California Water Crisis Continues

by Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

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“Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.” -Jack Handey

Things such as the water crisis in California is what keeps me up at night. But, I feel when I talk about this with other people I get shoulder shrugs and comments like, “well I am sure they will figure it out.” But will they?

I read an article on CNN about the scientist from NASA who claims the state of California will be out of water in one year. One year!? The article goes on to state that CA is encouraging shorter showers and less toilet flushing. Great, but these just do not seem like adequate solutions to this everlasting drought situation, might as well add in “do a rain dance every night before bed.”

This immediately brings me to think about factory farming and on the large scale our country is producing meat. I read it takes almost 2,000 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef where the average shower uses 14 gallons. So, that is  A LOT of water being used for each person to enjoy one hamburger. Yet, I do not see any solutions being “cut down on meat consumption.”

This is just another way again that adopting a plant based diet, even part time can make a dramatic impact on helping our planet. We shouldn’t have let CA get this far but I feel the time to make some dramatic changes to help our plant needs to start now.

Food for Thought on a Meatless Monday…

by Kelly Behr

Macy Acton Pig

Three people in which I have come to know and deeply respect talked to NPR last week about some of their views on a vegan diet, the article was titled “Does Being Vegan Really Help Animals?” They touched on a supply/demand issue, how people in the United States do not need meat to survive and the impact animal production has not only affected our country but others we use fill our meat demands.

Barbara King of NPR posed these questions to Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society, Alka Chandna of PETA and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary.

“Do you find it personally motivating or inspiring to reflect upon the number of animals who live each year, who otherwise would not, because you are vegan?”

Paul: Eating fewer or no animals doesn’t mean that animals who would’ve been killed will now live; it means that animals who would’ve been bred into existence to suffer on factory farms will now not be brought into the world and exploited in the terrible ways that are customary in the meat industry. It’s a supply and demand issue. Less demand should mean less supply.

Bruce: As Paul notes, by removing our demand, we’re sparing animals suffering that is beyond our worst imaginings. I do find it deeply motivating to realize that I can live my values every time I sit down to eat. St. Paul called on the faithful to pray ceaselessly. I like that every time I sit down to eat, I cast my lot for mercy, and against misery — for compassion, and against cruelty. Every meal becomes a prayer for a kinder and more just world.

Alka: I don’t think so much about the numbers of animals who are spared as much as I think about the misery and suffering that I’m not contributing to as a result of my choices. It was learning about the horrific conditions on factory farms — and thinking about the arbitrary cultural lines that determine which animals are eaten and which are spared — that compelled me to adopt a vegan diet; and I feel some comfort in knowing that my actions are not contributing to, or paying for those systems to carry out, their business. Conversely, if I am accidentally served something that isn’t vegan at a restaurant (and I know the dish is going to be thrown away), I feel like I have contributed to the torment suffered by the animals whose flesh or bodily products were in the dish. For example, if I’m given something that contains an egg, I think that my miscommunication resulted in a hen suffering in a battery cage for 34 hours (and all of the ancillary suffering inherent in the discarding of the male chicks, the eventual slaughter, and so on). It’s [weighing] the time that an animal suffered on a factory farm for that item to come into existence, balanced against the few minutes of enjoyment I might derive from eating that item.

“What is your response to a person who points out that on a global scale, veganism simply isn’t practical because people (including people suffering in poverty) must eat meat to survive?”

Paul: That may or may not be true, but we can only control ourselves. Millions of Americans are choosing to eat less meat today for a variety of reasons: to look and feel better, to prevent animal abuse, to protect the planet, and more. It need not be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Whether people are embracing Meatless Mondays, doing Mark Bittman’s “Vegan Before 6:00″ plan, or are doing, as Ellen DeGeneres does (vegan before 6 p.m. and after 6 p.m.!), we’re starting to embrace a saner, more humane and healthier diet.

