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Nature Heals watch ‘The Power of Nature: A Living Island Series’

The Power of Nature: A Living Island Series, Volume 1, 2016

These photographs were captured on our wanderings around Central Vancouver Island. My hope is that these pictures bring you the same peace and sense of unimaginable calm they have brought me.

 

Nature heals people, and here is how….

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Update on Genetically Modified (GM) Foods in Canada from CBAN

You’ve heard about the new genetically modified (GM) apple, potato, and salmon – but where are they? CBAN’s latest research shows the status of new GM foods in Canada.
Here is an update from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
At the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), we monitor GM crops and foods so you know what GM foods are in our fields and on our grocery stores shelves. Thanks to this research we know that newly approved GM foods are not yet being sold in your grocery stores. Click here for the full list of GM foods on the market in Canada – www.cban.ca/gmfoods 

 

You can take action to stop new GM foods. Email your grocery store head office today! Click here for contacts.

 

 GMO Inquiry 2015 – GMO foods have been in Canada for 20 years.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) brings together 16 organizations to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform.

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
Suite 206, 180 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 1P5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
coordinator@cban.ca
www.cban.ca
https://www.facebook.com/cban.canadian.biotechnology.action.network
@biotechaction

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Feeding the Local Community: Guest Blog by Archie McNab, Farmer & Entrepreneur

It is an honour to have Archie McNab write a guest blog post for Recipes of My Home. One of the reasons we moved to Vancouver Island was to have access to fresh produce and farm stands. I have been buying food from his Farm Stand in Yellow Point on Vancouver Island since we first moved here almost 2 years ago. I was ecstatic that fresh produce was only 5 minutes away from where we live. In the summer, I make a weekly pilgrimage to buy carrots, cucumbers, beets, squash, beans, peas and patty pans.

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I had the pleasure of formally meeting Archie this fall. Archie, along with five brothers and sisters, operate a small scale farm in Yellow Point. The farm was purchased by their parents in 1960 and has been in a constant state of evolution and change ever since as they move towards a much more inclusive version of farming. Read more about the evolution of the McNab Corn Maze & Produce Farm here.

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To make a long story short, I took Archie up on his offer to write a guest post for Recipes of My Home. My hope is that he will continue to share his experience, wisdom and point of view as a local, small scale producer. His first post gives an insight into the changes small scale farming has undergone over the last several decades and how those changes impact farming families.

With demand for local and sustainable produce growing exponentially, there is no time like the present to bring awareness to and discuss the challenges as well as opportunities that come with such a venture.

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Feeding the Local Community‘ by Archie McNab:

I have watched with a mixture of bemusement and admiration as society makes a massive sea change in how they view food. It isn’t just in the growing of it, there’s more to it than that. It’s in how it is viewed, presented, obtained, cooked (or not), eaten and even being used as a status symbol. And finally, in how we treat the discarded or unused food.

When I grew up with my five siblings pretty much everything we grew, we ate. And if we shot it, we ate that too. All leftovers either went to the dogs (who also served as guard dogs for the animals) or to the chickens. Waste was minimal and if there was any at all, it went out into the pea patch along with the wood stove ashes.

Trees were selectively harvested. We only cut what was marketable or what was dead and would make good firewood for that winter. Old machinery was patched up, wired together and repurposed. Oil was used over and over until there was only sludge left and then it was used as chain oil in the power saws or as lubricant for shafts and couplings. Lumber was used and reused and used again. Used nails and spikes were straightened for another go round. Old hot water tanks became culverts.

However, as one brother points out, we weren’t green to be fashionable or to score brownie points or even because it was the right thing to do. We were green because we were poor. And we weren’t alone. Every other farmer that we knew was poor too. Of course, growing up inside this culture, we kids had no idea we were poor. We had clothes (often hand me downs) and always had lots to eat. In fact, I would say it’s safe to say we ate more pheasant and venison that most of the royalty in Europe did back in the day.

But my point is this. If you want local food, and I am very sure that we do, support your local producer. Whether it’s the wine or beer you drink, the honey you put on your food or the greens that you fill your bowl with, do your very best to make sure it’s local.

As a farmer, I promise you this. If you show us that you are willing to spend your dollars for our food, we will bend over backwards to keep producing more and to encourage others to do the same. If farming is a viable way of making a living don’t you think more people would be inclined to take it up as an occupation?

