Monday, July 26, 2010

Mercury Cafe in Denver, CO

Last week we drove through the windy plains of Wyoming to Denver, Colorado.  It was our first trip to the other mountain town, about 8 hours away from SLC, where Kyle was speaking at a youth camp on CCU.  One afternoon we headed out of the suburbs for dinner, into downtown Denver to Mercury Cafe.  We arrived at the artistically adorned brick building, surrounded by trees and wild flowers outside.  A girl in front of us hung her bike on the ceiling hooks they had up just inside the front door.  Deep red hues surrounded us and cool string lights hung over the tables and the cool green booth we chose.  The vive was very eclectic and super unique.  The restaurant had been highly rated online and their food touts being both organic and fair trade, so we thought we were in for a treat.  The menu was interesting and a bit odd with items ranging from a cobb salad, to enchiladas, to pasta, to elk nachos.  I ordered grilled tempeh with black bean sauce, red chard, and quinoa.  They brought us out a little half loaf of dark bread to begin with, which was so dry I only took a small bite.  The dinner salads were fine with a nice tasting vinaigrette.  Our entrees arrived and with each bite I realized that everything on my plate tasted like it had been flavored with only water.  Kyle ordered an omnivore dish and had the same experience as me, which was strange because his dish actually had lots of garlic and herbs in it.  We both finished our bland and flavor-lacking meals and got ready to go.  On our way outside the doors, we found their sidewalks had been covered in red rose petals.  Mercury Cafe was definitely creative and cute in design, but left much to be desired in their eats.

Monday, July 19, 2010

No Good Styrofoam (Polystyrene)

Styrofoam use has been banned in certain areas, including my home state of Portland, OR. Let's work to do the same thing in Salt Lake City.  Even McDonalds stopped using Stryofoam in 1989.

By 1986, styrene was found in 100 percent of all samples of human fat tissue taken as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Human Tissue Survey. Researchers found that Styrofoam cups lose weight when in use, meaning that styrene is oozing into the foods and drinks we consume. It then ends up stored in our fatty tissue, where it can build up to levels that can cause fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, blood abnormalities, and even carcinogenic effects.                (source:

Excerpt below taken from
Polystyrene Foam Report
What is it?
Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. Most people know it under the name Styrofoam, which is actually the trade name of a polystyrene foam product used for housing insulation. Polystyrene is a light-weight material, about 95% air, with very good insulation properties and is used in all types of products from cups that keep your beverages hot or cold to packaging material that keep your computers safe during shipping.
Why not use it?
  • The biggest environmental health concern associated with polystyrene is the danger associated with Styrene, the basic building block of polystyrene. Styrene is used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and resins. About 90,000 workers, including those who make boats, tubs and showers, are potentially exposed to styrene. Acute health effects are generally irritation of the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal effects. Chronic exposure affects the central nervous system showing symptoms such as depression, headache, fatigue, and weakness, and can cause minor effects on kidney function and blood. Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A voluntary compliance program has been adopted by industries using styrene. The US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration unsuccessfully (a federal court overturned the ruling in 1992) tried to limit the amount of worker exposure to styrene to 50 parts per million (ppm). According to the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), they still encourage their member companies to comply with the 50 ppm exposure limit. This program would reduce styrene exposures to a 50 ppm TWA with a 100 ppm (15 minute) ceiling.-OSHA (US Dept of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration)
  • A 1986 EPA report on solid waste named the polystyrene manufacturing process as the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste.· The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research identified 57 chemical byproducts released during the combustion of polystyrene foam. The process of making polystyrene pollutes the air and creates large amounts of liquid and solid waste.
  • Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain (especially when heated in a microwave). These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems.
  • These products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable and heavily polluting resource.
  • The use of hydrocarbons in polystyrene foam manufacture releases the hydrocarbons into the air at ground level; there, combined with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight, they form tropospheric ozone -- a serious air pollutant at ground level. According to the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) more than 100 million Americans currently live in areas that fail to meet air quality standards for ozone. California, the Texas Gulf Coast, the Chicago-Milwaukee area, and the Northeastern U.S. all have "serious ozone air quality problems," according to EPA. Ozone is definitely a dangerous pollutant. The EPA says: "Healthy individuals who are exercising while ozone levels are at or only slightly above the standard can experience reduced functioning of the lungs, leading to chest pain, coughing, wheezing, and pulmonary congestion. In animal studies, long-term exposure to high levels of ozone has produced permanent structural damage to animal lungs while both short and long term exposure has been found to decrease the animal's capability to fight infection." In other words, prolonged exposure to atmospheric ozone above legal limits might be expected to damage the immune system.
  • By volume, the amount of space used up in landfills by all plastics is between 25 and 30 percent. -"Polystyrene Fact Sheet," Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education, Los Angeles, California.
  • Polystyrene foam is often dumped into the environment as litter. This material is notorious for breaking up into pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems.
  • Many cities and counties have outlawed polystyrene foam (i.e. Taiwan, Portland, OR, and Orange County, CA).

