When it comes to grab-and-go fare, the options are woefully un-eco. Grass-fed Big Mac meat and free-range chicken sandwiches are non-existent at most fast food restaurants, and all that shipping racks up significant food miles. But in the vast array of cheap, earth-evil eats, one Oregon pizza joint gets five shiny, green stars in our book.
I recently took a trip to Portland, Oregon, and was pleasantly surprised with the selection at one takeout restaurant. Hot Lips, a must-visit pizza shop for Portland-area visitors and residents, has sustainability on the brain and on the menu. The five neighborhood shops boast local ingredients in their pies and homemade sodas, decreasing the amount of shipping and of course, all those noxious greenhouse gas emissions. Mandy’s Chicken pizza features free-range poultry, while the Vegan Focaccia pie uses veggies from local, Oregon farmers. Innovative meals like the Local Tomatoes, Ricotta and Organic Pesto pie and the Carlton Farms Smoked Bacon and Local Spinach pizza are as fresh and seasonal as they are delectable.
While not everything on the menu is locally sourced (let's face it, it's hard to grow a pineapple in Oregon, and the ham and pineapple pizza is one of Hot Lips's bestsellers), the company is working on some creative alternatives. One employee says that a ham and cherry pie is in the works. If customers find it just a delicious as he and the other Hot Lips pizza gurus do, subbing pineapples for cherries would give the pie more local roots.
If nouveau pizza is not your style, the shop makes great standbys, too: Its cheese pizza uses only 100 percent whole milk mozzarella cheese. The company makes a line of tasty, sustainable sodas as well. We recommend the blueberry soda, made from fresh blueberries from neighboring Oregon farms. Take one home and add a scoop of organic, vanilla ice cream for a sweet, summer treat.
Hot Lips's environmental commitment extends beyond the ingredients it uses. Deliveries are made in electric vehicles resembling golf carts that can be seen zipping around the streets of Portland. The company is also planning on obtaining a fleet of bikes for making deliveries.
If West Coast pizza sets off alarms for you, fear not: Hot Lips's pizza would even impress Brooklynites with its perfect blend of thin, crispy crust, delicious sauces, and high-quality cheeses.
We know what you're thinking: Local and organic food restaurants get our green hearts all warm and mushy, but severely deplete the green in our wallets. But Hot Lips stays true to casual, take-out prices. Large slices cost less than $3, and whole pies start at $14.25, making it the ideal spot for a lunch break or dinner on-the-go.
Now if only those other quickie meal eateries would step up to Hot Lips's standards. We're thinking homestate veggies at the Fixins' Bar, and locally-grown potato fries with our combo meals would make us feel less guilty about our take-out addictions.
Story by Sarah Parsons. This article originally appeared in Plenty in May 2007. This story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.