There are benefits in being a farmer, you are your own boss (when the spouse isn’t around), you eat well and most of all you have the satisfaction of knowing you are producing good food for people to eat. It is also very humbling to receive all the thanks that we are given for doing what we do.

I encourage everyone to take the time to grow some of your own food, to appreciate the effort that goes into it and the satisfaction when you harvest it. Look up your local producers of food and get to know them. They in turn will gladly tell you of other local producers and before you know it we will have a vibrant, local food economy.

Our island once produced over half of the food that was consumed here, now it’s down to less than 10 percent. That is something we can change, if we choose to.

Thanks for listening.

Archie

Further Reading

  1. Small Farm Canada is a national magazine that  promotes small-scale farming as a legitimate and viable endeavour. The magazine’s editorial position is that the lives of small-scale farmers and their families are worthy, complex and rich in possibility, and that the communities serving small-scale farmers are unique and dynamic. Through attractive, well-written, independent-minded articles (free of orthodoxies) the magazine entertains, informs, inspires and challenges readers across Canada.
  2. The Canadian Organic Grower Magazine is for those who are interested in growing or consuming organic and sustainably produced food, then you’ll enjoy this magazine!  Our aim is to provide practical and timely information useful to growers and eaters across Canada.  We also cover important developments on social, economic and regulatory issues relevant to organic production in Canada.

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Is Nature a Part of the Past? ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ and a Declining Connection to the Outdoors

The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small-scale, in our own gardens. If only 10 percent of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” 

~Bill Mollison, Founder of Permaculture

Who are our gardeners and small-scale farmers that will produce for us all in the near future? Surely they must be the up and coming generations of children and young people. Surely we have made connection to nature, environmental stewardship, gardening and farming a priority by modelling such behavior and instilling a deep empathy for the planet – by electing politicians whose policies and economic strategy directly reflect this priority.

According to a 2012 report on ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ by the National Trust (UK) and the ParticipACTION 2015 Report Card (Canada), our future generations of children and young people no longer go outside to play. They have limited knowledge of where much of our food comes from or how to grow it. According to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, published in 2005:

“For a new generation, nature is more abstraction than reality. Increasingly, nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear – to ignore.” 

To  be clear, this is no armchair critique of modernity and technology or a comment on parenting. Parents are scolded, ‘shoulded’ and shamed far too much. It is about the current state of our meager coexistence with nature. We care for the things we are connected to and easily ignore those we are not.

 

 

The National Trust (UK) report presented evidence for “Nature Deficit Disorder‘. It is not found in any diagnostic manual. Rather, it is a descriptive term for the phenomenon of severely limiting children’s ability to play outdoors.  They discuss the physical, mental, educational, economic and environmental consequences of not allowing children to make this crucial connection with nature. This report is an eye-opening read about the state children in Britain and a must read.

“Nature Deficit Disorder describes the human cost of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.” ~Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

A variety of reasons for this phenomenon are discussed in the report.  In the UK, children spend an average of 2.5 hours in front of a screen 7 days a week. In North America, children ages 2-5 years of age spend an average of 32 hours in front of a screen per week – 4.5 hours per day. Children ages 6-11 years spend about 28 hours per week in front of a screen. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Simply typing ‘kids playing outside’ into a search engine gives a bird’s-eye view into the current state of outdoor play.  One particular question on a parent blog caught my eye: “Do anyone else’s kids HATE to play outside?

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The National Trust report argues that Nature Deficit Disorder is a larger issue that affects all of society, rich or poor.  So why are kids not playing outside?

  • nature has strong competition from television and video games
  • increased traffic
  • ‘stranger danger’
  • ‘helicopter parents’ – parents who watch and direct their children’s every move, denying them the freedom they themselves enjoyed when they were growing up
  • education system
  • well-meaning protective house arrest

What are the consequences of this eroded ability to freely play outdoors according to the Report?

  • physical health problems
  • mental health problems
  • declining emotional resilience
  • declining ability to assess risk

Everyone agrees that something must be done and yet, in the UK and in North America, very little has actually been achieved. No coordinated action to reverse the trends and reconnect children with nature once again.

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On the bright side, some things are changing. For starters, Canada is changing its Food Guidelines to make them more realistic and flexible. Health Canada is expected to address foods containing sodium, trans fats, sugar, food colors as well as marketing to children. This is no doubt going to be long process.

