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by Corina

You’ve done a great job including eco-friendly options into most all aspects of your wedding, from the location to the flowers, from the gown to the gift registry. But now you’re left wondering “How do I green my wedding cake?”

Never fear, many options abound for a sustainable, organic, locally sourced (and not to mention healthy) wedding cake. Seek out a baker in your area that is used to working with natural ingredients like unbleached flour and unrefined sugar. Also ask where they source their products from, as most European bakers import their materials from Europe adding to the carbon footprint of your wedding. Finally, be sure the chocolate and vanilla are not just added flavorings, but sourced naturally from Fair Trade organizations.

Choosing the right cake for your wedding can be a fun experience, so take your time, go to the cake tastings (YUM), and get to know your options so you can make the right choice that meets your style expectations as well as your personal values. Everyone has their own motivations as to why a processed, refined cake just doesn’t cut it for their green wedding!

You have food allergies. Whether you’re gluten intolerant, diabetic, or just plain health-conscious, no need to worry. Bewitching Elegance in Burlingame, CA offers diabetic friendly cakes made with agave nectar. Short Street Cakes in Asheville, NC has delectable treats and wedding cakes in gluten-free and sugar-free options. Many bakeries these days can cater to special dietary needs, so just ask!

You’re vegan. Many bakers now have redesigned their recipes to replace anything animal-derived, and there’s no sacrificing on flavor! Sticky Fingers in Washington, DC promises to have even the pickiest guest’s mouth watering over their vegan creations. Dulce Vegan in Atlanta, GA also offers 100% vegan, organic, and unprocessed sweets. On the West Coast, try Sugar Beat Sweets in San Francisco, or Black Sheep Bakery in Portland, OR – both are uncompromising in their values and committed to providing 100% vegan confections.

You want it to be organic. With the growing awareness of pesticides and contaminants in our food, of course that extends to our special-occasion baked delectables as well! Tree House Pastry Shop in New Mexico specializes in all-organic creations, while Stephanies in San Diego focuses on nutritious, wholesome ingredients. Lotus Cake Studio in Philadelphia makes all organic couture cakes and “artful edibles.”

Sustainable environmental and Fair Trade practices are important to you. Consider the lifecycles of each ingredient in your cake – was that decadent chocolate produced by workers subjected to slave labor? Was that sugar harvested in a plantation that destroyed the local habitat? Though easy to overlook, these are serious issues as well. Sweet and Organic in Oak Park, CA creates wedding cakes using kosher, organic ingredients, and supports sustainable business practices. Hippie Chick Bakery in New Hampshire sources their ingredients locally and utilizes green practices themselves – they even use eggs from their own flock of free-range rescued shelter chickens!

You’re a raw foodist. Although most bakers do not have a “raw option,” you know as well as I do that a raw cake can be done – just as rich and heavenly as a baked one. Karyn’s, which blesses Chicago with a raw food cafe, conscious foods restaurant, and a day spa, offers gourmet raw wedding cakes upon request. Also try Mary’s Secret Garden in Los Angeles to special order a raw vegan wedding cake that truly nurtures mind, body, and spirit or Veggie Munn in Miami for raw, vegan, wheat-free, sugar-free, organic delights. Tried and true Cafe Gratitude provides scrumptious raw wedding cakes for the San Francisco Bay Area.

by Corina

I’ve noticed a new trend in organic wines, but I don’t know why they are better or where to get them. What do you suggest?

Most events aren’t complete without wine, and today organic wines are ripe for the picking and easy to find. With grapes at the top of the list of most chemically “sprayed” fruit (University of California reports over 2 million pounds of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals used on Napa County grapes) it’s a good idea to treat you and your guests to something healthier.

So what exactly makes wine organic? Basically the farmers that grow organic grapes today practice old fashioned principals for organic production; using materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems. Organic grapes are grown without artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, encouraging the natural pest/predator balance, and according to the farmers, stimulates healthy plant growth and enhances the overall flavor and quality of the fruit.

Organic grape growing includes an approach developed in the 1920’s called biodynamic farming. This method encourages plant and animal diversity for the overall success of the product. Farms like Bonterra Vineyards in California take time to cultivate their animal diversity as much as the plants. They build birdhouses to attract diversity and to ward off harmful insects. They also leave native oak trees in place and plant cypress and helpful plants like lavender on the landscape. Organic farming embraces the natural checks and balances in nature that allows for full expression of the earth, giving rise to vines that truly thrive!

The success over the last six years of industry leaders like Bonterra has paved the way for a crop of new organic options for the modern wine consumer. Unfortunately a lot of these wineries aren’t promoting themselves as organic and biodynamic, mostly because of the hassle of becoming certified. Because the USDA does not allow the use of sulfides in a certified organic wine, some vintners are out of luck, but others like Coturri Winery who offer one of the purest organic wines on the market, don’t want the USDA stamp “because they simply want to be known as a traditional fine wine.” (SF Gate, 2006)

So here is a short list to help you with your next party wine selection. For a more comprehensive list, go check out The Organic Wine List:

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