Bruce: It is certainly not the case that anyone in the United States needs to eat meat in order to survive; I ran a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in inner city Washington, D.C., for six years, and I can say from personal experience that our nation’s poor are suffering from bad food, not lack of food. A move toward whole grains and legumes, in place of meat, would be healthier for them (and cheaper), just like it would be healthier for the affluent. On a global scale, I agree with the World Watch Institutethat diverting crops to animal feed is causing starvation. This is actually why I adopted a vegan diet in 1987, to combat the vast inefficiency of cycling crops through animals, which drives up the price of those crops and leads to starvation. I discuss that issuehere.

Alka: I would point out to that person that my parents raised me and my three siblings as lacto-vegetarians [A vegetarian who eats dairy products]. Through my younger years, my father was a graduate student and my mother worked as a librarian in Canada. But on their rather modest income, they were able to healthfully feed their four young children, preparing meals based on the peasant staples of rice and lentils. My parents didn’t buy junk food or convenience foods, so even with their limited funds, they could purchase plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. My experience is a product of my cultural heritage, of course, but if we consider the global population, I think it tends to be the case that the poorer populations, if they eat, are eating grains and legumes — and not meat or other animal products.

If we look at the volume of resources that are expended to produce meat, dairy and eggs, it seems clear that animal products are, in an increasingly crowded world, the fare of the wealthy. And, we can look to some stark examples — the razing of rain forests in Brazil to raise grain for factory farmed chickens in the U.S., and the exporting of grains from Ethiopia during the height of the Ethiopian famine to factory farmers in Europe, for instance — to recognize that reliance on animal-derived foods contributes to inequality.

Read the full article here, from

Here at Native Foods we strive to make delicious 100% plant-based food that makes eating more meatless meals as easy as pie….like our Oatmeal Creme Pie!

Are Meat Eaters Killing the Planet?

By Kelly Behr 

Native Foods Cafe


A recent article that USA Today featured as something to check out online caught my attention. The headline, "Holy Cow, Are Meat Eaters Destroying Our Planet?" had me thinking of course! But I wanted to read the article and see what they had to say. 


The article pretty much concluded, the more meat you eat the more of a carbon footprint you leave. There was a scientifc study done at Oxford University about how these carbon footprints were determined. Feel free to read it here. It was a very technical study conducted on 65,000 people and their consumption habits. 

Basically the results were that the meat eaters' carbon foot print was double that of those who do not eat meat. There are different causes to this but one major cause is that is takes a lot more energy from our planet to raise animals as food than it does to care for crops. 

At Native Foods we care deeply about the environment. We love to say that Earth Day is everyday, well, because it should be! This is our house, we should keep our house clean! We can help the planet tremendously if we all just do a little bit, one plant base meal a day, a week, a month makes a difference. 

And here at Native Foods we make it very very easy on you. 


A meat-free Twister Wrap anyone?



No? How about a Bacon Oklahoma Cheeseburger? I mean, this is not your average vegan sandwich!


Now see? It's sooo easy to incorporate some plant-based eating into your diet! 





Would You Like Paper or…Paper?

By Lauren Neuschel

Native Foods Cafe  

We’ve gone plastic bag-less! Chicago joins the list of cities to ban plastic grocery store bags and we couldn’t be more proud. The initiative was passed last week in a 36-10 vote and helps support Chicago’s goal to become one of the greenest cities in the country. Kudos to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for backing the proposal! Our environment owes you one, buddy!


Rahm Emanuel

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The ban doesn’t go into effect until August 2015, and only with grocery stores bigger than 10,000 square feet, but smaller franchisees and chains will join the initiative in the following year (independent grocers will not be affected). Any store that don’t follow this new regulation will face $300 to $500 in fines.

Plastic bag

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As of now, Chicago uses 3.7 million plastic bags per day with a majority of those bags ending up in landfills, according to an article by Ecorazzi. While many retailers now face increased costs – paper bags are around 3 times more expensive than plastic ones- there’s no doubt that this initiative is a critical one on behalf of environmental protection. 

