Change Your Mind. What is Red Meat?

 

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 Although society consists of gourmet everything, just around the corner, the public would be surprised to learn the potential alternatives to the food they consume.

  • Lentils/Beans are a greatsource of protein.
  • Tofu is all about the way it’s prepared.
  • Chicken and Fish are just a better choice!

Now, it is easy enough for consumers to feel as though they are giving up an essential part of their diet, the tricky part is convincing them to replace it with something better!

 

 A great deal of people (like all of us!) feel as though once something is cut out from your diet by choice, your desire for this food heightens, leaving your cravings more profound than ever… “I wont eat chocolate today” turns into “I need chocolate now!” But it is easy to remind yourself of the reasons for this choice, (I kind of want to look good for summer?) especially when dealing with such an important change. Numerous reasons helping the “pros” side include health, the environment and of course cost effective strategies. – umm who doesn’t want to save money? –  Releasing the appetite for red meat consumption is no overnight decision, despite the fact that in today’s world there is any number of substitutions. The success of this process will be based on the self-determination and motivation each individual must possess, to overcome such a difficult challenge. (You can do it!) However, upon completion, the benefits are outstanding!

Carnivore to “Not so Dinosaur!”

The alternatives for red meat on the market today are incredible, from meat replacements such as beans and lentils, to tofu well, everything. Making the switch from carnivore to “not so dinosaur” easier than ever.

The basic vegetarian diet gains it’s protein from any number of sources, made up of nuts, seeds, legumes, soy and eggs. Still further, not all meat is bad; “white meat” consisting of chicken and fish are in most ways just as healthy. Always eating the unprocessed, organic products leaves no room for unhealthy red meat. Not only is this change easy, its cost effective as well, altering your food bill by essentially cutting it in half. Yes! Cutting it in half!

And yet again, a can of lentils or fresh green beans from the farmers market make a pack of pork bacon look like something for the rich and famous. Touching on the health factor of this diet, red meat has been linked to multiple types of illnesses, including heart disease, high cholesterol and sodium levels and most severely cancer. Throughout multiple studies, different results of the consumption of red meat have occurred, most recently according to the Harvard School of Public Health the more red meat you eat the greater your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Each disease is caused by the countless chemicals that are pumped into meat today! Its scary. Our bodies have gone through thousands of years of evolution to create a digestive system that is well equipped for our red meat intake, but with the changes happening today, the consequences for eating too much is disastrous.

 Summing it Up:

 

            Therefore, it isn’t just our personal health we must worry about, it is our surroundings as well. Red meat is an easy food group to cut out of your day to day diet, are you up for the challenge? 

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Food Waste in our Landfills

by Roselyn Savady

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Many people are not aware of what happens when they throw away their leftovers, but composting is just as important as recycling plastic bottles and cans because it effects climate change.

In Metro Vancouver, nearly 1 million tonnes of waste goes into our landfills each year. About 40% of our garbage is food. By 2015, all organic waste will be banned from the landfills.

Why is it important to compost?

  • When organic waste decomposes, it gives off carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Food waste will be covered in garbage and will decompose without oxygen and create methane gas (CH4), which is 20 more potent than CO2.
  • Both CO2 and CH4 are greenhouse gases (GHG).
  • When too much of the gas goes into the atmosphere, it pollutes our air and creates a blanket around the surface of the earth.
  • That blanket becomes thicker and thicker as we create more waste, while absorbing heat from the Sun.
  • Our planet is now becoming hotter, which is known as global warming.

How do we compost?

  • Most municipalities in Metro Vancouver offer green bins to be picked up, usually once a week and taken to a composting facility.
  • All consumable food waste, soiled paper (even pizza boxes), and yard trimmings can go into the organics cart. Things that are not allowed are plastic, metal, glass, pet waste, and diapers.
  • Start a backyard, balcony or a worm compost. It is great for your garden because of the nutrient-rich fertilizer it creates to help the soil retain moisture.
  • You can call your municipality to purchase a bin for approximately $25 each and they can help you set it up.

What’s in it for you?

  • Composting is not only great for the environment, it helps save us money.
  • We can reduce the amount of food we throw away buy planning meals carefully and buying fewer products with less packaging to avoid unnecessary waste.
  • Municipalities in Metro Vancouver also save money by spending less on managing recycling and operational costs. Your tax dollars could be used on more important matters.
  • The most sustainable way to manage waste is to compost.
  • You can stay healthy by growing vegetables in your own garden or community garden, throwing the left over organic waste into the compost, and then turning it into fertilizer which goes back into your garden. This cycle converts all the organic waste from our landfills.
  • We will have much higher air quality.  Less garbage means fewer trucks on the road and fewer trucks on the road means less GHG emissions going into the atmosphere.

