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What started as a Directed Study Course in the Fall of 2007 at the University of British Columbia, has now turned into an event that students continue to look forward to every other Friday. From September to April, Community Eats is held at Sprouts in the Student Union Building (SUB) and attracts over 250 students, faculty and staff members as well as those who live within the UBC campus.

“In some ways it has been more than what we expected,” comments the Director of Community Eats, Renee Wild, “ there has been an increase of an average of 60 people per Community Eats since the end of last year.”

Renee is just one of many volunteers who helps to continue to make Community Eats an appreciated and educational lunch for everyone in the UBC community.

The idea behind Community Eats is simple. Everyone receives a free or by donation, nutritious hot lunch – provided they bring their own reusable containers.  While serving a delicious hearty stew, quinoa salad, fruit or donated bread from Terra Breads, one will learn about food security and available locally grown seasonal products.
Not only do so many people enjoy eating the lunch provided by Community Eats, the lunch is also delivered in a way that maximizes sustainability. Whether the volunteers are picking up bread through the bike coop program, taking a bus to the nearby Save on Foods or encouraging students to use only reusable containers, Community Eats is a well balanced initiative.

With the aid of local businesses, Community Eats is able to host lunches every other Friday. The event and the student volunteers have developed a strong partnership with local businesses and are very thankful that the following organizations are involved: BC Bike Coop, Save on Foods, Sprouts, Terra Breads and the UBC Farm are just to name a few. Not only does Community Eats benefit from receiving the donated food, but the employees at these businesses feel as though it is the right decision, “I am very thankful that you guys are picking up this food, it really means a lot to me” comments an employee at the newest Save on Foods at UBC, “…food that would have otherwise been thrown out.”

As an added incentive to support Community Eats, the remaining unused bread and/or produce will go directly to the UBC Food Bank. This year, the program is trying to indirectly make a difference in someone else’s life. Any leftover or unused food will go directly to the UBC Food Bank which is located just across from Sprouts.

We can thank a group of volunteers for making this event a success. Those people who pick up food every Wednesday prior to the event, and start cooking the very next day with ingredients they have on hand. The volunteers rely on the kitchen space on the main floor of the SUB. Depending on the produce they receive, the lunch is usually thrown together and surprisingly turns out to be a tasty and nutritious lunch. The cooking portion of Community Eats is a creative and social process, in which the volunteers are keen on sharing their recipe with others.

The intentions of Community Eats, not only encourages dialogue about food security issues, but “is one of the best lunches you can get around UBC – and it’s healthy too!”

comments a fourth year undergraduate student at UBC.

I experienced my first Community Eats about a month ago and was amazed at how popular it was. Lines ups were found nearing The Fringe Hair Design, students who appeared to be regulars, were waving and saying hello, and others were just excited to see what was on the menu. Laughter and excitement was heard throughout as well as students reading the educational components posted outside the door and on the nearby walls.

The surrounding environment was so uplifting I certainly believe that “…the power of food is used as a tool for building communities.”

“Since we don’t pay for the produce we use to cook and we have volunteers who organize the event, we don’t want students to have to pay for it,” explains Wild, “however, it’s not often that we’re able to collect staple foods (such as rice, beans and lentils) so we order it through Sprouts.”

The only reason they collect donations at Community Eats lunches is to help cover the oversets of these staple items.

From finding distributors, to picking up the food, to preparing the actual meal, the entire lunch is brought to you by student volunteers.

The volunteers help promote the anticipated vision of the whole event presented by the founders Caitlin Dorward and Heather Russell back in 2007. Wild explains the visionary process of Community Eats, “Picture it as a three fold. We serve people who wouldn’t normally get a healthy balanced lunch, a meal that is full of proteins and lots of veggies. Second, to use food that would otherwise be thrown away and to ultimately reduce waste. Lastly, Community Eats helps to create awareness about food security and how much food, styrofoam containers and cutlery is actually going to waste.”

The plan has lived up to what the founders have envisioned and are continuing to learn and improve the event.

Community Eats is just one tool to create awareness about food security issues. Without it, an immeasurable amount of food would be thrown out. Many students are drawn to the event because it is free. I strongly believe that if there was a cost associated with the lunch, it may deter people from coming and it goes against the main message that is being conveyed.

Since Sprouts has reopened its doors earlier this year, Community Eats lunches have continued to strive. Sure they would like to improve their main vision of the event, but overall it has been very successful. They are also planning to have Community Eats on a weekly basis starting in the New Year. “It has always been a goal to do it every week” comments Wild, “and with more interest in volunteering in the program, hopefully it will start to happen in January.”

Since its first lunch on October 26th, 2007,

the project has escalated and has become an event students look forward to. To some, it has changed the way they view food and have become consciously aware of what they eat.

If you are also interested in supporting Community Eats, they will soon be looking for volunteers for the newest Assistant Director positions. But if that is not of interest to you, stop by at the next Community Eats and experience what everyone has been talking about!

Works Cited:

Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats.

University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://

www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook

%20_2__2.pdf>.

Wild, Renne. “Community Eats.” Community Eats. Blogger, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://

communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

Wild, Renee. “Community Eats.” Sprouts: Healthy and Sustainable Food at UBC. UBC Sprouts,

2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://ubcsprouts.ca/communityeats.html>.

Wild, Renee. “Why Free? Why Donate?” Web log post. Community Eats. Blogger, 6 Feb. 2008.

Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.


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This past summer a pilot project, run through the UBC Bike Co-op, made an important connection between two valuable movements: local food security and bike advocacy. Kevin Cooper and Martin Gunst launched Marketcargo, a multifaceted project that used a fleet of cargo bikes to deliver local produce from various farms (including the UBC Farm) to market locations and homes. This project, although based out of UBC had a larger community scope. It is one example of an initiative aiming to address broader issues within our food system.