One of the potentially promising policies to come out of this change is a national school lunch program which is estimated to cost up to $2 Billion Canadian Dollars. Wouldn’t it be wonderful and much more economical if each school grew their own food – either outside or 365 days a year in a shipping container? Just think of the tax dollars saved in the short-term (seeds are cheaper than produce) and long-term (on health care). Just think of the life skills children would stand to learn and the natural connection to nature that could be forged.

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Here is a list of ideas and resources to seed empathy and help children connect to nature so that they can be our growers, producers, and environmental caregivers in the future:

  1. Read up – Richard Louv has written several thought-provoking books on the subject of Nature Deficit Disorder including his latest, Vitamin N: 500 ways to enrich the health and happiness of your family & community. He is very thoughtful, informative and optimistic about our ability to connect children to nature in a meaningful way.
  2. Read This – An Open Letter (2016) to the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health (Canada), from foodsecureCanada.org outlining very specific actions the government needs to undertake regarding health and food security for all Canadians
  3. Get Involved – Children & Nature Network
  4. Get Involved – Child & Nature Alliance of Canada (based in Victoria, BC)
  5. Attend a Conference – Children & Nature International Conference April 18 to 21, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  6. Educate – Forest and Nature School in Canada Guide
  7. Put in Your Two Bits – Contribute to the consultation process on the Canadian Food Guide
  8. #OptOut – Get outside on Black Friday
  9. Watch – Claire Warden is an educational consultant from Scotland

10. Watch – Richard Louv & David Suzuki on the Definition of Nature

 

 

 

 

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Agricultural Revolution in a Shipping Container – High Tech Turn Key Solution for Food Insecurity and Safety

The most difficult challenge facing humanity is not devising solutions to the energy crisis or climate crisis or population crisis; rather, it is bringing stories or narratives of the human journey into our collective awareness that empower us to look beyond a future of great adversity and to see a future of great opportunity. What visions of humanity’s journey are sufficiently compelling to transcend age-old differences and bring us together in a common venture of inhabiting the Earth in ways that are sustainable?  ~ Duane Elgin, NewStories, Great Transition Stories

The future demands that what we understand and accept as our main means of growing/raising (large scale agriculture) and processing food must evolve and change. Conventional food production is unsustainable as it takes its toll on finite resources. Innovation and technology are the way of the future and Bright Greens Canada is a glimpse into that future.

Tamara Knott, project manager turned high tech farmer, jumped down a new rabbit hole a few months ago when she opened her doors to the public as Bright Greens Canada. She was the first to do so in British Columbia and her farm is one of six such operations in Canada – one in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan and three in Ontario. Her mission: to supply organic, fresh, local greens 365 days of the year.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tamara on her family farm in North Saanich near Victoria on Vancouver Island. She humbly described herself as a newbie farmer. However, it was apparent early on in our meeting that she was nimbly and expertly piloting the cutting edge technology in the form of a 40 foot shipping container retrofitted with specialized lighting and a closed loop watering/plant feeding system designed to grow nutrient dense food vertically.

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A Revolutionary Idea

Millions of people in North America are clamoring against genetically modified foods, the use of off farm inputs such as glyphosate and taking on a well entrenched agricultural system.

Does a farm housed inside a shipping container provide a more ethical, ecologically responsible, logistically and economically viable option for food production? Tamara is currently growing 7 different types of lettuce, kale and herbs and produces up to 45 kg of fresh produce per week. These greens grow vertically in a carefully controlled environment without chemicals or off-farm inputs and with minimal water and electricity use.

Growing food in a shipping container is the brain child of the Boston-based company Freight Farms. Their mission is to allow farmers to grow organic, nutrient dense food anywhere (with a simple water and electricity hookup) and with virtually no negative impact to the planet – to bring agriculture to to the urban landscape, the desert, the moon and Mars.

Their 40 foot hydroponic operation is remotely controlled with their intelligent operation app. A farmer with the app remotely monitors and controls the amount of water, light and nutrients plants receive. Since land, soil and solar conditions and water are key to successful farming, Freight Farms takes care of all of these challenges of conventional agriculture.

They are out to change perceptions about farming. Freight farms are single handedly making agriculture easy, simple, accessible and doable by anyone, anytime and anywhere without the need for or use of chemicals or pesticides. A freight farmer can grow a commercial scale amount of food in a small shipping container close to the place where it will be consumed with a minimal carbon footprint or damage to the natural environment.

