Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

March 18, 2020 by  
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I’ve been vegetarian since childhood and have met people with many different takes on a healthy plant-based diet. The raw foodists I’ve encountered have blown me away with the innovation it takes to come up with a menu beyond salad while limiting cooking temperatures to no more than 118 degrees. The raw food philosophy is that heat breaks down food’s nutritional value, while low temperatures allow food to retain enzymes and vitamins, leading to the body’s ability to prevent and fight disease and generally thrive. So when Theresa Keane, co-owner of Pixie Retreat , invited me to tour her Portland, Oregon raw food kitchen, I was intrigued. Her team produces a full vegan, organic , gluten-free and mostly raw menu on a commercial scale. Not only do they supply Pixie Retreat’s three Portland retail locations, they’ve also started wholesaling to local stores. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at a commercial raw food kitchen. The early years Pixie Retreat was built on a dream and a lot of hard work, trial and error. Keane co-founded the business with Willow O’Brien in 2008. At the time, they wanted to make and sell healthful and delicious food , but were new to the dining business. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” Keane said. “We never worked in kitchens, Willow and I. She didn’t even know how to make food. She made tea and stuff like that.” They started out sharing a commissary kitchen with other vegan businesses. That’s where they met Anna Clark, who later became their third business partner. Clark, a pastry chef, was the only one with formal culinary training. After 9 months in the commissary kitchen, they rented a house and ran Pixie Retreat out of it, working late into the night while filling wholesale orders. Keane described a time when an engineer acquaintance stopped by. Their setup left him shocked. “We had eight refrigerators, freezers, 20 dehydrators,” Keane said. “He said it’s amazing you don’t burn this house down. Every night, the power would trip off. We couldn’t even turn the heat on because it would trip the power.” A spotless, modern raw food kitchen They’ve come a long way. Now headquartered in Southeast Portland’s industrial district, the Pixie Retreat RAW’r Laboratorie & Makery is both a retail outlet and the site of their commercial kitchen. The small front part has a seating area and a case of premade wraps and goodies. “We’re grab-and-go style, because that’s how people are living,” Keane said. “We’re not a sit down-like service restaurant . We’re into flavor, satisfaction and integrity of our ingredients. Plating is not my forte.” Customers can also custom-order kale- or millet-based bowls and coconut cream puddings with toppings. The millet is one of several cooked ingredients available. A big white curtain hangs behind the counter, obscuring the kitchen. “That’s more for health department reasons,” Keane said, indicating the curtain. “And to protect the magic back there.” We step through the curtain and find three workers preparing food in an extremely well-organized kitchen. It’s Thursday, one of the big assembly days for delivering to the two other Pixie Retreat outlets. Tacked up on the door of the walk-in dehydrator are long to-do lists for each day of the week. Keane introduced me to her staff and to each machine, many of which were specially made or adapted to the needs of a mostly raw food kitchen. The walk-in dehydration room is the most exciting and unusual. Keane opened the door, releasing a smoky smell. Inside are trays and trays of eggplant bacon strips, which stay in there for 72 hours. Pixie Retreat bought the dehydrator from a former kale chip entrepreneur who devised tools to streamline raw food making. Keane estimated the walk-in dehydrator is 75% more efficient than the company’s former multiple-dehydrator setup. Pixie Retreat has a Robot Coupe Blixer, which is an industrial-strength food processor. “This tool is a game changer,” Keane said. “I mean, it’s expensive like a car, but it paid for itself in labor. I love this tool so much.” The company uses it to blend ingredients for pizza dough, macadamia nut cheese and raw onion bread. Pixie Retreat makes raw chocolate in its chocolate machine, melting it down at a temperature of 108. The chocolate winds up in treats like chocolate salted “karmals”, “almond butta cups” and dehydrated, oat-based chocolate chip cookies. Other interesting tools include an Italian fruit press repurposed for squeezing excess moisture out of sauerkraut and a specially made enormous cookie-cutter to cut onion bread into uniform squares while minimizing waste . Raw and vegan at home The Pixie Retreat kitchen is cool but daunting. What about the average person who wants to add more raw food into their diet without shelling out for a Blixer? “Make nut milk ,” Keane said. “That’s where I would start.” You’ll need a nut milk bag, available online or in some grocery stores’ produce departments. She recommended starting with hazelnuts or almonds. For flavor and sweetness, add sea salt, vanilla and a Medjool date. Put it all in your blender. “Kick it up on high. Blend it. Then you put it in the nut milk bag and you squeeze it out.” Dry out the pulp and use it as a nut flour for baked goods. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative After you master nut milk, try making nut cheese. Keane recommended blending buttery macadamia nuts with water, Italian seasoning, lemon juice and sea salt for a plant-based ricotta. Going national Pixie Retreat scaled back from wholesale for a while to focus on retail locations. But it has just relaunched, selling chocolate “karmal”, salted “karmal” and raspberry “l’il puddin” at New Seasons stores in Portland. Made with organic young coconut meat and Irish moss, these raw desserts are packed with nutrients . Soon, Pixie Retreat plans to introduce nationwide cold shipping of the “l’il puddin’”. Currently, customers across the U.S. can order sweet or savory Pixie snack boxes . But Pixie Retreat’s goals go far beyond Portland or even the U.S. When I asked Keane about the company vision, she immediately said, “Global. That’s the dream. We want to be the fast food of the future.” + Pixie Retreat Images via Josh Chang and Marielle Dezurick / Pixie Retreat and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