Using Surly’s ‘Big Dummy as a cargo bike along with a custom welded trailer, Cooper and Gunst hauled local produce in a rough loop around the city to execute a three-pronged project.  First, from the UBC Farm, Cooper and Gunst delivered the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes throughout Kitsilano. Second, Gunst and Cooper offered home delivery service to market goers at the Kitsilano Farmer’s Market and the Main St. Farmer’s Market, This meant that pedestrian market shoppers and even folks on bikes could request that the Marketcargo cyclist takes their load of groceries home for them. The idea was to discourage market goers from driving their vehicles and to encourage people to purchase all their groceries at these markets. The third aspect of the Marketcargo project included delivering produce as well as the vendor supplies from the Farmers on 57th to the Main St. Farmer’s Market, which allowed them to sell their produce outside of their own facility.

UBC’s Land and Food Systems (LFS) faculty has been a significant force(? Needs a noun) in growing both bike advocacy and the local food movement on UBC’s campus. Kevin Cooper, president of the UBC Bike Co-op, noted that the connection between the UBC Farm and the Bike Co-op goes back to the Co-op’s creation. He described the Co-op as “the child of LFS.”  The Bike Co-op actually started out in McMillan, the LFS faculty’s building. The LFS faculty has also been a crucial force in preserving, maintaining and growing the farm. The UBC Farm initiative began in 2000 when students in Agricultural Science (now the Faculty of Land and Food Systems) came up against plans to develop the land and expressed concern for the preservation of the land as a farm and an important outdoor education facility. The UBC Farm has remained partnered with the Co-op, using a fleet of bikes for farm staff, volunteers and visitors.

This interconnectedness of sustainable transportation movements and local food movements is not insignificant. They both play into a larger food systems approach in addressing issues of sustainability. The systems approach to “building community food security requires an understanding of how communities interact with resources in their social and physical environments over extended periods of time. It also uses strategies that address broad systemic issues affecting food availability and quality” (McCullen 278). The Marketcargo project employs this food systems approach in its efforts.

“Everything that we do with Marketcargo is aimed at decreasing the environmental impact of the food we eat by supporting local producers, and inspiring others to do the same,” said Gunst. The project offered home delivery of the UBC Farm’s CSA boxes to houses west of Macdonald Street. This service was free as a part of the Co-op’s commitment to demonstrating that bikes are an easy and efficient way to haul heavy loads and creating a car-free Vancouver. Addressing issues of sustainability and environmental impact within Vancouver’s transportation system is one prong of this food systems approach to community food security. “With this program, the Co-op promoted active forms of transportation, reducing motor vehicle dependence, and supporting local food security” (Coop). This promotion of the project as a holistic approach to improving the community’s food security, environment, health and economy was key to its success. “A sustainable community food system improves the health of the community, environment and individuals over time involving a collaborative effort in a particular setting to build locally based, self-reliant food systems and economies” (McCullum 278). In Marketcargo’s promotion, the Coop spoke about the positive environmental impacts and the personal health benefits of cycling, and also the positive feedbacks of supporting the local food economy.

Although this project is a part of this larger food systems approach, it is not necessarily self-sufficient. One pitfall of projects that provide free service is that the funding to operate such projects must come from outside sources. Much of Marketcargo’s funding came from a Human Resources District Canada (HRDC) grant, and much of the labour was volunteered or for school credit. Many grassroots organizations and endeavors begin this way. The existence of grassroots projects is valuable and not to be discounted. However if our aim is to drastically alter our food system and sustain that, then efforts and resources must be geared towards evolving such projects into a self-perpetuating form.

As a foody, bike mechanic and amateur gardener I have a vested interest in projects that involve sustainable transportation and local food in Vancouver. I work at both Our Community Bikes (OCB) in town and The Bike Kitchen on campus. OCB is a non-profit bike shop that teaches and promotes folks to fix their own bicycles. It also develops and promotes the use of pedal-powered technology. Working for this fifteen-year-old organization, which is run by consensus, I have learned the importance of being an economically and socially sustainable operation. I have also become more critical of new projects that claim to be environmentally and socially conscious because of rampant ‘greenwashing’. However, with the increase in accessibility and popularity of projects such as Marketcargo that use a food systems approach, it is ultimately raising awareness. With increased awareness comes an increase in trust and investment in such community-focused projects. Thus leading to an overtaking of our current evil capitalist food system by a new locally environmentally and socially sustainable food system. Well, hopefully. We can call it Cyclofoodyism.

Reference:

Mc Cullum, C. “Evidence-Based Strategies to Build Community Food Security.”  American Dietetic Association. (2005) 278-283

Pedal Powered Produce – Marketcargo Helps Urban Farmers Switch Gears. Momentum July 29, 2009

Pedal-Powered Groceries. Kootenay Co-op Radio: Deconstructing Dinner October 1, 2009

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What started as a Directed Study Course in the Fall of 2007 at the University of British Columbia, has now turned into an event that students continue to look forward to every other Friday. From September to April, Community Eats is held at Sprouts in the Student Union Building (SUB) and attracts over 250 students, faculty and staff members as well as those who live within the UBC campus.

“In some ways it has been more than what we expected,” comments the Director of Community Eats, Renee Wild, “ there has been an increase of an average of 60 people per Community Eats since the end of last year.”

Renee is just one of many volunteers who helps to continue to make Community Eats an appreciated and educational lunch for everyone in the UBC community.

