Seeds Of Freedom

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, Food Security, green gardening

Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolize the global food system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro -biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.

World Food Day – October 16th

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., Environment, Food Security, Vancouver

October 16th is World Food Day.  Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of The United Nations, the purpose is to raise awareness about food security issues, agriculture, poverty and hunger around the world.

Each year a different focus is taken in an attempt to encourage dialogue, highlight areas of concern, and as a call to action. In 2011 the theme is Food Prices -From Crisis to Stability. Food Security is on the minds of everybody these days. From shopping local at farmers markets and growing food in community gardens, to  buying sustainable and fairly traded foods.  The media is saturated with stories and images about hunger, from the horn of Africa to our local elementary schools.The story is the same, poverty leads to food insecurity and in the poorest nations, death.

Yesterday I went down town to Occupy Vancouver, to stand in solidarity, and bear witness to this important movement.

What do the Occupy Protests have to do with food security?  The movement is a voice for us all, it is students, and families and seniors. It is the unemployed, and the underemployed. It is a global call to action for every person who feels the system needs to change, starting now.Occupy Wall Street is the direct result of the dissatisfaction felt by  millions of people.

The issues are varied, but one message is clear; We can not continue to consume and exploit natural resources.

The famine that exists today is a direct result of greed. Will we allow this to continue?  Sometimes these issues seem far away and we can feel overwhelmed and helpless to make a difference. Action speaks louder then words.  Grow some of your own food, volunteer in any capacity working with food. Help people in your own neighbourhood, donate to local food banks, and organisations around the world that are helping the most vulnerable. You can make a difference.

The “F” word

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, Food Security, mind body

Hungry No More _ ONE Campaign_ Take action now!

It  is really overwhelming watching the hunger crisis unfold on the other side of the world, while here in Canada we are so insulated from anything even close to this. Hungry No More form the ONE campaign uses pop culture icons to appeal to our senses and asks us to sign this petition;

Dear World Leaders,

The famine in Somalia could kill 750,000 in the coming months, and tens of thousands have already died. When you meet at the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in November, you have the opportunity to break the cycle of famine and ensure people are hungry no more. Lives are in your hands. Please keep the promises you have made to the 2 billion poor people who depend on farming for their livelihoods.

From what I have read and heard it is already too late. When cholera and disease that always come with the wet season hits these people their chance of survival will be slim. They are malnourished, and even with food aid now they will die. Thousands of children everyday day are dying.

My “Western Guilt” surely gets to me. I feel like I honestly try to work towards food security in my own backyard, still I feel helpless when it comes to the unimaginable human tragedy that exists in the world today – October  8th 2011.

The stock market fluctuates, Occupy Wall Street – and other streets- rages on. Is this the revolution?  I want to believe things could change.

Is this the beginning ? Or will we all continue with our blinders on. What do our  “important” schedules and appointments today mean while while millions of people around the world live on less then $3 a day and  struggle to exist.

I consciously send out love and peace to all the people of the world who do not know the security I take for granted everyday.

This Thanksgiving – which in Canada is this weekend – Please send your thoughts and prayers to the most vulnerable people. Do everything in your power to try and help them. Everything you do can make a difference. Give your time, your money and your attention to this issue. These are our brothers and sisters and what we do to them we do to ourselves.

 

Happy Birthday GREENPEACE

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., Environment, good news, green living

Greenpeace was started 40 years ago this week in a living room in Vancouver, BC.

On their website it proudly boasts 40 years of  Inspiring Action, Making Change, Bearing Witness, Solutions, Victories! And this is what I think of when I hear the name as well.

Activists had a simple message in 1971 and it remains vital today; TAKE ACTION! The founders of Greenpeace were regular Canadians. What began as protests against nuclear weapons testing / transporting/ now covers climate change, toxic pollutants, protection of forests, oceans, agriculture, and even PEACE and disarmament.

I am proud to live in the same province where such ideals could evolve into an international movement called Greenpeace.

 

Food or Fuel ?

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., Environment, general info, green living, Vancouver

Is there a food crisis looming?

If you read the news online you can find numerous stories warning that the yes a real food crisis does exist and may in fact be worse then has been predicted.

Climate change leading to extreme weather events like flooding and droughts, and massive soil erosion have left farmers the world over scrambling to produce a stable food supply.

A few months back the USDA fully deregulated genetically engineered (GE) corn that is grown in the United States. This is considered to be an industrial crop and not for human consumption but grown to become Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol.