Each household in Metro Vancouver produces about 860 kilograms of garbage a year. Just one household makes a huge difference. Imagine if every residential and commercial property in your community separated their food scraps and garbage. This would  keep millions of tonnes of garbage out of our landfills each year. We would live in a much cleaner environment.

Let’s encourage others to be more conscious of disposing waste and make use of the green bins. It’s time to take action!

Take a Deep Breathe: Simple Ways to Keep Our Air Clean

One major issue Canadians are dealing with today is pollution; pollution of land, pollution of water, and especially pollution in the air. Contamination of the air is unhealthy, not only for humans, but also for the environment and all the other living beings that are affected by our decisions. The most air polluting thing someone can do is to drive a car. By driving too often, are harming the environment, and without a healthy natural environment we are putting the health of everyone on our planet at risk. One way Canadians are able to easily decrease their contribution to pollution is to start taking public transit.

Air pollution from traffic on roads has been linked to many illnesses. Studies throughout the world have proven that kids living in high traffic areas are more prone to respiratory-related illnesses then those who do not. Living in these areas can also aggravate asthma, heart attack, coronary artery disease and increased risk of death from respiratory and cardiac conditions. By adding to the pollution problem, people are not only harming themselves, but also taking the healthof others into their own hands.

2007 SBP Cubs Outing: Cubs v San Fran

The environment is greatly affected by pollution as well. The part of the environment that is affected the most is the ozone layer. Chemicals and fumes that are released in vehicle exhaust are slowly breaking down the ozone layer. This is leading to global warming. The thinning of the ozone layer and more heat entering the atmosphere is causing changes to occur. According to Health Guidance, ice caps are melting, animals’ habitats are being destroyed, leading to extinction, and change in growing seasons is resulting in scarcer crops. This is a problem that is affecting not only Canadians but every citizen of the Earth.

A simple way to reduce your carbon footprint is to use public transit into your daily commute. The five easiest ways to cut down burning fossil fuels are to walk, cycle, carpool, taking public transit, and not to idle when in your car. There are no greenhouse gases released when someone chooses to walk, bike or use the skytrain. Three times less is released when someone carpools with just one other driver, as opposed to if each of them drove their own truck or SUV. These issues may not seem like a big deal when you are relating it to just yourself, so instead think of how your choice can affect others thinking. Think of the difference it would make to the environment if after you chose to be more green you were able to convince two of your friends to do the same thing, and then they persuaded two more each. Over time the population would slowly turn to public transit and carpooling to commute. It may seem to be a small attempt to “save the world” when one person acts on their own, but hundreds, or thousands of passionate individuals banding together could very well save our planet.

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Food Waste and how it affects us

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It is estimated that half of all food produced worldwide, is wasted[1]. When food waste is thrown in the garbage, it goes on to decompose in landfills, producing over 20 per cent of Canada’s methane gas emissions. Methane gas is a greenhouse gas partly responsible for climate change. Organic waste collection services have been put in place throughout many cities in the Lower Mainland. However, Metro Vancouver, which is responsible for all of the Lower Mainland’s garbage, reports many people are still throwing their leftover food in the garbage, unwilling to try the new system. Moreover, many restaurants and grocery stores, which throw hundreds of pounds of food waste in landfills weekly, have yet to obtain affordable private pick-up for their food scraps to contribute to landfill diversion. However, by 2015, all businesses and residents will be banned from throwing organic waste, including food scraps, in the garbage.

The City of Vancouver says that “if every resident living in a house and duplex in Vancouver recycled food scraps for a whole year, we’d remove 2,800 trucks worth of food scraps from the landfill.”[2] Preliminary testing of the organic waste pick-up system concluded that organic waste collection services can reduce household garbage output by as much as 90 to 95 per cent. This reduction enabled cities to change their garbage collection schedule to two-week intervals, instead of one. Reducing the pick-up by half also reduces the environmental impact of service trucks, by half. In fact, organic waste collection has become so effective that Progressive Waste Solutions’ collection trucks, which service the City of Surrey, are run exclusively on compressed natural gas, a by-product of organic waste.