It was amazing to see Tamara’s intelligent operation in action and how the smallest details were thought through – even the moisture in the shipping container was captured via dehumidifier, purified with reverse osmosis and reused to water the crops.

The shipping containers are modular, scale-able and stack-able. This innovation opens the door to a whole new future of food security – potentially giving more people access to nutrient dense and safe foods on a predictable and consistent basis.

How It Works

  • The farm operation is built entirely inside a 40’ x 8’ x 9.5’ shipping container and is outfitted with all the tools needed for high-volume, consistent harvests.
  • Innovative climate technology and growing equipment allows for a consistent environment 365 days a year, regardless of geographic location.
  • High efficiency LED light strips provide crops with red and blue light – the light spectrums required for photosynthesis.

  • A closed loop hydroponic system delivers a nutrient rich water solution directly to roots, using only 10 gallons of water a day.

  •  The multi-planed airflow and intercrop aeration system automatically regulates temperature and humidity through a series of sensors and controls.

How Does the Food Taste?

The question I got asked the most after meeting with Tamara was, “How does the food taste?” Tamara kindly gave us two full bags of her greens to take home, stating “the proof is in the lettuce”. Indeed. The mix of greens was so fragrant and flavourful that we couldn’t stop smelling it, eating it or talking about it around our table. My husband (who is a fervent meat eater) remarked that he couldn’t remember the last time he smelled or tasted lettuce that was so fragrant or flavourful. The greens, picked just before we arrived for a tour of Bright Greens Canada, stayed fresh and crisp for a good two weeks (sealed in a plastic bag and refrigerated) as we devoured them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Dinner

It is no wonder that chefs in Victoria are featuring Tamara’s 7 different types of lettuce, kale and herbs on their menus as the demand for local, organic, sustainable and responsible food production continues to grow (some would say that it is returning) on the Island.

The average age of farmers in Canada is 55 on the east and west coasts of Canada. This new turn-key, high tech way of farming may pack a whole lot of appeal to both younger and older generations alike. Food security, safety, sustainability are everyone’s business. We can no longer sit by passively and put where our food comes from conveniently an arm’s length away. Bright Greens Canada and Freight Farms are paving a new path on the agricultural scene.

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Interview with Carolyn Herriot, Author of The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook

Carolyn Herriot is a champion of REAL food. Regional, Environmentally-responsible, Agricultural Land Use. I met her by chance at her Incredibles farm stand in Yellow Point on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  A farm stand where anyone at any time of the day can purchase organic, heritage open-pollinated (non GMO) food plants grown just down the road on several acres of land that she and her husband acquired not too long ago. Carolyn is not new to the business of real food and has been growing and preserving food in the form of heritage seeds for several decades.

I immediately loved her enthusiasm and concern for seed saving and her definition of food security: “make sure your neighbour is fed“. Carolyn and I both agreed that such ideas about sustainability and food security can seem a bit mad and yet on Vancouver Island, we can share such ideas and are free to think about the future of food. The author of three books about her journey with another major project on the way, she is unstoppable.

Product DetailsProduct Details Product Details

A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide

The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food 

The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for Delicious Homegrown Food

Her current project, which started in March 2016, involves the self serve, honor system farm stand and whether such an endeavor can be profitable enough. “I’m going to see if I can make money doing this and then I’m going to write a book about it.”  So I asked her if she would be willing to chat with me about her ideas and her journey. She kindly agreed.

I met with her at her lovely home and we did just that, chatted. No formal interview questions, just a regular conversation about our passions: local, small scale, sustainable production of food which basically means moving away from conventional, single crop/plant/livestock species production of food.

So how do we make sure that “our neighbour is fed”?  Carolyn Harriot may just have the answer.

 

Carolyn’s TEDx Talk in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada December 2012

One of the questions posed by Carolyn Herriot in The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for Delicious Homegrown Food, is “How could it be that while we send spaceships to Mars we don’t know how to feed ourselves down here on earth?” Carolyn is an optimist and a futurist and she gets to the point.

 “I think that we are at the most perfect junction of time where all the factors have come together, you know they call it the perfect storm. It wakes us up and makes us think about what the future looks like and actually to start questioning what we need to do to prepare for the future.”

She is referring to the state of food security, monoculture-based farming practices, climate change as well as the North American consumer’s growing awareness of the current agricultural agenda and increased willingness to vote with his or her dollar.

