promote healthier people and a healthier environment
Empower small farmers and raise incomes
Alleviate poverty
Reduce water demands, leaving more water for human use and natural ecosystems
Address climate change challenges
Reduce pressure on fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats

They were not selling any SRI rice products, but they were selling other varieties that Mom has had her eyes on for quite some time. Mom purchase three different varieties: Bhutanese Red Rice, Forbidden Rice, and Jade Pearl Rice. I don't eat rice, but Mom loves it and she is really excited to try them all really soon.

Mom got samples of Pangea Organics soap, Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Lotion, and Glee Gum. All in all, Mom had a good time, but was happy to leave due to the crowds. I was also happy for Mom to leave so that she could come home, because I miss her. Too bad for me that I was asleep when Mom got home and shortly after she walked in the door, Mom fell into bed to get some sleep. All that greening made Mom really tired. Maybe she won't have any energy today and she will stay home with me instead of going to a craft fair. I can only hope.


Pearl said...

Hi Stubby!!! I missed ya over the weekend- boy were we busy!

The green festival sounds awesome! I bet your Momma was havin' a blast, but SURELY she was missing you! Dog-free festival?! What kinda festival is that!? :)

Stubby said...

Hey there Pearly Poo - I missed you too, but I knew you were busy celebrating your daddy's graduation. Yahoo!

Mom did not miss me the entire day she was gone. I just don't get it. I told her that she cannot go to another dog-free festival because it is not fair to me. So there!

I can't wait to read all about your exciting weekend!

Stubby xoxo