Running on Fumes: Reasons not to watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend


By Sammy Caiola

 Native Foods Cafe

The annual Kentucky Derby thoroughbred race is sometimes referred to as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration and level of energy. But for the horses on the roster, the two minutes on the track are just a fraction of the hours, months and sometimes years of pain endured in preparation for the brutal race.


This Saturday marks the 140th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby, which takes place each year at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Novelized by wide-brimmed sun hats and trackside mint juleps, the Derby has long been considered a staple of the southern bourgeois. But Derby viewers, be they gamblers or casual attendees, are not simply watching a race- they’re enabling animal cruelty to a criminal degree.


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Just last month, champion racehorse trainer Steve Asmussen came under fire from media and gaming officials for rule and drug violations and severe mistreatment of his horses. Officials immediately removed Asmussen’s name from the Hall of Fame ballot and are currently conducting an investigation into allegations made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).


This is immediately following the release of PETA's 9- 1/2 minute documentary, "Horse Racing Exposed: Drugs and Death", which they published after a multi-month investigation of Asmussen's training methods at Churchill Downs and in Saratoga. A PETA activist working as a training assistant brought a hidden camera into the stables and recorded Asmussen verbally and physically abusing the horses, including his star horse and derby contender Tapiture, who was "constantly getting injections of all kinds," said the activist.


Studies estimate that three thoroughbreds die every day in North America as a result of overtraining, performance enhancing drugs, neglected injuries or just plain slaughters. Horse's legs and ankles are not designed to support their 1,000 pound bodies at high speeds for long durations, so snapped tendons and hairline fractures are common. Injuries of this kind often go undetected until the horse shows a decline in performance, at which point the damage can be irreparable or very expensive to repair. Rather than pay the price, many trainers find a way to mask the injuries with drugs or, in the worst cases, dispose of decommissioned racers.


Horses have become a priced commodity in American culture, and once they lose their ability to turn a profit, they lose their right to live. And in order to keep them profitable trainers resort to unregulated drugs such as Lasix, which controls bleeding in the lungs, cortiscosteroids for pain and inflammation and, in one case, ecstasy. As John Scheinman of The Washington Post wrote in 2003, “Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,”


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Fortunately, steps are being taken. In a recent Interview with Newsday, PETA vice president Kathy Guillermo urged the need for more stringent drug regulations and improved course conditions. PETA is currently asking the Jockey Club to adopt a fee structure that would provide pillow money to help retire horses in pastures rather than slaughter them.

In reality, ending horse racing is not a possibility due to the thriving culture surrounding the race, particularly in the south. All we can do for now is discourage friends and family from patronizing such a culture, and support organizations like PETA who are attempting to give voice to the voiceless.


In the Spotlight: Mikael Nielsen- Mercy for Animals

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe


Mercy for Animals is a well respected organization that we love working with. Mercy For Animals is dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
MFA works to create a society where all animals are treated with the compassion and respect they so rightfully deserve.They serve as a voice for animals through proactive consumer education initiatives, cruelty investigations, corporate outreach, and legal advocacy.
Mikael is an outreach coordinator and big fan of Native Foods. 
1.) How did you get started?
I was inspired by one of EarthSave Chicago’s Conferences for Conscious Living in 2002. I became involved with the group, coordinating outreach events, conferences, and the Compassion On Wheels (COW) TV van. I started volunteering with MFA in January of 2006 and became one of the organization’s outreach coordinators in the spring of 2008. I was hired on as paid staff in May of 2012. It is a dream job!
3.) What is the main message MFA would like to portray?
 MFA works to create a society where all animals are treated with the compassion and respect they so rightfully deserve. Over 95% of the cruelty to animals in the United States occurs at the hands of the meat, dairy, and egg industries which confine, mutilate, and slaughter over 9 billion land animals each year. Despite the fact that these are the most abused animals in the United States, they actually have the fewest number of advocates. That is why it is so important that we stand up and become a voice for the most defenseless.
4.) How do you inform people about what MFA is doing?
We do undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses, advertising campaigns, we work with lawmakers and corporations to enact more animal friendly laws and policies, and we do a ton of grassroots outreach all over the United States.
5.) How can people get involved?
Best place to start is by filling out our Get Active! form here ->
6.) What is your favorite Native Foods item?
When I am being “bad” it’s the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger. When I am being “good” it’s the Bangkok Curry Bowl.
7.) How do you spend your free time?
I love hanging with my rescued animals, Oliver the dog and Maeby the cat. I also enjoy yoga and getting in my daily gym time.
8.) Favorite place you traveled?
My youngest sister, Kathrine, lives in Senegal and I have been lucky enough to visit there twice. And, of course, my beautiful home country of Denmark will always hold a special place in my heart.


