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

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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





A Way Forward

2 05 2010

Last night I took up the screening of Fresh, the movie, at the Yoga Shala. Dana, those movie nights are great, thanks for hosting (and the popcorn) and thanks to the Sunnyside Natural Market for providing the beverages.

Like Food Inc., Fresh does a good job showing the result of the factory and industrialized farm. More so than Food Inc., it focuses on opportunities for change. We meet our friend Joel Salatin again, but there is more of his operations, his thoughts and how his practices are more than sustainable, they are economical!

“Americans fear one thing, inconvenience.” (Fresh, the movie)

We meet John Ikerd, and agricultural economist who reminds us that building efficiency in production is a good thing, but when we “apply it to everything it doesn’t work”. He reflects on the fact that the goal of productivity is the same for all types of industry and systems. “We need to shift our paradigm (in agriculture to look at productivity differently)”. I’d add that to move adaptively, we need to first understand what got us to where we are today. Shifts in paradigm are good, but what if they are in the wrong direction? We could end up with the same result by a different path.

“Monoculture is a lot of the same species grown together and it needs a lot of antibiotics and pesticides to keep it healthy” (Michael Pollan). As one of the inherent issues of the factory farm, lack of diversity in our species is putting us at great risk. “The more species you have in the field the less shock you are venerable to” (Michael Pollan). Consider this. The threat of super strain bacteria and viruses is real. When there is a concentration of viruses and bacteria, the drugs we use to kill them kill the weakest, leaving the strongest to multiply. This applies to both animals and vegetables. Industrialized farming is teaming with disease, we know this to be true. In the movie, Ross Kremer experienced this first hand, almost dying from an infected wound he got from a hog. Drug resistant bacteria riddled his body. When it became obvious to him that “when you concentrate biological organisms…you are going to have problems” he exterminated his herd and started over, with free range, sustainable farming with no disease in 15 years. Huh.

We also meet Will Allen, a passionate farmer who not only farms vegetation, hens and hogs but tilapia in which he has engineered a river system, using the waste water as fertilizer. He runs a program called Growing Power helping other people learn to farm their own food referring to composted soil as ‘black gold. He does great work.

Favorite Joel Salatin quotes:

On how he decided to feed his cow herd: “A herbivore doesn’t eat dead cow. As stewards of the earth we need to respect the design of nature.” “If you treat the herbivores like herbivores things will fall into place.” (Why is this so badly misunderstood in our food industry, argh.)

“There are no boundaries to creativity.” (When speaking about how maladaptive our creativity can be, like serving dead cows to cows. We need to think deeply about this and engineer our creativity to meet the threats and opportunities we face, not create more!)

“We’re not farming animals we’re farming grass. If we take care of the grass, it’ll take care of the animals.”

“…marrying technology of today with indigenous and heritage knowledge.” (Describing what sustainable agriculture needs to be.)

If you know people that farm share this movie with them. If you don’t have your own garden, do what my friend Mariette does, ‘borrow’ your neighbours yards or what Joann did, start a community garden. Make the choices to support family farms and sustainable agriculture. Most importantly, learn about where your food comes from and understand how we got here, it is not enough to just make ‘better choices’. Draw the parallel of ‘bigger, better, cheaper’ to other parts of your life as this is part of the story. With that I leave you with what John Ikerd said about shifting our ways of farming, “It’s not an impossible dream.”

Be well,

Nat





More on Food

26 04 2010

In my morning scan I came across an interesting interview with Michael Pollan of Food Inc in the Huffington Post. The set of photos are interesting and date back through the ages of food production and marketing. There is a lot more to come from this discussion on food and good on him. I hope that we start to hear more about salt and sugar in the near term, two very destructive and over produced additives in our food. He makes it clear that he is supporting whole sustainable food consumption, to go back to simpler ways of being. Think pre-industrial revolution.

As well I noticed a short photo guide on sustainable seafood. There is a printable guide and iPhone app which I love. I have often questioned what seafood is sustainable and which is not when I am shopping or out for dinner. This is a new area for me. Tony and I watch Nature of Things and last year they ran a show in which David Suzuki and his daughter went in search of sustainable seafood production in Canada. To their happy surprise there is a a lot of good stuff going on in this country including sustainable and progressive mussel farms on the East Coast.

Eat well, be well,

Nat





Shame on Us

26 02 2010

I had these links shared with me yesterday, I watched all the little movies and then checked out Chris Jordan’s photography, ‘Message from the Gyre’. It is about a project on Midway Atoll, an island and place that is suffering because of our over consumption. Like a canary in a coal mine, this should cause alarm. It did me. The pictures of the albatross have not left my mind.

Think about it. The big fish (and mammals and turtles and others) eat the smaller fish that eat the even smaller fish that eat the little fish that eat the even littler fish that eat the minnows that eat the smaller minnows that eat the plankton (and other fish eat plankton) that are confused for bits of plastic we unceremoniously throw out. Seriously.

Midway Journey

Chris Jordan Message from the Gyre

Be well, Natalie