Monthly Archives: May 2013

Three Good Reasons to Smile This Weekend

“Peace begins with a smile”

– Mother Teresa

#1 The BC Northern Gate Pipeline proposal is rejected!

Instead of funding unclean energy, we must support Research and Development of sustainable energy.  This is a great step for British Columbians.  YAY Government!

#2 Monsanto has given up trying to market their poisonous corn seeds in Europe (except for Spain, Portugal and Czech Republic)  YAY Europe!

#3 I just got a petition from a concerned parent wanting Girl Guide Cookies to be GMO free.   Go Girl Guides!

http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/girl-guides-of-canada-take-all-gmo-ingredients-out-of-girl-guide-cookies?share_id=bWwoRdNLEA&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

girl guides

Now if girl guides are getting it, there is hope, glorious gossamer threads of it.  Heck if the girl guides start spreading the word, change is really going to happen.

And fast.

Never underestimate the power of girls on a mission!

Big Dream Farm Fund

Dream Big.

Nathalie Chambers is an infectiously positive person.  She is the only person I know of who has raised 2.7 million dollars in order to save her family farm and then turned around and gifted that farm to the  community via a Land trust.  What a bright, shining example of glorious possibilities.  Thanks to Nathalie, this land will belong to the community.  Forever.  Food security is a pressing problem.  Here is how Nathalie described it to me “Imagine the world as an apple, take 3/4 of that away for the oceans.  We’re left now with 1/4 of that apple.  That’s land.  Now take the thin little peel on this remaining quarter slice of apple.  This piece of peel is how much land we have for agriculture”.

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Nathalie Chambers at Madrona Farm. She farms sustainably with her husband Dave. Most concerned about preserving and enhancing biodiversity, Dave has engineered a light plough a couple inches shorter than standard so that it doesn’t disturb the local bees who hibernate in the ground over winter. Nathalie has studied the trees on her farm and has found out that they enhance biodiversity since that’s where the pollinators thrive.

When we lived in England, we joined the National Trust.  This is a beautiful system by which the people collectively buy and protect historical sites, land and wildlife.  People give as much as they can afford.  It’s a delightfully democratic system with integrity.  The British have much to protect.  I think that Canada, given our sheer size, has way more.

Inspired by the UK Trust, Nathalie has a similar vision for Canada – and the World!- called the Big Dream Farm Fund. http://chefsurvivalchallenge.com/the_big_dream_farm_fund.html  Last night she unveiled her new National Vision tonight at the Vista 18 restaurant at the Chateaux Victoria.  So many people would love to farm but can’t afford to buy the land.  If the community can unite to protect and own the land, then farming can be accessible to those who want to.  Nathalie and her husband Dave are a fine example demonstrating that it’s possible to make a living farming sustainably.

What if every Canadian contributed just 10 dollars to preserving farmland – our glorious patrimony?   Owning our farmland collectively, protecting it from land-grabbing speculators and big biotech companies who want to poison the soils and water with GMO Biofuel production (which is unsustainable, taking far more energy to produce that what it yields) or GMO food production which is highly unsustainable and scary in it’s misled monocrop vision.  Monsanto claims to be feeding the world.  What they don’t tell you is that 70% of GMOs are not intended for human consumption!  Feeding the world, as they say over and over again – Bah Humbug.  They’ve said it so many times that people believe them.  Believe me -the Emperor is naked.

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Chefs running an obstacle course at the 2009 Chef Survival Challenge at Madrona Farm. The Challenge both builds community and raises funds for farmland conservation.

By committing to preserve farmland for sustainable agriculture, we can enhance our biodiversity, keep our water and soils pure and help supply the ever-increasing demand for organic foods (Organic means GMO free.  Organic has never allowed GMOs).  Nathalie has two upcoming events in September called the “Chef Survival Challenge” which brings together local chefs and local farms.  Well-known chefs race and swim and do all sorts of difficult and goofy obstacles before getting to pick their veggies and cook them into a 3 star dish which is judged.  The winning chef becomes the year’s Golden Broccoli winner.   Applause please.  Funds raised from this fabulous community affair go right into the Big Dream Farm Fund.   Raucous cheering!

I will post more about this.  Til then I’ll leave you with a farmer’s anthem written by my Grandpa Rupert in the 1950s.  I can’t talk much about farming without thinking of my gentle, song-writing Grandpa Rupert, an organic berry farmer at Goldstream Berry Paradise.  He loved the Earth and said, “Always leave the soil better than you found it”

Style-Diet Shot – Alita

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Alita in hot-pink re-purposed making me what to sing “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

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The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Giddy Glee at the Everyday Miracle of Life

Positivity is infectious.

