Don’t Waste Food, Regrow It!

Regrow Food

Have any food scraps in your kitchen that you are planning to throw away?  Why waste them when you can reuse those scraps and regrow those foods right in your garden!

Eating nutritious foods that are produced sustainably is a great way to improve your health and reduce your carbon footprint.  Re-growing foods from kitchen scraps means that you know exactly where your food came from, that it is free of pesticides and it means you can save money on your grocery bill, because you will not have to buy as much produce.

Wouldn’t it be much nicer to go to your garden to collect some fresh foods for dinner rather than travelling to the grocery store?  If you aren’t already convinced, one more big reason to grow more foods in your own garden is that fresh foods are more nutritious and taste better because they do not have to travel great distances to reach your table!

Wake Up World wrote a fantastic article about 16 foods that can be regrown from food scraps and how to do it!  Check it out here.

Can you think of any more foods that can be regrown from food scraps?

Happy gardening!

– TL

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The Importance of Food Literacy

A recent report by the Conference Board of Canada claims that too many people cannot create a meal at home, follow a food budget, or understand nutrition labels. How can we help remedy this issue? Food literacy! Food literacy addresses the knowledge, attitudes, and skills households have regarding food. Improving food literacy can result in enhancing the health and wellbeing of Canadian adults and children.

According to the Conference Board of Canada’s report What’s to Eat? Improving Food Literacy in Canada, while the amount of television programs, books and websites that address food and diets continues to increase, our understanding of food is not necessarily improving. The report claims that it is unclear whether food literacy has developed along with Canadians’ growing interest in food.

Various factors lead to a lack of knowledge regarding food. The Conference Board of Canada’s report addresses some barriers to improved food literacy. For instance, some Canadians, especially those lacking numeracy skills, struggle to understand food nutrition labels. Another issue addressed in the report is the decreasing amount of children and youth who regularly participate in family meal preparation. This issue may result in future generations lacking the skills required to prepare their own healthy food. The report claims that a lack of knowledge regarding creating and following a food budget may contribute to the large amount of food wasted by Canadians. If Canadian households improve their planning and purchasing behaviour, it can reduce the amount of wasted food. Furthermore, the report also addresses the issue of food safety. While many people understand how to properly and safely handle, prepare, and store food, this knowledge is sometimes ignored, as some people mistakenly believe that their risk to food-related hazards at home is minimal.

To improve Canada’s food literacy, the Conference Board of Canada’s report makes the following recommends: nutritional information should be more accessible and effective for Canadian households, guiding principles regarding advertising toward children needs to be created, food literacy programs should be incorporated in Canadian school curricula, food literacy programs should be tailored to high-risk populations and community needs, parental involvement in the development of hands-on experiential opportunities to develop food literacy need to be encouraged, highly successful international food literacy programs should be replicated in Canada, and other food literacy initiatives should be studied, tracked and evaluated.

Many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, are linked to unhealthy diets and the overweight and obesity rates that result from it. Thus, improving food literacy is vital as it can help improve the health and wellbeing of many Canadians.

Check out this interesting video on food literacy and education for more information on food literacy and programs that are being implemented in Vancouver!

Have a great day!

– TL

How to Eat Local in Vancouver

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog post about the benefits of buying & eating locally-produced foods. The idea of eating local is central to living sustainably. Many people understand this & want to begin ‘eating local,’ but don’t know where to start. So, we decided to provide you with a list of various restaurants, farms, grocery stores, & farmers markets that you can visit to get some fresh, healthy, local food!

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Restaurants: because sometimes it’s more relaxing to just let someone else do the cooking…Am I right?

  • C Restaurant in Vancouver, BC – an industry leader in working with top-quality sustainable seafood.
  • Forage in Vancouver, BC – emphasizes the fresh harvest of the fertile Fraser delta & the bounty of the Pacific.
  • Nu Greek in Vancouver, BC – inspired by the history & culture of the Mediterranean & Aegean.
  • Rain City Grill in Vancouver, BC – home of Canada’s premier 100-Mile Menu.

Farms: many of which offer meat, dairy, or produce delivery! Yum!

