Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do It For The Chickens

Louise just found this website. It's an appeal from the WSPA, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, to the McDonald's restaurant chain, to stop using eggs from hens raised in cages, and use only the eggs from free-run hens.
Since McDonald's uses only free-run eggs in Europe and the UK, there's no excuse for their Canadian restaurants still using eggs from caged hens. Their USA restaurants have already pledged to phase in free-run eggs this year.
Check out the letter-writing campaign sponsored by WSPA. Send McDonald's a note. Odds are, even if you never eat at McDonald's there's one in your area anyway, so write to them as a neighbour and part of the food community.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Avoiding GMO Foods

Louise found a useful article in Chatelaine magazine, about how to avoid eating foods containing genetically-modified food organism products. Ya know that the times, they are a-changin' when even a fashion magazine (but one that earnestly tries every year or so to re-write itself as a relevant magazine for women) speaks up on the GMO issue!
At any rate, check out Louise's post on our blog Q-zine about food. One of the links mentioned in the Chatelaine article is for this new project to certify foodstuffs that do not contain GMO products -- the Non-GMO project. Nice to think that there'll be yet another seal of approval to help me make product choices. Usually my choice is "don't buy stuff" but gee, there are days I want a chocolate bar or potato chips.
Luckily, on the potato chip front, the Canadian company Old Dutch Foods Ltd. has two new products out: lightly-salted regular chips, and lightly-salted Rip-l chips. The rippled ones in particular taste & crunch real good, and I'm planning to bring them and the regulars to a family barbecue this summer. Any time I get chips with an ingredients list three items long (potatoes, canola oil, salt) I'm thrilled to avoid MSG and preservatives and so on. Chips made in Calgary from Canadian potatoes -- that's regional to western Canada if not local. Now to lean on the company to fry 'em in canola oil that's not made from Round-up Ready canola!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mason Bees

All right, so we've all heard about the problems with honeybee hives over the last year or two. (If you haven't, well, open a search engine and read a little of the kerfuffle.) There are some personal improvements people can do to make up for the effects that our urban living has on pollinators. Honeybees are only the most well-known of these insects that make it possible to propagate most of our food plants. Another kind of pollinator is the mason bee.
These are good-tempered bees that don't live in big hives. They live in little homes they make out of nooks and crannies in trees and odd places, some of which can be in suburban yards. Mason bees are better neighbours than wasps or ordinary bees. A lot of people are learning about mason bees and installing little houses for them.
If you're interested in learning more, there's a mason bee course starting up at Swan Lake Nature Centre. For people who live outside the Victoria area, check at your local recreation centres, nature centres, and libraries for local programs on mason bees. If there isn't one set up, get cracking! Program planners need local people to ask for activities like this and facilitate them!

Build a Mason bee Condo
Invite an amazing pollinator into your garden - BUILD them a CONDO!
Local expert, Gord Hutchings, will familiarize you with the life-cycle and habits of the Orchard Mason Bee. Then you’ll make your own observation Mason bee condo so you can observe the adult bees building the brood chamber, depositing the pollen store, laying eggs, and watch the developing larva and pupa. All materials are supplied.
Sunday, March 13th 9 - 11:30 am
$55 members $70 non-members
call to register
3873 Swan Lake Road, Victoria, BC, 250.479.0211

Saturday, January 01, 2011

An Optimistic Book for a Happy New Year

So this year, my resolution is to express a practical optimism. Not just a wishful thinking, positive attitude kind of thing, but an authentic optimism that is actually well-founded in recent experience, with reasonable expectations for the near future.
With that in mind, I've been reading a book that Bernie took out from the public library. Note that public libraries are a very effective expression of practical optimism! Also note that our local public library, the Greater Victoria Public Library, (yes, only in Victoria is it necessary to look up the public library in the phone book under not L or P nor even V, but G) is doing a crackerjack good job, and will even be keeping all branches open on Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 pm from January 2 to April 17. Check out the article written by Tom Hawthorn for the Globe and Mail on December 10 -- an article that praises this library in particular.
As for the book I've been reading, it's Raj Patel's book The Value of Nothing. The subtitle goes on to add: Why everything costs so much more than we think. You can read about it at Patel's website, or do a search on his name and the title to find some videos and reviews.
The Value of Nothing is a great book to read, and then give a copy to any snotty person you know who keeps annoying you with opinions about economic policies and the free market system. It doesn't really matter what that snotty person's annoying opinions are. My own opinion about the free market system is that it isn't an organized system, it's not free by any of several definitions discussed by Patel, and it bears little resemblance to the markets where I sold produce, wool, and books for over fifteen years. Yet I am now hoping to go forth and be less snotty myself when others wish to share their opinions about economics in informal discussions. And I owe that spirit of good-mannered cooperation to Raj Patel's book.
Patel has done his homework here, and has referenced several historical and contemporary economists. Reading this book makes me feel smarter, not dumber. There are just enough footnotes to explain some details without whipsawing the reader back and forth in bewilderment.
It's no surprise that Patel can tie the price of a cup of coffee and a Big Mac to global climate change and democracy. And that's without any cheap slogans or party rhetoric. Read it -- or his bestseller Stuffed and Starved -- and form your own opinions.