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There’s More than Meets the Fung – eye

Its December, the last remnants of Chanterelles are leaving your taste buds. The first freeze is here. Just a few weeks ago mushrooms were everywhere! They were in your cedar chips, in your lawn and between. You’re curious about them, that’s why you’re reading this. You know some of them are super poisonous, some are super delicious, some are super medicinal and some are super fun. You are afraid to pick and eat them because of that lethal thing I mentioned – don’t worry so am I.

Foraging for mushrooms often takes a little more experience than foraging for edible plants as there can be a lot of false identification. For that reason I am not here today to talk to you about identification.

You’re asking, well then why the hell are you here? I’m here to talk to you about why Fungi are more important then just their delectable edible bodies.

Fungi are in the streets, on the internet, and in the market. Those fungal networks: think of em like the dark web of our soil. A Matrix of interconnected webs spanning miles beyond miles. Alright Neo are you ready to take the red pill?

Connected to that little mushroom you saw yesterday is a network of mycelium that can span so far that one of the biggest organisms on the earth is a fungi. These networks have symbiotic relationships with the plants growing above ground, this relationship is called mycorrhizae. They exchange nutrients and knowledge. Wait knowledge? What do you mean knowledge?

Scientists have proven that mother trees use these networks to send nutrients to saplings and communicate- sometimes to different species even. I know, you’re like whoa! Hold on to your horses cause it gets better.

Fungi are not only the highways for the the transportation of nutrients, they are also like the markets making those nutrients more readily available for plants. So instead of having to travel deep into the soil with its roots or break down some complex compounds, fungal networks do that for them. Look at that fungi making nutrients more available for plants. So now you’re asking, what do they get in trade? They get carbohydrates! We all want sugar right?

Now that you know mushrooms are so important for your garden, what can you do to encourage fungi in your soil? Lets start with what not to do. DON’T use pesticides. Don’t use too much nitrogen or phosphorous rich fertilizers/composts. Don’t till your soil. Don’t mono crop. Rotate them crops yo.

If the land you use is new to you I suggest assuming its been compromised. Most garden shops will have something to help perpetuate that amazing mycelium. A startling 80% of land plants have a symbiotic relationship with fungi and I’m willing to bet most of the plants in your garden do too.

So now you’re like, well I don’t grow a garden I don’t care. Well there’s even more to meet the eye with fungi then just soil health. Mushrooms are being studied in the treatment of breast cancer (turkey tail mushrooms), the filtering of pollutants and the creation of new biodegradable packing materials. Soon we’ll be able to say good by to styrofoam.

Fungi are responsible for my three favorite things: beer, bread, and cheese…mmm fermentation. So next time you see that little fruiting body called a mushroom popping up remember that’s the tip of the of the iceberg.

Want to learn more about mushrooms? I’d suggest checking out Paul Stamets and Susie Simmond TED talks to start.

 

Nichole Criss
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe
Social Media Manager
Chaco CanyonThere’s More than Meets the Fung – eye
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Things that Make Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Socks and Coffee

Spread the joy of hot coffee next time you’re in the cafe!

Join the nationwide movement started in 2013 that has changed the way we care about each other. Introducing: Suspended Coffee.
 

John M. Sweeney (founder & chief kindness officer, yes that’s his official title) re-introduced Suspended Coffee into cafes around the world in 2013. Based off old Naples tradition, the term “caffè sospeso” means “suspended” or pending coffee. With roots in working-class Naples, a person experiencing a stroke of good luck would purchase two coffees. The patron would then take one coffee with them and leave the extra for someone in need. This anonymous act of charity has grown into a international program.

At Chaco we love being a part of a something that brings us together. Suspended Coffee is an opportunity for us to promote kindness and strengthen our communities.
 
“It can provide physical comfort, conversation, a smile or even a laugh, and a sense of belonging. A suspended coffee can change lives, sometimes even save them.” Read more at www.suspendedcoffee.com or check out this video!


 

Chaco wants you to know that we can “suspend” any menu item! Just tell us at the counter when you order your meal.