The idea behind Community Eats is simple. Everyone receives a free or by donation, nutritious hot lunch – provided they bring their own reusable containers.  While serving a delicious hearty stew, quinoa salad, fruit or donated bread from Terra Breads, one will learn about food security and available locally grown seasonal products.
Not only do so many people enjoy eating the lunch provided by Community Eats, the lunch is also delivered in a way that maximizes sustainability. Whether the volunteers are picking up bread through the bike coop program, taking a bus to the nearby Save on Foods or encouraging students to use only reusable containers, Community Eats is a well balanced initiative.

With the aid of local businesses, Community Eats is able to host lunches every other Friday. The event and the student volunteers have developed a strong partnership with local businesses and are very thankful that the following organizations are involved: BC Bike Coop, Save on Foods, Sprouts, Terra Breads and the UBC Farm are just to name a few. Not only does Community Eats benefit from receiving the donated food, but the employees at these businesses feel as though it is the right decision, “I am very thankful that you guys are picking up this food, it really means a lot to me” comments an employee at the newest Save on Foods at UBC, “…food that would have otherwise been thrown out.”

As an added incentive to support Community Eats, the remaining unused bread and/or produce will go directly to the UBC Food Bank. This year, the program is trying to indirectly make a difference in someone else’s life. Any leftover or unused food will go directly to the UBC Food Bank which is located just across from Sprouts.

We can thank a group of volunteers for making this event a success. Those people who pick up food every Wednesday prior to the event, and start cooking the very next day with ingredients they have on hand. The volunteers rely on the kitchen space on the main floor of the SUB. Depending on the produce they receive, the lunch is usually thrown together and surprisingly turns out to be a tasty and nutritious lunch. The cooking portion of Community Eats is a creative and social process, in which the volunteers are keen on sharing their recipe with others.

The intentions of Community Eats, not only encourages dialogue about food security issues, but “is one of the best lunches you can get around UBC – and it’s healthy too!”

comments a fourth year undergraduate student at UBC.

I experienced my first Community Eats about a month ago and was amazed at how popular it was. Lines ups were found nearing The Fringe Hair Design, students who appeared to be regulars, were waving and saying hello, and others were just excited to see what was on the menu. Laughter and excitement was heard throughout as well as students reading the educational components posted outside the door and on the nearby walls.

The surrounding environment was so uplifting I certainly believe that “…the power of food is used as a tool for building communities.”

“Since we don’t pay for the produce we use to cook and we have volunteers who organize the event, we don’t want students to have to pay for it,” explains Wild, “however, it’s not often that we’re able to collect staple foods (such as rice, beans and lentils) so we order it through Sprouts.”

The only reason they collect donations at Community Eats lunches is to help cover the oversets of these staple items.

From finding distributors, to picking up the food, to preparing the actual meal, the entire lunch is brought to you by student volunteers.

The volunteers help promote the anticipated vision of the whole event presented by the founders Caitlin Dorward and Heather Russell back in 2007. Wild explains the visionary process of Community Eats, “Picture it as a three fold. We serve people who wouldn’t normally get a healthy balanced lunch, a meal that is full of proteins and lots of veggies. Second, to use food that would otherwise be thrown away and to ultimately reduce waste. Lastly, Community Eats helps to create awareness about food security and how much food, styrofoam containers and cutlery is actually going to waste.”

The plan has lived up to what the founders have envisioned and are continuing to learn and improve the event.

Community Eats is just one tool to create awareness about food security issues. Without it, an immeasurable amount of food would be thrown out. Many students are drawn to the event because it is free. I strongly believe that if there was a cost associated with the lunch, it may deter people from coming and it goes against the main message that is being conveyed.

Since Sprouts has reopened its doors earlier this year, Community Eats lunches have continued to strive. Sure they would like to improve their main vision of the event, but overall it has been very successful. They are also planning to have Community Eats on a weekly basis starting in the New Year. “It has always been a goal to do it every week” comments Wild, “and with more interest in volunteering in the program, hopefully it will start to happen in January.”

Since its first lunch on October 26th, 2007,

the project has escalated and has become an event students look forward to. To some, it has changed the way they view food and have become consciously aware of what they eat.

If you are also interested in supporting Community Eats, they will soon be looking for volunteers for the newest Assistant Director positions. But if that is not of interest to you, stop by at the next Community Eats and experience what everyone has been talking about!

1 Wild, Renne. “Community Eats.” Community Eats. Blogger, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

2 Wild, Renne. “Community Eats.” Community Eats. Blogger, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

3 Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats. University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook%20_2__2.pdf

4 A comment a friend of mine made when we were eating at Community Eats.

5 Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats. University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook%20_2__2.

6 Wild, Renee. “Why Free? Why Donate?” Web log post. Community Eats. Blogger, 6 Feb. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

7 Wild, Renee. “Community Eats.” Sprouts: Healthy and Sustainable Food at UBC. UBC Sprouts, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://ubcsprouts.ca/communityeats.html>.

8 Wild, Renee. “Community Eats.” Sprouts: Healthy and Sustainable Food at UBC. UBC Sprouts, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://ubcsprouts.ca/communityeats.html>.

9 Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats. University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook%20_2__2.pdf


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The Gateway Project’s proposed freeway system is far from being the only option for development in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). Extensive research has been done to propose alternative development plans for the region. Alternatives to the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) fall under two groupings: those that wish to abolish entirely the development of a freeway system throughout the FVRD, and those that offer an alternative freeway route.

The Canadian Pacific Gateway Strategy is a federal initiative outlined in Bill C-68, also known as the Pacific Gateway Act (“Gov.” 2005). The Pacific Gateway Act sets policies to increase the economic prosperity of Canada through international trade with Asia. With rapidly expanding Asian economies, the coast of British Columbia is intended to serve as a gateway to Asia through exporting Canada’s natural resources, in return for cheap consumer products (“Gov.” 2006).