After 3 weeks of impatiently waiting, first graders jumped and squealed as baby chicks poked out of their eggs in a Victoria Classroom this morning.  The kids started to sing the chicken dance as another chick started to bore a new hole.  It was crazy nuts!  The kids were asked to settle-down with “How would you feel if a giant chicken stood over you doing the chicken dance when you were being born.”  I’m still trying to visualize that.  That made them calm down but couldn’t stop them from grinning ear to ear and cooing along with the cheeping of the newly-hatched chicks.  (In Italian chicks say “pio pio”)

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These chicks, hatched and still hatching in Victoria are heading up Island to Naniamo to run free and lay eggs for the local food bank.

What a cracking idea!

Victoria’s Organic Box Delivery Guide

I love organic food being delivered to my kitchen door.

The best is when my husband or children run to the garden and come back with handfuls of kale or lettuce or carrots.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love going to farms and Farmer’s Markets and choosing my fruits and veggies when I can.  But when I can’t (which is most of the time), I get them delivered.

When we lived in London England in the late 1990s, we got an organic box delivered to our home.  I do admit to grumbling, washing off clods of Earth from potatoes and parsnips, carrots and leeks.  With time or with understanding that foods from the farms are best washed at the farm (why dump the soil down the drain instead of putting it back into the earth?), our experience in locally delivered vegetables and fruits has vastly improved.  A frequent complaint I hear from folks is that they don’t like being delivered food that they don’t like or can’t bribe their kids to eat (rutabaga? Jerusalem artichokes? Brussel sprouts?).  Fear not, with sophisticated websites and the ability to avoid food few in your household will eat, that has changed as well.  The options are incredible!

For my local Victorians, I wanted to tell you about GoBox Organics, a new delivery service on the block and also give you a guide of where to look to get Healthy fresh Organic Foods delivered to your door.  I could have used a guide like this when I first arrived.

Hope it’s helpful!

GoBox Organics. I know Megan Parris to have one of the Greenest thumbs around.  She could probably turn a GMO plant organic!  (That is a joke in case you’re wondering.  GMO seeds are altered at the DNA level to either express a toxin to repeal pests and/or to be resistant to dangerous, toxic and unsustainable pesticides.  Furthermore, GMO seeds are also genetically engineered to not reproduce, forcing you to buy seeds often, paying royalties for the patent on life.  I won’t talk about food democracy but look it up.)  Megan, a trained and gifted chef, used to run the Popular Cook’s Day Off catering with her sister and is now providing certified organic farm fresh food and groceries too.  She is committed to service and quality and organics.  She told me that although there are local farms which seem great, she only will bring you foods from farms that have Organic Certification.  Farmers have to keep meticulous records, she told me.  If they are organized farmers, getting the Organic Certification is not complicated   http://www.goboxorganics.com/

Share Organics came highly recommended when we moved to Victoria.  We tried it, it was great and have since spread the word to many others.  Susan is active, reinforcing Organics and non-GMOs at every turn.  She was even giving out organic apples at the March Against Monsanto Victoria. http://www.shareorganics.bc.ca/

My friend Jenny swears by Saanich Organics.  Her husband’s family has a farm, so if Jenny likes it, you’re sure to like it too. http://saanichorganics.com/

Spud has been at it since 1997.  They are based in Vancouver and provide great service and quality products.  http://www.spud.ca/

Green Earth Organics looks like another great option in a cornucopia of choices.  I haven’t tried them before but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  https://victoria.greenearthorganics.com/

The Good Food Box is a non-profit scheme.  Not fully certified organic though. http://thegoodfoodbox.ca/

I want this to be a definitive guide to Victoria’s Organic Box Delivery Schemes.  Please let me know if I’ve missed one or things change.

Certified organic food is the gold standard.  Foods bearing the Canada Organic Seal can be trusted.  Organic is a legal definition and a traceable system with the force of law behind it.  Organic means no GMOs.  GMOs have never been allowed in Organic agriculture ever.  I want to say just trust me on this, my family has been fighting to keep it that way for years.  But don’t take my word for it, look it up and educate yourself, your family and your friends.