Add a Hippie Bowl, or Avocad-O Smoothie to our donation cup and know that you took part in feeding someone.
So come on by and make a stranger’s day, donate something sweet and simple. We’ll make the coffee!

Box of Sox Now at Chaco Greenwood

Chaco Greenwood is proud to be a WeCount donation drop off zone. WeCount is a local organization connecting those in need with items that are essential, by asking neighbors to donate what they can. This is a great way to unite as a community and assist one another with acquiring some of the basics. WeCount takes donations of outdoor gear, personal hygiene products, home goods, and much more!

They even have an App!

You can use the app simply by having a text-enabled phone or email address. After creating an account, users can choose to seek help or donate.
Our Greenwood location has now adopted a box as a part of the Box of Sox Program. This drive is specifically geared to helping our community members that need help this upcoming winter season! We are accepting new or lightly used socks for donation. Sometimes the little things make a big difference. Help us keep our community warm and cozy this winter. Drop by and donate!
To find out more information about donating & how you can get involved in the cause visit www.WeCount.org.
 
boxsox
 
Help us fill our box FULL of sock!

Tis the Season
Courtney Denney
General Manager
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe & Bakery, Greenwood

Chaco CanyonThings that Make Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Socks and Coffee
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Dietary Pleasure vs. Dietary Effect

I will always remember when the dietary script flipped in my life. About 5 years ago, I was walking away from Chaco University with what’s known as the “Boss Juice”: a pickle jar filled with ice, a shot of wheatgrass, and a large Green Cleanse juice (celery, cucumber, spinach, lemon and parsley).

I caught myself thinking “delicious!” after a swig of my green, bitter, sweetness-free slurry.

When I was in my teens, you could buy candy bars for 25 cents each. Not wanting to carry change around in my pocket, my daily after-school snack regimen was simple:

one crisp $1 bill = 4 candy bars.

Every day for years, I ate four candy bars as a pre-teen and teen. Now, I was blessed with a high metabolism and was an active kid. I was more ‘beanpole’ than overweight, in any fashion. Since there were no obvious repercussions to this dietary choice, the equation was easy for me at the time: sweet candy = pleasure.

Fast forward to my 30’s. No longer an active daily athlete and metabolism hitting the typical wall for people my age. There was a definitive cause and effect relationship with food that been obvious for years. I was no longer eating multiple candy bars per day, but I was in the midst of the dance between diet and health. If I make a certain choice for what I consume at lunch, it will affect how much energy I have for the next few hours of work. If I skip breakfast, I will lose all motivation by 11am. Have sugar for a snack, and I knew I would pay dearly within 15 minutes.

This has become an acute daily exercise for me in my 40’s, where there are clear costs and benefits to everything I consume. I’m thankfully allergy-free and I don’t think I have any particular sensitivities. However, for 10 years I have been checking in with myself after I eat something, and that has produced real insight into how my body processes food.

It also gives me insight into how important ingredients are.

I can eat two identical-looking dishes and have two completely different bodily reactions to them. Ingredients are important – the devil’s in the details!
There are items at my own café that I have to really avoid (see: Lentil Burger), but something at Chaco that’s illustrative of foods that look alike but create different results is our yogurt bowl.

yogurt-breakfast-bowl

I’ve never been a yogurt and fruit person because my body doesn’t like dairy or sugar. However, it does like the live cultures present in yogurts. The Chaco version is a cultured, live coconut-based yogurt, and my body actually sings when I have one for breakfast.

I’ll bet my 12-year old self never could have predicted that.
 
 
Chris Maykut
Proud Owner
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes

Chaco CanyonDietary Pleasure vs. Dietary Effect
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We Changed Our Table Numbers but Who’s Counting?

As it turns out, a lot of our cherished customers were counting!

old numbers

Recently, I’ve received a number of concerns from customers in regards to our change in table numbers. Most claim that the new table numbers feel corporate, rather than artsy. I wanted to take a chance to address this set of concerns and explain the decision making process.

Here at Chaco, we always want to make our space an inclusive area for all people, of all types of ability.

Hand-drawn table signs that are artistic may give a certain feeling to some folks. However, our new signs are more accessible to people with differing vision abilities.