Electric Vehicles and Power Outages

March 2, 2020 by  
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Last year’s planned power outages to prevent wildfires in Northern … The post Electric Vehicles and Power Outages appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Tackling sustainability in sporting events

February 19, 2020 by  
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At the recent Super Bowl, the NFL focused on sustainability more than in past years with its Ocean to Everglades (O2E) initiative throughout South Florida. Efforts included education on invasive species, beach cleanups, food recovery and recycling initiatives. These conservation efforts are part of a larger trend internationally to shrink the carbon footprints of major sporting events. “Sports is one of the few avenues which can unite people of all different races, creeds and social status,” Matt Jozwiak said in an interview with Inhabitat. Jozwiak was a chef at swanky New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park before founding Rethink Food NYC . His organization feeds 2,000 New Yorkers a day by repurposing leftovers from restaurants and food companies in the tri-state area. Jozwiak is a big proponent of more sustainable sporting events. “The industry literally has the power to make drastic sustainability changes. When a sporting team comes out in favor of a cause, people listen.” He acknowledges there may be growing pains when adopting unfamiliar behaviors. “But eventually, fans will go along with the new changes.” Sporting events step up to sustainability Fans traveling to one European Cup match can generate almost 5,600 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the World Economic Forum. But now, many sports are taking a closer look at how to be more responsible. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games are a leading example of organizers prioritizing sustainability in their planning. For example, builders will use locally sourced wood to construct the athletes’ village, and hydrogen fuel cells will power the event vehicles. Organizers plan to generate solar power onsite and recycle 99 percent of everything used during the event. With the exception of drinking water, they’ll use recycled rainwater for all Olympic water needs. Paris is hoping to be even more sustainable during its turn to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones Some European cities have given their football (soccer to Americans) stadiums an eco-makeover by installing seats made from recycled plastic. In Amsterdam, fans bought the old seats as souvenirs. The stadium in Pontedera, Italy boasts seats made using plastic from local waste. Meanwhile, in England, the Forest Green Rovers have won the title of world’s greenest football club by powering its grounds with solar, recycling water and serving an entirely vegan menu to players and fans. At the 2019 Helsinki International Horse Show, 135 tons of horse manure powered the electricity. A company called Fortum HorsePower enlists 4,300 Finnish horses to generate energy for electrical grids. Stadium food waste Jozwiak takes a special interest in food wasted inside stadiums. He’s found that stadiums are among the hardest places from which to rescue food, because they tend to only have games periodically and throw the food away afterward. Much of that food quickly spoils or gets soggy and unappetizing, like hamburger buns and pretzels. Stadiums should rely on freezers more, Jozwiak said. “Instead of purchasing food all the time, bulk purchase and immediately freezing can cut down a lot on the waste for sporting arenas. Proper refrigeration strategies can expand the lifecycle of food and reduce food waste.”  He also recommended a fire sale strategy for avoiding waste. “Implement a plan where spectators can purchase the remaining food to take home,” he advised. “A lot of food ends up in landfills . So if sporting arenas can provide the options for the fans to either buy or provide for free the remaining food, it would cut down on waste drastically.” One by one, stadium directors of operations need to craft individual action plans to become more sustainable, Joswiak suggested. In addition to avoiding food waste, he recommended conserving water and offering healthier food options with more vegetables and less meat . Stadiums should only contract with vendors who can manage recycling. New buildings should work to be LEED-certified. Joswiak suggested hosting a climate-related event for fans to explain and support all of these green changes. If fans could be convinced to bring their own reusable utensils, that would be great, too. Eco-travel to sporting events Of course, while the football match or the golf tournament is the main event, fans and players still have to travel to the game and may require overnight housing. According to Solar Impulse, 5 million people converged on Russia in 2018 to watch the FIFA World Cup. Their travel and accommodations generated about 85% of greenhouse gas emissions from this event, totaling about 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7 Some major governing bodies in sports are embracing carbon offset projects around the world to atone for their contribution to emissions. FIFA managed to offset 1.1 million tons of carbon emissions since the 2014 World Cup . The governing body for European football is promising to offset fan-generated emissions for the EURO 2020 competition. It has also collaborated with the 12 host cities to offer free public transportation to fans with tickets on the days of the matches. This should cut down on emissions and road congestion. Via World Economic Forum and Solar Impulse Images via Shutterstock

