Where is Your Broccoli From?

With food icons like Jamie OlivImageer telling us to eat at home and eat healthier foods instead of fast food and pre-cooked meals, we are becoming constantly more aware of what we are putting into our bodies. However, we seem to have forgotten another important aspect of buying our food. Where is it coming from?

Much of the food we eat today has been imported. Not just from a city or province, but country.[1] Many people seem unaware of what this actually means. We like the idea of eating food from around the world and we also like when our food is inexpensive, so we see no reason not to buy that broccoli from California for $2.49.

It’s not as good as you think.

Often time’s food travels many miles before it reaches you[2] and this has many consequences. In order for food to reach you from afar and still be edible, it must be preserved. This can mean many chemicals that don’t belong in either your food or your body, have been used. Travelling food also means more packaging. It needs to be packed in such a way that there are substantial amounts making the trip in one go but also so that the food does not perish or become damaged along the way. Not to mention the gas required to make the trip. When your food is local less packaging and preservatives are needed for the food to reach your plate. This means your food is fresher as well.

Supporting our Farmers.

When you buy your food locally you are supporting the farmers in your area.[3] Our local farmers are in competition with the food that is being imported in from other places. Without our support our local farmers are unable to make a profit off their land. When this happens it often means they will be forced to sell their land and it will eventually be bought and developed. If we cannot give our local farmers the support they need, they may not be there one day.[4]

It’s not as Hard as you Think.

Eating locally is easy. More and more grocery stores are putting locally grown food on their shelves. Sobeys has recently teamed up with Jamie Oliver in a campaign to promote better eating and part of this campaign involves locally grown food.[5]

While grocery stores are beginning to see the importance of locally grown food, many people have had the opportunity to buy local food for a long time. Many towns have farmer’s markets where local farmers come out with the food that has just been pulled, picked, cooked, and travelled fewer miles to reach us. The food from local farmers has probably travelled less than the broccoli that isn’t really in season but you were considering this morning just because it was inexpensive.

The food you buy does not have to be expensive. After speaking to an employee at Kin’s market, I found that the broccoli that is $2.49 from California is .50₵ more than the broccoli from our own province of BC that is $1.99.

So what do you think?

Whether you have a farmers market or are just visiting your local grocery store I urge you to start reading the signs on the food you buy and think about where it came from. How far did it travel? If it’s far what does that mean? What could be in it? How is it packaged? Before you know it you will be buying your food locally on instinct. Your farmers and your environment thank you.


[1] (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2010)

[2] (Canadian Farms Produce Inc., 2013)

[3] (Canadian Farms Produce Inc., 2013)

[4] (Canadian Farms Produce Inc., 2013)

[5] (Sobeys Inc., 2013)

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Unnecessary Product Packaging

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Consumerism

Consumerism is one reason our environment has taken such a negative hit. Society is setting social standards by buying the newest gadgets and the latest products, while there are garbage islands forming in the Pacific Ocean from our plastic waste. Times have changed since the 1940’s in regards to packaging materials for products. Nowadays, the market is so competitive that companies have lost sight of the sustainability of the environment and are only focusing on merchandising and profit. We can retain control of our product packaging once again by only using the necessary wrapping needed for preservation and safety of the products we buy.

During World War II, countries did everything they could to help supply their soldiers with whatever they needed. In the 1940’s because they were so cautious with waste, men used the same razors from when they started shaving to when they finished and the milkman came around once a week to deliver fresh milk and pickup used bottles.

Packaging Materials

Companies also used glass or cardboard packaging as their main materials instead of plastics. This is better for the environment because glass and cardboard are both materials which can be broken down, unlike plastic. In the past, a Barbie doll was packaged wearing one outfit. Barbie had one piece of cardboard to hold her legs in place and was packed in a cardboard box. Now, Barbie is placed wearing one outfit and has two others in the box to choose from, alongside a cellphone, microphone, and a purse all made of plastic, and then held in place by cardboard, wires, and plastic.