Metro Vancouver says that about “40% of all food waste comes from businesses and institutions. This amounts to over 100,000 tones every year.”[3] Obtaining private pick-up, or an on-site composting machine, is quite reasonably priced for private institutions. The industrial sized compost machines cost 10 to 25 thousand dollars, and produce high quality soil that can be resold or used for onsite gardens.[4]

Organic waste, once it is collected from the participating cities and businesses, is transported to the Fraser Richmond Soil & Fibre Facility, located in Richmond, B.C. The organic waste, including the paper bags that contain it, are placed in a composting pile. It is then transformed into high-quality soil and mulch, which is then distributed throughout B.C.[5]

Immense progress is happening throughout Metro Vancouver, changing the impact of our garbage. The City of Surrey is in the process of developing its own organics biofuel facility. The facility will convert organic waste into a renewable biomethane. Biomethane is a renewable, pipeline quality, natural gas, which can be used as a substitute for conventional automobile gasoline. The gas created at the facility will be used to fuel the existing waste collection fleet. Any excess gas will be piped directly into the FortisBC gas utility.

Again, by 2015, all businesses and residents will be banned from throwing organic waste, including food scraps, in the garbage. This ban includes, but is not limited to, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, health care facilities, offices, and shopping malls. Some options available to business owners include on-site composting (advanced, mess-free systems are available), food donation, or private organic waste pick-up services. One benefit of complying before the mandatory deadline, could be avoiding inflated costs for businesses.

The next time you are at home cleaning up after a meal, try taking the extra step to open your kitchen sized compost bin, instead of your waste bin, and watch your garbage output decrease greatly. To find out more, visit Metro Vancouver’s website http://www.metrovancouver.org, or contact your local municipality. If you aren’t on board already, it’s time to hop on.

E. coli: The Invisible Danger

ecoli bacterium

BC boast’s some of the best drinking water in the world. But when one simple, common bacteria, E. coli enters your water source, your drinking water can become deadly. This is what the town of Chilliwack, BC has encountered. But what are your options when your water source becomes infected by this bacterium and what exactly is E. coli?

The silent killer

E. coli is a very inconspicuous bacterium. With no smell or taste, it can be near impossible to tell that your water or food is harboring it and can leave you clinging to your life. The most common breeding grounds for E. coli are human or animal intestines. When the correct steps have not been taken to compost cow manure and it is used as a fertilizer, vegetables and fruits can become contaminated. There are hundreds of strains of E. coli, some of them more deadly and advanced than the others and tests have found that the most deadly strains have evolved since the 60’s. [1] E. coli is easily passed from hand to hand or mouth contact. Most cases of E. coli can clear up by themselves but some cases can cause hospitalization or death. Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a severe strain of the bacterium that can cause serious illness. Symptoms include, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Some strains of E. coli can even cause urinary tract infections. With its easily spread nature; it’s not surprising that E. coli can end up in our water source. Rain can cause E. coli bacterium, coming from animal and human wastes, to be washed into ground water, creeks, or springs that are used as sources of drinking water.

E. coli in action

In Febuary 2013, this is what happened in Chilliwack, BC. A boil water advisory was given to residents of the Greendale area within the city after E. coli bacteria had been found in the water supply. The local health authority proposed that in order to continue operating as a municipal drinking water system, immediate chlorination of the water to prevent the spread and outbreak of the E. coli bacteria would need to take place within the city. This proposal came after the bacterium had been found not just this time, but in three separate samples taken over the last few years. It was determined that the bacterium had most likely made its way into the system through bird or bat droppings getting into hilltop reservoirs. The E.coli strain found in the water was not deadly but posed many health risks to citizens and was detected in three per cent of the houses that ran on the water system. [2]

The citizens outlook

But Chilliwack’s Mayor Sharon Gaetz had other thoughts. She was furious at the idea of chlorinating the city’s water and emphasized the pride that the people of Chilliwack take in the quality of their water. As well as pointing out how adding chlorine would affect the taste, she explained that chlorine is linked to colon and bladder cancer. She claimed that previous cases of E. coli in Chilliwack’s water were isolated and that sanitation measures were taken to prevent any further contamination. The citizens of Chilliwack felt the same way as their mayor, creating an online petition against the health authority’s proposal. According to Gaetz, the levels of E. coli tested very low for this incident, in fact, the lowest you can read for E. coli. [3]

