From the Sustany Foundation blog, by yours truly…

An April evening was never more delicious in Tampa than last Tuesday night when over 130 Sustany supporters took part in a walking tour of downtown restaurants newly designated as Green Businesses by the City of Tampa.  The Sustany Foundation, in collaboration with the Tampa Downtown Partnership and assisted by students from University of Tampa and USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, inducted ten new companies into the elite club of officially recognized Sustainable Businesses – including four foodie favorites: Anise Global Gastrobar, Bamboozle Cafe, Duckweed Urban Market and Malio’s Prime Steakhouse.

13duckweedThe sun settled gently over the Hillsborough River to the west while participants of the walking tour tasted samples at local “urban market” Duckweed.  Owners Brent and Michelle Deatherage readily admit to blatant self-service when it came to starting a grocery store in downtown Tampa. “We wanted a store that was walking distance to our home.”  So Duckweed has the essentials like milk, eggs and coffee along with upscale items like craft beers and fine wine and plenty of organic produce and ready-to-eat items, many of which were available for sampling.

One hates to put dessert first, but when desserts are gluten-free 100% paleo baked goods it is easy to call them healthy and tuck right in to those samples of almond flour brownies and sticky, gooey granola from Base Culture.  Master Chef Jordann Windschauer says the business grew … organically!  “It used be myself baking everything but it grew too big and now I have a baker, an assistant baker, a sales person and college kids helping with deliveries.  We are a growing company in 24 central Florida locations and currently working on deals to expand in Texas.”

Jordann confesses “I had no intention of starting a business. After I graduated from USF two years ago I got a job with a PR firm doing event planning.” But a workout challenge at Crossfit 813 changed her entire life.  The challenge: Go Paleo! “I didn’t even know what paleo meant!  But it worked and I lost a lot of inches. The only thing I missed were the sweets and the snacks. So I made them for myself and people liked them. I brought them to gym to share with my friends. So they asked if they could pay me to make more for them and I didn’t say no!”  A bit of media propelled her fledgeling business and now Jordann is sending Paleo baked smiles to stores like Duckweed.

BC_logo_lock up_blkJordann says “Base Culture is an all natural, gluten free bakery that makes 100% paleo baked goods. We draw upon our Paleolithic roots to create high quality goods that are simple, natural, and primal. Our main goal is to make it easier than ever to live a paleo lifestyle. Many months were spent breaking down all of our ingredients so that we could guarantee a product that would not break the paleo diet or affect an individual with an intolerant digestive system. We believe you won’t find a better tasting, higher quality product like ours on the market because of this extraordinary level of care.”

At another table at Duckweed there were samples from Intensity Academy which “has won over 50 awards in a short period of time [and] really set this company on fire! This Saucy company prides itself of supporting local with its ingredient sourcing, bottling, and community partnerships. Their line has evolved into a variety of all natural, tea infused marinades, ketchups, dipping sauces & hot sauces.” While working in the garden at her sons’ school, founder Michele Northrup wanted to promote the yield from the garden. “The vegetable of the week was carrots. We all brought a basket of them home to experiment. I thought the natural sweetness of the carrots would balance the heat of the peppers. I made a few varieties of a carrot based hot sauce. The feedback from the students, staff, friends & family was amazing! I went to the local grocery store looking up & down the shelves & saw there was not anything similar to this sauce. I really jumped right into it without looking back. I figured WORST-case scenario everyone I knew would get hot sauce for Christmas! Now, 5 years later, I am so grateful for this Saucy Life.” Michele has been featured in Southern Living Magazine, on Yahoo! TV and  was named Tampa Bay Business Woman of the Year in Manufacturing.

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Another spicy local concoction  was being served up by Alberto Tola, brewmaster of Toma-Tola Veggie Brew.  Think “V8? Juice, but fresh and really supremely delicious.  This tasty drink is perfect for a Bloody Mary, says Alberto, who says he can only mix up tiny batches of his brew.  So you have to go to Duckweed to buy your own, or order a Bloody Mary or Virgin Mary at The Columbia Restaurant to try some tasty Toma-Tola.