Plastic gained its popularity when ads selling plastic cutlery were marketed towards housewives. Buying plastic utensils meant housewives would not have to wash dishes and instead, throw them in the garbage. This indestructible material is the reason for the infestation of our oceans and is destruction of the ecosystems that we live in.

Reducing Waste

There are multiple ways that consumers can reduce waste:
• not buying products with unnecessary plastic packaging
• making sure we know where our plastic waste is going
• refraining from purchasing items with this packaging

Too many products these days are packaged in a cardboard box with plastic coverings and styrofoam filling. It is ridiculous the amount of packaging on some products. For instance, plastic wrap is wrapped in plastic and toilet paper is individually wrapped in plastic and then all of the rolls are packed into bigger plastic warp, as if it were harmful for a roll of toilet paper to be touching another roll.

Plastics for many reasons are one of the main sources for the environment being unhealthy. They are the destructions of our eco systems, they pollute, and they reduce natural landscapes. As a society, we have created an island of garbage; it is called the Pacific Gyre. It consists mainly of plastic because it is the hardest material to breakdown; it takes thousands of years for plastic to degrade. By boycotting the companies which use plastic packaging too much we can prevent our oceans from turning into a polluted place of plastic and help our environment become cleaner for us to live.

Going Meatless to Clear the Air

If the thought of ‘Meatless Mondays’ makes you roll your eyes and think of the barefoot hippie vegan that practices yoga in the park, then you may not like what I have to say, but regardless of that, you need to hear it. According to the Dieticians of Canada, only four percent of Canadians live a vegetarian lifestyle. Whether it is for animal cruelty reasons, taste or health benefits, the difference in their carbon footprint compared to the average Canadian that sits down to their thick, juicy meat every night is almost half.

Many people are unaware of the impact that eating meat has on our environment. It takes almost 1,250 gallons of water to produce one eight ounce steak, and the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse emissions, about 40 percent more than all modes of transportation in the world combined. There is enough fossil fuel used in the production of one hamburger to drive a small car 20 kilometres, so why do so many people still eat a meat-driven diet? David Pimentel, an ecologist from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences reports that, “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million.”

It has been recorded that soil erosion due to growing livestock feed is 40 billion tonnes per year. 55 percent of the erosion that causes sedimentation comes from animal agriculture, and this increases the amount of dust in the wind, polluting our air with nitrogen and phosphorous and emitting hydrogen sulfide, something that has been proven to cause brain damage. Livestock have also been linked to the contribution of acid rain by being responsible for almost two thirds of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, something that contributes to soil acidification and oxygen depletion.

I’m not saying we should all jump on the vegetarian bandwagon and ban meat from our kitchens and diets, but I do think that a small change can go a long way. Picking one day a week where you and your family decide to go meatless or even swap out one meal a day for a vegetarian friendly option can make a huge impact. Buying local can also cut down the amount of emissions meat production creates as the average meal travels 1200km before it gets to your plate. By buying local and organic produce, you are supporting your community while reducing your own carbon footprint.      

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Cultivating Concrete

Looking for ways to eat healthier? Urban farming is on the rise in Vancouver.

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With the rise of urban farming in metropolitan cities around the world, the phrase “concrete jungle” is taking on a whole new meaning. Though the concept of “urban farming” is relatively new, Vancouver is one of the first Canadian cities to accept it as a viable form of sustainable food practices due heavily to the growing concerns for safe food handling procedures and a rising population. The number of community garden plots has nearly doubled since 2009 with over 104 locations, bringing a hue of bright green to the washed-out shades of grey our city is inundated with. In an attempt to educate consumers about the realities of food production, City Council adopted a strategy at the beginning of the year to increase the number of urban farms, farmers markets and food-bearing trees within the city’s limits.

