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GenGreen includes Pizza Fusion in its State of the Green Union report for Autumn 2008.

GenGreen is pleased to announce its State of the Green Union report for Autumn 2008. This special feature will be released seasonally and will not only highlight developing trends in the eco-sphere but will also provide information about local independent businesses and service providers demonstrating these trends across the country.

With economic issues affecting the prices and availability of food all across the country, more people are concerning themselves with how their food is grown, where it is produced and how it makes its way onto their tables. More than ever before, people are opting for locally sourced organic foods and seeking out restaurants and other food service providers that do the same. CSA’s and community gardens are popping up in cities and towns everywhere and people are getting their hands dirty for the good of the planet and each other. This is why we have chosen Organic Everything, Eat Local and Agritourism as the three greenest trends of Autumn 2008.

Organic Everything

Despite studies that allege organic food has no health benefits over conventionally grown food and steep prices increases over the last year, organically grown foods have continued to increase in popularity. A report released in 2006 titled, Organic on the Menu: Healthy Eating Trends in Foodservice, stated that “In the last ten years, demand for organic foods has doubled and is expected to more than double again in the next few years.”

While some people may claim that “you can’t taste the difference,” organic foods are grown within strict guidelines that make sure you and the environment are protected from potentially harmful agricultural methods like spraying chemical pesticides. An article that appeared in the Boston Globe earlier this year noted that “the organic market makes up nearly 3 percent of the overall food market, a share that has increased every year for the past decade” making organically produced foods a small but fast-growing segment of an otherwise sluggish food industry. Statistics like these just verify what you already know if you visit your local grocery on at least a semi-frequent basis: it’s getting easier to find an organic version of just about everything. Even beer.

New Belgium Brewing Company

That’s right; micro-brewers dedicated to sustainable production practices are springing up all over the country. Take for instance, New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. Colorado is overflowing with great brewing companies, but one would be remiss to ignore the incredible story of sustainability and philanthropy told by Fort Collins’ New Belgium Brewing Company. Armed with an amazing recipe of environmental and social responsibility mixed with employee-owned enthusiasm and selfless community involvement, its no wonder New Belgium produces some of the most delicious beers in the world. New Belgium’s beers range in flavor and style from the toasty Fat Tire Amber Ale to the zesty Mothership Wit Organic Wheat, and many intriguing small batches in between.  The New Belgium facility boasts progressive green design, with its own wastewater treatment process, on-site energy production using methane, and solar lighting. Lastly, but not least, Team Wonderbike, the brewery’s bicycling advocacy program has more than 10,000 members who have pledged to offset more than eight million car miles by riding their bikes. New Belgium beers have been spotted in fine restaurants and questionable taverns nationwide, and are available at most liquor stores. www.newbelgium.com

Eel River Breweing

Farther West in Humboldt County, California, Eel River Brewing is one of many small craft breweries that are proud to produce only 15 thousand barrels of beer annually. Eel River shuns the ideologies of mega-corporation breweries that only care about churning out millions of barrels of low-quality beer and instead focuses on living their motto; “Be natural. Drink naked.” Eel River was the first Humboldt County brewery to be certified organic and has won multiple awards at such prestigious events as the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Championships. Eel River produces seven varieties of organic beer, including a Blonde Ale and Porter. www.eelriverbrewing.com

Otter Creek Brewing and Peak Organic Brewing Company

And lest we forget the Northern climates, Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, Vermont, and Peak Organic Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, have been producing certified organic brews since 1998- long before it was trendy in any way. The vision of both these breweries is simple: local, organic, collective, sustainable, and handcrafted, and they have been pioneers in realizing this vision since they opened. Several years ago, Otter Creek, which produces Wolaver’s Organic Ales, became the nation’s first brewery to switch their boiler fuel source from diesel to B20, effectively reducing CO2 emissions by 120,000 pounds per year. The Peak Organic Web site includes a neat feature where visitors can post images of their favorite “peak” experiences in the great outdoors. www.ottercreekbrewing.com and www.peakbrewing.com

Stone Mill Pale Ale from Anheuser-BuschAnd if you’re not in the mood to search out microbreweries, you’ll be pleased (or surprised) to learn that even beer giant Anheuser-Busch has been dabbling in the organic beer market producing Stone Mill Pale Ale, brewed with a combination of 100 percent organic Palisade, Tradition and Hallertau hops, and 100 percent organic Metcalf and Harrington barley malts harvested from small, family-owned organic farms. Stone Mill Pale Ale is brewed by Michelob Brewing Company at an organically certified brewery of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., located in Merrimack, N.H.   www.stonemillpaleale.com

Eat Local

Freshness and quality have always been invaluable elements for any chef or restaurateur. And for more and more chefs across the nation, finding the best ingredients also means reconnecting with local growers. Buying locally produced foods allows you to experience the seasonal diversity of your region, helps to maintain the local economy, and means that food spends less time in transport, allowing it to retain more of its nutritional value. Since the locavore lifestyle first started gaining attention in 2005, people have been taking a look at where their food comes from and questioning why food is being shipped in from distant (or even international) growers when there are small family farms in the next valley producing marvelous produce or meats. Restaurant chefs are no exception, and as a result, restaurants across the country have begun offering menus that are chock-full of locally and sustainably sourced goodies.

Pizza Fusion in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Pizza Fusion proves that the words “chain restaurant,” so often uttered in disappointment, don’t have to mean low quality food. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Pizza Fusion proudly serves up delicious, gourmet pizza in its purest form - untainted by artificial additives, like preservatives, growth hormones, pesticides, nitrates and trans fats (just to name a few). While they’re famous for pizza, their 75% organic menu features an eclectic variety of gourmet sandwiches, salads, desserts, beer and wine. But the goodness doesn’t stop there. In the interests of holding up their strong environmental mission, Pizza Fusion seeks out local and environmentally conscious vendors and suppliers and educates the general public on the importance of sustainable living through ecological community service, consumer education and environmental mentoring, like their Organics 101 course for kids. Visit their website for locations nationwide www.pizzafusion.com.

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