Regardless of the Pacific Gateway Strategy, a significant growth in population for the FVRD is expected to occur over the next 40 years. Vancouver’s current population of 2 million is expected to be 3 million by 2025, and 4 million by 2050 (“Sustainability” 2007). Most alternatives to the Gateway Projects freeway system do not address whether they advocate getting rid of the current proposed freeway system for the FVRD. Most alternative plans focus on how to manage an increasing population; however, it becomes clear that the two are undeniably linked.

Vancouver-based transportation consultant Deming Smith calls Vancouver “one of the healthiest and most liveable cities on the continent” (Doherty 2004). This is because Vancouver is “the biggest city in North America that does not have a freeway running through its heart” (Doherty 2004). According to Northeast Environment Watch, “one reason for Vancouver’s success is B.C.’s province-wide farmland protection policies, which established the ALR in the 1970s” (“Northwest” 2002). Seattle spreads across ¾ more land per resident than Vancouver. It has been estimated that if Vancouver had adopted Seattle-style sprawl development, approximately 4/5ths of the agricultural land that remains today would be developed.

Yet this is now the direction that development is heading in Vancouver with the Pacific Gateway Strategy and provincial Gateway Project. The SFPR and the other proposed freeways will encourage greater urban sprawl by making areas such as Delta, Langley, and Surrey more accessible by car. This will encourage increased development, and possibly even more roads in the future, which would mean removing more land from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for these purposes. Building compact communities is essential to preserving agricultural land. Instead of building Vancouver like another Seattle or Los Angeles, Patrick Condon of the University of British Columbia (UBC) has led a team of researchers and architects to come up with a 50 year vision for the region that promotes compact communities as well as a variety of transportation alternatives to the automobile. This plan is called “Sustainability by Design” (SxD), and does not involve building any new roads, yet it would still accommodate the projected population growth for the region. Dense urban nodes, and low-intensity transit such as walking, cycling, and a tram system, are at the heart of this plan.

The SxD plan does not necessarily imply that the Pacific Gateway Act be eradicated. By building compact communities that encourage walking and cycling, as well as investing in public transportation, already existing roads may be freed up to allow a greater transfer of goods (Doherty 2004). Eric Doherty, a master’s graduate from UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), wrote his thesis on alternative transportation ideas to the proposed freeway system in the FVRD. Eric argues that while freeway expansion has shown to increase car usage, when connected and located properly, transit expansion has shown to increase transit ridership (Doherty 2004). Doherty recommends buying more Skytrain cars instead of twinning the Port Mann, because the current Expo and Millennium Skytrain lines are only being used to half of their capacity: the tracks and station are designed for trains up to 2X as long as currently exist. He also recommends improving bus services South of the Fraser in Surrey, Langley, and Delta, which would improve connections to the Skytrain and reduce pressure on the Port Mann. This would not only eliminate the need for a new bridge, it would also eliminate the need for the SFPR – regardless of whether the Pacific Gateway Act is carried through.      

More dense urban communities and increased transportation has also been proposed by the City of Vancouver in their Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). This strategy recognizes that 5.4% of the FVRD’s 1.4 million hectares is highly productive agricultural land, and it aims to support and enhance the agricultural sector – among other things. It states that “the RGS promotes the development of a transportation system that supports compact urban development, promotes a network of sustainable communities, and minimizes intrusions on rural, recreational and agricultural lands” (RGS 2004). However, the city’s plans have been overridden by the larger provincial and federal strategies.

One alternative to the SFPR that does not challenge the idea of a freeway system for the FVRD is the Hoover/Naas Proposal. This plan would help to protect much of the farmland and the bog that is currently being threatened by the SFPR; however, as it would still encourage urban sprawl, it would increase the threat of future development in these areas. In short, the new route would follow an existing railroad line that goes out to where the rail line crosses with Hwy. 99. From there, semi-truck traffic could either go South on Hwy. 99 or North on Hwy. 91, and trucks would not be allowed access to the Massey Tunnel. There would also be a tunnel under the area from Surrey to Nordel and Hwy. 91, which would be much less destructive than building a highway right along the river bank. This proposed alternative highway would be faster and cheaper to build, and less disruptive to Delta residents. It would also protect Burns bog, as well as preserve farmland. This proposal has been rejected by the province because “The Hoover/Naas proposal to limit truck access to the George Massey Tunnel would significantly impact the transportation services necessary for a strong economy” (Haig 2008).

As worded by the Sustainability by Design proposal, “Our challenge, in this generation, is to transform our liveable region into a sustainable one” (“Sust.” 2007). A sustainable region is one that consists of substantial farmland to feed its citizens. All of the alternatives discussed here attempt, either directly or indirectly, to protect local agricultural land and to preserve the ALR: the Gateway Project does not. The SFPR threatens food security in the FVRD by paving over valuable farmland while more food will be imported from California – even though “a recent report by the National Geographic Society warns that studies predict the Southwestern U.S. is descending towards drought conditions, making it vital that we protect all farmland for a sustainable food supply” (Haig 2008). For this reason, among many others that have not been discussed here, the SFPR is not in the best interest of the FVRD, and alternative development strategies should be adopted.

 References:

Government of British Columbia. Pacific Gateway Strategy Action Plan, April 2006.

Web. December 1 2009.

Government of Canada. Bill C-68, October 2005. Web. November 25 2009.

Doherty, Eric (2004). Freeway Insanity. Seven Oaks Magazine. Web. November 23,

2009.

Haig, Wilma. “Re: 163107 ‐ South Fraser Perimeter Road.” Message to Minister of

Transportation. 4 March 2008. E-mail. Web. December 3, 2009.

Sustainability by Design 2.0: 2007-2020. UBC Design Centre for Sustainability. Web.

November 25, 2009.

Regional Growth Strategy. City of Vancouver, 2004. Web. November 23, 2009.

