BC to Lose Agricultural Land Reserve

Did you see the recent Globe & Mail article, ‘Sacrosanct’ Agricultural Land Commission Eyed for Breakup? Yup, there’s talk once again of tossing aside the Agricultural Land Reserve, this time in favour of the Oil and Gas Commission. I’m (almost) speechless at the short-sightedness and glassy-eyed greed of the proposal.


Courtesy of www.smartgrowth.bc.ca

Why, oh why do we keep having to have this discussion? I mean the one about profits for the few in the short term vs. common sense for all for long term.

The Agricultural Land Reserve was the genius of some forward-thinking folks who wanted to protect our prime agricultural land from those with short term, self-interested designs on it.

Up to the 1970’s nearly 6000 hectares of prime agricultural land were lost each year to urban and other uses. The Provincial government responded to the serious erosion of our agricultural land base by introducing BC’s Land Commission Act on April 18, 1973.

A Commission, appointed by the Provincial government, established a special land use zone to protect BC’s dwindling supply of agricultural land. This zone was called the “Agricultural Land Reserve”.  Source

Want a little more background?

“The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a collection of agricultural land in the Canadian province of British Columbia in which agriculture is recognized as the priority. In total, the ALR covers approximately 47,000 square kilometres (18,000 sq mi) and includes private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or are vacant. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares. The reserve is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), consisting of a chair and six vice-chairs appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council of British Columbia (cabinet) and twelve regular commissioners appointed by the provincial Minister of Agriculture and Lands.

The ALR was established by the British Columbia New Democratic Party government of Dave Barrett in 1973, when it was considered to be the most progressive legislation of its kind in North America. It was intended to protect valuable agricultural land that has among the most fertile soil in the country from being lost. Despite having been in existence for over 30 years, however, the ALR continues to be threatened by urbanization and the land development industry…

Defenders of ALR policy respond that the province has little arable land, especially of such productivity as exists on the Fraser River delta around Vancouver, and that the ALR protects British Columbia’s important agriculture sector… Defenders of the ALR have been distressed in recent years at what they see as the weakening of the policy, by the designation of golf courses as “agricultural land” and the removal of ALR-protected lands for residential, commercial, and industrial development.”  Source

We’ve been at this argument for a long time. Sigh. I get really tired of rehashing old news. And I just don’t understand why people don’t get what seems so obvious to me:

If we pave over all the land that we can grow food on,

where are we gonna get our food from, exactly?

Bringing in food from outside sources isn’t sustainable long term and leaves us vulnerable. We’ve got to think of the big picture, like those guys were back in the 1970’s.


Why the War on Small Farms is Impacting Your Health

Here’s another informative article on a very important issue, by Vreni at Wellness Tips

Are you not as healthy as you might be due to the politics of food? That statement may seem ridiculous, but it might be quite true for many if you are unable to access food you consider to be healthy. And for the American readers here, your food options are about to shrink even further due to politics.

More and more people are rejecting factory farms, conventional mono-crop farming methods and GMO food and are instead seeking to contract directly with farmers that grow the organic produce and raise the pastured meat, poultry, dairy and eggs that they want .

Big Food sees this trend as a threat to their monopoly, and Governments see it as a threat to food safety.

Food is huge business. Everyone needs to eat, and the huge food companies want you to eat their food, so they are doing all the can to stop the growing interest in farm fresh, local food.

Big Food has big pockets and they are influencing governments to pass regulations that will help them thrive.

Provincial and State governments are prosecuting farmers that form food coops and herd shares in order to supply real food to people that want it, under the guise of not having a retail license, and then making it impossible for the farmers to get the license they require. (People want raw milk which the farmer provides, but the farmer is not able to get a license for raw milk for example).

Farmers that are trying to preserve biodiversity are being prosecuted for such things as keeping “feral pigs”, even though this different breed of pig are not actually wild, but are on a farm.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency slaughtered all of Montana Jones’ very rare heritage sheep despite lab tests showing her animals did not have scrapie. Autopsies afterwards also verified that her sheep were healthy.