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What You Need To Know About Natural Gas Power

February 17, 2020 by  
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This is the final article in a six-part series that explores … The post What You Need To Know About Natural Gas Power appeared first on Earth911.com.

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What You Need to Know About Nuclear Power

January 20, 2020 by  
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Australian Bushfires: How Might Smoke Haze Affect You?

January 20, 2020 by  
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Earth911 Podast: Net-Zero Prefab Homes From Dvele

January 20, 2020 by  
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Dvele‘s Brandon Weiss has a vision for durable net-zero housing. … The post Earth911 Podast: Net-Zero Prefab Homes From Dvele appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree

January 7, 2020 by  
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16 must-see environmental documentaries

December 23, 2019 by  
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From animals facing extinction to pollution to global warming, the world is changing — quickly. Some days you may feel like you’re the only one concerned with what is happening to the planet. But there are a host of scientists, environmentalists, authors, journalists, adventurers and Hollywood actors that share your mindset and went through the effort of getting it to the screen. Here are some top environmental documentaries to watch if you’re looking for a show that keeps sustainability in focus. Before the Flood, 2016 Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio in conjunction with National Geographic, Before the Flood follows DiCaprio as he talks with world leaders, politicians, scientists and religious figures to better understand the thinking around the climate crisis . Related: Attenborough Effect inspires people to drastically reduce single-use plastics Chasing Coral, 2017 Coral is a barometer for the health of the planet . As a measure of this health, coral is showing that the earth is sick. This documentary follows scientists, divers and photographers underwater, where they investigate the reasons behind the detrimental disappearance of healthy coral around the globe. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 2014 In a world where many people either deny climate change or talk in generalizations about the causes and solutions, this documentary puts a fine point on the pervasive damage that agriculture has on the planet, connecting it to global warming, water use , deforestation and ocean dead zones. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, 2017 No list of environmental documentaries would be complete without mentioning the climate change film that added fuel to the conversation, An Inconvenient Truth , which features Former American Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to inform and inspire climate policies around the globe. The story continues with An Inconvenient Sequel , following Gore on his environmental campaign, sharing poignant personal and public moments with activists across the planet. The True Cost, 2015 The True Cost exposes another major contributor of pollution, waste and consumption — the fast fashion industry. This is a first-hand account of the human cost of clothing manufacturing, exposing low-wages and poor treatment of workers. It also highlights toxins added to the soil and waterways via plant growth (such as cotton) and throughout the manufacturing process (such as dyes). Director Andrew Morgan connects all of this to the driving force of the media, culture, societal norms and consumerism. Chasing Ice, 2012 This award-winning film pulls together years of time-lapse photography to document the planet’s rapidly melting glaciers . More Than Honey, 2012 In light of mass colony collapse, this documentary seeks to provide a better understanding of the importance of honey bees while looking for answers as to what is causing the decline in bee populations. A Plastic Ocean, 2016 Adventurers Craig Leeson and Tanya Streeter team up with an international team of scientists and researchers to reveal the astonishing amount of plastic waste consuming the ocean and coastlines, endangering animals and polluting the food chain. The images and reporting cover 20 locations over the course of four years. Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, 2014 This film uncovers the nasty truth behind food waste , from farms to retail consumption. The lens follows filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer as they vow to sustain themselves for six months without buying groceries, instead relying on food that would otherwise be thrown out. The Story of Stuff, 2007 The Story of Stuff appears to be a playful, 20-minute video that is actually a dart thrown directly into the bullseye of consumerism and capitalism. This powerful animation cuts straight to the point of the damaging effects of manufacturing, material sourcing, convenience and quick disposal of the “stuff” in our lives. Explained, 2018 This docuseries , a Netflix original, highlights a range of topics, many of which pertain to the environment. Look for episodes titled, “The Future of Meat,” and “The World’s Water Crisis” to get started. Tomorrow, 2015 Where many documentaries are fatalistic, Tomorrow aims to focus on the positive. From French filmmakers Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, Tomorrow is a mostly uplifting journey around the planet, discovering people and communities focused on solutions through agriculture, energy , economy, education and government policy. Tapped, 2009 Plastic is a well-known environmental issue. In Tapped , directors Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey aim directly at the bottled water industry as a major contributor to the problem. They explore the financial and environmental impact of the industry, including material sources, manufacturing, and post-consumer waste. No Impact Man, 2009 Following the journey of author Colin Beavan, No Impact Man provides a look inside his dedication to going green. The cameras follow Beavan as he disconnects from all modern conveniences including electricity, gas-powered transportation, shipped food and public waste disposal in an effort to experience a life without environment impact. What begins as a journey about minimalism leads to a discovery about happiness, relationships and balance. How to Change the World, 2015 Drawing from archived video from 1971, this film tells the story of the passionate pioneers that founded Greenpeace and somewhat unintentionally gave birth to the green movement. Patrimonio, 2018 It’s happening all over the world — corporations moving into small communities and changing their ways of life. Patrimonio is an example of one community forever driven toward change as a resort and housing development, packaged commercially as a holistic yoga retreat, moves into town. Images via