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I walked out into my mom’s backyard a few weeks ago and couldn’t help but notice a bin she had recently acquired, standing at the back of the yard. It was fairly large and had no markings on it; naturally, I was curious. When I asked her, she told me it was her new compost bin and that her good friend Lynn—whom had just attended the 19th Annual National Composting Conference, had convinced her to start composting. The benefits of composting are obvious and it turns out it is incredibly easy for anyone to do, so I called Lynn to ask her some questions about it.

At the conference which was held from September 30th to October 2nd, she got to be involved in a huge variety of activities that got her engaged with the composting community. On the first day they took a tour of the Comox Valley Regional District Compost Facility (CVRDCF) where they create and sell compost. The difference between this and composting at your own home is the quality of the composting itself. According to their website cited above, small-scale composters  are not able to reach the temperatures necessary to eliminate certain bacteria as well as deter animals that may contaminate the compost with their own waste, so certain products such as meat and dairy are not recommended to be included in backyard composting. The larger scale composters such as the CVRDCF have the technology and facility to control for these factors.

                After the tour, the council put on a series of interactive activities for educational purposes as well as networking.  The next day, the conference began the workshops where guest speakers lectured on a huge variety of topics. The first workshop Lynn attended was an overview of compost regulations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency  which included information on what is allowed to go into compost as well as systems of grading—among other things. 

Next they had a “Zero Waste Lunch” followed by a lecture on the uses of composting and another about compost promotion on a municipality level.

Overall she said her experience was incredibly informative and she was overwhelmed by the turn out. There are an enormous number of people interested in composting and  I definitely plan on looking into joining in on the next conference in 2010. You can find more information about the previous conferences at the Composting Council of Canada website.

You too can join the composting community; a few simple steps and you will be on your way.  There are many different ways to get started and it really depends on the space you are working with. Compost bins can be set up in almost any place—although because of the potential smell it is best to have your compost outside. If you live in an apartment you can put your compost bin on your patio.

If you are not feeling particularly up to building your own bin, you can purchase a plastic bin with a lid (to keep animals out). Make sure there are plenty of holes in whatever you choose to make it out of (drill holes in the bottom, sides, and top if necessary) to allow ventilation which helps decomposition.

Now it’s time to fill your compost bin. If your bin is open (no lid) avoid putting too much food in at once to avoid attracting animals but if you have a lid this should be an effective deterrent. You can include things like leaves, coffee grounds, grass clippings, fruit cores/peels, egg shells etc. To effectively start the decomposition process quicker, add dirt to the bin layered with your compostable materials. Keep the bin out of the sun to avoid drying out the soil—you can even spray it with water from time to time to keep it moist. Do not keep it too wet or you will notice the smell because the decomposition will be slowed by the extra moisture.

Every few days remember to shake your bin or stir it up to keep the air flow going through the bin.

If you want to take it another step further you can find/purchase some earth worms to help the composting process along. You can find out more about this process here .

It’s hard to determine when compost is “ready” as the decomposition process will continue even after it is ready for garden use. However Lynn mentioned she was told at the conference that “when it looks like dirt, it’s ready”.

I plan to start my composting adventure as soon as possible and if you do as well, good luck! And happy composting!

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I can honestly say that I have not been to a fast food restaurant in a long time, really the only time I eat fastfood is for a late night snack after the pit, however now I find myself walking to the bus loop to go home, rather than to McDonalds in the Village.

The fast food industry in Developing Countries
With the rapid increase in local food and a more health conscious public, fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) are no longer attracting the same number of customers as the restaurants did in the 1990’s. We no longer see the lines outside major fast food restaurants and these restaurants are no longer seen as popular “quick bites. These chains were previously  “cool” hangouts but are no longer considered popular meeting points for today’s youth. Customers who buy local are rarely seen eating popcorn shrimp at KFC or ordering chicken wings at Pizza Hut. But if you hop on a flight to Kathmandu, or easier just rewind time 15 hours to Wednesday November, 23, mid-day and picture the 1,000 plus crowd outside the KFC/Pizza hut in Kathmandu as thousands of people welcomed its first multinational chain of restaurants to enter the country of Nepal.

This forced many questions within my group of trekkers: one being why does a country that eats probably more local food than anywhere in the world welcome these chains? The answer is obvious as Nepal begs for more western capital investment. RJ Corp is the biggest bottler of Pepsi brands in Nepal and also the largest franchisee for YUM brands, mainly Pizza Hut and KFC. As stated by the officials of R J Corp, “Nepal is a promising market for these brands and their entry will give the Nepali economy a boost by creating job opportunities for locals”. The opening of these two fast food chains is said to give Nepali consumers the first local experience of an international food chain. Devyani International along with YUM Brands is the world’s largest restaurant company with five global brands and 35,000 outlets across 105 countries, and they are, “…excited to make their entry in the Nepalese restaurant circle and they have extensive plans for growth and expansion in this market”, says a R J Corp spokesperson. This expansion will in the end hurt Nepal and the people in the local restaurant industry.

The funny thing is that, “many of the ingredients for KFC and Pizza Hut are imported from abroad, including the chicken from Brazil and potatoes from Australia”, and this will be the case as ingredients will shipped to India then brought to Nepal. The most common food in Nepal is daal bhat, which consists of Rice (bhat), and a bean soup (Daal), and whenever I enjoyed it (at least once a day) it was accompanied with potatoes. The people of Nepal eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Almost everything I ate while I was in Nepal included potatoes as an ingredient. So why would YUM ship in potatoes over 5,000 miles from Australia to Nepal when the locals would be glad to sell produce to YUM? And why is there a belief that consumers in Nepal are ready for an international eating-out experience, as one RJ Corp official stated.