 We look forward to working more with Mercy for Animals this year, check out their website for more information to stay informed and get involved!


Are you a good neighbor, or a bad neighbor?

By Lauren Neuschel

Native Foods Cafe

Some say that, “A good neighbor increases the value of your own property.” And a bad neighbor, well, just the opposite.

That sentiment is proving all too true for Midwest veggie farmers, whose land sits just downwind from mega agricultural giants, Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto. In the past few years, these smaller farming businesses haven’t exactly been reaping what they’re sowing. Instead, their crops have been infected with herbicides from neighboring fields that evaporate and drift in a gaseous state, miles from where they were first sprayed- sometimes even a whopping 100 miles.     

  Monsanto 1

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Dow and Monstanto apply these herbicides to corn and soybean varieties that have been genetically modified to withstand the spray, so that only the weeds are killed. Other crops, and unfortunately, the crops grown by neighboring farms happen to be sensitive to these herbicides (including tomatoes, potatoes, squash, beans, peas).

Local farmers have gathered together to approach these two giants with only one of them willing to compromise. And yep, you guessed it, Monsanto is the one not doing the budging. As the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds they aren’t willing to reformulate the herbicide despite the serious effects to neighboring crops. In fact, this new herbicide would likely not even exist had it not been for overuse (and misuse) of an older variety of the herbicide. With over-spraying, the weeds became resistant and this new herbicide had to be formulated. Bigger will always be better for Monsanto, no matter the cost. And their herbicide would boast much higher yields for the company and increased efficiency.

If you look back on Monsanto’s history, it’s clear that bigger and fast have always been a top priority. As has finding the “next big thing.” For example, in the 1950s they predicted microwave-cooking technology, climate control systems (aka the air conditioner), and pushed plastics as “the newest and most challenging category of building materials.” One year at Disneyland they sponsored the “Monsanto House of the Future”- a house made entirely from plastic. Plastics? Microwaves? Chemicals? Energy-suckers? Let’s just say they don’t use the words “protect” and “environment” in one sentence too often. 



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The question is certainly not whether Monsanto will be on the cutting edge of the latest technology and scientific innovation. For good and for bad, they have been leaders in both fields. But when given the power to lead and to innovate, the question becomes whether they’ll ever realize that the latest technology isn’t always the greatest technology.


Only time will tell with this great debacle. But, we’re certainly sticking around to find out…

Elephants Escape from Circus Like A Real Life Jumanji

by Kelly Behr

Remember this movie with Robin Williams about a board game gone array? 




Well something a little less dramatic happened right outside my hometown of St. Louis, MO. The event occurred when the Moolah circus was in town last week. Below is the story from ABC news. 




This brings up the obvious issue of the circus itself. I remember attending the circus as a kid. You marvel at seeing large majestic creatures doing tricks you never thought were possible. Here you see clowns riding small bikes, elephants balancing on balls and tigers jumping through hoops. As a child you munch on your popcorn and peanuts and never give thought to how this might not be the best life for these animals. Touring from town to town in small cramped spaces in a total unnatural environment, forced to do tricks for our entertainment or risk punishment is not the picture the circus industry wants to paint. But sadly, the circus is not a joyous place for the animals involved. 