(In an effort to save her sheep against an unjust fate, some other farmers “sheep-napped” them which delayed the slaughter for several months, and currently the suspected sheep-napper farmers are in court for that. I know – hard to believe it is true!)

Over 97% of the population wants GMO food to be labeled, and for years Governments have done nothing about that fact, largely because of the overlap between directors of companies like Monsanto and the US Federal Government. Only now are things beginning to change at the State level.


Big Food is putting millions and millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Proposition 522 in Washington State, that would require food that contains genetically modified ingredients to be labelled. Big Food won in California by a very narrow margin, defeating that State’s effort to label GMO food.

The Big Food campaign suggests that labelling will increase the cost of food, but these same companies supply GMO labelled and GMO-free food to 64 other countries in the world so it would not be that hard for them.

If GMO food is so safe, why are those companies so afraid of letting consumers know what is in the food?  Are you okay with being experimented on without your knowledge or consent?

Why is the GMO issue not being discussed regularly by the mainstream media? Why is it that only after the advent of social media that the issue of GMO food-labeling is suddenly on the radar?

Yes to I-522Because the companies that supply GMO food have huge budgets, and they are very willing to sue any media outlet that says anything negative.Companies like Monsanto can’t do much about social media however, so it is up to us to spread the word …

Governments are stopping people from growing food in their front yards. They are requiring permits for kids that set up lemonade stands. They are stopping people from having potluck community events.

Food Coops are being raided at gun-point by SWAT teams. It is way over the top! Rawesome Food Coop in California a few years ago is a good example. Federal agents in full army combat gear were pointing their guns at people in tank tops and flip flops running the till. They confiscated the raw milk in the fridge, and jailed the owners. And this despite the fact that raw milk is legal in California, and can be purchased in grocery stores.

Now in the US, FDA is implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will probably result in many of the country’s safest farms being put out of business.

For example, in an effort to control salmonella, the new regulations will make it next to impossible for small farmers to have outdoor flocks of chickens, which research shows is far safer than indoor caged chickens.

Funny they are trying to do this in the middle of a chicken salmonella outbreak from Foster Farms, a huge factory farm that has sickened 278 people in 18 States!

The new regulations unfortunately do nothing to address the real problem with respect to food-borne illness – sick animals living in the filth of factory farms. Check out this W5 video exposing the horrific conditions and abuse of factory farms.

Because the animals are held in such crowded, filthy conditions, antibiotics are part of the feed in the futile attempt to keep the animals healthy. The rise of antibiotic resistance that is affecting our hospitals is the direct result. Some believe we are now entering a world where antibiotics will no longer work, and people will once again regularly die of infections.

If the farms that provide the healthy food are out of business, US citizens will have no option but to eat the unhealthy stuff.

Big Agribusiness and Big Food are using the Government “food safety” regulations to control our food. There is a double standard when it comes to food safety – one for the factory farms, and another for the smaller farms trying to produce nutrient-dense food.

So, the question begs. Is this okay with you? Do you care enough about your health and wellbeing to do something to protect your health by protecting your food supply? Are you willing to help small farmers survive by going out of your way to seek their food out?

Do you shop at farmer’s markets or participate in community-supported -agriculture programs? Do you refuse to buy conventionally-raised food from big agribusiness sold at your grocery store? Are you choosing to spend your money on food now or on medicine that may or may not work later?  Is buying cheap food worth the consequence?

What we choose to purchase will have a huge impact on our environment, food supply and the health that our kids and grandkids will inherit. Please choose wisely.