“People are feeling apprehensive about the impact of climate change. But when you are doing something and meeting it head on, preparing, being ready for the crisis, it is putting us in the right direction, it is bringing food back home.”

Carolyn has been a vegetarian for 45 years and has been working to ensure that there is a future where there is enough food. The problem and the solution, she states, are ultimately in our connection to food and nature.

“It comes down to energy and our connection to food. Up until about a 100 years ago we were involved in agriculture in some way. It only took two generations to lose that. We have to think, is it a good idea to turn our backs on agriculture?” 

Why is it that most humans are disconnected from nature and have abdicated their power to grow food that nourishes and heals to chemical and pharmaceutical companies?

“It comes down to the lack of respect for the power of nature and seeing our place in nature – we  need to understand that we are all interconnected. We need to stand back and understand all the processes that are going on around us. At the core of everything, it is about energy and intention – creating and manifesting intentions.” 

She wrote her cookbook, The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook, as a companion to the Zero-Mile Diet Book to encourage the people to take their power back.

“It was about empowering people to grow food and save seeds and putting those two things together. Growing food and saving seeds are often separated in vegetable gardening books; they never talk about saving seeds. My take on it is that you can’t have sustainable food production without including seeds and saving seeds and keeping them in the picture.

Companies such as Bayer which are on the verge of buying out Monsanto are going to be controlling the bulk of the world’s seeds and they are a pharmaceutical company. It’s time to get off the pesticides and chemicals in our foods. It’s time to get away from that. Why does one outfit need to have so much power and control over one thing?”

And so with 38 countries now having banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the conversation turns to North America which has not jumped on the ‘banned-wagon’.

“One wonders what is it about North America (Canada , US, and Mexico) where the agricultural policy is that people will be fed with bio tech foods in the future. That’s where our tax payer money is going. That’s where the investment goes, into all the research that chemicalizes food production. There are trillions to be made at our expense. But it’s ultimately a destructive enterprise. The soil is destroyed by these chemicals.” 

What is it, really, that keeps consumers blissfully oblivious or indifferent to the fact that chemical companies are cornering the market on seeds and pesticides used in food production? North Americans have historically prided themselves on not having the wool pulled over their eyes; on having a strong voice. Where is this voice now? Have we really become so disconnected and apathetic about our diet that we are willing to hand over our future?

“It’s insidious. Distractions keep people busy to stop them from thinking about the one thing that matters more than anything else which is what we put in our mouths and what we eat and what we feed our families and what’s acceptable and what’s not. But this is shifting. It’s become a very volatile issue…the consumer drives the chain reaction and the consumer is doing that right now.”

Carolyn’s vision of what needs to be done to ensure the existence of REAL food is simple: Our connection to nature is the solution for the future.

“We need to unite with a common vision and teach each other, collaborate, share knowledge. This is a different approach to solving our issues – to repair the damage that we’ve done with clear cutting, monoculture-based farming and chemicals.”

Although Carolyn looks at least 10 to 15 years younger than her calendar age, she told me that she is thinking about the last chapter of her life; the whole point of living, mortality, and what her legacy will be for future generations. She reflected on the act of  planting and gardening and the feeling that there is something sacred about planting a tree – seeding the future for the future generations.

After I took in the tsunami of thought provoking and visionary words of wisdom, Carolyn shared her husband’s definition of retiring: “Putting on new tires so that you can go for another round”. If we are to maintain a certain level of vitality (physical and mental) in order to “retire”, what we feed our bodies now and in the future matters. Food security is a 21st century challenge and opportunity. Ignorance is not a virtue nor is it an excuse any longer.

We ended our chat with much optimism.

“But it’s all good. We can make the future look any way we want”.

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Nutrition has a far reaching effect on human health & the ecosystem: Top 12 Reasons to Switch to a Plant-Based Diet

The vision of a sustainable future depends upon individuals who feel responsible for the environment and health. One of the most effective ways to achieve the goals of nutrition ecology, including healthy and sustainable food choices, is a vegetarian lifestyle.

Nutritional ecology which includes sustainable nutrition is a question of personal priorities. Interested and well-informed consumers will be able to weigh the arguments and make he necessary decisions.

