Category Archives: Products

Addicted to Weeds…and Seeds

I’m addicted to Weeds. Oh stop it, you. If you’re from British Columbia you’ve read that as “Weed” and that’s not what I said. What I said and mean is Weeds. Weeds & Seeds, actually.

Weeds&SeedsCerealI discovered Weeds & Seeds at the Vancouver Wellness Show, a showcase of products meant to promote health and wellness. I do mean products that promote health/wellness, though not necessarily actually produce it.

After cruising aisle upon aisle of nicely packaged, well-marketed products, many from healthy-sounding companies, it became very clear that if you want to be healthy you’d better take your health education into your own hands and not rely on branding, marketing and sales brochures to ensure your wellness. But I digress. Continue reading

Fancy Food Packaging Doesn’t Mean Healthy

VancouverWellnessShowI had a great day wandering the Vancouver Wellness Show and came home with a bag of goodies to share. That’s the sign of a successful tradeshow visit, isn’t it? Well not exactly, but getting free stuff always feels good. Which is what promotions people are counting on, that the goodwill of getting free stuff will make you feel good about the products they are promoting. But even at an event called The Wellness Show you really must keep your wits about you. Continue reading

Fraser Valley Honey



It seems to be all about the honey this week, I wonder what that could bee about…

There’s a cute little roadside honey stand I’ve driven past a few times recently and the other day I finally stopped in. I couldn’t help myself, the attractive stand, customer friendly signage, and the honour system payment program drew me in…well, like a fly to honey. It doesn’t get much better than this, for supporting local food producers. (Well, that’s not entirely true, read to the end…) Continue reading

What’s the Big Deal About Food Labels?

If you have any idea what is really behind the packaging labels you read at the grocery store, you might not be so willing to shell out for what is generously termed “food”. It’s not just the nutrition label you need to be wary of, it’s the “science” behind the claims they make about nutrition and/or health value. (Wait for the bit on Mini Wheats.)

In this very funny bit, comedian and commentator John Oliver, makes us laugh and maybe widen our eyes a little in horror, at what’s really in the “food” aisles of your local grocery mart. Video here.

John Oliver - Food Labels



Apparently, I Do Like (Some) Beer

I’m new to the delights of beer, having hated it with a fine passion my whole life. Until I discovered porter.

Now I like one kind of beer. Not maple porter, not raspberry porter, not honey porter, not pumpkin porter. Just pure, unadulterated porter, preferably with a chocolate and/or coffee finish.

So imagine, in that narrowly defined palate, my delight in finding the most delicious, untainted-by-fruit London Porter by Paddock Wood Brewing Co., a discovery made on a trip back east. And imagine my even greater delight to discover London Porter is made locally there, in my home province of Saskatchewan.

Unfortunately my delight turned to utter devastation with the realization, upon my return home, that I couldn’t find London Porter here. And, due to antiquated prohibition laws, I can’t even have any shipped to me, because this would require transporting alcohol across provincial borders which is still (are you kidding me?!) illegal.

But alas, my spirits soared once again when a stranger noticed me unhappily perusing the local liquour store shelves and recommended trying a newly opened, independent shop, Legacy Liquour Store. I proceeded forthwith to said store and not only promptly fell upon a six pack of Paddock Wood’s London Porter, I also received a mini lesson on the history of porter from the very knowledgeable general manager. It stands to reason that when I did finally find a beer I liked, it is one that was historically available exclusively to the gentry, due to the labour-intense complexity of its manufacture. That sounds about right.

I still don’t drink a lot of beer, but I do enjoy savouring the occasional, civilized tipple. Sadly, I do not live in the vicinity of Legacy Liquour Store, so I shall have to continue my hunt for a supplier closer to where I live. In the meantime, it’s comforting to know I have a source to fall back on.

It Must Be Good, It’s Organic

When you start thinking about eating local, you can’t help but connect with the environmental benefits of a reduced carbon footprint. Bonus.

Then there are the benefits of adding organic to the mix, in which case you’re also choosing products that haven’t flushed chemicals into the soil and groundwater. Oh, and the health benefits of not ingesting chemical residue. All good.

Next, naturally, comes the dilemma over cleaning products. I mean, if you’re eating organic so you don’t flush or ingest chemicals, does it really make sense to be using harsh corrosives — and breathing in their vapours — when you clean the house? (Caution: If you keep up this line of thinking you may accidentally become a placard-carrying tree hugger.)

It’s Fun AND Good for the Environment

If you are frighteningly near the brink of becoming someone you never thought you’d be, just because you decided it might be fun to grow some veggies in the backyard and learn where your food actually comes from — for instance — I have good news for you. And that good news comes in the form of vodka.

Just when you thought you’d end up with no interesting vices at all, it has come to light that vodka makes a fabulous, multipurpose cleaning product! In addition to the benefits to the environment, just think how popular chores like laundry and cleaning the silver will become when you can take the occasional swig of your household cleaner between scrubbing. Just add tonic and a sliver of lime.

Unusual Uses for Vodka

“From cleaning jewelry to fighting stubborn stains, vodka has many handy uses — other than pepping up your Bloody Mary! We’ve rounded up some unusual ways to put your bottom-shelf vodka to good use all around your house.