Copyright 2013 Vreni Gurd
Reprinted with permission
Wellness Tips

Eating the Right Kinds of Food for YOU


I started this blog because I wanted to talk about eating more healthfully and in a way that is also healthful for the earth. You know, how our food choices impact us as well as the greater community a.k.a. the whole environmental thing. On the topic of how food choices impact us individually, and me specifically, I recently  read Eat Right 4  Your Type and posted the following review on GoodReads.com:

After once again encountering serious digestive issues despite years of choosing healthy options (very little wheat, virtually no dairy, no caffeine, no soft drinks, choosing whole foods vs. packaged, limiting sugar etc.) and several cleanses, I’m intrigued by the idea that part of the key to my challenges may be to understand how blood type affects digestion. I’m willing to give it a go — am in fact giving it a go — but do so with some caveats to D’Adamo’s approach.

The information on blood type evolution is fascinating (see my review under Eat Right 4 Your Type Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia) and makes a great deal of intuitive sense, as well as being backed up by plenty of research. No problem there.

However, I do feel like the food recommendations are dated. For instance, they don’t take into consideration what we now know about the non-food-like chemical composition to genetically modified foods, which surely must also affect how things like soy and wheat affect one’s blood. I find it disturbing that a doctor of naturopathic medicine doesn’t focus at all on discussing the quality of the food being chosen. Not once do I see any mention of the dangers of choosing non-organic soy products, for example, or the value of pesticide-free foods.

It’s also concerning that there is no focus on maintaining one’s overall digestive system as a key element in maintaining one’s health. It may be that some people already know about that, but it bears repeating for the countless people who will not take the time to educate themselves and will buy the book as the next great quick-fix.

I feel D’Adamo’s research is also outdated in its fanfare around the genetic basis for disease. We all got excited about the idea that once the DNA code was cracked we’d be able to eradicate disease. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there hasn’t been a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. It turns out that DNA does not, on it’s own, solve the mystery and is not the miracle discovery everyone thought it would be. Dr. Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief) and others’ subsequent research in epigenetics shows that DNA provides a response to its environment but does not in fact control which genes are turned off and on.

All in all Eat Right 4 Your Type may be a piece of the puzzle, but like any other packaged solution it is not THE answer. We need to become knowledgeable about our bodies, how they work, and bring together knowledge from many disciplines to support our body in healing and maintaining health.

A Wealth of Veggie Information

I stopped in at one of my local grocery stores the other day, the Murrayville Marketplace IGA, to pick up some fresh ginger and boy did I get an earful more. It was awesome. Not only did I get the ginger I came for, I also found local kale on special “grown right around the corner” and more information on veggies and fruit than I ever thought possible in a 7.5 minute span. Warren, the produce manager, was a wealth of information. This guy is jazzed about produce and talks really, really fast.

kaleIt started with the kale, which looked great so I took two and was having trouble stuffing into the bag. That’s when Warren offered to help and advised it was local, local. As in right here, local. That, of course makes me happy. Which led to a comment about the lemons, which having been advertised as coming from South Africa, did not make me happy. Whereupon I was advised that they weren’t from South Africa, they were actually from California. Which since lemons don’t grow here or anywhere near here, is as local as I’m ever going to get and significantly more local than South Africa. Which makes me happy.

I’m not exactly sure how we got from California lemons to Hawaiian avocados, but from there he solved a dilemma I’ve been having with said vegetable — avocados in general, not the Hawaiian kind specifically.

Now, you know I love local and do what I can to make food choices that fit the criteria. But I do have my weaknesses and avocados are one. However, I can’t seem to get them to ripen lately. Especially when I buy them from the big box warehouse store — you know the one. They turn brown on the outside but are rock hard on the inside. “What gives?”

That’s when I learned the trick to ripening avocados. Warren told me all fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens and if you want to ripen something you just increase the amount of ethylene in its vicinity. His suggestion: put a banana or two in a plastic bag along with the unripened avocados, seal it, and presto, in a day or two you’ve got ripe avocados. Bananas give off a lot of ethylene so they are the perfect “gassing” agent. Also, heat helps so put the bag on top of the fridge. However, do keep an eye on them as too much of a good thing can cause “burning” or uneven ripening. If it gets too gassy and hot, just pop a hole or two in the bag.

