The Majestic Plastic Bag

26 08 2010

Some of you may remember my post on the Midway Journey and the impact plastic has had on our oceans. The other day a friend of mine sent me a mockumentary about the journey of the plastic bag, it is short and worth a watch. 19 BILLION plastic bags are used in California a year. That’s three times the population of human beings on EARTH!!! If you don’t already take your own bags to grocery shop, maybe this will help you consider that (and if you didn’t see the Midway Journey blog, the link is above).

Watch The Majestic Plastic Bag here.

Be well, Eat well,

Nat

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Sustainability

17 08 2010

I received two comments from a recent post about the David Suzuki show The Bottom Line. The comments weren’t about the content for that post but the two posts I linked to, about Food Inc, and other rants about agriculture and our factory farm practices. You can check out the comments and my reply’s by following these links to Seriously Now and A Way Forward.

I think comments are great, I really appreciate them. These ones had  me thinking about how and what we think ‘sustainable’ is. The commentor says “What is sustainable? Are they what actually works, or only ‘sustainable’ if they fit into someone’s preconceived ideas. If the current form of agriculture in the U.S. will feed the most people why is it not sustainable?” Great question! This is the essence of Michael Pollan’s, Joe Salatin’s and others argument, and what David Suzuki is exploring in his series on Soil (have you listened to the podcasts?).

I am reading the book The End of the Long Summer by Dianne Dumanoski. If you are interested in the environment, our species and what the future requires to survive our misguided choices, read this book. If you are interested in thinking of the greater systems at play that need to interact in order to prepare us and our future generations for the world we can no longer predict, read this book. If you want to understand how we got here, to this day in 2010 and have the problems we are facing like global warming, increased populations of starving people and increasing violence and discontent, read this book. If you want to learn how we can face it and prepare and succeed, read this book. Here is an excerpt on how we can think differently about ‘sustainable’.

“Without the torrent of energy, for example, the world’s population could never have expanded fourfold in the twentieth century. The amount of land devoted to agriculture grew by only one third during this period, yet the global harvest multiplied sixfold, mainly because of a breathtaking eightyfold increase in the use of energy to produce food. New crop varieties that fuelled the Green Revolution required more synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation to deliver their impressive yields, and all of this demanded far more energy. ‘Industrial man no longer eats potatoes made from solar energy,’ as the celebrated ecologist Howard T. Odum put it. ‘Now he eats potatoes partly made of oil.’ Today the U.S. food system uses ten kilocalories of fossil energy to deliver a single kilocalorie of food energy to the supermarket. American farmers who produce this food expend three kilocalories of fossil energy for every kilocalorie of harvest.”

If you are still reading this, that’s great, this is important. Now I am sure putting food on the tables of American, Canadian and others (growing) population is sustainable to most people. I’d argue that we are currently tipping the scales into a great period of duress with our current practices. I am not an expert but the evidence is mounting. Dianne Dumanoski, James Lovelock, Paul Hawken and others like them are making this point very clear.

On CBC today there was an interesting episode of In the Field that explored a ‘slow money’ movement. Similar and supportive of the ‘slow food’ movement, it is a way that economists and agriculture are integrating their thinking to solve current issues created by factory and big agriculture. The small, sustainable farms (aka the Joe Salatin’s of the world) can not raise capital without hitting up regular venture capitalists. The venture capitalists want 20% returns on their investment. We have come to ‘expect’ these returns as one broker says on the show. If we slow down, fit with the times and except a 5-6% return, we can shift our investments to companies that are not large public corporations but small operations attempting to build sustainable practices. Frankly, these are the people who will help us figure out what to do in the future as we split at the seams. However, the ‘market’ doesn’t make these investments easy to do, the market system at play doesn’t support a new way of investing.

Doomsday, no, a realistic rant. I offer a different view. We have been partying it up, taking the earth for granted and building more wealth and and even more poverty (the largest irony going, how did we get so technologically advanced and rich and starve millions of people?). Something is out of balance, i’d rather be on the team that is thinking about this then believing it is ‘sustainable’.

Be well, eat well,

Nat





Blog Time and Cherries

13 07 2010

Sheesh, I just started a new consulting gig and boy has it been hard to fit everything in, get to yoga, to my volunteer obligations, stay connected with my business network, pack the perfect lunch and have time to eat! We have been so busy at work hours go by and my stomach is embarrassingly growling. In a short time I have managed to just break out the food, we all have. The team is great and I am excited about the project. I know I’ll find my rhythm soon, but it always takes time at the beginning.

In all the busy’ness I missed getting to the market this weekend. I have mentioned before that the Kingsland Farmers Market opened and we are so excited about it. I was at a yoga workshop all weekend so Tony covered the market for us. He chatted up the owner of Broxburn Vegetables and Cafe again. We have bought most of our produce from him the two times we’ve been there (they only opened a couple of weekends ago). I had one important request from the market, cherries! We ate a box of raspberries from there last time, this time it is a big bag of cherries. Raspberries and cherries are two of my favourite fruits. Tonight, finally some down time, I consumed a bowl of cherries 🙂

And since we are on the topic of cherries, you can’t enjoy them without a blast from the past – Cherries Jubilee. My ultimate favourite dessert. This is a pic of Cherries Jubilee being served at Wellington’s in Calgary, a dining institution in Calgary, at my birthday last year. Cherries, orange juice and brandy are warmed in a pan, table side. To finish it off, the brandy is lit on fire and when it burns off, the cherries are poured over vanilla ice cream. Although not a steak eater, I have spent many a birthday there, dating back to my pre-teens, enjoying my usual fav dessert.