  • Big Bear Ranch in Horsefly, BC (with monthly delivery to the Lower Mainland) – certified Organic beef, pork, lamb, poultry, dog food, honey – & you can order online!
  • Common Ground Community Farm in Burnaby, BC – has farm fresh produce for you to buy directly from their farm or through their CSA delivery program.
  • Duende Farm in Maple Ridge, BC – the home of Gusto garlic.
  • Glenwood Valley Farms in Langley, BC – Long English cucumbers, mini cucumbers, eggplants, mini peppers, hot & spicy peppers & crescendo red peppers. They also process homemade pickles & preserves.
  • Goat’s Pride Dairy in Abbotsford, BC – Certified Organic goat dairy. Their milk, yogurts, & cheeses are handmade on their farm.
  • And MANY more! If you are interested, there is an extensive list available here.

Grocery Stores: for your daily & weekly shopping needs!

  • Choice’s Markets in Vancouver (various locations), Burnaby, Surrey, Kelowna, BC – 100% BC-owned & operated company dedicated to supporting local food producers.
  • Drive Organics in East Vancouver, BC – East Vancouver’s largest organic & natural food store. They feature local products from small-scale, sustainable producers.
  • East End Food Co-op in Vancouver, BC – Vancouver’s longest serving co-operative grocer. They emphasize buying local, healthy, organic, & fair-trade products.
  • Green Earth Organics (Delivery) in Vancouver, BC – locally-owned, organic grocery delivery service.
  • Stong’s Market in Vancouver, BC – a mainstay in Vancouver since 1931. They have maintained a commitment to supporting our local community, as well as BC food producers.
  • This site provides a list which contains several other markets

Farmer’s Markets: as spring has sprung, & summer is not far behind, farmer’s markets are going to start popping up everywhere. A great, fun weekend activity!

  • Winter Farmer’s Market (OPEN NOW) at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, BC – Saturdays 10AM-2PM.
  • Trout Lake Farmer’s Market (Opens May 10th) at Trout Lake in Vancouver, BC – Saturdays 9AM-2PM.
  • Kitsilano Farmer’s Market (Opens May 11th) at the Kitsilano Community Center in Vancouver, BC – Sundays 10AM-2PM.
  • West End Farmer’s Market (Opens May 31st) in the 1100 block of Comox St. in Vancouver, BC – Saturdays 9AM-2PM.
  • Main St. Station Farmer’s Market (Opens June 4th) in the 1100 block of Station St. in Vancouver, BC – Wednesdays 3PM-7PM.
  • Kerrisdale Village Farmer’s Market (Opens June 14th) near Kerrisdale Arena in Vancouver, BC – Saturdays 10AM-2PM.
  • Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market (Opens June 15th) between Mount Pleasant Elementary School & Guelph Park – Sundays 10AM-2PM.
  • Yaletown Farmer’s Market (Opens May 1st) on Mainland St. between Davie & Helmcken in Vancouver, BC – Thursdays 2PM-6PM.

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I know that was A LOT of information, but that just goes to show how many opportunities there are in the greater Vancouver area to eat local. Starting to visit one of these local & sustainable grocery stores or farmer’s markets to get your weekly groceries could be the first step. This would be a baby step in the right direction. Once you get in the routine of opting for local grocers, you will not miss those large chain supermarkets. (I promise!) Your next step could be trying out some of the restaurants in Vancouver whose menu was created with fresh, local ingredients. If you’re going to pay for a delicious meal, why not get it from somewhere who values our community and uses local ingredients! And last, but definitely not least, you could plan to order a bulk meat delivery from a local farm. These farms can provide you with months–or years–worth of protein. And this is organic meat…the good stuff! Because it’s coming from a farm in BC, it makes the process more sustainable–AND you know the animal was treated fairly and not injected with any hormones. Making room in the freezer may be a great idea.

I hope this helped making ‘eating local’ seem a little less difficult.

Comments are encouraged! Have a great day!

– BK

Our Dairy & Meat Consumption is Influencing Climate Change

This thought-provoking article discusses how our consumption of dairy & meat is negatively affecting our ever-changing climate. The link between food production/transportation/consumption & climate change is not always examined, or put in the spotlight.