In “the flock”, our term for the collective upper management team here at Chaco, we discussed and debated the topic with passion. We were anticipating both the positive and negative reactions, and then coming to an action plan. Prior to the change, both customers and employees alike commented regularly on how the signs were hard to read at best and made illegible due to artistic flair at worst.

new numbers

The new numbers we decided on have a very different feel, for sure. They have clean, printed lines and bold solid colors as opposed to hand drawn lines with more textured colors. It only takes a short walk down the street in Seattle to see how the corporate trends play out stylistically in our lives. We know the association. Brushed steel, shiny plastic, and clean modern lines define the designs that fill the sidewalks of neighborhoods that were once covered in handmade, “quirky” feeling designs.

Chaco Canyon Cafe does not want to become “big organic” or “big vegan”.

We are aimed at accessibility and inclusivity.

We are not rooted in the stylistic changes you see in the street, which are based on style and exclusivity.

For years, our loyal customers have gotten used to figuring out our old numbering system. Maybe you have a number that was regularly yours, or you have a friend who drew one of them (I certainly do). As a result, that change makes a place that felt like home a bit different than it was before. At a time when many other similar changes are happening in that same way all around you, one more change may be hard to swallow.

We understand that it is scary. We’d also ask you to try and take a step outside of that perspective. Imagine what it might be like to have that feeling of home be less approachable, less inviting due to visual disability and less-than-standard signs. We hope you now understand the dilemma we faced.

We’ve heard the outcry from a portion of our customer base over this loss of art. Moving forward, I want to make a commitment to all of our loyal customers to fill our space with beautiful art and thriving plants to help continue that feeling of home for you, in other ways. If you have any contacts who would like to display their art, feel free to be in touch with us.

We want Chaco to feel like your comfortable artsy home while always striving to be as accessible as humanly possible! Thank you for taking the time to read and think on all of this.

Avalon Zanoni
Manager, U-District
Chaco Canyon Cafe

Chaco CanyonWe Changed Our Table Numbers but Who’s Counting?
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Using Natural Food Dyes In Your Home and At Chaco

Everything’s beginning to change for fall. The tree leaves, the sky, and the food around us are all taking on new colors. Natural food dye is the partner to seemingly all festivities this time of year, from icing on cookies to festive cakes and other homemade treats.

The Chaco kitchen has been resourceful in bringing our natural food ethos to our love for wacky-colored food. Turmeric, hibiscus powder, beet juice, and chlorophyll are all ingredients we use to color our raw cheesecakes, truffles, and cake frosting.

The pink coconut flakes on our seasonal raw truffles are dyed with beet juice, and our gluten-free chocolate mint cupcakes are made with chlorophyll for a green frosting.

At home, if you’ve ever cooked with fresh turmeric or beets, you know how easily they can stain your hands and cooking surfaces. I have yellow-tinted nails for days after juicing turmeric for the café. While I don’t find my yellow nails particularly pleasing, you can put that beautiful golden yellow color to good use, especially if you’re thinking about creating your upcoming Halloween costume. If you have any light-colored material or yarn you’d like to dye, turmeric makes a great natural fabric dye. All it takes is some ground turmeric, water, salt, and thick gloves to save your skin! Make sure the fabric you’re dying is a natural one—cotton and wool work great. You can follow a similar process with chopped beets for rose-colored results. Grab some yellow onions or red cabbage out of your vegetable drawer for even more color palate possibilities.

I’m constantly looking for ways to save my scraps and keep usable produce out of the compost bin. Not only does creating my own food dyes help me with this mission, it also prevents more chemical dyes from entering the trash and waste water system. Even food-grade dyes contain petroleum-based ingredients and animal products. Synthetic fabric dyes are also known to cause skin irritation and rashes. Ditch synthetic dyes and try making your own natural ones for a rewarding Halloween project!

Do you have a favorite food dye? Leave a comment telling us about your experience. Whether it’s with cooking or just for looking!

 

Recipe for turmeric dye:

4 cups water

¼ cup salt

Natural material (light-colored wool or cotton work best)

Bring the water and salt to a boil, then add your fabric. Let simmer for an hour. This process makes the dye take to your fabric much more easily. Then:

2 cups water
2 T ground turmeric

Bring water and turmeric to a boil, then add your fabric. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove your fabric and let it dry. Viola!