~ Claus Leitzmann, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003

We can no longer sit by passively and put where our food comes from conveniently an arm’s length away. We can no longer passively sit on our laurels and pretend that what we buy and consume doesn’t have direct impact on the world around us AND our health.

It’s not useful to talk about sustainable agriculture practices in a vacuum and hope that the complex system that is agriculture today magically changes course and fulfills current global needs without diminishing the possibility of future generations to meet their own needs.

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The fact is, how we produce and consume food has the largest impact on human well-being than any other human activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy in North America, food touches everything from our health to the environment, climate change, economic inequality, and the federal budged.

There are many challenges to improving the complex food system in the 21st century. Systematic changes and approaches that consider social, economic, ecological, and evolutionary factors must be addressed.

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A holistic approach to dealing with food insecurity, poverty and climate change and the global challenges in the field of nutrition is necessary. Holistic thinking has the potential to reduce the global challenges in the field of nutrition and sustainable eating behavior and includes the following (1):

  1. preference for plant-based foods
  2. organic foods (large organic agricultural practices are just as detrimental to the ecosystem as conventional agricultural practices)
  3. regional & seasonal products (on average, produce travels 1500 miles to get to a grocery store)
  4. preference for minimally processed foods
  5. Fair trade products
  6. resource-saving household practices
  7. enjoyable eating culture (e.g., regionalism is prominent, smaller portion sizes, no eating at the desk, etc.)

As consumers, we are an integral and powerful part of the food system. Switching to a plant-based diet, also known as ‘sustainable diet’ or sustainable nutrition’, may be the most crucial act of environmental, economic, political and health activism we can do. Because systematic change is complex and often difficult, a sustainable diet is just as important, if not more, than a sustainable agricultural system.

A sustainable diet is something that we have 100 percent control over – personal responsibility and individual behavior directly impact the larger system from the ground up.

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Top 12 reasons to switch to a plant-based diet and sustainable eating behavior:

  1. Land requirements for meat-protein production are 10 times greater than for plant-protein production.  About 40 percent of the world’s grain harvest is fed to animals half of this grain would be more than enough to feed all hungry people of our planet (1).
  2. Animal manure, which is produced in huge amounts by industrial agriculture, causes high levels of potentially carcinogenic nitrates in drinking water and vegetables (1).
  3. Animal production requires considerable energy and water resources and lead to deforestation, overgrazing, and over fishing (1).
  4. The positive ecologic effects achieved by eating more plants can be enhanced by avoiding processed and packaged foods and by choosing seasonally available and locally produced organic foods. In this way, more support is given to subsistence and family farming, the securing of employment, and global food security (1).
  5. The caging of animals as well as their transportation over long distances and finally slaughtering them can be avoided (1).
  6. Sustainable nutrition addresses fair distribution of food through ecologic and preventive eating behavior (1).
  7. Decreasing heavy reliance on non renewable resources (we cannot have infinite growth in a finite ecosystem) (1).
  8. Decreasing fossil fuel emissions from farm equipment and long haul transportation
  9. Encouraging re-generative soil practices (make compost and re-generate soil)
  10. Reducing health risks to farm owners caused by pesticide use (1).
  11. Biodiversity conservation. The one agreed upon food guideline is eating a variety of foods, particularly plant-based foods, reducing meat consumption and monoculture (single crop or animal) farming is to buy or grow a variety of plant-based foods (1).
  12. Demand for meat-based protein and agricultural expansion impact tropical nature which further impacts climate, environment, and biodiversity (1).

 

(1) Resource: Karl von Koerber , Nadine Bader and Claus Leitzmann (2016). Wholesome Nutrition: an example for a sustainable diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Cambridge University Press.

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Canadian Court Allows Genetically Modified Salmon and Salmon Eggs

Here is an update from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. It is an organization that promotes ‘food sovereignty and democratic decision-making on science and technology issues in order to protect the integrity of the environment, health, food, and the livelihoods of people in Canada and around the world. They inform, organize civil society action, conduct research and provide information to the Canadian government for policy development’.

I have previously written about their efforts to keep genetically engineered alphalpha seeds out of Canada. The Canadian Government allowed these seeds to be sold in eastern Canada for spring 2016 planting. Why is this such a big deal?

“This would be a disaster for farmers because, once it has been planted, there would be no way to stop the GM trait from spreading to organic and conventional farms and crops. There are many domestic and export markets that completely reject alfalfa seeds, hay or pellets with any GM content. Clearly, the Minister needs to take action to protect the interests of Canadian farmers before it is too late.”Jan Slomp, President, National Farmers Union, March 24, 2016.