Be well, eat well (and go get some cherries and fruit from the market, summer will be over before you know it!)

Nat





‘Polar Obsession’

25 06 2010

I know this is s health food blog, but once in awhile I can’t help but share or rant about something else. Yesterday I heard the most amazing interview on CBC radio on the show Dispatches. I got to my destination and sat in the car to finish listening to it. I love that about CBC. A National Geographic photographer named Paul Nicklen travelled to Antarctica to photograph the leopard seal. He has a new book called Polar Obsession and it looks amazing.

The leopard seal are known to be vicious. They can get to 12+ feet long.They fling penguins around until they are inside out and then eat the meat! When Paul got into the water the leopard seal took his head and camera into his mouth! Then he proceeded to try to feed Paul for four days. He would bring him live penguins and when they just swam by Paul, the seal brought him dying and then dead seals, trying to teach him how to eat. The seal was concerned he might starve. Amazing. Animals are incredible and to not want to protect every creature on the planet is crazy. Anyhow, on the Dispatches website you can listen to his interview and watch a short video, I encourage you to click on it right now. Happy Friday.

Be well, Nat





What’s in Your Food?

20 06 2010

I tweeted a List of Calgary Farmers Markets the other day. The Calgary Herald had an article previewing the markets around the city. There are more than ever, one close to us in Kingsland that is opening on June 30. I have to admit, I don’t get to the markets that regularly, with Planet Organic so close to the house, it’s convenience. I use to have organic food delivered by Spud as well, something I would recommend for busy householders. Come this summer, we will be heading to the market more regularly with it being so close. I use to go to a market near the old, old Blackfoot farmers market, called DJ’s. She has produce we can’t normally find, e.g. hungarian peppers for lecho (a pepper stew i’ll be sure to share one of these days) and stuffed peppers. I have spoken to her about her produce a few times over the years. Her crops come mostly from B.C. She goes out each January and plans the crops with the farmers, buying directly from them. Not organic though, she said they usually spoil faster, says something about how non-organics are grown.

I have always been a bit challenged on buying the B.C. farmers apples, which have the best selection in the world, versus an organic one from New Zealand. Argh. How much better are we doing when we are crating in apples from across the globe. No matter what I buy, I soak it in veggie wash, even with organics. It is a balance. Genetically Modified Foods are another concern that we frankly don’t know enough about. Here’s an article on Common Dreams today about GM foods. We think because we are in Canada we don’t have the same issues, we are mistaken. We have Monsanto in Canada and GM foods in Canada with no regulation…we don’t have bovine growth hormone at least.

With so many markets opening up for the summer and our ability to grow some of our own food, we can do our best so easily. What we put into our bodies each day is a choice, the more times you make a healthful choice the better off you are. We are unsure of the consequences of scientifically modified and processed foods in our bodies, but what we do know is our health over the past generation has declined, period, full stop. There is no question there is a connection. We all can’t eat perfectly (see my bio, I love cupcakes and wine like the next person). Anyhow, give it some thought and do your own inquiry.

Be Well, Eat Well,

Nat





Meat Free Mondays

25 05 2010

CBC Radio has a program called Ideas, it airs daily and is hosted by Paul Kennedy. Last week they started a three part series called Have Your Meat and Eat it Too! The first episode focused on providing an overview of the meat industry and th factory farm. The differences over the years on how we farm and our disconnection from the farm and where our food comes from. The second series explores, amongst other things, the argument for and against eating meat.

Meat Free Monday’s is a real program that encourages to remove meat from your diet one day a week and experiment with other alternatives. Although based in the UK, it has received some recognition here. I haven’t eaten pork or beef for a couple of decades and choose chicken least often, but this isn’t for everyone. Making changes slowly, for various reasons (health, animal cruelty, environment) is encouraged and more achievable if it is made realistic, like taking meat out of your diet one day a week. Give it a go.

I’m not blogging about becoming a vegetarian, but this CBC program does a really good job of exploring different sides of the argument, and I appreciate that. Follow the link above and you have access to the podcasts.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Steven Colbert: How to Save the World

7 05 2010

This clip was passed along to me by a Leadership Calgary Alum. We have an amazing network and this clip fit perfectly with the Health Food Junkies blog…especially if you read my distress for the KFC double down a few weeks ago.

Steven Colbert hits on a how product marketing can be used in seemingly useful ways to promote healthful ways of being. Really though these organizations should be inquiring into their role in the health dilemma. The newest low sodium hype makes me especially crazy. The manufactures know that teaspoons of salt are all we need in a day and they produce products that label sodium content up to 100% of ones daily intake – shouldn’t they be questioning their own decision producing them? Of course we are going to buy it! You advertise that it is so good for us! <Argh.> Thank goodness that someone was thinking and at least had them put labels on food, but now we’re hooked on it and sugar. <double argh>

It is too much for manufactures to see beyond their campaign tactics and they believe that the public will be swayed to buy their products because of their connection to a new cancer-fighting-money-raising-disease-busting campaign. I’d like to think that most people see past this. Sadly, many don’t. Even more sadly I don’t think the campaign impacts them at all, they are driven to continue their health-less ways on their own.

What other campaigns do you see that are in contradiction to healthful living?

Wow, how’s that for a Friday rant!

Be well,

Nat