Celebrating Washington’s Ecofriendly Side: DC Green Festival Returns

All photos courtesy the Green Festival.

When the Green Festival first came to Washington five years ago, eating organic was not a popular habit. However, DC Green Festival regional director Alix Davidson says that sentiment has changed significantly. By the numbers alone, around 15,000 Washingtonians attended the first DC Green Festival, while more than 35,000 are expected at this year’s event.

“I think that Washingtonians have a lot more access to local fresh food than they ever have had,” Davidson says, citing the growing interest in neighborhood farmers markets and restaurant efforts to utilize local produce and alternative energy. “I think people come to the Green Festival to make that connection between the farmers market and the rest of their lives.”

This year’s Green Festival will bring together more than 300 ecofriendly area businesses and more than 100 authors, leaders, and educators to promote greener lifestyles, but a big part of the event will be the food. Davidson promises it’s easy to eat well and be ecological at the same time, adding, “The Green Festival offers Washingtonians the chance to get their feet wet without making a particular commitment.”

A variety of organic snacks and meals, such as cookies, fresh-pressed organic juice, and vegetarian sausages, will be offered at the natural-foods pavilion and fair-trade cafe. For those who prefer spicier fare, Nirvana, an Indian restaurant, will be preparing a number of its authentic Indian entrées. As a nod to the raw-foods trend, raw vegan cuisine will also be available. The beer garden will feature the Maine-based Peak Organic Brewing Company and Wolaver’s Organic Ales, the nation’s first certified brewery.

New to the festival this year is Chix, the Latin-inspired U Street restaurant, which prides itself on using exclusively organic ingredients, clean energy, and environmentally friendly products. The popular ecoconscious cafe Java Green will be back, as will a number of others.

In order to participate, food vendors must prepare food in an actively responsible manner, offer at least one vegetarian option, not sell bottled water, and serve on compostable plates. Every year, the Green Festival produces less waste, and this year only 7 percent is expected go to a landfill.

Speakers, such as Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal, will discuss topics ranging from how to cook using solar energy to the positive effects of the global pet-food recalls last year.

“I think the ability to eat well and do well in DC is really exciting,” Davidson says. “The days of having to choose pleasure over planet are well over.”

Saturday 10 to 7 and Sunday 11 to 6 at the Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Pl., NW; 202-249-3000). Tickets are $15; $10 for seniors, students, bus riders, and bike riders; under age 18 free.

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