On a Global Level

In educating the world of the benefits of eating local, which 99.9% of Nepal has no choice but to do, it is important that we stop the growth and expansion of international chains. And if it is necessary for the YUM brands to expand into the developing world and benefit communities by providing jobs, it should be addresses that these franchises attempt to use local ingredients. Personally I think RJ Corp is trying to exploit Nepal and the introduction of Pizza Hut and KFC will not help Nepal’s economy. Sure it will provide jobs but the amount of customers taken from the local restaurants will do more harm than good. Not to mention that soon we will see a McDonalds, Burger King, Dairy Queen, (and the list goes on) in the Center of Durbar Square and on the main street of Pokhara.

On A Local Level
The common phrase “the solution to pollution is dilution” is a motto that states that an adequate amount of pollution is not harmful if spread out over a large area. Although not entirely accurate the phrase alone is catchy and has increased the awareness of pollution on a global level. So, where is the chant phrase for the local farmers or the sandwich shop next-door to the Subway, or the Tim’s Produce across from the Safeway?
Lets start the dictum that: In order to get the world to eat local, we must be Vocal. The more people that express the interest in locally grown food to be served in community restaurants, sold in markets, and cooked buy street vendors, the more the seller will be inclined to please the costumer by buying local. Next time you are out to eat, order the BC Beef, and maybe some local greens. All I ask is that you think twice about ordering the exotic fruit salad.

Works Cited
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j

http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/

http://www.yum.com/

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The Bees Knees

Leonard Foster: Apiarist and Researcher Photo by Robert Karpa

 

 

Sweet honey, wax candles, and the fatal run in with a bee hive in the classic film, “My Girl,” might be the only things that come to mind when we think of honey bees today; you could even say we have taken them for granted.  Leonard Foster, the main apiarist at the UBC farm, does not fail to appreciate the honey bees as he notes his allure with them to be “absolutely fascinating, the social structure of the hive, the intricacies of the waggle dance and questions like what makes a queen a queen?” Just in the last few years supervised populations of European honey bees have experienced considerable losses.  Leonard explains the reasons for the decreases are different in Canada than the US.  He reveals that “in Canada it is fairly clear that a couple diseases, Varroa mites and Nosema, are responsible for a lot of the losses.  A lot of bees in Canada end up starving or succumbing to the weather.”

Leonard feels that “if beekeeping was a little more profitable a lot of it (depopulation) would not happen. For example, if a beekeeper could hire an assistant to help feed bees and insulate them better or move them to a warmed building over winter then losses from starvation and exposure would be dramatically decreased.”  In a food industry that might not appreciate beekeeping as much as needed, he expresses that “beekeeping is incredibly hard work for very little return and if it was valued more highly it would help the industry enormously.”

In a city with a poverty rate climbing, the “Downtown Eastside homelessness increased 373% between 2002 and 2008.”  The topic of food security seems to be right along there with it; the faculty of Land and Food Systems here at UBC highlights this issue focusing on such aspects as Affordability, Accessibility, and Sustainability.  Leonard believes “that by-and-large the problems affecting bees are not irreversible. Thus, while at some point bees will decline to the point where it has a big impact on food, the system will ultimately be able to correct itself when priorities shift.”  I guess the question is will our priorities shift?

In 2005 the City of Vancouver Policy Report addresses Hobby Beekeeping or “urban apiculture” in Vancouver with several recommendations; predominately under the guidelines from “section 4.1 of the Health By-law, the prohibition against operating an apiary or keeping of bees in the city of Vancouver.”  This policy also briefly outlines the Provincial Bee Act which “requires anyone who operates honeybee colonies to be registered with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (BCMAL) – if a person is contravening this registration process, BCMAL Apiculture staff have the authority to destroy or dispose of the honeybees or beehive equipment in the possession of the unregistered individual.”  Later in this report, proposed benefits for urban apiculture include “increase biodiversity and pollination for horticultural plants in backyard, community and public gardens.”  It suggests that “hobby beekeeping is considered to be part of a broader Urban Agriculture strategy currently being developed under the umbrella of the City’s food policy mandate.”  Leonard notes, “Vancouver only recently started allowing back-yard beekeeping again and they could certainly do more to encourage that, for example, subsidizing beginner beekeeping courses.”  Perhaps priorities have started to shift in the city of Vancouver over the last four years.

At the UBC farm “bees play a pretty predominant role in a lot of the Farm’s outreach activities,” says Leonard, but “Getting more people out to those activities and holding more educational activities would certainly help.”  Native to McBride BC and son to two teachers, Leonard has been studying bees since his senior year at high school; since his time at the UBC farm (2005) he has learned one positive aspect of this recent depopulation; it is Leonard’s hope through this struggle to make people more aware, but most importantly “value what bees do for us more.”

 

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It’s easy to enjoy the best local food in Vancouver when you can control the menu. But going out to a restaurant can be a bit tricky. Nowadays, some restaurants in Vancouver are trying to put local ingredients front and center. Chefs are choosing to support local farmers by prominently featuring British Columbian grown food on their menus.

While buying local food for a restaurant can be slightly more challenging than buying from a wholesale food distributor, it isn’t as hard as you might think. There has been an increase in the number of small farms and farmer’s markets throughout British Columbia.

With an abundance of readily available locally grown products, lets start thinking local by choosing to eat BC food and beverages whenever possible. To help you get started, I will provide a guide to help you familiarize yourself to some of the local restaurants that are a part of the “Get Local Business Alliance”. These restaurants are committed to selling and serving locally grown food in the Lower Mainland and its surrounding areas.