Happy Holidays
Annie
General Manager
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe & Bakery, Greenwood

brandontutmarc_pqo1knUsing Natural Food Dyes In Your Home and At Chaco
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Building Bridges for U-District Youth

When I began training to be the next General Manager of Chaco University, one aspect I was the most excited about was taking on some community activism projects.

First, I wanted to settle into meeting members of the U-District community.

I took several walks around the neighborhood when I first started commuting from central Seattle.
Almost immediately, I noticed a disproportionately large number of homeless and disenfranchised youth on the streets of the U-district.

I thought, there must already be a great deal of effort going into helping this group of people find stability in their life.

I hoped that if I joined the people working on this that I could add a unique skill set. I wanted to use my resources to diversify and expand the scope of the work that they were doing.

I connected with several people at the annual stakeholder’s meeting with the U-District Partnership’s Buisness Improvement Area (BIA). I met folks working with U-Heights and ROOTS Young Adult Shelter. They were involved in working on improving the lives of homeless youth.

Roots

A few short weeks later, I was at a meeting with those same key people. We began hammering out the details for a homeless youth job placement program, hosted by ROOTS. We hashed out some initial details on doing outreach to other businesses with entry level work force needs. Then we outlined the creation of a pilot program for having light, general work training and UDP/City of Seattle wage compensation put in place. We were going to facilitate the push for these businesses to take on U-district youth as employees.

This project represents not only my personal drive to be a part of the community I work in, but the desire of the Chaco Family to be an active force for improvement in our communities.

There are many areas of my new post as General Manager at Chaco University that I am extremely excited about. The food and drink,

The amazing internal community that makes up the Chaco Family.

Our ability to drive forward sustainable, organic agriculture in Washington. Still, helping those in need in the greater U-District community is one area I feel most called to.

I’m really looking forward to continuing this work and to meeting many more wonderful members of the University District community. I’m excited to meet you all and build amazing things here!

Avalon Zanoni
Manager, U-District
Chaco Canyon Cafe

brandontutmarc_pqo1knBuilding Bridges for U-District Youth
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Choose Chaco Canyon Cafe for Heart of Seattle Award

There are a LOT of awards and recognition out there for businesses. Especially for restaurants.

Some are good, like Seattle Weekly’s annual poll – Chaco just got second place to Café Flora for best Vegetarian. Other awards are just spread around with no real meaning or actual achievement necessary. Awards like those handed out by Yelp and Zagat.
But then there are unique awards and recognition that go beyond good food. We get really excited about these kinds of awards at Chaco Canyon.

Last month, I wrote about the honors we received from 2013 Green Washington Award and the 2014 Recycler of the Year Award.

Earlier this year, we received our first international recognition as one of the

Top 10 Eco-Eateries

by Green Market Movers in the U.K.

I’m proud to announce, we’re up for another great award. Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe has been selected as one of only 15 finalists for the Heart of Seattle Award! The total pool of nominations was over 500 local businesses and nonprofits, and we have made it through to the final round of voting. This is a great honor, and something that is made for Chaco Canyon!
The Heart of Seattle Award is the brainchild of the renowned Chinook Book. The focus of the award is, “designed to recognize Seattle retail and service businesses that set a high bar for what good business should be…local businesses with stellar social and environmental priorities, ethical business practices, happy employees, and loving customers.”

 

We knew we had to apply as soon as we were notified about the award and read what it was dedicated to honoring. Furthermore, we thought we had a good shot of being recognized. Chaco Canyon embodies these traits and were founded upon them.

Vote Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe for the heart of seattle award

Vote Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe

 

 

So, please CLICK HERE to VOTE!

This one literally takes 15 seconds. You don’t need to enter an email address or sign up for anything. In addition to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, there are some other great businesses to laud and vote for, including two of our great community partners: Bootyland and Seattle ReCreative.
Please consider supporting Chaco for this award, we would love to be highly considered for this great community award for all we do!