Parking Lot with a Purpose

Last November, the first vertical urban farm was introduced to North America in the most unlikely of places — on the rooftop of an EasyPark in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Operating year round by Alterrus System Inc., Vancouver’s Local Garden uses a new hydroponic technology called VertiCrop. Fashioned after a factory converter belt, it is equipped with over 3,000 trays that rotate between 18 to 24 days for maximum exposure to sunlight without the need for pesticides. The result? A yield four times more than a typical field crop at ten times the productivity. The space is a mere 5,700 square feet, but given that the produce is grown in trays stacked 12 high, one might think they’re stepping into a lush forest of green as opposed to a once bustling parking lot. The site produces approximately 150,000 pounds of fresh produce annually while using only 10% of the water typically used for traditional agriculture. Growing over 80 varieties of vegetables including spinach, arugula and kale, Local Garden significantly reduces Vancouver’s carbon footprint by cutting back on transportation distance, energy use and harmful chemicals.

Gas Station Gardens

Imagine that instead of filling your car with expensive gas, you’re stocking the trunk with the season’s freshest herbs and produce. It may be a farfetched idea but, for the residents surrounding Main Street and Terminal Avenue, it is very much a reality. In the summer of 2013, SoleFood Street Farms, a Canadian non-profit organization, converted an old Petro Canada gas station into the largest urban orchard in North America. With the land having been unused for the past decade, it is being leased to the company by the city of Vancouver for an unheard of total of $1 a year.

Fun Facts About SoleFood Street Farms

  • 500 new fruit trees.
  • Produces up to 60 tonnes of produce annually between its four working sites.
  • Fully functioning share program, wherein SoleFood delivers a variety of produce, using the highest organic standards, weekly to customer’s doors between May and November.
  • SoleFood also supplies produce to 30 local restaurants and gives back 10 percent of its harvest to Downtown Eastside agencies via donation.
  • SoleFood has countered the issue with a system of moveable planters that can be stacked one on top of the other and moved with a forklift.
  • Provides meaningful employment to members of the Downtown Eastside who may have struggled with drug addiction or mental illness.

2 Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

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Band Together as a Neighbourhood

By interacting with nature and their own neighbours, residents have shown an overall improvement to their social and emotional well-being as well as an increased community social life. Urban farming is seen as a calming experience and usually offers a place of refuge to people in heavily populated cities.

Garden More

It is unknown to many that they are actually a vital source that can absorb sound waves. As a result of implementing urban farms throughout the city, farmers are additionally contributing to a vast reduction in noise pollution.

The Big Announcement

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In 2017, the government will be moving ahead with the planning and development of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project which means a new bridge for Highway 99. Christy Clark, Premier of BC announced this news release on September 20, 2013. The George Massey Tunnel is a key commuting component for many travelers throughout the week and has served the community well since 1959, carrying about 80,000 vehicles a day. Although the tunnel has approximately ten years left of useful life, Clark says she is keeping her promise to replace the tunnel and improve the Highway 99 surrounding.

The Process and Options

The first step of the project was to inform the public and gain support from them. The B.C. Government has laid out five options for replacing the tunnel. These options include:

  1. Maintaining and upgrading the existing tunnel with no increase in the current capacity.
  2. Replacing the tunnel with a bridge in the exact same location the tunnel is now.
  3. Replacing the Massey tunnel with a new tunnel. Location would be beside the current one.
  4. Adding the new bridge or tunnel alongside the Massey Tunnel and keeping the tunnel available to use.
  5. Building a new bridge or tunnel in a new location.

All potential plans including new development would include HOV lanes, bike and pedestrian access and improvements to Highway 99.

The Questions

How is the project going to impact them and their commuting routine? How is this project going to impact the environment around me?

The Positive and Negative Impacts

On a positive outlook, a new bridge will improve travel times for transit, commuters and commercial users. BC Trucking Association explains, in the government news release how the tunnel itself is more negative on the safety and efficiency with trucks specifically which has slowed our economy. With option two, extra farmland and dredging will be impacted during the development and finalizing process. However, it can be seen as not the worst thing. This is because; it will allow more vessels to be transported to the Surrey Docks along the Fraser River. The extra dredging in the surrounding water would only be two extra metres. Expansion, growth and efficiency would be affected most by this replacement project.

