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The Self Examiner

Sharing is very important to us at Cafe Gratitude. This blog is our means of connecting with you, our community through sharing what's happening with us and creating a conversation around the many facets of this community.
Tags >> opportunity

These are interesting times. There is great sadness among our community as many long standing employees are let go as we shrink our business to manage the financial hit we took with all the legal issues. There are also some wonderful new opportunities opening up and being created for some of those employees who are moving on. The upcoming closure of our Oakland location, inside of Whole Foods is a big disappointment for all those people struggling financially during these times who have been getting an I  Am Grateful Bowl daily for a very small donation.  The employees staying on with us in Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Gracias Madre are relieved. You can see that there is a great mix of feelings and emotions amongst us all.

We are working together to continue to support one another during these times and deeply appreciate you coming by for a meal and some of the LOVE Cafe Gratitude is known for.



As an employee of Café Gratitude, I have a variety of feelings and thoughts on the closing of the company. Most of all, I am deeply saddened by the actions that brought it to this point. Yes, I grieve the loss of my job, but more importantly, I am grieving the loss of the company which has been so life-giving throughout the five years I have been an employee.

The staff meeting we had right after we found out about the company going out of business was full of emotions and questions. In the history of my time at Café Gratitude, staff meetings have always inspired me, and this day was no different. As I left the café that morning, I walked past the fire station. The fire fighters must have been doing some training or testing of the water because I saw a huge fountain of water spurting up in the air, the forceful fountain that can only come from a powerful hydrant. The kind of water that puts out fires. And I realize that's exactly what this feels like – a forest fire, burning everything in its path to the ground. In that moment, seeing the fountain of water in the early morning sun, I realized that anyone standing on the opposite side of it must have seen the biggest, brightest rainbow ever. I was sure of it. The wall of spray was so thick, and the sun was so bright, I was sure that the rainbow must have been glorious. I decided to go out of my way to simply catch a glimpse of that magnificent rainbow. Before I got there,

 though, the water spray stopped. I had missed my chance. But even just thinking about that rainbow and how beautiful it must have been put a smile on my face that lasted for several minutes. That's how powerful imagination is. The rainbow that day gave me hope.


How did the rose

Ever open its heart

And give to this world

All it's beauty?

It felt the encouragement of Light

Against its being,


We all remain

Too frightened.

- Hafiz

Some days I wonder how I will ever be able to fully offer to the world that which has been given to me.  I, like you, am gifted.  I know that if I were to open up, to sing my song to all who had ears to listen, I could heal the entire world, and set everything aflame with the primordial joy of being.


The Occupy San Francisco encampment was receiving so many food donations last week, they had to turn generous people away. Across the nation companies, organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Occupy movement by contributing supplies to the camps of people who now occupy public zones in reportedly more than 1,000 U.S. cities. These citizens are not merely erecting tents and staying the night, however: there is incredible organization going into the demonstrations. Many encampments have their own first aid tents, communications areas, and, of course, food tables. All the effort going into creating these temporary mini-cities reveals how popular the movement has become in the month it’s been active.

How did Occupy Wall Street begin?

The Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters first proposed the idea of occupying the New York financial district in late summer of this year, circulating a poster showing a dancer atop the Wall Street bull and posing the question, What is Our One Demand? Since the protests began September 17, many demands have emerged, including ending corporate personhood, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, shrinking the income gap between rich and poor, and reforming campaign finance laws. With its strident and raucous anti-capitalism stance, we could have expected Adbusters to launch a fringe movement that would fail to capture the hearts of a majority of citizens; however, widespread anger at the state of the economy and exploitation by corporate power have caused the movement to move towards the mainstream. Time magazine, for example, recently reported that 54% of Americans approve of Occupy.

Where does Cafe Gratitude fit into all of this excitement? Well, if you haven’t heard, our LA location just trucked a big batch of Grateful Bowls over to Occupy Los Angeles to feed the people camping outside City Hall (see the video below!). Ryland Engelhart, general manager at Gratitude LA, explained that he sees the Occupy movement as a call for unification from people across the country. Americans are feeling separated from each other and from our institutions, he says, and this may be a chance to bring us all together to improve our society. Luckily, the tent village in the City of Angels was still in need of food, so Ryland was not turned away and protesters got to enjoy delicious organic vegan meals!

We can connect food to the Occupy movement in more ways than simply feeding the demonstrators, however. A great article in Mother Jones has just been published, illustrating how the financial industry is not the only economic behemoth that has been consolidating power and causing angst for the majority of Americans. The food industry, the article claims, is even more consolidated and monopolistic than the financial sector. For example, just four companies produced 75 percent of cereal and snacks, 60 percent of cookies, and half of all ice cream in the U.S. in 2002. And since then, not much has changed, although the food movement is gaining steam, and will ramp up its power this October 24, the first-ever National Food Day.

Here’s hoping that the people on the streets keeping eating well, and that we can all start understanding that we’re going to need a movement as powerful as Occupy Wall Street to reform our current food system!


My name is Andrew, I’m a brand new employee at Cafe Gratitude’s central office, and I want to share some inspiration with you. What inspires me is compassionate food--food that’s kind to the soil it’s planted in, the people who prepare it, and the hungry bodies that make it part of them. This inspiration has lead me to work with Cafe Gratitude, and also with another organization re-imagining good food, and one I’ll talk about today: the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, or CoFED, which empowers college students to launch food cooperatives.