 

Chris Maykut
Proud Owner
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes

Chaco CanyonChoose Chaco Canyon Cafe for Heart of Seattle Award
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Great Weekend at Sustainable Ballard

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I raised my eyebrows in surprise when I was told that we were going to be serving Banana Bread at Sustainable Ballard.

I’ve learned to avoid bananas at the grocery store, like other cheaply available and mass produced items. I’m always suspect of how a company can afford to pay it’s workers a living wage and still give me such a good price.

After asking around the kitchen, I learned that we source our bananas from Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers (GROW). GROW gives restaurants and retailers an alternative to the questionable practices of other banana farms. The following short video tells us about the positive effects GROW has managed to bring to banana farming communities:


Saturday’s break in intense heat was ideal. Courtney and I arrived at Ballard Commons under the more familiar cloudy skies. We set up our tent for what became a lively and fun event that included live music, demonstrations, and free Chinook books! Our table was situated right across from the Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.).

I love this organization’s mission, “to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices”.

F.E.P. recently sponsored a school supply drive for the children of farm workers, which is so cool!

While at the event, a KBFG DJ told me that Chaco Canyon Cafe is now on the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List. This list recognizes companies who source chocolate that is not produced by means of child labor or slavery. I encourage you to read this article if you’d like to know more about where your chocolate is coming from!

Although I’m terribly camera shy, it only took about 10 minutes until I was asked to speak about Chaco on local radio station KBFG 107.3.

I was very excited to learn that KBFG is a local North Seattle broadcast, serving Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, and Phinney Ridge.

Currently, KBFG is only streaming online, but they will be broadcasting as a low-power FM station in early 2017. Don’t you just love local community powered radio?! I do. Check out KBFG’s schedule. They offer musica  mexico, heritage hour African language programming, and local business reports. So much content is offered, and there are plenty of ways to get involved!

KBFG explores Sustainable Ballard!

 

All together, it was wonderful to see everyone who could make it! I love serving banana bread to someone and telling them there’s no eggs or butter in it. The shock! The awe. Good food simply needs good ingredients. As a buyer for the café, I know how much love and care goes into sourcing those ingredients. Honestly, it’s great to be at an event and see that folks come to our table because they know it’s food they can get behind.

All in all, thank you to everyone who came out to Sustainable Ballard. See you next year!

Cheers,
Bettina
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe
Commissary Kitchen

Chaco CanyonGreat Weekend at Sustainable Ballard
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Weeds You Could be Eating: Part Deux

Backyard Liver Tonic

It’s mid summer and here I am, back again for “weeds you could be eating part deux.” Don’t mind the Hot Shots reference.

So it’s early August, you’ve already harvested lambs quarters, nettle, berries, and all those other plants, you know, the vegetables you intentionally planted. The summer days are getting shorter but hotter. Your apples, pears and plums are getting ready to be picked. Your neighbors apples, pears and plums are getting ready to be picked, by you, because they never do anything with them anyway, but you really should ask permission instead of sneaking over in the middle of the night. No judgement here.

 

Oh my dandelion,

it has taken over your front yard, your side yard, and just about everything in between. You haven’t mowed it down because it’s bringing in so many local bees that are doing their pollinating thing and making your harvest possible. Well good news the whole dang plant is edible. Lemme tell you a little bout dandelion. Dandelion, taraxacum officinale, is packed full of vitamin A, C, calcium and is quite the liver tonic. You can make tea, you can make wine, you can make soup, you can make salads, you can make medicine and just about everything under the sun. Dandelion flowers make a great wine, you may need a lot of flowers, or can be added to any mead or wine to add complexity. The root of dandelion can be boiled in place of any vegetable or roasted and ground in place of coffee. The leaves of dandelion can be quite bitter when raw so I would suggest cooking them before ingesting, maybe try them in soup. Not only is dandelion good for you it’s good for the soil too. Dandelion roots break up the compact soil (ahem grass lawns)  and aerate the earth. Their deep roots pull up nutrients and make them available to other plants.  Only since the idea of grass lawns have dandelions been looked upon so poorly. I think it’s about time we change our perception on Dandelion.