Now, gassing one’s fruit sounds very chemical-ish and therefore nasty, but a little research turned up that it’s actually an ancient, naturally occurring practice:

“Ethylene has been used since the ancient Egyptians, who would gash figs in order to stimulate ripening (wounding stimulates ethylene production by plant tissues). The ancient Chinese would burn incense in closed rooms to enhance the ripening of pears.”                     Source: Wikipedia

Of course, today’s process isn’t quite as natural as when the Egyptians did it, as it’s done on a mass scale, but it IS how you get ripe fruit that comes from great distances. So if you want bananas that aren’t mush by the time you get them, you’ll be eating ones that have been gassed.

After that little exploration into the world of fruit and veg, I’m pondering what other dilemmas Warren may be able to solve and thinking up some really tough questions so I can go in and test him. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Green beans and broccoli from the garden, regular and heritage carrots from the farmers market, and "grown around the corner" kale. I forgot to include the fresh ginger.

Thai Green Curry: Green beans and broccoli from the garden, regular and heritage carrots from the farmers market, and “grown around the corner” kale. I forgot to include the fresh ginger.


GMO-Free Zones in British Columbia

http://www.richmondfoodsecurity.org/2013/gmo-free-bc/I’m pleased to learn there is a movement in British Columbia to actively oppose GMO crops.  Edible Vancouver reports that earlier this year 51 municipalities supported a motion to make Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities free of genetically engineered crops. Now we just need to make that forward-thinking motion move right on into legislation.

Langley and Surrey, each significant agricultural production regions,  also have initiatives underway to become GMO-free zones.

You Can be GMO-Free Too

You can easily support the initiative to remove GMO’s from your life without even deviating from your regular routine. The Institute for Responsible Technology offers several easy-to-follow Buy Non-GMO guidelines that allow you to vote with your wallet and improve the nutritional value of your food choices. An added bonus of removing GMO ingredients from you diet? Better health!

There’s also plenty more you can do to ensure that the momentum of “motions” don’t just fizzle and die before they become law. And if a grade eight young woman can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can. Rachel Parent, age 14, is getting kids involved in actions that will secure their own future via her Kids Right to Know – Just Label It! campaign. Read more about Rachel’s efforts and what you can do to get government focused on this issue in the July 2013 issue of Common Ground, Just Label It.

What’s Up With the Bees?

bees in hiveIt always surprises me that we need a well-heeled study to confirm what we can deduce with a bit of common sense. Never mind that whomever doesn’t like the findings will just do research of their own to disprove the original research and then back and forth we go until anyone can find an manipulate whatever research they want to support their position. Sigh.

So, for what it’s worth here is said research for the sceptics among us who need someone in a white coat to tell them that the stuff that causes illness in humans, with an astronomically larger body mass by ration, is creating problems for the wee, humble bee.

From Quartz.com:

“…Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.”

For the full article, head over there and read the full article, BEE APOCALYPSE NOW: Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought.

Raw Milk vs Pasteurized – The Science

Yet another informative and thoroughly researched article from Vreni at Wellness Tips…

Raw Milk vs Pasteurized – The Science

My farmer was found guilty of contempt of court this week for producing and delivering an illegal “hazardous substance” to me. The substance in question? Elicit drugs? Assault rifles? Anthrax or other deadly agent? No. The hazardous substance they are spending our tax dollars on preventing me from obtaining is raw milk. If my farmer continues to care for and milk my cows for me and give me the milk from my cows, he will be sent to jail.

To me this seems like Orwellian joke. Who is the victim in this milk crime? Is this a crime that deserves a jail sentence? On the one hand Big Brother is trying to protect me from my milk, and on the other, Big Brother refuses to tell me which foods in the grocery store are genetically modified.

I can buy ground beef, take it home and eat it raw but raw milk, which also comes from cows, is so dangerous it can’t be transported across town and given to me.