Many people are under the assumption that meat = protein. But there are several other ways to get your daily servings of protein. Here are some delicious examples:

  • Vegetables {spinach, green beans, kale, peas, etc.}
  • Hemp {hemp seeds, hemp powder, etc. – easy to add to a smoothie!}
  • Soy {milk, beans, etc.}
  • Nut Butter {peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter}
  • Quinoa – a great alternative to rice!
  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Beans {kidney, black, chick peas, lima, etc.}
  • Sprouted Grain Bread

Choosing one of these options instead of meat for your daily protein intake can help make a difference when it comes to our global impact on climate change. In order to have a sustainable food system in the future, we have to be careful about the decisions we make today. Think about it!

– BK

Food Safety Europa

Greenhouse gas emissions from food production may threaten the UN climate target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to research at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.  On Monday 31 March the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented their report on …
Read more Reducing Dairy And Meat Consumption Required To Meet Climate Targets

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Growing Chefs Vancouver

Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children’s Urban Agriculture is an organization based in Vancouver, B.C. Their mission is to educate children, families, & community members about healthy eating & healthy food systems. They value sustainability, local focus, collaboration, positive change, trust, respect, and better health.

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To work towards their goals as a non-profit society, Growing Chefs runs Classroom Gardening & Cooking Programs in elementary schools. These programs educate students & get the kids excited about growing, cooking, & eating good, healthy food. This is essential, as not all young children are taught about nutrition & how food choices can affect your overall health.

Chef volunteers are paired with each individual classroom to provide the students with hands-on gardening & cooking experience. During March-June, the chefs visit these classrooms bi-weekly, helping the students plant & tend to indoor vegetable gardens. The chefs engage the students in games, lessons, & activities that focus mainly on plant growth, local & urban agriculture, sustainability, & nutrition. The students then have the opportunity to harvest their vegetables, & the chefs teach them how they can cook delicious, healthy meals with what they have grown.

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There are hundreds of amazing organizations in Vancouver working towards diminishing food insecurity in Vancouver. & Growing Chefs is a great example–they are targeting the youth in our community to try & educate them early on. This is a proactive approach, & will undoubtedly impact these children’s futures. By providing these children with fundamental knowledge about nutrition & healthy food practices, Growing Chefs is undeniably making a positive change in our community.

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For information on volunteer opportunities with Growing Chefs, visit their website.

They also provide a lot of supplementary information on their website about growing your own garden! Including windowsill gardens, no-dig gardens, coffee sack potatoes, upside-down gardens, & hanging gardens! So many different, fun options for gardening.

What are your thoughts on Growing Chefs?

Happy Monday!

– BK

Windowfarms: Growing Food In Your Home

Here is an interesting idea to grow healthy food in a sustainable way when you are short on space.  Try a Windowfarm! Windowfarms are vertical hydroponic gardening systems that allow you to grow fresh healthy food indoors using natural light from your windows.  Plus, they require little power and water to function, which is great for your power and water bills! Windowfarms were originally developed by Britta Riley using open-source designs. While currently, these systems may be a little more expensive than food-insecure individuals might like to spend, perhaps, over time, this technology will become more affordable and can help people who experience food insecurity grow their own food.  Check out the TEDTalk below for more information on Windowfarms.  You can also find more information at http://www.windowfarms.com

– TL

Hope For Dinner

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Hope for Dinner is an initiative which invites individuals, families, friends–anyone at all–to feed hungry kids by eating rice & beans instead of your normal dinner & donating the difference. Instead of simply asking for monetary donations, Hope For Dinner wants you to have an experience that you will likely never forget, which in turn results in a donation that provides meals to refugees in Thailand & Burma. $1 = 10 meals.

To begin, you simply pick the week you would like to participate, & RSVP here. Then, for 5 consecutive dinners, trade what you would normally eat for dinner for a modest meal of rice and beans. While participating, you can talk about your experience online to spread the word–& use #hopefordinner. Your action against hunger could inspire others to take action.

At the end of the week, you donate the money you saved. An average meal costs $4. Therefore, after 5 consecutive days, you would donate $20–which is equivalent to roughly 200 meals for a hungry refugee. If a family of 4 participates for 5 days, they would contribute $80–that means 800 meals.

