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The Bites and Sights of the Washington DC Green Festival

by Borderstan.com — October 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"DC Green Festival"

DC’s 8th annual Green Festival was last weekend at the Washington Convention Center. (Kim Vu)

From Kim Vu. He also has his own food blog, DC Wrapped Dates. Follow him at@dcwrappeddates or email him at kim[AT]borderstan.com.

As a committed “eat-whatever-I-want-ivore,” walking into last weekend’s DC Green Festival was like being in a particularly low-stakes episode of Covert Affairs, spying on a faction I definitely didn’t belong to. On the one hand, I’m decidedly pro-environment. But on the other, I’m also famously non-vegetarian.
On this fact-finding mission, would my wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing identity peek through the thin veneer of my cover (or in this case, my media pass)? Would this just be a solid hour of me making faces after taking wheatgrass shots? Or would I find some diamonds in the rough?

Spoiler alert: I found a lot of surprisingly cool stuff. Here follows some of the cooler green products and services I found:

Capital Kombucha: Borderstan previously profiled the District-based makers of fermented tea, but this was the first time I had encountered it or even dared to drink it (mostly because of my trepidation at the word fermented, which evoked images of fuzzy things in mason jars). But with two of the founders presenting at the Festival’s Good Food Stage, it was our time to taste the antioxidant- and probiotic -loaded beverage.

Like Ashley before me, I found it tart, like a thin balsamic vinaigrette with some light carbonation. Perhaps the most striking fact though was the display of sugar contents, comparing the light Kombucha against sugar-loaded Coke, Arizona Iced Tea, Snapple and Gatorade… it was grossly jarring.

Runa: In the non-fermented division, Runa tea was probably the best thing I sipped all day. Sold in both looseleaf, and more recently bottled form, this brand of guayusa teas was wonderful, light but brightly flavored. A mint tea was clean and compared favorably to Moroccan style pours, while a lemon-lemongrass combo was upfront and bold. The company, a fair-trade shop out of Brooklyn started as a co-op at Brown University, sells its wares at most Yes! markets.

The Chocolate Rumble: The largest battle of the day was between two chocolate purveyors: Equal Exchange and Divine Chocolate. The former provided a delightful mid-level dark chocolate with cool blasts of mint and crackle texture, while the latter wooed me with combinations like hazelnut, dried cranberry and orange zest. Both sold in Borderstan markets, the winner by a hair was Equal Exchange, but only by that much.

Love and Carrots: In the coolest “oh hey, this is a totally great idea” moment, we stumbled upon two charming ladies at the Love and Carrots booth. Their business is an organic home garden service, which is to say that they’ll come to your home, design and install a tailored vegetable garden at your residence, and come back to maintain it.

For someone like me, who’s always wanted my own urban garden, but has a habit of not watering plants and the carpentry skills of a toddler with a toy hammer, this sounds like pretty much the best idea ever, especially in our fair neighborhood.

And now for some non-food related green topics…

DC Greens/Common Good/Mundo Verde: Surprisingly, one of the larger set-ups was Ford’s; turns out they were promoting their new greener line of cars and sponsoring a contest where festival-goers voted on one (of five) local charities to which Ford would donate $5,000.

Three of these charities have Borderstan roots: DC Greens works to restore the District’s eighty-something public school gardens, working with teachers to develop yearlong green curricula for students; Common Good is a city farm right near Howard University that takes on volunteer labor, and based on income, exchange it for up to 10 pounds of fresh produce (sort of like a work-CSA exchange program); and Mundo Verde is DC’s first green public charter school which moved in August from its 20th and S Street NW location to a new site in Mount Pleasant.

Nusta Spa – A Dupont Circle business since 2004, Nusta Spa recently underwent a renovation which earned itself Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainable interior (the first ever spa to receive that certification). I can’t speak for the decor, but any owner whose vision includes sustainability for something we wouldn’t normally think of as needing to be sustainable… that’s cool.

Mr. Ellie Pooh – I’m not joking with you: this guy sold paper made out of elephant dung. And cute cards, too! Definitely not what I was expecting.

All in all, a lot of surprises and great work being done at the DC Green Festival. See you next year!

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