The outcome

Despite Gaetz’s and other citizen’s efforts to oppose the proposal, the city of Chilliwack was forced to begin chlorinating it’s water a few weeks later under the province’s Drinking Water Protection Act. The chief medical officer of the Fraser Health Authority, Dr. Van Buynder pointed out that any level of E. coli, no matter how low, is dangerous and that water should simply not contain E. coli readings. [4] One day after chlorination began, Greendale’s water was retested and it was determined that Chilliwack’s water supply was E. coli free. The chlorination system remained on standby until further testing was done to explain why E. coli had been present on previous reports. A week later The Fraser Health authority had instructed the City of Chilliwack to begin chlorinating their water full time. A $1.5 million chlorination system had to be upgraded, at the expense of water users and grants. [5]

Other cases we’ve seen

Many citizens we’re disappointed that their online petition was not a success and insisted that they were going to continue to fight. But not every case of E. coli contamination has ended as positively as this one. In May 2007 in Walkerton, Ontario the water supply became contaminated by a deadly strain of the bacteria. About 5,000 people in the small community became sick and seven people died as a result of the contaminated water. [6] As well, in 2011 sprouts from an organic farm in the Northern German village of Bienenbuettel were linked to 51 deaths in Germany, one in the U.S. and one in Sweden. 4,000 people fell ill because of the incident. [1]

For now, though their water may not win any more awards any time soon, the citizens of Chilliwack can rest assured that their water is 100% safe for consumption and E. coli free. Tanks are now being monitored 50 times a week as opposed to the required 21 times. [2] Citizens can avoid the chlorine taste in their new water system by installing a water filter on their tap that uses activated carbon.

Tracking Your Carbon Footprint

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The 11th Hour

This planet has roughly two hundred countries across its continents. In all its diversity, there is one common concern that it must address before the effects become irreversible, global climate change.

Climate change is apart of the earth’s natural course, which involves changes in weather and temperature. Unfortunately, due to human influences, the rise of the industrial revolution has left adverse effects on the Earth’s natural stability[1].

Through practice we can preserve the earth’s resources for future generations. We often forget that humans are not the only species on Earth; we are joined by billions of different species on this planet. Not only are we destroying our own environment but we are also impacting ecosystems all over the world. As a community, we should help society contribute to leading a more sustainable life.

We can do so by reducing our carbon footprint. If you are unfamiliar with it, the term “carbon footprint” is used to describe the impact an individual has on our planet. By impact, we mean the level of consumption that one uses and the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the environment as a result [2].  There are many contributing factors to a person’s carbon footprint including energy use, transportation and general lifestyle choices such as our diet [3]. Reducing our carbon footprint will mean regulating our general utilization and perhaps, making a few lifestyle changes which will contribute to the overall preservation of the environment.

Being conscious of the environment and living a renewable lifestyle, involves us practicing more environmentally friendly methods. For example, the city of Burnaby has a garbage and recycling program that also collects household food waste [4]. Many local communities, like this one, have effective plans in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

As an individual, there are a few simple ways that we can contribute to the environment. To preserve energy, we can try switching to energy efficient light bulbs or investing in high-energy appliances; they use less power and preserve more water. We should only use what we need; gluttony is not an attractive sin. We must also remember to recycle everything possible. Tedious? Yes. But think about the waste we are keeping out of the landfills. Many recycling depots also offer to recycle old and used electronics that are taking up space in storage.

The reality of the issue is that we are not doing enough to reduce our carbon footprint. According to Andrew Sims, a writer of the Guardian, conducted an article on August 23, 2013 stating that ” the world goes into ecological debt, or “overshoot” – an estimate of the moment in the year when humanity has consumed more natural resources and created more waste than our biosphere can replace and safely absorb over a 12-month period”[5]. This means, in 8 months, we have already consumed more from the planet than it can replace in a years time. Here’s another way to look at it; imagine filling up your garbage bin to the top and having it be the only garbage bin in your household. You keep filling it up and it flows over until the city comes to collect it. You’ve used the entire volume of the bin and the garbage has nowhere to go but sit there and pile up. These are some of the ways climate change impacts our lifestyle and how our lifestyle impacts climate change.

As inhabitants of this fine planet, we need to focus on what is best for our environment by contributing as a community to make our societies a more sustainable atmosphere. This focus does not always require a drastic change. Often, it is the little changes that will make the most difference. So, sit back and think. Are you satisfied with the way you live or are you willing to provide for the greater good of the planet? To make your decision, go online to find a carbon footprint calculator and see how we can all begin to make a difference.


[1] (Government of Canada, 2012)

[2] (Dictionary.com)

[3] (David Suzuki Foundation)

[4] (City of Burnaby)

[5] (Simms, 2013)