 

A good alternative to fish oil supplements.

Purslane do your dang thing.

We may have just missed the cut off for Purslane as its starting to get bitter in my garden, but just in case you still have a little left. Purslane, portulaca oleracea, often used as a ground cover, is an edible plant that grows low to the ground. Purslanes succulent leaves are delectable and high in omega-3 fatty oils so no need to take that fish oil, yuck. You can chop the stems and leaves as an addition to any salad or cook them and add them to any soup or vegetable dish. Next spring throw down some purslane seeds on your broccoli bed and have a living edible mulch.

 

Sorrel Sorrel,

what ever will be will be.  Mountain Sorrel, oxyria dingyna, and Sheep Sorrel, rumex acetosella,  are both edible and both grow around these parts. Sorrel leaves are edible and can be added to salad or sandwiches. The leaves can be sour so I would not suggest ingesting too many leaves or making an entire salad out of them.

Just like any foraging adventure make sure you know %100 before you ingest. Common names can be misleading or misused and many plants have not so edible or even poisonous look a likes. If you are not sure, use a reference manual to help identify or don’t eat it.  That’s it from me this week. What wild edible plants are you eating, how are you preparing them and what do you suggest?

 

Nichole Criss
Chaco Canyon Cafe West Seattle
Assistant General Manager

 

Sources:
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Pojar and Mackinnon
The Foragers Harvest, Samuel Thayer
Gardenguides.com
Ediblewildfood.com
Chaco CanyonWeeds You Could be Eating: Part Deux
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Moving Beyond Green

img_7452-e1470002338842

In the days before I first opened Chaco Canyon in 2003, I found myself shopping for the last items we needed to be ready.

I came to the section with disposable utensils and paused for some time. This was in the dark ages before compostable was an option so we’re talking rigid plastic, single-use utensils.  I just couldn’t do it, and made a hurried trip to Goodwill to stock up on silverware to hand out to people until I could come up with a better idea.

A funny thing happened as we pondered a better plan: the ad-hoc one worked great for everyone.  Nine out of ten customers, when offered the option of a piece of silverware, said that they had a fork or spoon in the car or office, and they didn’t need anything.  Those that took them tended to come back and return their fork (great for retention), and most everyone understood that – while this was an admittedly weird system – they appreciated not feeling guilty for using a manufactured item from a far-flung country once and then tossing it into the waste stream.

Put this system side by side with the “normal” thing to do in the restaurant industry: putting a disposable fork, spoon and napkin (and knife and chopsticks….) in every bag, just to make sure everyone absolutely gets utensils.  Taking the time to ask everyone who gets something to go, and explaining that they can actually take utensils (or bamboo chopsticks) takes a lot more time and effort, but one of the main differentiators between a business that is “green” and one that has in its mission to have Zero Impact on the planet someday.

We’ve saved over a half million single-use utensils from production and disposal just by making this simple choice – that’s a good start.

Choosing not to have disposable utensils, and dozens of other ‘unusual’ behaviors and choices we make every day at Chaco Canyon, are what makes us unique and special.  It’s why we won the 2013 Green Washington Award and the 2014 Recycler of the Year Award for small businesses, as well as many other accolades and awards throughout the years.

WSRA

The sustainability and zero impact ethos permeate the café, from myself to the staff, to our customers and out into the city.  One of our staff recently contacted me to let me know that, as part of a bridal planning committee, she was assigned to buy a bunch of one-time use Solo cups for the reception.   “The environmentalist in me cringed”, she stated, and then asked if Chaco could buy some re-usable cups for her to bring to the wedding, and then put them into use at the cafes afterwards as water cups.  Of course we can!  I love our staff.

Working for a sustainable planet has changed over the last 30 years.  Recycling and composting are no longer the hallmark of environmentalism; they are the base expectation to start from.  Thanks to smart local legislation around Styrofoam and plastic bags, Seattle is a true leader in the movement for a sustainable planet.  We as a community should keep pushing for more, better, and weirder solutions to loving our planet.  What are you doing in your house?

 

Chris Maykut
Proud Owner
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes

Chaco CanyonMoving Beyond Green
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