Live Local, Live Green: Houston
- Wednesday, 01 April 2009
Living Local is all about reducing your carbon footprint by avoiding foods and products that have traveled long distances to make it into your home, but we want to highlight local farms and companies that are also making big efforts to go green. Whether it's growing or selling organic foods, making use of eco-friendly materials or reducing harm to the environment through sustainable practices, these Houston-area businesses are a great place to start if you want to live local and live green.
Buy local fruits, veggies and of course, meat at the many farmers markets spread across the city. VisitHoustonTexas.com is a great resource for finding just what you're looking for. Our picks are:
Canino Farmers Market—Open daily, it's a fave of local chefs.
Central City Co-op—Boasts all-organic produce that won't cost the farm, but be sure to ask if the items your buying are locally grown since they also carry nationally distributed produce.
Midtown Farmers Market—This one-stop-local-shop features local produce plus handcrafted, artisanal breads, chocolates, pastries and prepared foods made by locals.
The 14-acre landscaped gardens and woodlands of Bayou Bend—the estate of art collector and philanthropist Ima Hogg and now the home of the Museum of Modern Art—are a gorgeous all-organic green space in the midst of the city. Make time to visit the gardens as much as possible in March and April when the blooms are at their peak. The Duchess De Caze Pink Camellias (not available in nurseries), azaleas, gardenias and antique roses are just a few of the flowers that entrance visitors. Self-guided garden audio tours of the gardens are just $3 for adults (free for children nine and under).
Earth goddesses flock to Lucia's Garden, a bookstore and shop owned by Lucia and Michael Bettler. Once a one-room shop focusing on herb crafting, cooking and gardening, the store has expanded to include music, incense, herbs, crystals, candles, jewelry, handcrafted oils and soaps and so much more. Owners Lucia and Michael also teach cooking, gardening and herb harvesting classes through Houston's Leisure Learning Unlimited.
Designer Adeline Sung opened Green by Adeline in November 2007 to bring green fashions to the average person. Billed as "Houston's only 100% eco-fashion boutique," the store features clothing made from organic cotton, bamboo, a wood pulp-based fiber called Tencel and Modal made from beech wood chips. The store itself was designed with eco-friendly materials like bamboo wood laid to create a permanent runway where Sung can show her collections, and eco-friendly soy paints. All of the lighting is energy efficient and even the fitting room drapes are organic cotton.
Sustainability is the central focus at Olive Barn. The store is one of those everything-but-the-kitchen-sink stores—they carry home décor items, gardening supplies, antiques and tons of bath and body products, like Farmhouse Fresh's Sweet Cream Body Milk (which comes in a beautiful glass cruet jar with stopper). They also carry a line of organic seed kits. Bottom line: You really can't go wrong.
Looking for a place to eat out but worried about pesticides? Head to Houston's green restaurant, Ruggles Green. The food isn't just organic, all-natural, hormone-free and preservative-free, the restaurant itself is actually Green Restaurant Certified-which means they adhere to some strict environmental guidelines. They recycle the usual stuff-glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, metal-but they also recycle their fry oil for biofuel, and they refuse to use polystyrene containers. Even their wine list contains many organic and biodynamic options.
If local food is your number one priority, t'afia is your go-to restaurant. With produce from the Midtown Farmers Market—developed by the restaurant's owner and chef, Monica Pope, and set up inside and outside the restaurant on Saturdays—this is one eatery that is local from top to bottom. Don't believe us? In 2005, Gourmet Magazine said "No Texas restaurant is more passionately local than Chef Monica Pope's new venture, t'afia."
When it comes to local beer, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Texas' oldest craft brewery, is the standard. Saint Arnold brews a wide range of beer, from the expected pilsners and light and dark ales to the trademark wheat beer and Christmas ale (to name but a few). And given the history of German immigration in the state, it should come as no surprise that there's a strong German influence in many of the recipes. The brewery is a great place to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon learning how beer is made (tours start at 1 p.m.). And be sure to bring along the kids—Saint Arnold crafts a delicious root beer, made with cane sugar, vanilla and other "secret" ingredients (but no high fructose corn syrup!).
If you're thinking of moving into a starter home or downsizing now that the nest is empty, the place to be is Houston. KB Home has plans to build 881-square-foot homes in three subdivisions, and while they might sound too small, the two-bedroom dwellings are perfect for singles, a young couple or retirees. This small home automatically requires less heat or cooling, so you're saving energy by opting for a smaller space, plus KB Home has committed to building only Energy Star qualified homes. The windows are low-e, meaning they feature a metallic oxide coating that helps regulate indoor temperatures by preventing heat gain or loss. There are several other standard green features and some uber-green upgrades, and the home is also equipped with an Energy Star appliances and an Energy Star air conditioner for those hot Texas summers. Oh, and you can't beat the starting price: $63,995 to $69,995.