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THE MAKINGS OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP

POSTED MARCH 27 AT 5:00 PM

As the AmeriCorps member here at ECHO I have the privilege…

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Contact: Steven Leibman or Grace Per Lee
802-864-1848 ext. 125 or 131
sleibman@echovermont.org or gperlee@echovermont.org

 

DON’T JUST EAT — THINK!

New Green-Themed Café at ECHO Offers “Tasty Bites” of Wisdom — Grand Opening April 14th

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Can restaurants help diners make choices that are kinder to our planet, while providing tasty food, WiFi, and awesome views? ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center thinks so, and on April 14th, they’re opening their new green-themed Think! Café to prove it. The realization of the café was made possible by generous grants from the WaterWheel Foundation, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, and Vermont Tent Company. Part eatery, part exhibit, and all kinds of fun, Think! is a unique experience that’s not to be missed.

“We want to provide our guests with healthy, delicious, local foods in an attractive and thought-provoking way” — says ECHO’s Executive Director Phelan Fretz — “The idea is to engage people in decision-making and actually think about the food they eat, the packaging they choose... If you don’t know about your choices, how can you make an informed decision?”

Think! Café operates on the same environmentally-friendly principles that have been central to ECHO’s mission from the start. The menu features fresh local and seasonal ingredients and tasty homemade dishes — like their soon-to-be-famous “Champster” panini; made with Portobello mushrooms, Cabot cheddar, and cilantro pesto mayonnaise — plus signature items from local partners like Sugarsnap and Klinger’s Bakery. Behind the scenes, the kitchen staff will follow best green practices, keeping waste to a minimum and composting organic material. Out on the café floor, the dishes and utensils are reusable, the un-bleached napkins are recycled, and all of the cleaning products are certified green.

In fact, even the space itself is green, including countertops made of pressed recycled paper from Planet Hardwood, plywood detailing fabricated from wheat straw, and whey-based wood finish from Vermont Natural Coatings. Three striking mobiles, created by renowned Vermont artist Gordon Auchincloss, illustrate the idea of local food cycles and add a touch of contemporary whimsy to the space, inviting diners to linger and enjoy an aesthetic as well as culinary experience. All this within ECHO’s award-winning architecture, the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in Vermont.

As with all of ECHO’s exhibits, Think! Café makes learning enjoyable. In fact, the eatery itself is an exhibit, giving diners hands-on experience with the 3 R’s: Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling. Guests are encouraged to “play with their food,” from activities on café trays, to an interactive scale where folks can weigh any trash left from lunch and think about ways of reducing waste. Even the recycle-and-compost center is integrated into the exhibit experience. Cleaning up after lunch has never been so much fun!

Think! Café at ECHO serves lunch year-round from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Its Lakeside setting offers stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains and can be reserved for wedding rehearsal dinners, cocktail receptions, and well as family and school groups.

At this time nearly one-fifth of our nation’s fuel use goes towards processing and transporting mass-produced food, and one-tenth of our landfill is made up of food waste; add excessive packaging to that equation and you’ve got one expensive — and unsustainable — environmental equation on your hands. With Think!, ECHO hopes not only to offer fresh, delicious fare, but also to help people make the eco-connections between the food we choose and the state of our environment — and more importantly, to highlight some simple ways for each of us to make a difference. Because each of us can make a difference. So the next time you’re feeling hungry, don’t just grab something to eat — Think!

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is located at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, on Vermont’s Burlington Waterfront. ECHO features 70 species of live fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles, over 100 interactive experiences, seasonal changing exhibits, and the multimedia Awesome Forces Theater. The 2.2 acre site is also highlighted by the Lake Champlain Navy Memorial, ECHO’s Eclectic Gift Shop, and green-themed Think! Café. Open year-round, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Day. Admission is $7-$9.50; children under 3 and K-12 classroom teachers with credential ID are free. For more information visit echovermont.org, call 1-877-ECHOFUN, or write to ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, One College Street, Burlington, VT 05401.

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