This communicates a powerful message. You opt for rice & beans for 5 dinners & provide 200 meals for another person. That really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

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Although our usual focus is on Vancouver, food insecurity is a worldwide problem. Hope For Dinner presents a unique opportunity to help individuals around the world, simply by changing up your dinner menu for the week. Also, by experiencing this sacrifice, you may better understand the struggles many people face each day.

What do you think about Hope For Dinner?

– BK

Something To Think About: Food Security on Vancouver Island

The following poem by Jeremy Loveday (filmed by Lliam Hildebrand) brings up some interesting points regarding food security on Vancouver Island and the reliance on food shipments from other parts of Canada or around the world.

Vancouver Island does not produce enough food on the island to sustain its population.  According to a 2004 report, only about 5% of the food consumed is actually grown on Vancouver Island, while the remaining 95% is obtained from other areas in Canada or from other countries.  This is a huge difference from fifty years ago when 85% of the food consumed was grown on Vancouver Island!  As mentioned by Loveday, if Vancouver Island did not receive food shipments, there would only be enough food to feed the population for about three days!  This really brings some insight into the problem of food insecurity in British Columbia.

Food For The Future: Stand Up For Local Food Systems.  Poem by Jeremy Loveday.  Video filmed by Lliam Hildebrand.

– TL

The Homogenization & Globalization Of Diets

Interesting & thought-provoking. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time to read through!

– BK

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

ID-10083665 The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that some 75% of the diversity of cultivated crops was lost during the 20th Century and, by 2050, we could lose a third of current diversity.

A recent study by Khoury et al in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, investigated how the composition of crops contributing to human diets has changed over the past 50 years. As suspected by many, diets across the world are becoming more homogenised or more similar with greater reliance on only a handful of crops, notably wheat, rice, potatoes and sugar (energy-dense foods). Wheat is now a major food in 97% of countries. Local and traditional crops, important regionally, such as millet, rye, yams and cassava (many of which are nutrient-dense) are being produced and consumed less. Although the amount of calories, protein and fat we consume has increased…

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Eating Healthy On A Budget

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Eating nutritious food is important to our health and wellbeing.  Healthy eating can be particularly challenging when the budget is tight.  Check out the tips below for ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank!

Shop Smart

Explore other grocery store options in your area, such as Farmer’s Markets, warehouse or club stores.  Local Farmer’s Markets allow farmers to sell fresh foods directly to customers and can be cheaper than grocery store prices.  You can also buy larger quantities of seasonal produce when it is in season and freeze it for use at a later date.  Warehouse or club stores may also have good bargains.  Purchasing items that are on sale in bulk is a good option too.  Just make sure you only buy what you are going to use!

When shopping, compare the unit prices for the foods you buy.   Check out store brand and generic brands, as sometimes they can be cheaper than name brand products.  Stock up on items when they go on sale and freeze anything you cannot use right away.  Coupons can also be useful way to save money.  You can find some coupons online using a search engine.

Buy Foods in Bulk

Some foods are less expensive if you buy them in bulk.  When shopping, compare the bulk items you want to purchase with their packaged counterparts to find the best deal.

Look For More Affordable Protein Options

Protein is vital to a healthy diet and lifestyle.  However, it can also be pretty expensive.  Some ways you can add protein to your diet without breaking the budget include: buying less expensive cuts of meat, choosing canned protein options that last a long time, such as caned tuna, and eating some vegetarian protein sources, such as beans.  Other less expensive protein options include eggs, nuts and seeds.  As North Americans often consume more animal protein sources than our bodies require, we can also preserve the budget by cutting down on the amount of animal protein we eat and instead, add other filling foods such as vegetables, whole grains and beans.  You can also try stretching cheaper cuts of meat by making meals such as soups, stews, casseroles and stir-fries.

Stretch Your Food Budget When You Cook

Save money by making larger meals and freezing the leftovers.  This is a great solution for days you do not have time to cook or do not feel like cooking.  You can use those leftover dinners for lunch the next day, which can save you both time and money!  Leftover food can also be used to make another meal.  For instance, you can add leftover vegetables or meats to soups, pasta and stir-fries.

Grow Your Own Healthy Food

Growing your own food is a great way to save money and ensure you have access to healthy food.  If you do not have the space for a garden, look for community gardens in your area.

Better Homes and Gardens lists some great healthy dinner ideas for under $3.  Check them out here.

Have a great weekend!

– TL