I’ve heard people say, “Oh, how do I really know if it’s organic”.  First of all, I’m sure we all know people who are allergic to pesticides.  I am sad to say that I know more than a couple.  A girl in my daughter’s school has an immediate hive reaction to non-organic foods.  She’s like a human litmus test.  Ask around, maybe you know someone who can tell you if organic foods really have pesticides or not.  If in doubt, visit your farms and find out what they are growing and how they are growing it.  Organic farmers are happy to share their knowledge.  They are proud of what they do.

Organic Farmers are heroes purifying our planet, our bodies and our taste-buds.

I am proud of them too.

Flying Carbon-Neutral Harbour Air

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

– Theodore Roosevelt

As one who travels frequently, I bought carbon offsets from “Offsetters” http://www.offsetters.ca/

My logic: If I’m burning fossil fuels, then I should make some gesture to pay back and support sustainable projects that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.  Apart from Global warming, carbon from fossil fuels goes straight into the ocean, causing ocean acidification.  That kills ocean life – direct causal correlation.  For cars, we can choose to drive hybrids and fully electric.  If there was a choice letting me fly electric, I would take it.  At the meta level we must demand more research dollars from our governments to support alternative energies.

I love flying Harbour Air.  They are a relatively small company, the world’s first all-float plane   airline.  They are consistently voted among the top Employers for BC and in the top 50 best managed companies in Canada.  Here is Alicia Schwarz, the Vancouver and Comox Base Manager at the downtown Vancouver terminal.

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Harbour Air fly otters and beavers (those are types of planes not furry mammals).  The Harbour Air folks are professional, courteous and happy to accommodate, I often call panicked, stuck in traffic “I’m close to the cut-off for check-in, pleeease  pleease dont sell my seat”.  I’ve never missed a flight (for that reason).  Their flights are simple to book and cancel if your plans change last minute.  Air Canada – are you listening?.

I happened to see Alicia last week and asked her how her day was going.  She had spent the morning at a conference being inspired to do better and be better.  In April, I bumped into a big group of the Harbour Air team and hitched a ride with them to attend a fantastic leadership conference.  Just this past Wednesday, I heard Canadian businessman Brandt Louie give a talk.  He said that if you hire just one good person, they bring in three other good people.  Conversely if you hire one bad person they bring in three bad people.  I agree with Mr Louie but see it in terms of energy.  Good energy creates more.  By focusing the conversation on the positive, we can accomplish so much – and enjoy doing it too!

Guess who else buys carbon credits from Offsetters?

Harbour Air!  They lead the aviation industry in sustainability.  I want to highlight them as example of what every airline should do: go carbon neutral.  Instead of pumping profits only to shareholders, Harbour Air invests a portion back into the planet as part of their business model.  It’s working!

Shouldn’t everyone do this?  Shouldn’t every company do the same?  Hang on – brainflash! Shouldn’t that be made into a law?

Imagine every company giving back for our planet?  Imagine how wonderful that would be?

Media

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

– Anne Frank

So many cameras and phones were out filming and clicking in Victoria on Saturday.  I don’t know the numbers but the march spanned blocks!  I say around 1000 people were there.  Maybe more!   So many great moments caught on camera.  I ran into photographer Simon DesRochers for the first time on Wednesday evening.  I told him about the March against GMOs.  And he came!  And he took some of the best photos I’ve seen of the Victoria March Against Monsanto.  Check them out on facebook.  Here is my favourite:

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Everyone who begins to grasp what GMOs are starts asking, “Hang on – do I really want to eat these?”  “Do I want my kids to eat these?”  “Do I want my neighbour to eat these?”  Then you say, “Well…. maybe there are people out there who think they are fine (just maybe)….  Like those people who choose to smoke, for example.  I mean, how telling is it that in at least one Monsanto cafeteria, the food service company removed GMOs from the menu?  But how do you know if the food you eat has them or not?  If they are not labelled, how on Earth can we know besides doing a genetic test or pesticide residue test whether they contain GMOs.

Organic production has never allowed GMOs.  Ever.  Never.  Spreading the word is paramount.  Make a point to tell 2 new people today two things

1) GMOs are in 80% or more of all supermarket food.

2) 64 countries including China and Russia require labelling.

Tomorrow do the same.  Try to tell 14 new people about it by the same time next week.  You might be telling them the most important thing of their lives…  The right to know what’s in our food is going to define this generation.

Marvellous Misty wrote a rap about GMOs this morning.  Check it out on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNlwJJEvOP0

Change is happening.

I am seeing it daily.