As an opposing side of the tunnel replacement project, provincial government has mentioned the George Massey Tunnel still has ten years before it would need maintenance. This means until then, the tunnel is still functioning well for the community. Critics of the new bridge are also concerned with environmental habitats that will be ruined once development of the bridge starts in 2017. Wetland ecosystems and salmon fishing migration rely on the surrounding areas of the tunnel which connects the wildlife with their migration routines and living conditions. The future construction of land and extra dredging in the water would negatively impact our valued ecosystem and living creatures left in the Lower Mainland.

– Amanda Harris

Heritage homes, let go or hold on?

The Bose Family History: What Your Household Should Know

The History

If you live in Surrey, you should know that Henry Bose was one of the city’s first farmers. In 1898 his family’s original homestead was built, the home then served as the family’s safe haven for decades, and is still standing today.

Meadow Ridge Farm’s milk barn was built along 64th avenue in Cloverdale, which was then Bose Road. Much of the wood used in the construction was from old growth firs located on the farm property; making it withstand decades of weather and wear. It is also still standing to this day.

The New Development

The most recent development on the original Bose land is a condominium project currently being established on the property of the original homestead. Dubbed, “The Ridge at Bose Farms” it is “a collection of bold new country condos on an old Surrey landmark.” The Ridge has many new elements, some of which include:

• The Bose milk barn has been reconstructed and repositioned to become the centrepiece of the development.
• The farmhouse has actually been moved to a new location off the property.
• The new expansion will have 253 condo units in four buildings.

bose

The development area and design was chosen by the City of Surrey because of the growing population in the region. Despite the efforts made by the city, many citizens are still upset about the condos going up. The community seems to be most interested in the protection of their history.

The Locals View

A big issue that residents have brought to light has been deforestation, and exactly how they feel their area will be affected by the change. A few of the citizen’s opinions include:

• Liking the incorporation of the historic buildings.
• Concerned it is a marketing ploy made to draw in the sentimental buyer.
• Heartfelt knowing without the founding families they wouldn’t enjoy the community they do now.

It seems, since there hasn’t been a complete uproar, the project will go ahead as planned. But one thing is for sure; the locals would be very appreciative if they were kept up to date with the steps being taken.

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(Log on to http://www.fifthave.ca to learn more)

The Site C Dam and its Baggage

The thought of building a dam in the Peace River region of BC began floating around in 1970. It will be the 3rd dam along this area and one of the biggest. Interest in the development of Site C diminished over the years but BC Hydro’s recent report re-sparked interest in the development of the Site C dam. The construction of the dam will provide over 44,000 jobs during the seven-year construction phase. It is estimated that the construction of the Site C dam will generate a GDP of over 3.5 billion dollars in total.

The Site C dam will be an earth-fill dam: a dam built by compacting layers of earth. The height of the dam will be 60 meters above theImage riverbed, with a length of one kilometer. The giant reservoir will have a surface area of approximately 9,330 hectares; the total flooded land will be 5,550 hectares. To put that in perspective that’s almost 34,000 hockey rinks. The reservoir will stretch 83 kilometers in length. The dam will have the capacity to produce 1,100 million watts (MW) and 5,100 gigawatts per year (Gwh/year).

Area locals preferred building power plants fueled by natural gas, which would raise energy prices, rather than to have Site C built. However, province wide polling taken in July of 2012, revealed that 77 percent of British Columbians approved of the dam provided it underwent an “extensive and independent environmental assessment”.

Locals also believe that up to 5000 hectares of farmland will be flooded as opposed to the 50 hectares that BC hydro claims.

The Site C dam is a multi-billion dollar project that will not only cause harm to taxpayers, but the environment as well. With a 77% approval rate by the citizens of BC, it is most likely that Site C will eventually receive the green light.Image