1. Pair Bistro: 3763 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

Pair Bistro, is located in the heart of Point Grey, just minutes from UBC and is one of the restaurants in Vancouver serving only “All BC all the time”. Since 2004 the Bistro has been committed to serving locally sourced ingredients.  The menu, for instance, doesn’t list starters or entrees, but lists dishes by price, from a Wild Mushroom Latte ($3) to a Pinot Braised Kettle Valley Spring Lamp Shank ($25). Some dishes like the oven roasted garlic or the cranberry pate, appear to be self-sufficient, but most are meant to “pair” with “earthy bites” such as rosemary Pemberton potatoes and Red & Gold Candied Beets.

We’re talking local and organic wherever possible.

2. O’Doul’s Restaurant and Bar: 1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC

O’Doul’s sets the standard for eco-friendly practices. They are committed to purchasing from local suppliers by sourcing ethically produced goods. As active members of Green Table Member, Ocean Wise and Get Local, they are passionate about supporting local farms. Behind the scenes, this restaurant has adopted practices to ultimately attempt to reduce its carbon footprint. Executive Chef Chris Whittaker’s menu puts emphasis on serving a fresh harvest of the Fraser delta and the bounty of the Pacific. If Citrus and Maple-cured BC Sablefish Fillet or Qualicum Bay scallops sound tempting, then make a trip to O’Doul’s and pair your cuisine with locally sourced Okanagan or Vancouver Island wines.

3. Raincity Grill: 1193 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC

Raincity Grill was one of the first restaurants in the city to take advantage of local ingredients and produce and in doing so has helped define Pacific Northwest cuisine. Harry Kambolis, owner of Raincity Grill as well as C Restaurant and Nu Restaurant + Lounge is devoted to serving sustainable seafood from our local waters and ingredients that are distinctive and homegrown. With a “Farm to Table” commitment, these restaurants have partnered up with local artisan farmers throughout the Lower Mainland and its surrounding areas.

Raincity Grill also features a “100 Mile Tasting Menu” every last Monday of the month. The fixed menu selects local dishes where the star of the plates are the vegetables from our local farms. “The need to protect valuable farm land and encourage the production of more sustainable local food sources, has prompted us to look to vegetables as the next muse for our creativity,” comments Executive Chef Robert Clark. This Monday, Raincity Grill will be featuring dishes from North Arm Farm in Pemberton and Out Landish Seafood Guild from Cortes Island.

There you have it. Five local restaurants featuring a delicious menu with ingredients produced locally. Lets start feeling good about what we eat and start rethinking where we go out to dine.

When buying locally grown products we can support our bioregion, local community and at the same time create a connection with our food. Food miles are an important factor to consider when we look at which food is best.

Food that is grown within British Columbia is transported only 100-200 kilometers at most, whereas it would take an average of 2,300 kilometers if we bought products from foreign countries.

When eating food, we must remember the environmental costs associated in the transportation involved in shipping these products to BC. Not to mention that products are increasingly more fresh and full of vital nutrients.

Some restaurants are shifting and focusing on buying local ingredients not for its freshness, but for those consumers who are becoming increasingly conscious of eating locally grown products. Please show your support for your local farmers (and your local chef) by making your reservation today!

NB: For a complete listing of caterers, grocery stores, growers and producers who sell locally grown products, please refer to the get local website.

1 “Pair.” Pair Bistro. Patio. Wine Bar. Oyster House & Taps. Pair. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. <http://www.pairbistro.ca/HOME.html>.

2 “Welcome to O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar.” Welcome to O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar. O’Doul’s Restaurant, 2008. Web. 24 Nov. 2009. <http://www.odoulsrestaurant.com/>.

3 Edible Designs. “100 Mile Tasting Menu.” Menus. Raincity Grill, 2006. Web. 24 Nov. 2009. <http://www.raincitygrill.com/aboutus.cfm>.

4 “Manager of Raincity Grill.” Telephone interview. 23 Nov. 2009.

5 Footprint Choices. “Why buy locally grown or produced food?” Why buy locally grown or produced food? Footprint Choices, 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2009. <http://www.slowmovement.com/local_shops.php>.


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Food Security and The Harvest Project

According to the World Resources Institute, over 2 billion people worldwide live in hunger every day.  “Food security”– a commonly used phrase which is often thrown around in discussions of organics, GMO’s, small farms etc.–can be defined as the safety and accessibility of an individual’s food supply.  While it takes no stretch of the imagination to envision many places the world over where people suffer from hunger and starvation, food security is not just an issue of faraway places.  Many residents of Vancouver do not have reliable access to healthy, affordable food—which may come as no surprise in a city with such a high-cost of living.

A few organizations in Vancouver have made it their concern to improve this situation, which typically comes down to a question of distribution and access to readily available food.  The Harvest Project in North Vancouver, whose motto is “extending a hand up, not a hand out,” is just such an organization.

The Harvest Project is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to serve marginalized families and individuals and to “help them cope with difficult life circumstances…to overcome challenges and move towards being self-sufficient once again.”  In addition to providing counseling services, and clothing, the Harvest Project supplies its clients with grocery parcels to support those who are unable to provide food for themselves.  The organization supplies over 2000 clients with a total of $730,000 in non-perishables as well as a large quantity of perishable items on an annual basis.

Currently the Harvest Project has expanded its efforts to provide fresh, perishable groceries to its beneficiaries with the support and direction of Vancouver Coastal Health.  This effort is made possible by a newly-acquired refrigerated van which is used to collect produce and other goods which would typically be discarded as waste from grocery stores and restaurants.