So, what is the science with respect to raw milk? Is the government’s position warranted? Independent researcher Nadine Ijaz MSc recently presented “Raw Milk: Myths and Evidence” at the BC Center for Disease Control, examining the recent research on raw milk. Please watch her excellent presentation. What follows is a summary of the points Ms. Ijaz makes in her presentation, and I suggest that you watch the presentation to hear about each of these points in more detail.

Myth 1: No evidence that raw milk is more digestible for people with lactose intolerance
A surprise to raw milk enthusiasts, but this is a myth. There is no lactase in fresh milk.

Myth 2: Enzymes and beneficial bacteria make raw milk more digestible
There are many enzymes and bacteria strains in milk, but at the present time there is no evidence to describe their role in human digestion. There is some evidence that the non-harmful lactic-acid bacterium may aid in keeping the bad bugs at bay.

Myth 3: Raw milk is known to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, arthritis, diabetes
Currently there is very little evidence to examine these questions, and the existing evidence does not substantiate the claims.  Those of us that are raw milk enthusiasts need to be careful that we do not spread unsubstantiated claims, as that reduces our credibility.

Myth 4: Raw milk is a high-risk food
To determine if a food is risky, we need to know the risk per serving, as well as the rates of sickness, hospitalizations and deaths, along with how risky the food is for immunologically susceptible people.

Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) is the gold standard for determining pathogenic risk. QMRA studies characterize the risk of a particular food as low, moderate or high.

Recent QMRA studies for raw milk show that there is a LOW risk for illness / severe health outcome for E-Coli, Listeria, Staphylococcus and Campylobacter. We do not yet have a QMRA for salmonella.

To confirm accuracy of QMRAs, outbreak data is used.  There has not been a single case of Listeria sickness from raw milk in the last 40 years. There has not been a single death from raw milk since 1998.

One to 6% of foodborne illnesses are attributed to all dairy, raw and pasteurized combined.  An extremely small percentage of illnesses and hospitalizations from food-borne illnesses are attributed to raw milk. The rate of hospitalization from raw milk was significantly lower than that from all other foods.

Green leafy vegetables are the most frequent cause of foodborne illness representing 20 percent of all cases between 1998 and 2010. Yet the government has not named green leafy vegetables a hazardous substance.

Myth 5: Raw milk has no unique health benefits
There is strong evidence that the consumption of raw milk has a protective effect on the development of asthma and allergies. Ten studies suggest this.

The most recent study corroborating this evidence is the Gabriella study on 8000 school-aged children in Europe. Both blood samples and milk samples were taken, and study showed that there is an independent protective effect of raw farm milk on the development of asthma, allergy and hay fever by about half. That is HUGE! There is a suggestion that some of the whey proteins that are sensitive to heat and would be destroyed in pasteurization might be involved.

We used to think that each vitamin or mineral works in isolation, and as long as they are in the diet, all will be well. Many studies suggest that there are not large differences in nutrients between pasteurized and raw milk. Now we know that vitamins do not work in isolation – vitamin D works with magnesium and calcium for example.

Perhaps it is this synergistic action of the nutrients that might explain why even small nutrient changes can make big differences in how the milk works in our bodies. Vitamin A gets concentrated after pasteurization, whereas vitamins C, B and E are decreased. Perhaps the minor alteration in these ratios have major affects on how they work in our bodies.

The recent Pasture Cohort Study of 2012, showed that pregnant mothers that drank raw milk had newborns with improved immunity and decreased cow-milk allergy. Infants drinking raw cow milk before the age of one had better immune gene expression. Risk/benefit analysis seems to pertain specifically to some of the most susceptible groups.

Myth 6: Industrial milk processing is harmless to health
There are 4 processes of industrial milk production that milk drinkers may object to – pasteurization, homogenization, vitamin D fortification, and grain/sillage/soy feeding practices.

Some people are choosing raw milk in order to opt of the industrial process. This is the primary reason I personally prefer raw. Due to the precautionary principle it is reasonable to do so.

Pasteurization or heat treatment has already been discussed.

