Power to the People – Growing Our Own Food

Ever wondered what you, personally, could do to feel more empowered? Or considered doing something powerful in response to climate change and all the other things that are making our children and our futures less secure?

As they say, “Making a difference starts at home” and it starts with what we put into our bodies.

Learn how easy it can be to assert more control over the food that we eat by growing it ourselves. Don’t let limited space, insufficient knowledge, or a tight budget deter you. You’ll see how to integrate affordable, easy and compact growing systems and approaches into your life no matter where you live. Take things one step further and you may soon find yourself selling or gifting your surpluses to the people around you. Wallah! – Community.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
6:15pm – 9:45pm
The HiVE Vancouver
128 West Hastings (half a block east of Cambie Street)

Enjoy music, beer, pizza and fabulous company.
Contribute what you can: Recommended $12 – $20

Reserve your spot

Vegetable Oils – Friend or Foe?

I learned a bit about the value of quality fats in a brief nutrition course I took with Inspire Health last year. Knowing how critical fats are to our effective bodily and mental function, I’m a lot more careful about the kinds I put in my mouth these days. Here’s an informative article on that very subject that landed in my inbox the other day from Vreni Gurd at Wellness Tips:

Vegetable Oils – Friend or Foe?

The food guide tells us to cook with vegetable oils, yet after trans fats, they are the worst choice we can make.

Plant oils such as canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil, soy oil etc. are very reactive to oxygen, and go rancid when heated even at low temperatures. Once oxidized, these fats cause free radical damage in our bodies, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

According to the animal research of Dr. Kenneth Carroll, “…the more polyunsaturated fats were in the diet, the more they were cancer promoting; and the more saturated fats were, the more they were cancer reducing…” Yet we are told by such organizations as the American Heart Association that these polyunsaturated oils are the healthy oils to eat and cook with.

In actual fact, we were only meant to consume vegetable oils by eating the nuts and seeds that they come in; the nuts and seeds also contain the antioxidants that prevent the oxidization of the fats.

Vegetable oils are refined with solvents and heat, making them toxic and rancid. Deodorizing compounds are added to cover up the smell, and voila – they will stay on the store shelf for months looking deceptively beautiful.

Even in their unrefined form, these polyunsaturated oils cannot be recommended even in salad dressings, as they are sensitive to light. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are also most frequently turned into trans-fats, so pretty much any time you see any vegetable oils listed on an ingredient list in a packaged food or a recipe, you would be doing yourself a huge favour in the long run by not eating it.

The best fats for cooking are organic pasture-fed raw butter or ghee, organic virgin coconut oil, organic, pasture-fed beef tallow, and unrefined organic olive oil (low to medium temperatures only).

Enig, Mary; Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer For Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol Bethesda Press, Silver Spring, MD, 2003.

Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary; Nourishing Traditions, Revised 2nd Edition NewTrends Publishing Inc., Washington, D.C., 2001

Copyright 2005/2011 Vreni Gurd
Reprinted with Permission

Top Tips for Tip Top Potatoes

‘Tis the season to begin considering your garden, and potatoes are a good place to start. If you missed the recent workshop on growing potatoes in a sack (complete with said sack and potatoes) it’s not to late to get the skinny on how what conditions create the best results.

This month’s West Coast Seeds newsletter offers their top recommendations:

“Aside from hilling up, here are our top five tips for tip top potatoes:

  1. Plant potatoes in full sun, and avoid freshly limed beds. Potatoes like slightly acid soil with a pH of 6.0 – 6.8. Organic matter in the soil will improve your crop, but use well rotted compost or dig in a cover crop the previous fall. Avoid fresh manure.
  2. Once you plant your potatoes, don’t water them until after you see the plants sprout above ground. This will help to prevent soil diseases from affecting your crop. Once they’re growing, keep your potato plot evenly moist, particularly once the plants begin to bloom.
  3. For fresh eating of baby or “new” potatoes, wait until the plants are in bloom. That’s usually a good indication that an early summer harvest is ready.
  4. For storage potatoes, wait until the plants wither and turn brown, and then leave them in the soil for a further 3 weeks as their skins firm up. Harvest them for storage if there’s a threat of very cold or very wet weather.
  5. Store potatoes in a cold, dark place, above freezing, with good ventilation. You can brush soil off your harvested spuds, but don’t wash them – the extra moisture is not good for storage. Check your stored potatoes frequently throughout winter, and remove any that are turning soft or looking mouldy.”

Read the full article.

To GMO or Not to GMO

To GMO or not to GMO, that is the question.

There’s much controversy about genetically modified and genetically engineered food. Do you know what GMO really means and the impact it may be having on your food and health? Here are some of the basics:

A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GE or GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Genetic modification itself isn’t new. It used to be done via selective breeding. This has always seemed a fairly natural method to cultivate the best of any plant or animal species. Remember grade school science class and Gregor Mendel’s pea plants? It was all about furthering the best, hardiest, tastiest genetic make up possible.

The discovery of DNA, however, has brought far more frightening and unnatural-seeming shifts in genetics, like the splicing together of plant and animal characteristics such as fish and strawberries.

“…the gene from a fish that lives in very cold seas has been inserted into a strawberry, allowing the fruit to be frost-tolerant.” (Source: Disabled-World.com and Mavis Butcher)

What About Choice

Okay, so eating strawberries with fish DNA is weird and may be objectionable to some. What’s more objectionable is that there are no labeling requirements allowing consumers to choose whether they want to eat GM or GE foods or opt out of the experiment. With the jury still out on the benefits of genetically engineered food, I’d like to have a choice thank you very much.

