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Earth Day 2012: Ways to Celebrate in the Bay Area

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Foraged dinners, urban farm workdays, community-garden bike tours, farm-to-table cooking classes, beekeeping workshops: with the wealth of hands-on, eco-conscious events happening all around us, every day can feel like Earth Day in the Bay Area. Naturally, that means the planet-conscious among us have to step it up to make this April 22, the 32nd annual Earth Day, special.

So, what can you do to make the ways you cook, shop, and eat more environmentally conscious, more community-connected and planet-aware?

Eat More Plants At the big Earth Day dance party/expo in Civic Center on April 22, check out the line-up of vegan, raw, and vegetarian chefs demonstrating everything from "Rawlforf Salad with Avo Mayo" (a vegan, un-fat-cat version of Waldorf Salad, presumably) to "Goddess Mash & Coconut Kefir Elixir." The Sustainable Chef Showcase goes on from 11am to 5:45pm. In Berkeley, there's a vegan expo and fair on the UC Berkeley campus at Wurster Hall, $15 admission for adults, $10 for students.

Sustainable Lafayette will be hosting an afternoon of Earth Day fun and awareness from 11am-3pm. The excellent Fist of Flour pizza truck will be feeding the multitudes from its handmade wood-fired oven, and there will be community-garden tours, a "Self-Propelled Parade" for bikes, wagons, skateboards, and whatever else you can move without an engine, and films and presentations about water conservation, rain harvesting and grey water use. And yes, it's the far East Bay, but everything downtown is an easy walk from BART, so taking public transit (and avoiding the town's extra- zealous parking-ticket enforcers) is a good idea.


At 1pm at the big Earth Day Marin festival on April 22, Francisco Torre of Fish restaurant in Sausalito will go Iron Chef-to-chef with Massimo Covello of the upcoming Per Te in Larkspur. The winning chef earns a donation from Whole Foods to either Sea Stewards (Torre) or Marin Organic (Covello).

Get Dirty That's not dirt, it's soil, and it's a living thing. Sink your hands into the earth at Alemany Farm's Earth Day work day and celebration on April 22 from 10:30am to sunset. Join the good folks at this sprawling urban farm on the southern edge of Bernal Heights in planting tomatoes, thinning the new apple crop, and weeding. In between, there will be live music, face-painting, garden tours, and a potluck BBQ with a whole pastured pig plus veggie burgers and dogs. Can't make it this Sunday? The farm has open work days every weekend; check their website for details.

EcoSF will be holding a free Natural Building workshop and Earth Day celebration from 11am-5pm on April 22. Help EcoSF staff and friends create some cob and build up their garden walls. Enjoy pizzas from the wood-fired outdoor oven, and check out the solar-oven and pedal-power demonstrations.

Make Stuff What do you eat or drink a lot of? Kombucha? Whole-grain bread? Bacon? Going DIY, that's where you want to start. No point in fussing around making 25 jars of kumquat-cardamom marmalade when you're a fried-eggs-and-sausage kind of guy, or in commandeering the back steps for sauerkraut buckets when what you really need is a steady source of morning yogurt. (You probably already know how to support your ice-cream habit, but if not, we've got a super-simple strawberry ice-cream recipe for you.)

Learning to make something you eat frequently will not only save you the most cash, it will give you the most opportunity to practice making the same thing over and over again, learning the tips and tricks that make it better as well as the tasty options (like yogurt made with goat's milk, or maple-cured bacon) that keep things interesting in the kitchen. We've got good recipes for yogurt, whole-grain bread, bacon, and more.

Trade, Barter, Share Your Skills A friend took care of my girlfriend's cats last week; this week, she got homemade scones and lemon-ginger marmalade as a thank-you. Another friend gave me a half-gallon jar of some fabulously rich, ivory-hued raw milk from her Jersey cow; she got strawberry jam, and I made a batch of truly awesome homemade yogurt.

I've gotten Meyer lemons, Blenheim apricots, dripping-ripe golden plums, and Gravenstein apples from many backyard trees, repaying the bounty with lemon pound cake, lemon chutney, apricot jam, plum preserves, apple pie and apple butter. A group of us helped some cheesemaking pals muck out their lambing barn; they gave us cheese.

Whether you're bringing over a batch of cookies or a growler of homemade beer, teaching someone how to bake bread or make gravlax, spreading the kitchen love gets things done and makes people happy. Want to share with strangers and make new friends? Sign up or start a food swap, like the ones described by writer Sarah Henry in her 2011 piece, Food Swaps: Sharing Goodies, Stocking Pantries One Trade at a Time.

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