Homogenization is the process of putting the milk through a fine screen at high pressures to break up the fat globules so the fat won’t rise to the top. This is done to improve shelf life primarily. “Homogenization results in the most profound difference to the structure of the milk, and may result in altered health properties” Michalazki Janual 2006: 424.  It affects the fat globule membrane and the organization of the proteins.

It has been hypothesized that homogenization might be the reason that raw milk is protective for asthma and allergy.

Vitamin D3 fortification: A recent 2012 reviewsuggests that vitamin D from the sun is quite different from synthetic vitamin D. There is another study that suggest that kids that are taking vitamin-D fortified milk have lower serum ferritin (iron) status. Individuals may use the precautionary principle and opt out of industrial milk for this reason.

Contemporary feeding practices: Consumers are looking for grass-fed milk that have a more beneficial fatty-acid profile with higher omega 3 and CLA content.

Current evidence does not support:

  1. That people should choose raw milk.
  2. That pregnant women should drink raw farm milk
  3. That public health should recommend that parents should give their babies and kids raw farm milk.

The current evidence does however, support choice.
“It is scientifically reasonable for people, including pregnant women and parents of young children to choose hygienically produced raw milk over industrially produced milk, whether or not they heat it themselves afterwards. It is not scientifically justifiable to prohibit people, including pregnant women or parents of young children from choosing to seek out an important food which may effectively prevent allergy and asthma.” Nadine Ijaz.

So what is the role of public health enforcement?

  1. Limitations should be proportional to the risk posed by the by a given hazard.
  2. Enforcement should be consistent across foods (salad is far riskier than raw milk but is not deemed a hazardous substance).
  3. There should be a balancing of individual rights with public protection. In the case of our herd share, none of our milk goes into public commerce, so there is no risk at all to public safety.

We need to focus on minimizing risk to reasonable levels.  No other food has a zero hazard tolerance threshold. It is important to realize that pasteurization is no guarantee that the milk will be risk-free.

The evidence no longer supports raw milk being designated as a health hazard. Instead governments should consider regulation, mitigation and education in light of the existing evidence.

I sincerely hope that Nadine’s presentation gets viewed and shared.  If you know any health reporters that can take on this story, please let them know.

The war on raw milk and on farmers that are trying to feed a community that wants the food they provide, needs to end. Year after year we hear of farmers being prosecuted and forced out of business for providing food to those that want it.  Most recently, Wisconsin is threatening to jail farmer Hershberger despite being acquitted of 3 of 4 charges related to his raw-milk coop.

We as individuals should have the right to determine what we want to eat, whether that involves raw milk, or avoiding GMO food.  We need help making this a national conversation.  If you can help, please do!

Copyright 2013 Nadine Ijaz MSc, Vreni Gurd
Reprinted with permission
Wellness Tips

Milk Nazis

Gallon-Milk-AspartameOkay, it’s crazy enough that raw milk is illegal both here and across the border in the US, but now there are stories surfacing that the US dairy industry wants to add sweeteners like aspartame to it, WITHOUT LABELLING. It’s a new level of insanity, in my books. On so many levels this is WRONG.

US Dairy Industry Petitions FDA to Approve Aspartame as Hidden, Unlabelled Additive in Milk, Yogurt, Eggnog and Cream

When I spent time in central america I was treated to the beauty of drinking fresh, raw milk and suffered no ill effects whatsoever. In fact, I learned that milk in it’s raw form doesn’t rot, it simply changes form as time progresses. Once it’s no longer fresh and smooth enough to blend in your coffee without clumping, it becomes a texture similar to buttermilk and can be used to make oh-so-delicious pancakes, scones and other baked goods. And it doesn’t have that horrific rancid odour that rotten, processed milk has.

The farm where I stayed had a few cows and we regularly had milk delivered to the house. I gotta say, there’s nothing so local as pouring milk in your coffee that is hand delivered by the farmer and is still warm. Local and delicious!