TB_Email Sig 1For real garden flavors, however, the highlight of the night was Tomato Beach pasta sauces, served with bits of bread for dipping. Two delicious family recipes are cooked and bottled in the local area proving that convenience, locavore tendencies and delicious flavors are all very mutually compatible.  Pam reveals her secret family recipe for spicy Smooth Pomodoro includes chopped garlic and a touch of chili pepper. Another family business growing like crazy, “Tomato Beach pasta sauces are all-natural, gluten-free, low-sodium sauces that are light and flavorful. We make our sauces in small batches to ensure you get the freshest, highest quality sauces available.” Pam and her husband Rob also rolled out their brand new flavor Garden Party Pomodoro with red and green peppers and button mushrooms to the “party” on our taste buds.  Tomato Beach invites everyone to “get sauced on the beach!”sassy logo jpg

Oh, and did we mention Duckweed served everyone a delicious green lemonade with kale and other goodness? It was  squeezed out at a furious pace by Kat to keep up with the all the whistle wetting.  A little fruity refreshment was welcome after samplings of Sassy Cucina spreads.  A bit of a line formed around this table as founder Cindy Sicala served swipes of blue cheese and spicy hummus with chipotle on crackers.  Six different flavors make the perfect alternative to mayonaise and other spreads, assures Cindy who says she is “staying true to my Italian heritage with bold flavors I grew up with while watching my Nana cook in the cucina.”

There was all kinds of great food to try at Duckweed Urban Market, and we were just getting started!

SSBP Business Highlights at Duckweed include:

  • Composting food waste though the Sustainable Living Project
  • Will start carrying reusable bags for purchase
  • Making recycling available to customers and using recycled products when available.
  • Starting a cardboard recycling program.
  • Only printing receipts for some credit card transactions and on request.
  • Using recycled paper coffee cups.
  • Replaced restroom towels with recycled paper ones that are easily dispensed.

Next all ten dozen of Sustany’s new friends strolled along the sidewalk to Bamboozle Cafe where they combine Vietnamese food with healthful practices.  In fact, their website proclaims “The major components of the Vietnamese diet are raw vegetables, fresh fruits and fresh herbs, which are rich with anti-oxidants that support the immune system. Carrots, basil, garlic, ginger, radishes and coriander all help to strengthen and improve the skin. Peppers and chillies increase the circulation of blood and therefore provide vital nutrients to the body. Brown Rice available to accompany most dishes provides a good source of carbohydrates which is the body’s main source of energy.”

Many of those ingredients and flavors were served up in a small plate of beef and rice with a side of chicken wrapped with cabbage that had folks lined up literally out the door and along the sidewalk in front of this tiny Tampa treasure.  Another new inductee in the Sustainable Business Program run by The Sustany Foundation and recognized by the City of Tampa, Bamboozle Cafe is also part of a fitness club in collaboration with Sweatshop Urban Gym.  It works like this: if you are a member of the gym you can get 20% off your order!  They encourage folks to order ahead for take-out and then give their taste buds a once-over as well.

SSBP Business Highlights at Bamboozle include:

  • lower temperature and light settings when closed

 

Strolling down to Malio’s in Tampa Bay’s iconic Syke’s “beercan building” the Sustany diners found less abundant food but the riverside deck was absolutely perfect for catching the last tendrils of sunset on the mighty Hillsborough River.

SSBP Business Highlights at Malio’s shows how this eatery has developed a Green Team’s with responsibilities that include:

  • Employee sustainability training
  • Encouraging employee and customer feedback on sustainability issues
  • Manage the implementation of Malio’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy
  • Education initiatives to employees and customers

 

Darkness fully enfolded Tampa’s skyscrapers when I must admit to feeling a bit sated and ready for a tasty nightcap to the many flavors of Tampa in April.  The perfect solution was right around the street-lit corner in the form of lovely, tasty funky Anise where proprietors Kevin & Xuan (Sing) Hurt served a delicious pomegranate sorbet with (or without) a shot of champagne!

SSBP Business Highlights from Anise include:

  • Vertical garden = less food packaging waste
  • Improved recycling policy
  • Phase-out of paper napkins

 

After several hours of chatter, laughter food and drink in celebration of the new Sustainable Businesses the festivities drew to a close, deemed an overwhelming success by organizers, participants and venues alike. Ticket sales and raffles pushed the proceeds to around $1600 and left us all hungry to do it again next year!