Steps to Avoid GMO/GE Food

There are things you can do to avoid genetically modified foods in your diet.

  1. Get educated on which foods are typically genetically engineered and choose not to eat them
  2. Eat 100% organic (sadly, organic may no longer guarantee non-GMO)
  3. Look for products specifically labeled non-GMO and/or non-GE
  4. Eat 100% grass-fed beef
  5. Shop local and know your farmer

We may not yet be able to do away with GMO/GE altogether, but we can surely limit our support of the industry.


Lack of Food or Lack of Access?

I have a friend who gets mad every time she hears that someone she knows is having a kid. It’s not that she doesn’t like kids. Well, actually, it is that she doesn’t like kids, but it’s also because she believes there isn’t enough food in the world to feed any more people and that it’s irresponsible to breed when there are people on the planet starving.

It seems a commonly held belief that the world can’t support the human population, but I’m not convinced. I’ve come to believe it’s more about access to food than it is availability of food.

Lisa Weasel, author of Food Fray addresses that very subject in a recent interview about genetically modified foods.

“When I was in Zambia I learned that a lot of the food aid issues there are really just transportation issues. The country has enough food but they can’t get it to the people who need it. Issues in India are economic in many cases. The country has enough food but people can’t afford to buy it even if it’s heavily subsidized.”

Read the full article at Cooking Up a Story.

The Good Old Days

Next time you’re tempted to reminisce on how perfect the good ol’ days were, remember this: it was once commonly believed that DDT is good for everyone.

A friend sent me a link to an old advert for DDT:

“The great expectations held for DDT have been realized. During 1946, exhaustive scientific tests have shown that, when properly used, DDT kills a host of destructive insect pests, and is a benefactor of all humanity.”


(Source: LiveJournal.com/Vintage_Ads)

Hmmm, what a great reminder that magic bullets are best evaluated with long term results in mind.

Read the entire ad (note a link at the bottom to the original black & white ad with the correct chemical company name).

Potato Growing Workshop

This weekend join The World In A Garden for their second annual Potato Fusion workshop.

Reusing burlap coffee sacs, participants will plant highly nutritious organic potatoes at the bottom and lettuce plants at the top- it’s a potato fusion! All plants and materials will be provided so just BYOG (bring your own gloves) and go home with a sac of potatoes (and lettuce).

Sunday, March 20th, 2011
11:00 am or 1:00 pm (2 sessions)
West 57th & East Boulevard
$20 per person
*Includes potato fusion kit

Proceeds will be donated to The World In A Garden and Project Somos Children’s Village, Guatemala for projects teaching children gardening skills to last a lifetime.

To reserve your spot, contact Alicia Baddorf via phone 604.527.5151 ext. 213 or by e-mail at abaddorf@jfsa.ca.

The World In A Garden is a multicultural urban agriculture project that educates the community on the nutritional, cultural, environmental and social benefits of the local food system.

Expand Your Garden Indoors

Expand your garden to the indoors! The World In A Garden is kicking off the 2011 growing season by exploring the techniques and benefits of growing your plants inside.

Ilana Labow from Fresh Roots Urban Farm will be guest speaker. Don’t miss out on expert advice and a fun time! Participants will take home a gardening calendar, an Organic Gardening magazine, a free packet of West Coast Seeds and a potted plant.

Sunday, March 6th, 2011
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
West 57th & East Boulevard
$20 per person
*Snacks and coffee provided*

All proceeds to The World in a Garden.

To register contact Alicia Baddorf at 604.257.5151 ext. 213 or via email abaddorf@jfsa.ca

The World In A Garden is a multicultural urban agriculture project that educates the community on the nutritional, cultural, environmental and social benefits of the local food system. Their mandate is to increase access to highly nutritious, fresh and organic food in a way that maintains dignity, builds community and celebrates diversity. The World In A Garden educates the community and youth on the importance of the local food system through youth education programs, volunteer days, workshops, community events and market sales.

Reasons to Skip Bottled Water

When I switched from bottled water to my own re-usable bottles, I was sure it would be a huge hassle. I was sure I’d forget to refill them, forget to take them along, lose them… In fact, it hasn’t been nearly so dramatic. It’s a very easy habit to maintain, I’ve relatively infrequently been caught waterless, and I haven’t lost a bottle yet.


Like many people, I used to think bottled water was a good idea. Maybe even better than tap water after scares like the deadly water contamination tragedy in small town Ontario. But after I’d done a little accidental research and then dug a little deeper there were some compelling reasons:

  • Tap water must meet higher safety standards than bottled water
  • It’s estimated that 85% to 90% of plastic bottles end up as landfill or floating in the ocean
  • Re-using those bottles seems a decent compromise, but it’s highly unsanitary
  • We’re running out of clean, drinkable water on this planet, and my region of the world is not immune

Don’t Take My Word For It

Bottled Water Isn’t Cool covers a lot of these reasons and more, in greater detail. And a quick search of the Internet will bring up an unlimited number of videos and articles. Here are a few resources to get you started:

Flow movie
Blue Gold movie
Bottled Water Isn’t Cool
More Benefits to Drinking Local Water
Creative Answers to the Question of Water
Drink Local…Water, I Mean