As we have often discussed in class with regards to dumpster diving and other methods of food reclamation, “waste” food is a highly controversial subject.  What defines some food as “waste?”  And how much of this discarded food is still acceptable for consumption, but does not meet our expectations for appearances?     Too often, large quantities of food which have been slightly bruised, broken or otherwise damaged are tossed out by grocery stores and produce stands because they are no longer sellable due to a their less-than-perfect appearance.  Goods like pastries or bread which have a shelf-life of several days are discarded only a few hours after baking because they are no longer “fresh.”  What happens to all of this food?  Usually the large majority of food items which are not donated to charity by food retailers end up in the landfill.  This unfortunate circumstance can be explained by legal regulations which encourage businesses to waste food rather than make it available to the needy.  If food is kept outside the “safe zone” of temperature regulation—i.e. kept in clean, but unrefrigerated waste bins—businesses can be held legally accountable for any food-related illnesses experienced by its consumption.  This means that if a hungry person were to take discarded food from the dumpsters of a restaurant or grocery store and subsequently became ill, the business would be liable for this illness.  Legal liability, in this case, encourages Vancouver businesses not only to waste an incredible amount of usable food, but to lock their dumpsters and waste bins in order to keep the hungry out.

Luckily, for groups like the Harvest Project, Vancouver policy makers took issue with this enormous level of waste and formulated a legal policy to encourage businesses to donate their waste food to charitable organizations.  This act, named “The Food Donor Encouragement Act,” releases businesses and individuals from any legal liability surrounding food which is donated to and distributed by non-profit organizations.   Thanks to this act, the Harvest Project is now able to collect a much higher volume of produce and fresh goods for its charity efforts than in previous years.  Not only does this augment the overall number of food items they are able to provide for their clients, but it also contributes to a higher quality—clients are no longer given only canned goods and processed foods, but fresh (often local and organic) produce.  In addition, the project has now developed a second facet to its food recovery program which involves its clients in community kitchen projects where they learn “hands-on skills with fresh food preparation.”  As part of their mission statement to “extend a hand up, not a hand out,” the Harvest Project takes their efforts at contributing to local residents’ food security to another level.  They implement policies which not only encourage businesses to contribute to local food security for the needy, but they give their clients the skills to take the issue into their own hands.

 

Works Referenced:

Harvest Project. Chris Hutchcroft Consulting, 2009. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. <http://www.harvestproject.org/&gt;.

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“These salmon that we’ve eaten, they’ll be coming back again. Building himself back to give us life. [It] meant that it was rejuvenated just like he came year after year to feed the Indian people because this was the way of God. –Harold Culpus, First Nations elder of the Sto:Lo People

It can be heard on the rustling riverbanks. With the late summer wind comes the vigorous and epic migration of one of the defining creatures of the Pacific Northwest. Coho. Chinook. Chum. Sockeye. Pink. The Salmon. Water current fierce as they swim upstream; their bellies scrape against the shallow river, and they climb onwards. Historically, First Nations have depended on the salmon (and many still do) for survival; and in Pacific Northwest indigenous culture, salmon represent a circle. But these life-giving creatures of historic abundance are now under serious threat, more than ever.

Deeply sacred for many First Nations communities, salmon have long-time been a source of sustenance, spirit, and connection to the land. Delbert Frank, of the Sto:Lo First Nations near Chilliwack says this of salmon: “religious ceremony is number one, our sufficient use is number two, and trading and commercializing are last.” He continues on to state that the opposite is happening now in our society, he feels like our priorities are entirely backwards, that we are entrenched in valuing commodification over honouring these fish.

Looking at the human impacts on salmon life-cycles, it appears Delbert is onto something. The environmental scars that salmon populations face across the Pacific Northwest are widespread and in many cases, irreversible. Some impacts are agribusiness (increased salinity, farm sewage and carcinogenic pesticide drainage), steam diversions for irrigation, power dams (changing river depth, temperature, or speed), clear-cut logging causing erosions or floods, urban and roadside runoff into streams, foreign invasive fish species competition, interbreeding with farmed salmon (resulting in genetic mixing), and the growing impact of sea-lice derived from salmon farms along the coast. Due to a combination of these impacts on our salmon, over 1/3 of streams in the Lower Fraser are now devoid of salmon.

One ground-breaking organization that has noticed the severe impacts and generated very plausible solutions to many of these issues is the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF). In the past week, he published online video called ‘I AM FISH’, which explores the relationship between oceans, fish and what we can do to lessen our impacts on marine ecosystems. “Humans have a unique opportunity”, he states to protect our salmon. He highlights this importance and says that “many First Nations that depend on healthy oceans and abundant ocean life (salmon especially) as a primary source of food.” Furthermore, ‘An Upstream Battle’, a scientific report published by the David Suzuki Foundation analyzes the declines in ten Pacific Salmon stocks across British Columbia in great detail. Extensive data has been collected for decades for most stocks and the statistical findings details staggering evidence that salmon runs are getting increasingly lower, on average, per year.

Some of the big solutions that the DSF proposed can be found here, and some of them include: writing a letter to Gordon Campbell asking the BC Government to “invest in the protection and sustainable management of BC’s ocean fisheries.” We can aid in stopping the expansion of unsustainable salmon farming practices across BC and helping to protect salmon habitat, especially heavily polluted streams. Additionally, if purchasing salmon at the grocery story, be sure to note if it is certified Ocean Wise.

The impacts on these silver pathfinders are threatening as their habitat spans the rivers, the oceans, and forests. They heavily rely on the interconnectedness between these systems. We live in an unprecedented time, and it calls for unprecedented action. We need to rediscover the spirituality of salmon, the salmon song for their continued survival, and ours.

“I supposed all said, this is my soul, the salmon rolling in the straight and the salt air loaded with cream for our breathing.” – Richard Hugo

References:

Sockeye Migration Photo Credit: David Suzuki Foundation

Harold Culbus. Kboo Audio Interview. 1980. Salmon Nation Artists Project.

Delbert Frank. Kboo Audio Interview. 1980. Salmon Nation Artists Project

All additional references available by link within article.

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