More websites writing about Styrofoam:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We woke up early Saturday morning, stopped by Ruth's Diner for breakfast on the patio, headed to Mt. Olympus to hike the south trail to the top, and after making it down fully alive but completely out of water, we continued our 9th Anniversary celebration that night with a delicious meal at Pago on 9th and 9th.   We had been told over the phone that although their main menu is lacking in vegan options, they were more than willing and even excited to create a special dish for me.  When we arrived, our waiter David was extremely thoughtful and helpful in helping me choose a vegan appetizer and entree, which would consist of the freshest seasonal items their chef was working with that day.  Kyle and I have wanted to check out Pago since before we moved to SLC in January.  Coming from Portland, OR and experiencing some of the finest local foods there, we love the value of being connected to our food, knowing where it comes from, how it was grown, and who is growing it.  It tastes so much better that way and is positive for our community.  Seeing values like the one below, taken from Pago's website, makes me smile.

  Farm to Table:  Pago is committed to seeking quality products from local farms and local artisans. We feel that the closer we are to the farm, the fresher the food. Getting to know the people who produce the food we eat enriches the local economy and creates meaningful relationships.

Vegan Platter at Pago

Market Salad (veganized) - Local greens, thinly sliced radish, cherry tomatoes, roasted beets, and a delicious housemade vinaigrette - my personal favorite.
Vegan Platter - Roasted petite potatoes (fave), caramelized cauliflower and pea medley, white bean and celery succotash (fave), and a tomato and Bing cherry salad, garnished w/ edible purple flowers.  All the little dishes were so flavorful and unique, and I really appreciated how they included a protein and a starch amongst them which was super satisfying.  I have had many "special" veggie platters in my day, but they have often left me hungry and unsatisfied, unlike this dish at Pago.  I also love creativity with my food, so I enjoy the idea that this platter will change from night to night depending on the season and what the chef's pleasure is that evening.
Wine - We took advantage of Pago's corkage fee, and brought in a bottle of Bergstrom 2007 Nysa Vineyard Pinot Noir, picked up on our last visit to Portland.  Bergstrom wine is a major favorite, and has helped us celebrate some big moments in our life this last year.  Check out their sweet winery if you're ever in Portland.

Dessert - Our server was in route to find out what fresh seasonal fruit they had to create a special dessert for me, but we stopped him because Kyle had already surprised me with box of treats from Cakewalk Bakery waiting for us at home.  

Old world charm, exposed brick walls, open kitchen, and a urban flair with indoor and patio seating.  We sat by the window inside and enjoyed watching the many neighborhood dogs walk their humans by.

From the first phone call, to the hostess, to our outstanding server David, to the chef and cooks - everyone provided us with a delightful experience.

Pago (along with many others) is a Bicycle Benefits Member and you can receive 10% off of food and beverage if you pickup your sticker and wear in your helmet when you bike to Pago.

Related Posts with Thumbnails