On May 19, 2016, Health Canada approved a genetically modified Atlantic salmon. The company AquaBounty (now majority owned by biotechnology company Intrexon) claims the salmon grows faster with less feed. “The salmon are genetically engineered with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout (an eel-like creature). If the company starts producing the GM fish and grocery stores sell it, it will be the first GM food animal in the world.”

AquaBounty’s website states the following benefits of their AquAdvantage© Salmon:

  • Modern Genetics – In 1989, Dr. Garth Fletcher and his research team at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada discovered that a novel application of molecular genetics could significantly increase the growth of Atlantic salmon.
  • AquAdvantage© Salmon go from egg to ‘ready for market’ in 18 months compared to ‘traditional’ salmon which takes 3 years.
  • Sustainable farming – AquAdvantage© Salmon requires 25 percent less feed (wild fish) to achieve market readiness than traditional Atlantic Salmon.
  • Small carbon footprint and the freshest protein as salmon are grown inland in close proximity to metropolitan areas, making the trip from ‘farm to table’ a short one

 

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This approval of GM salmon in Canada has been challenged in court by several environmental groups. Here is information directly from CBAN about what is currently happening and what the public can do to get informed and take action:

A recent court case in Canada has failed to overturn the government’s approval of the GM salmon but your actions are already closing the market to GM fish and you have a new, important opportunity to demand mandatory GM food labelling.


Take Action

1.    New Action!Click here to send your instant letter to demand GM food labelling, before the GM fish comes to market! – to the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee. For more info: www.cban.ca/animals

2.    Send your letter to the grocery chain Loblaws, to ask company President Galen Weston to keep GM salmon out of their stores customerservice@loblaws.ca Or contact other grocery stores here: http://cban.ca/content/view/full/1903 For more info on GM fish: www.cban.ca/fish

Summary

Judges in Canada have ruled against two environmental groups, in favor of the government and the company AquaBounty in a case that challenged the approval of genetically modified (GM) salmon. This means GM salmon could be produced soon – except consumer action is already closing the market to the GM fish. CBAN is closely tracking developments and you can read our updates from the Federal Court of Appeal and Parliament Hill below.

Update

In a blow to precautionary science, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has ruled against two environmental groups that challenged the government’s approval of GM salmon production. The court heard arguments from Ecojustice lawyers in the appeal but the judges decided against Ecology Action Centre (NS) and Living Oceans Society (BC), in favour of the federal government’s decision to approve GM salmon and salmon eggs for commercial production in Canada. You can read statements from the groups here: http://www.ecojustice.ca/pressrelease/federal-court-of-appeal-ruling-on-approval-of-gm-salmon-production/

GM salmon and GM salmon eggs can now be grown anywhere in Canada, as long as they are grown in a contained facility on land. The government approved the production of the GM salmon and eggs, even though AquaBounty only requested approval to produce GM salmon eggs, and the government approved production of GM salmon or GM salmon eggs anywhere in Canada, even though AquaBounty only asked to produce the GM salmon eggs in PEI. The groups argued that allowing this range of uses at facilities across the country was contrary to the scientific evidence before the Ministers.

The court heard the case on Thursday morning October 18 in Ottawa – at the same time and only doors away, a representative of the plaintiff Ecology Action Centre was testifying about the GM salmon at House of Commons Agriculture Committee hearings! That day, in testimony that surprised many Committee members, Ruth Salmon from the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance stated, “While we do not oppose the approval of genetically modified salmon, our customers in Canada and around the world are not demanding it. We do not need nor do we intend to employ genetically modified salmon technology in Canada.” She also said the Alliance would support the government if it made the decision to establish mandatory GM food labelling. Write to the Agriculture Committee today and demand GM food labelling, before the GM fish comes to market:www.cban.ca/labelGMfish

The aquaculture industry rejection of the GM salmon reflects the market reality that no one wants to eat it. It also appears to reflect the reality that the GM salmon may not, in fact, grown much faster than the farmed salmon already being grown around the world. (You can click here to read CBAN’s challenge to some of AquaBounty’s statements, submitted to the House of Commons Committee)

The House of Commons Agriculture Committee has finished its hearings on “Genetically Modified Animals for Human Consumption” but you can still have your voice heard. The Committee is currently drafting its report that will be submitted to Parliament by December 8. Send your letter today!