It is estimated that ONE THIRD of the corn grown in America today is not for FOOD but for FUEL

As world food prices continue to rise, even where yields are at record highs,  the worlds  poorest nations continue to suffer the most. A change in the worlds climate  has created a market of uncertainty and food insecurity.

Growing  food for fuel is controversial. Growing genetically engineered crops for fuel could be considered immoral and, at the least, is a dangerous guessing game when it comes to maintaining a diverse organic seed supply. The fear is that corn grown as biofuel will contaminate food crops with irreversible consequences. Can we really afford to take these kind of risks with our food supply?

There are alternatives like recycled biodiesel, and in fact most major cities,including Vancouver has a bioDiesel co-op!

Made from recycled vegetable oils collected from restaurants, this is true recycling.

There are no modifications needed for a diesel engine to run on this fuel.

So why is there even a need to grow new crops for oil?

These are the questions that we should be asking.

The decisions we make each day when it comes to the food we eat, and the fuel we deem necessary may become an even hotter topic to debate as the prices at the grocery store continue to rise.

world food day – October 16th

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, Healthy Eating

World Food Day may sound like just another day in a long list of campaigns. This day, however is one that affects millions of people around the world, in every country and in every neighbourhood. You can do something about it right now!

Raising awareness around issues related to food security and hunger are not glamorous. People know that there are starving children around the world and in their own neighbourhoods as well.

Sure you can donate to the World Food Program, or many other worthy causes that will try and help the most desperate people.

You can also help right in your own neighbourhood. Community gardens, farmers markets, community kitchen and food banks all exists to help people gain access to fresh and local foods.

Cooking for an after school program or for other marginalised people is one concrete way to help feed hungry people. Volunteer at a  food bank, deliver meals to people who can’t get out, shop for an elderly neighbour, grow vegetables and share then with a friend. By building a community around food security we will ensure that we are all taken care of.

The 100 mile diet, locavoure movements and  organic farming practices are not  just fads. Caring about what we eat and where it comes from will  lead to more shared knowledge. People can empower themselves through education and  supporting local initiatives that focus on the issues of hunger and  food security.

Things have to change. Donate your money or time and help to be that change.

waste reduction.. get on the bus

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, good news

As usual the European Union is ahead of use here in North America when it comes to innovated ways to draw attention to environmental issues.

Belfast waste reduction bus

These buses have been driving all over Belfast. In addition to buses and cars with messages a Waste Reduction Week was born this winter. With workshops, fashion shows and  sculptures made of recycled items, people are faced with the realities of the amount of garbage created.

Belfast waste reduction bus

Some of these buses focus on food waste, as well as clothing, plastic and electronic waste.

Belfast waste reduction busNow we just need to get these buses over here!

Bee Hunting

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., good news, green gardening

I recently discovered that in addition to an annual  Great Backyard Bird Count this spring, some people have decided to count  bees as well!

Sunflower Bee Summer 2009The Great Sunflower Project needs your help!

The idea to study urban  pollinators has been gaining popularity for the past decade. As bee populations have been threatened by the increase of pesticide use and urban sprawl in North America.  In an attempt to gain valuable insight into the habits of bees, a group of scientists have gotten together to encourage people to grow sunflowers and track the visits by bees  in urban settings.06 21 09 garden 012It is estimated that one in three bites of food eaten in North America today are products of wild pollinators.

The economic value of natural ecosystems is one reason there is much interest in finding and maintaining healthy populations of bumble bees and other bees. It has been estimated that the value of the pollinator services of wild pollinators could be as high as six billion dollars a year in the United States alone.

07 05 09 010

In addition to joining the Sunflower project you can grow other flowers and plants in your garden to encourage pollinators like bees and butterflies.  Buy organic honey and produce, tell your friends and family about why it is important.  Healthy ecosystems are vital to a sustainable food source.

Tomatoes rooftop garden

06 21 09 garden 003

Food Security

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Environment, good news, green gardening, green living, Healthy Eating

How secure is our food system? I am not talking about the Listeria outbreaks that are on the news lately, or the genetically engineered foods that also pose major health and environmental risks.  I don’t think the major risks are associated with terrorist plots, or regulations in animal husbandry either.  The most pressing issue is actually simple.  Our food source is not secure in North America! 06 06 09 farmers market 003

A visit to any major grocery store reveals that  most of the food on the shelves is not grown or packaged locally. The majority of fresh food today comes from other continents, especially in mid winter.   Not even a generation ago this was not the case.  Most of the fresh fruit and vegetables we ate growing up was grown in Canada and the United States, with a majority of the fruit coming from California and Florida.