What both these organizations have in common is that they empower people to transform their lives, with compassionate food as a catalyst. We like to call the Cafe a school of transformation disguised as a restaurant, because our core mission isn’t to sell you food - our aim is to give you tools to shape your life how you want it to be. Part of actively taking control of your life involves loving yourself, and a key part of loving yourself is feeding yourself really awesome food. So when you decide that you’re worthy of nourishing your body, mind and soul with meals that are kind to the Earth and her animal and human inhabitants - meals that make you feel and function great - you’re taking the first step on the journey of self-transformation.


Last Wednesday was a very eventful day at Café Gratitude’s central office.  A few long-term computer issues came to a head, moved past the point of unworkable, and becoming what can only be called “Breakdowns.”

For the past year, we have been struggling with an issue where our Quickbooks imports corrupt our company file.  The cause of this problem has eluded us as we have tried solution after solution.  On Wednesday, we had a breakdown of this system that was big enough to put us completely offline, and force our bookkeeper to start writing checks by hand. However, this particular breakdown was so big, that our team was actually able to find the bug, and replicate it, and get to the bottom of what was causing the problem! The breakdown that had shut down one of our most important systems turned out to be the breakthrough that fixed what had been a perpetual problem.


The World Vegetarian Festival comes to San Francisco, October 1-2, 2011!

What better place for health-conscious, compassionate and animal-loving people from across the world to converge, than San Francisco? For twelve years now, the San Francisco Vegetarian Society has thrown its World Veg Festival, which celebrates vegetarianism as a means to become healthy, improve animal welfare and protect the natural environment. Held in the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, the fest invites anyone--vegetarian, vegan or neither--to come out for the weekend to experience delicious meat-free meals, learn to prepare heart-healthy dishes, explore the ethical dimensions of a vegetarian diet, and socialize. There will be guest speakers, such as veggie luminaries Colin Campbell and John Robbins, activities, vendors, and even speed dating! So however you want to approach or experience vegetarianism, or even if you want to get a taste of it for the first time, the World Veg Festival can offer you a fun and educational day in the city!

Date:        Saturday, Oct. 1 & Sunday, Oct. 2, 10am - 6pm
Location:    SF County Fair Building, 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, California 94122
Tickets:     $8 at the door, or purchased through Eventbrite.
Phone:        (415) 831-5500

Heather M.M.

As humans, we’ve all had the opportunity to be born. Some of us will be lucky enough to go into labor one day. If birth is so prevalent why is it that most of us know so little about it? Birth has been on my mind a lot lately. A dear friend of mine is eight months pregnant and another friend of mine just recently gave birth. As a 22 year old woman, I’ve been exposed to very little information about the child bearing/rearing process. It’s rarely discussed in the media or among my peers- which I find puzzling. I find it strange that most young women and men understand more about sex than they do about reproduction.  I’m under the impression that many people feel that birth is something that we find out about in the process of doing it. It is handled by doctors that, it is presumed,  are trained to know about birth than we do.

In my freshman year of college I was exposed to my first birthing video. It terrified me. I left the room feeling angry and disowned by my own gender. In this film, a woman was in the hospital laying down while the doctors injected her with many birth inducers and pain killers. At the peak moment, the baby was pulled out, the umbilical chord was cut, and its throat was quickly cleaned out: both the mother and the child were screaming. I was angry that I was a woman and it was possible that if I had a child birthing experience it would look like that.

I wasn’t exposed to any other options. Fast forward to the present.

Around two weeks ago I had the opportunity to view two documentaries: The Business of Being Born and Birth as We Know It. The Business of Being Born ” interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current maternity care system.” It enlightened me, scared me, and, most importantly, gave me new options on what a birthing experience can look like. Birth as we Know It is described as a film that has an illuminating effect “on the impacts of conscious conception, pregnancy and birth”. This stunning film showed images of wild women giving birth in the warm lagoons of the Black Sea. Both of these films radically shifted and healed my prior anger with the birthing process. I learned about different birthing practices that included more holistic and empowered birthing techniques.

Although both films included at home births- which many of us consider dangerous in the US, I was left feeling at peace with my options and abilities as a woman. It would be amazing for many women AND men to see these films, as this information gives them an opportunity feel more included in the birthing process.I’d like to add that I have no intention of having children anytime soon -yet this film still left me feeling more empowered and connected to my femininity. If you are interested in birth, are expecting, or know anyone who is expecting I highly recommend watching this film. I am so thankful to have been exposed to so many new ideas around conception, it has helped me understand so much more about how precious human life really is.

Tagged in: women , opportunity , film , birth

I woke up this morning with scarcity on my mind.  I’m sure many of you have had this experience.  Before my cup of tea, before letting the chickens out in the yard, or taking a hot shower, my mind was churning with fear and disappointment.  The theme today was: “I am not making enough money.”

Purchase $10 raffle tickets before we draw the winner on August 15th! 

Purchase from any Cafe Gratitude location or Gracias Madre.  The winner will get a $1,000 gift card redeemable at any Northern Californian Cafe Gratitude location and Gracias Madre.


Tagged in: support , raffle , opportunity , generosity , community , activism

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