I am sure everyone who has visited a Native Foods has noticed we love elephants and we have them all over our restaurant. Our elephant has become one of our mascots. He is seen surfing in Encinitas, riding a bike to the farmer's market in Costa Mesa, canoeing in Denver and is even at the World's Fair in Hyde Park. We use the elephant as an example that you can be big and strong by eating a plant based diet, after all they are the world's largest vegan. 


Native Foods Cafe: Glendale, CO

We take our love for elephants and animals in general one step further. We are committed to supporting groups who advocate for animal welfare. One of the groups we have worked with over the years is PAWS.

PAWS or The Performing Animal Welfare Society captive wildlife sanctuary is a place where abandoned, abused, or retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade can live in peace and dignity. For more than twenty years PAWS has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue and provide appropriate, humane sanctuary for animals who have been the victims of the exotic and performing animal trades. PAWS investigates reports of abused performing and exotic animals, documents cruelty and assists in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory agencies to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife.


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We like to see elephants enjoying life like in the above photograph, with PAWS founder Pat Derby who was a former Hollywood animal trainer.
Circuses have gotten a bad rap over the years, but they rightfully should. Animals are wonderful creatures that we can learn from and about. However, there are many different ways to expose our children to these wonderful creatures, not just showing them doing silly tricks that do nothing to represent their species. 

5 Reason why GREEN is Awesome

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe 


What is something vegans, Kermit the Frog and St. Patrick's Day all have in common? We think green is awesome. Aside from being green, wearing green or eating green, the color itself represents luck, tranquility and wealth. 


1.) Psychological Effects of the color Green 

Green has a calming effect on people. For years performers have been held in waiting room painted green, now widely just referred to as the "green room." Psychology studies have also shown that people who work in an environment surrounded by the color green are less stressed and experience fewer stomachaches. Green was also thought to be the color of fertility and in the 15th century many of the wedding gowns were green instead of the traditional white that we are so accustomed to seeing. -Source

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2.) Drinking Greens

We have dedicated the month of March to the color green and spoke about all the different leafy greens and their benefits to your health. Now, juicing is the most beneicial way to get your greens in a liquid form but for those on the go, companies are creating bottled juice options with, you guessed it, greens! I have recently been a fan of the evolution press juices. You can read their story on their webpage.


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3.) Living Green

Be a recycling ninja! So if you try that above Evolution press juice, be sure to recycle your bottle. Recycling not only helps our planet but the recycling industry has been a large source of jobs in the United States. So you can help the planet and the economy all by choosing the right bin to toss your bottle in!


4.) Wearing Green

I do not just mean the color, though my normally black dominant wardrobe could use a dash of that. But, another way to wear green is to wear recycled clothes, otherwise known as vintage! I have gotten some of my most beloved t-shirts from thrift stores where you aren’t likely to run into someone wearing the same shirt every 4 blocks. The Vintage Twin in New York City is a company started by twin sisters that I came across on Instagram a few months ago. I loved their idea and their story.

These sisters saw a problem: Every year Americans throw 30 million tons of usable, mass produced goods into our landfills. Mass production kills individuality, because thousands of people end up owning the exact same items.

Their Solution?

    -Nobody else will own your same TVT treasure.

    -10% of the proceeds from your purchase are donated to charity.

    -You lessened demand for the harmful mass production of new goods.

 They say they find items anywhere from Grandma’s attic to bazaars, clean and rework the item into something new and totally original.

These two sisters are onto something grand! Plus their fashions are pretty rad.


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5.) Green is lucky  

Remember how green is the color of luck? Well, if you haven’t had a chance to eat our Pot-of-Gold Pretzel Roll, it is your lucky day. We are have extended our weekend special through today! So get it before it disappears like that little leprechaun at the end of the rainbow! 

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