Whether on the rocks, straight up or mixed in with your favorite cocktail, vodka has a reputation for being the life of the party. But make no mistake, this versatile spirit is more than just a one-trick pony. Thanks to its basic mixture of pure alcohol and water, vodka can be used as a strong household cleaner, pesticide and so much more. Bonus: it’s a non-toxic alternative to many traditional products and chemicals.”  Full article…

I’m not so sure your liver will agree 100% with the non-toxic claim, and it does give one pause to know vodka kills plants and bugs. However, it is worthwhile to note that after a few swigs, you won’t care!

Ace Curries To Go

I love Indian food but am completely intimidated by the spices. And I’ve never been good with putting together sauces. I know people who can put a dab of this and a dab of that and create amazing things. While I enjoy the final outcome, I’ve always suspected this requires a special sensitivity to taste that I greatly admire but do not possess.

My confession: I’ve resorted to buying pre-made, bottled sauces and some pre-packed dishes. This approach does require careful reading of the ingredients label to screen out unnecessary sugar, salt and chemicals, which significantly limits one’s options. Fortunately with pre-fab Indian the contents are most often real food, rather than chemical facsimiles thereof.

It’s definitely easy. Still, using bottled sauces can get pretty expensive. And I don’t have as much control as I’d like about the type and quality of cooking fat and other ingredients used, either.


I was at the EAT! Fraser Valley show last weekend and came across the perfect answer to my quest for fast, easy, and healthy Indian food at home: Ace Curries To Go. Let me just say, the smell from the booth is what drew me in; the taste of chickpea curry (a.k.a. channa masala) is what sold me.

Based in North Vancouver, BC, Ace Curries to Go is making curry super easy for the gourmet-challenged among us, myself included. In fact, I suspect they may have made this product just for me:

  • They work their magic with a variety of curry spice mixes including, prawn vindalo, chicken korma, and aloo ghobi (potato & cauliflower)
  • Each bottle includes a shopping list of basics you’ll need to complete the meal. You can add/experiment as you like
  • Ready to heat sauces in a bottle are also available if you’re in a rush, and
  • If you truly don’t have time to shop or think, you can pick up a curry kit that includes everything you need

There is no MSG, salt or preservatives — just a whole lot of spices in just the right proportions.

I intend to take their advice tonight and “Be the chef that you can be! COOK WITHOUT FEAR MY FELLOW CURRY CONNOISSEURS!!” That and a bottle of spices are all the encouragement I need to get started.

Savoury Surprise

At the opening of the Home Grown photography exhibit at Museum of Vancouver a couple of weeks ago I snagged a sample mini pack of Skeet & Ike’s trail mix from the many tasty samples of food available from local suppliers.

I don’t like many trail mix blends on the market because they are often too sweet for my taste. Over the years I’ve gradually cut down on white sugar and processed foods — most of which contain sugar of one kind or another — and find that many non-dessert foods are simply too sweet for my taste. (A decadent dessert, on the other hand, can be as sweet as it likes. That is after all its raison d’etre.)

I grabbed the Skeet & Ike’s Organic Fruit and Nut Mix to leave in the car. I sometimes forget to eat and find myself suddenly ravenous and unable to concentrate from lack of food. I’ve been caught often enough with nothing remotely healthy available that I now keep a package of mixed nuts in the trunk for just such moments.

I had occasion to crack open the package the other day and must say I was very pleasantly surprised. Delighted even. Not only was it not overly sweet, it was a delicious sweet and savoury mix, something I’ve not experienced in a trail mix before. I love it!

It’s also guilt-free. The ingredients are all organic and sugar is listed only as a sub-ingredient (in the cranberries and crystallized ginger). The bonus: no filler peanuts in the blend. Plus, best of all, it’s locally made.

Garlic Rust Fungus

Garlic rust fungus, close up

In further pest and pestilence news from the community garden, my garlic has developed a nasty rust fungus problem.  And mine is by  no means the only affected plot, thanks to a miserably cold and wet April and May. And June.

Thank heavens for our garden Education Committee of One who knew what it was and tenaciously spent time researching how to deal with it.

Notes-to-self if you are encountering this issue:

  • The fungus can spread to leeks and onions also, but not other types of plants
  • Caused by excess rain and lack of light and/or soil inadequacies
  • Possible solutions: Create sprays with either baking soda, milk, neem oil (huh?) or chamomile tea (see recipes below)
  • Cut off the leaves then dispose of them (NOT in your compost bin, people!) to ensure the fungus does not spread. Word on the street is, the stalk continues to photosynthesis even if you remove the leaves
  • Disinfect your clippers, etc. also to ensure the fungus does not spread from plant to plant (this is serious, folks!)
  • The good news is garlic rust does not appear to affect the garlic bulb — I pulled one to test and it looks just fine

Infected garlic, sans leaves

Organic, Rust Fungus Spray Recipes

  1. 1 gallon water, 1Tbsp baking soda, 2.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1Tbsp milk per gallon water
  3. 1 tsp neem oil, 1Litre water or chamomile tea

These teas may be more preventative than cures; spray on infected leaves in morning for several days in a row (especially if rain is washing off leaves – the oil helps spray stick to leaf).

I have cut off all the leaves and am trying the baking soda recipe. I have no great hope of eradicating the rust, but I do hope to minimize any further infestation on both mine and my neighbours’ plants.

More on Garlic

If you want additional general info about garlic such as how and when to harvest and cure it, check out the Garlic Farm website, which I found in my garlic research travels.

They are located in British Columbia (middle of the province at the US border in a town appropriately named Midway), and sell organic garlic seed in Canada and the US. They start taking orders July 2nd on a first come, first serve basis for delivery in September. Get your order in now!