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Matthew McConaughey unveils tiny eco-retreat in Australia

December 23, 2019 by  
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Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is jumping on the tiny cabin movement , and it’s “alright, alright, alright” with us. The famous actor has teamed up with Australian travel company Unyoked and Wild Turkey to build The Reserve — a tiny, off-grid cabin that operates on solar power. We already know that McConaughey is a huge fan of the outdoors, and regularly disconnects from the hustle and bustle in places like his beloved, restored Airstream . His latest tiny cabin venture follows his passion for both simple living and eco-friendly design. Located on the Central Coast of New South Wales, The Reserve is a tiny home that was built entirely with sustainable materials. The off-grid cabin, which runs on solar power , was designed to offer guests a serene retreat to rejuvenate in Australia’s incredible landscape. Related: This off-grid tiny cabin in the Australian wilderness is just what you need for a late summer getaway The dark wood-paneled cabin is a rustic, yet sophisticated retreat that offers an off-grid experience without sacrificing comfort. Here, the typical modern amenities of Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions are replaced by large windows and a firepit. The cabin still includes the basics, such as a queen-sized bed, a gas stove, plates, linens and even a concealed bourbon bar. Working with the team from Unyoked, McConaughey added several personal touches to the tiny cabin . For those struggling to leave their smartphones behind for entertainment, guests can read some of McConaughey’s favorite authors, such as a collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson and works by Og Mandino. For music-lovers, there are cassette tapes of Bob Dylan albums that can be listened to on a vintage stereo. As the sun sets, guests can warm up with a nice, toasty glass of Wild Turkey at the bourbon bar. Built as a part of Wild Turkey’s Thanks initiative, the proceeds from cabin bookings and $1 from every bottle of Longbranch sold in November and December will go to the initiative’s charity partner, the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. “I’ve always been in awe of Australia’s natural beauty,” McConaughey said in a statement. “My hope now is that The Reserve by Wild Turkey x Unyoked cabin will inspire Australians to reconnect with nature as an antidote to the frenetic pace of life.” + Unyoked Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Getty Images via Unyoked

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