06 06 09 farmers market 008

A simple Google search will reveal dozens of news articles about the successive droughts in California’s central valley, which has been known as the American “Breadbasket”.

No water means crops can’t grow, farmers can not continue without crops to sell, and we are forced to seek out food from central, south America, and Asia.

Most fruit that is imported has travelled thousands of miles, probably more then the average person who buys it from the grocery store.  The fact remains that if there was some type of disruption in the system , the food on the stores shelf’s would be gone within 48 hours.

Some other startling statistics are that for every dollar we spend only 6 cents goes to the farmer. In North America we spend about 10% of our income on food, while in developing nations they spend between 30- 60%!

For solutions we need to start in our own backyards. Growing our own food, buying from local farmers at farmers markets, joining food sharing projects like many that have sprouted up all over North America.

In my city there is something called The Biggest Little Garden in Town this initiative targets condo and apartment dwellers who want to grow in small spaces. Providing them with all the means and support to do exactly that.

garden_on_patio

Many communities now run “fruit tree sharing projects” that have community members picking fruit that would otherwise be waisted. This fruit is gathered and delivered to food banks and community kitchens where it is distributed and preserved in workshops designed to teach the public how to do this at home.  Literally thousands of pounds of fruit have been gathered last year alone.

fall09-harvest

Corporations are also getting involved by sending groups that want to participate in the community and build teamwork in their own companies.  Senior’s, families, people with knowledge to share, or who are interested in learning more can all come together to create and share what is inherit to all of us. Food is a staple in life, and finding a local and reliable sources is becoming a priority for more and more people.

There are many ways average people can get involved to help make food more secure. Take advantage of the abundance that is in your own neighbourhood and seek out ways to get involved in the food scene in your own city. Once you start looking you will be amazed just what you may find.

GM oh NO!

Posted by: admin  :  Category: B.C., Environment, general info, Uncategorized

There has been some debate and protest over the genetic modification of our food supply. Greenpeace has had an on going campaign to raise awareness about what is actually going on in the fields and in laboratories around the globe. Genetically Modified (GM) crops entered our food supply in 1996 , no labeling was required of modified crops and very little safety studies were done. According to University of Guelph professor of plant physiology, Ann Clark “the approval process has been largely based on assumptions.”

We know our food is being altered, who has not heard of Monsanto’s “round up ready” crops? Seeds that have been modified to grow despite being drenched in herbicide that kills every living green thing it touches.

There is another product of the biotech industry that is commonly overlooked, GM cotton. Used not only for fabric, cotton seeds are processed into pulp for animal feed and cooking oil. Although health Canada assumes that refined oil from these crops raise no concerns related to safety, there are many that would argue the process of creating GM crops can create unpredicted damage in its DNA. These incedental changes could produce dangerous toxins, allergens or carcinogins, which if fat soluble, could end up in the oil and our food. Biotech companies. like big tabacco before them, believe we should assume these products are safe, and Health Canada agrees.

According to the The Royal Society of Canada’s report it was found that “70 percent of the currently availalbe GM crops approved for commerce in Canada, including all the canola and cotton crops have not been subject to any actual lab or animal toxicity testing” The studies that have been done are not conducted by health Canada, but by the biotech companies themselves.

Although more independent studies are needed some tests have shown animals fed GM crops showed profound changes in their livers, kidneys and hearts, and most alarming is the damage to the reproductive organs and DNA function. Even Monsanto’s own studies on trangenic corn MON863 showed toxicity in animals liver and kidneys. The only human feeding study on GM food, published in Nature in 2004, found that genes inserted into GM soybeans transfered into the DNA of human gut bacteria.

It was announced that Health Canada would conduct studies in 2002, but according to a CBC TV report the research was abandoned less than a year later as it was determined to be “too difficult to put an effective surveillance system in place”

The European Union has been fighting to ban all GMO crops and an import ban has been argued by the U.S. that this is in violation of trade agreements. The institute for Responsible Technology is currently running a campaign to stop the poliferation of GMO in our food supply, but have we already gotten to the point of no return? The answer (and seeds) are blowing in the wind.

Image:World map GMO production 2005

  • ██ The five countries producing more than 95% of commercialized GMO

  • legend pattern orange:Other country producing commercialized GMO.
  • orange dot:Only experimental crops.