Eco-Soupergirl

Soupergirl is pretty darn green!

We here at Soupergirl are souper-focused (yes, we enjoy making soup puns…) on being an environmentally and socially responsible company. In fact, we won the DC – Affinity Lab / William James Foundation 2009 Socially Responsible Business Plan competition! We achieve this in a number of ways:

Local Food!

This issue means so much to me, I could go on and on for hours. But that’s boring, so I’ll just give a few highlights:

  • Did you know that the average food item on your dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there? Eating locally eliminates a TON of that mileage! No planes, no trains, just a short ride in an automobile.
  • Massive farms use all kinds of pesticides to keep their crops free of insects. They also pump their crops full of funky growth chemicals to plump them up! Seriously, what’s up with the massively large apples and grapes at the big wholesale stores? Also, the waste produced at these farms is killing the environment. For example, waste from large farms in the midwest filters down into the Gulf of Mexico, killing the wildlife, fish, and eco-system. You think you are just eating asparagus. Turns out you are killing the planet. Frustrating!!

We here at Soupergirl are passionate about eating locally. We incorporate as many local and organic ingredients as possible into our soups. We work with the Farm at Sunnyside and Next Step Produce, both of which practice organic farming. We also work Twin Springs Fruit Farm and Spring Valley Farm & Orchard, both of which practice integrated pest management and minimize their use of pesticides. Check them all out every Sunday at the Dupont Circle’s Farmer’s Market! We also get a lot of produce from a local organic farm co-op called Tuscarora Organic Growers. We often use organic beans and grains (barley, wheat berry, etc.). Due to various constraints (weather, location, availability), our soups are not always 100% local or organic, but they are 100% homemade and natural – you’ll recognize every ingredient in the soup! We like to think our soups are incredibly healthy, but we don’t think you’ll notice!

We also love saying the word “local” as much as possible. We think you can say it five times without it sounding weird. Then you’ll start asking yourself – is that a real word? Am I going crazy? Then try it with the word “fork.” Fork sounds really strange after you repeat it a few times. Try it – fork, fork, fork, fork. Spatula, spatula, spatula… see??

We highly recommend you read the local food eater’s bible, the Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the local food movement, and then some! Say “local” again. Gotcha!

Non-GMO Certified!

nongmocanolaConsumers are learning more and more about the potential harmful effects of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) on our bodies and the planet. Canola oil, normally considered heart health – one of the “good” oils, is considered a high risk crop and very likely to contain GMOs. That is why we only use certified non-GMO canola oil at our shop. Visit the Non-GMO Project website to learn more!

Compostable Containers!

Soupergirl’s soups are servied in certified compostable and biodegradable containers in our shop in Takoma. Normal hot cups contain a plastic-based liner which takes a high level of energy to produce and takes (literally) forever to break down in a landfill. Soupergirl uses Planet + cups which break down in a commercial compost facility within 90-120 days. They are lined with a plant-based bio-polymer which is a fun word to say. Try it out loud! They also take a great deal less energy to produce than traditional petro-chemical based cups. That is a not a fun word. At all!

In addition, our instructions for soup preparation that you receive with each delivery are printed on recycled, low carbon paper. The paper is a bit on the browner side, in case you don’t believe us. You should believe us, though. Also, we are about to switch over to recycled delivery bags! We also encourage our customers to return the bags for re-use to further minimize the waste associated with our packaging.

Vegan Ingredients!

All of our soups are 100% vegan. You may notice that a few of the older soups have non-vegan ingredients (honey) – all new recipes, as of June 2009, are 100% vegan. Also, all sides (pita chips, cornbread, brownies) are also vegan.

Regardless of how you feel about animal rights and welfare, the hard truth is that meat is one of the primary contributors to global warming. The fact that our soups are vegan is actually the biggest “green factor” we have going!

Here are just a few sobering facts*:

  • As a result of its reliance on corn and soy-based feed, the livestock industry accounts for over half the synthetic fertilizer used in the United States, contributing more than any other sector to marine dead zones. It consumes 70 percent of the water in the American West — water so heavily subsidized that if irrigation supports were removed, ground beef would cost $35 a pound.
  • Livestock accounts for at least 21 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions globally — more than all forms of transportation combined. Domestic animals — most of them healthy — consume about 70 percent of all the antibiotics produced. Undigested antibiotics leach from manure into freshwater systems and impair the sex organs of fish.
  • It takes a gallon of gasoline to produce a pound of conventional beef. If all the grain fed to animals went to people, you could feed China and India.

*courtesy of James McWilliam’s recent article in the Washington Post.

Buzz kill, we know. But isn’t it great to know that by going veggie even one day a week can make a huge difference in the environment??

Food Composting!

We compost at the Soupergirl kitchen. All those local scraps we create (potato peels, squash skins, and more!)  go right back into the earth. We’ll greatly minimize the filling of landfills and energy used to make our soups! You can start composting at home quite easily. Greater Goods, one of our pick up locations, sells many different compost kits and offers classes in urban composting! In addition to composting, we also recycle to help minimize our landfill input.

Healthy Food!

To put it simply, our soups are really, really good for you! In fact, one of our customers has lost over 20 pounds by switching to our soup for lunch every day.

Generally, we go very light on fat and salt. As we are vegan, we never use cream or butter in any of our soups. We use only heart-healthy oils – olive and canola. Our hearty soups are incredibly high in protein and fiber. Many of our soups contain multiple servings of vegetables in one cup! As our soups are prepared locally and fresh each week, we use no preservatives or funky chemicals. We think that if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize something on the ingredient list, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Except my grandmother spoke only Yiddish, so that rule doesn’t really apply with her. But I think you get where are going with this.

Soup Donations!

We sometimes make too much soup and are actually happy when we do because we get to donate to one of our favorite soup kitchens, Martha’s Table. Among other amazing things, they serve food to over 1,200 hungry citizens of Washington, DC. In these tough economic times, they certainly could use donations of any kind – money, food, clothing, or your time. Check them out!

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