Will Steger outside the Birchwood Cafe in Seward, where his foundation kicks off a monthly dining series on climate change Nov. 13. Credit: Submitted image

Will Steger outside the Birchwood Cafe in Seward, where his foundation kicks off a monthly dining series on climate change Nov. 13. Credit: Submitted image

Green Digest: Benefit dinner series ties food to climate

Will Steger Foundation series runs through March; plus, recycle holiday lights and shop for green gifts

The Will Steger Foundation kicks off its new Dine for Climate series tonight at the Seward neighborhood’s Birchwood Café.

The monthly series aims to educate diners about the links between modern agricultural systems and climate change. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner goes to the foundation.

“It’s just really interesting with our food system that it not only contributes to climate change but it’s a victim of climate change and it can also be a solution to climate change,” said Janet Brown, the foundation’s associate director.

The restaurants chosen for the series all give local, organic foods a prominent place on their menus. While people are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of climate change, Brown said, “this is one very tangible thing you can do: eating locally and supporting local agriculture and farmers, restaurants that source their food locally.”

She said studies indicate organic farming methods can sequester carbon in the soil, and choosing local foods means burning fewer fossil fuels on the trip from farm to market. All growers, from the local producers growing vegetables for farmers markets to major agriculture corporations, face the droughts, flooding rains and unpredictable weather that accompany climate change, she added.

The series continues Dec. 11 at the French Meadow Bakery & Café locations in both Minneapolis (2610 Lyndale Ave. S.) and St. Paul (1662 Grand Ave.), including the Bluestem Bar at the Lyndale Avenue restaurant. The next stops are Jan. 8 at Spoonriver Restaurant (750 S. 2nd St.) and March 12 at Lucia’s Restaurant (1432 W. 31st St.).

The chefs and restaurateurs behind the businesses — including Tracy Singleton at Birchwood, Brenda Langton at Spoonriver, Lynn Gordon at French Meadow and Lucia Watson at her namesake Uptown restaurant — were all at the forefront of the sustainable food movement in the Twin Cities. At the 19-year-old Birchwood Café, for instance, most of the food is sourced from within 200 miles of the restaurant.

“These women, truly, they have birthed our local, organic food community in the Twin Cities,” Brown said.

Representatives from the foundation will staff a table at each event where curious diners can learn more about farming and climate change. Steger himself if planning to attend several of the dinners, Brown added.

The Will Steger Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2006 by the polar explorer and Minnesota native, works to educate people on and advocate for solutions to climate change. Go to willstegerfoundation.org to learn more about its mission and programs.


When they twinkle no more, recycle holiday lights

The Recycle Your Holidays is back, offering a free, environmentally responsible way to dispose of old or broken strings of holiday lights.

The annual program officially returned Nov. 15, which was also America Recycles Day. Recycling Association of Minnesota partners with WCCO and Ace Hardware to place holiday light drop-off bins at more than 450 locations statewide through the end of January.

Most of those bins are found inside Ace Hardware stores. From the collection points, the lights are transported to vocational centers around the state where the strands are disassembled and their individual parts recycled.

There are also more than a dozen facilities around the state that accept holiday lights for recycling year-round. For more information, go to recycleminnesota.org/recycle-your-holidays.


Green gifts for the holidays

The ninth-annual Green Gifts Fair returns Nov. 22 to the Midtown Global Market.

The organization behind the event, Do It Green! Minnesota, promises more than 80 “eco-friendly” artists and businesses selling holiday gifts. The fair doubles as a launch for the 2015 edition of the Do It Green! Directory, which includes listing for more than 150 green businesses and organizations in the Twin Cities.

Also planned for this year’s fair are holiday food samples, an “eco fashion show,” activities for children and demonstrations on seed-swapping, making non-toxic household cleaners, sewing, reusable cloth gift-wrapping and more. Local master gardeners and master water stewards will be there to answer visitor questions.

Make the visit car-free by downloading a Go Green Pass at metrotransit.org.

Do It Green! Minnesota is a local nonprofit founded as The Twin Cities Green Guide, and published its first directory to local green businesses in 2000. To learn more about the organization or the Green Gifts Fair, including a full listing of sponsors, vendors and demonstrations, go to doitgreen.org.

The event runs 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at the market, located at 920 E. Lake St. There is a suggested donation of $1.