In September and October, CBAN testified at House of Commons Committee hearings on GM animals, submitted a briefing to the Committee, tracked all the Committee hearings, notified Canadians about the hearings with information about how to participate, and we observed court proceedings on the GM fish. Donate to support Canada’s GMO watchdog www.cban.ca/donate

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
Suite 206, 180 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 1P5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
coordinator@cban.ca
www.cban.ca
https://www.facebook.com/cban.canadian.biotechnology.action.network
@biotechaction

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Delightful Recipes for an Ecologically Vibrant Future, Guest Blog by Guy Dauncey, Author & Futurist

The most difficult challenge facing humanity is not devising solutions to the energy crisis or climate crisis or population crisis; rather, it is bringing stories or narratives of the human journey into our collective awareness that empower us to look beyond a future of great adversity and to see a future of great opportunity. What visions of humanity’s journey are sufficiently compelling to transcend age-old differences and bring us together in a common venture of inhabiting the Earth in ways that are sustainable?  ~ Duane Elgin, NewStories, Great Transition Stories

Do concerns about the future we are leaving to our children and grandchildren leave you with a worried taste in your mouth, after even the most delicious meal? Let me come to your aid with these tasty offerings. You can choose one, two, or better still the whole lot, since they will hopefully lighten the weight of your worries.

Ecological Education Salad

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This light, airy salad includes a wide variety of greens, essential to feed your brain as you try to understand the carbon cycle and sort out which recyclable goes into which bin. This is a great – some would say mandatory – dish for children, to prepare them for the world they will inherit. www.ecoliteracy.org/ecological-education

Organic Greens

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A delicious mix of lettuce, kale, endive, radicchio, arugula, mizuna, baby beet greens, cress and tatsoi, all grown organically, with no use of pesticides or fertilizers, encouraging our confidence that one day, all our food will be grown organically. http://thinkcanadaorganic.ca/farm/

Vrai Vol au Vent

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The real thing! A dish that tastes best on a windy day, when the eggs that fluff it up are whipped by the wind itself, raising the mushrooms to new heights of tastiness. A great replacement for carbon casseroles, if you want to enjoy the experience of being powered by the 100% renewable energy of nature, instead of the dirty energy of the past. http://canwea.ca

 Solar Truffles

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A hundred times cheaper than they were forty years ago, these energy-generating delights will give you both power and light. If you want to reduce the amount of coal, oil or gas that’s burnt in your nation’s diet, these are an ideal, tasty goody to help you do so. https://thinkprogress.org/for-the-first-time-solar-will-be-the-top-new-source-of-energy-this-year-749953880f0c

 Ectase Electrique

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A very crafty dish that will get you from A to B without needing to gas up once using those smelly, bad-tasting fossil fuels. Increasingly popular, especially in Europe. In Norway, 30% of all new drivers are consuming it while driving, and in Holland and Norway it has become so popular that politicians are proposing to ban the consumption of gas-powered ecstase by 2025. www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/norway-to-ban-the-sale-of-all-fossil-fuel-based-cars-by-2025-and-replace-with-electric-vehicles-a7065616.html

 Carbon Casserole (off the menu)

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A very old-fashioned dish, made from the remains of ancient, 200 million years old trees and marine organisms. It has become a staple of our modern diet, and its use is still increasing, it should be eaten it with care and appreciate it for what it is, since its ingredients are the main cause of the global climate crisis, so it’s good that it’s off the menu. It’s also an expensive dish, since the ingredients have been priced to include a carbon tax to discourage their use. www.vox.com/2015/12/14/10121638/fossil-fuel-dominance

 Esperance Exotique

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A rare and precious confection that will leave you wanting more. Crafted from people’s highest dreams, and our hopes for a Great Transition that will see us building a new peaceful civilization where humans living in harmony with nature and with each other, all across the world. www.newstories.org/projects/great-transition-stories/

 

 

guy-dauncey

 

Guy Dauncey is a futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action. He lives with his partner Carolyn Herriot, author of The Zero Mile Diet, near Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island. He is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and the author or co-author of ten books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming and most recently Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible.

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www.journeytothefuture.ca

 

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‘New Pioneers’ Oil on Canvas 2010 by Mark Henson 

Featured image used with permission from Mark Henson.