Tuesday, 30 December 2008

different kinds of good weather

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is
exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different
kinds of good weather."

- John Ruskin

Saturday, 29 November 2008

counter-protest update


thanks to everyone who braved the rain & mud and came out last night. grandview park was filled with community members dancing and cheering the carnival band, community leaders & politicians. but most importantly, grandview park was filled with love. it was so inspiring to see people come together in the name of love. i saw people being moved to act in the name of love. as i walked down commercial drive on the way to grandview park, carrying my 'love is always the answer' sign, some people stopped what they were doing & joined in, some people cheered as i walked by.

our collective love took up all the space - there was no room left for hate & intolerance. the westbro baptist church did not show up.

love & laughter,


Friday, 28 November 2008

counter-protest @ havana TODAY 5pm - celebrate love!

friends & lovers of peace

today @ 5pm i will be at havana theatre- celebrating love. the westbro baptist church is coming to vancouver to protest the laramie project @ havana. i am joining others in a counter-protest - protesting the hate. i am choosing to celebrate love rather than to hate the haters. i hope you can join us - the carnival band will be there and i will have a 'love is always the answer' sign. together we can create a transformation & actively participate in making a world full of love & acceptance. please help spread the word.

today november 28th
havana - commercial drive across from grandview park

in 1998 mathew sheppard - an openly gay youth @ the university of wyoming - was beaten & murdered. the laramie project is a play which depicts the reaction to mathew's murder & has become a powerful tool in combating homophobia. it is performing @ havana - opening tonight. the westbro baptist church, lead by rev. fred phelps - has arrived in vancouver to protest @ havana today.


love & laughter,


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

food security panel

Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 6 – 9 pm

Collingwood Neighbourhood House

FOOD SECURITY – A Community Panel Discussion

Food Security is on everyone’s mind today. Questions such as: What is food security? Is our food safe? Is it affordable? Is it nutritious? We want to make safe decisions around food and here is an opportunity to learn more about food security. The Food Security Institute team at Collingwood Neigbourhood House wants to continue to increase community awareness around the safety of our food sources and the methods of improving the food chain link. Join us to learn more – to plant ideas and to consider initiatives around this very important aspect of our lives.

David Tracey – owns and operates Eco Urbanist, is a certified tree care expert and the Executive Director of Tree City. David coordinates the Vancouver Community Agriculture Network project together with City and public health officials to create more community gardens, especially among people lacking access to healthy, affordable food.

Paula Luther is the Project Manager for the BC Farmers' Market Nutrition and Coupon Project. The project assists lower-income families in accessing food, promoting fresh BC-produced farm products and supporting BC local farmers. She is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and has been working on community food initiatives in Vancouver for over 10 years.

Heidi Sinclair – has been the coordinator of the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security Institute since 2005. She has an extensive background in growing food, and creating welcoming and educational experiences around food for participants and has been involved in creating leadership amount initiatives such as community gardens, rooftop garden and community kitchens.

Moderator: Charito Gailling, Community Developer, Evergreen Community Health Center

Monday, 20 October 2008


"Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible" - Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Monday, 11 August 2008

The 100-mile diet interview

The 100-mile diet

Your body will thank you, because local also means nutritious.

by Jeff Nield, The Tyee

It's war vegetable season. That's the way James MacKinnon saw the winter months when he and Alisa Smith set out to eat a 100-Mile Diet of local foods in 2005. MacKinnon had once worked with an organic farmer who'd been a child in Europe during the Second World War. The farmer could remember walking the railway tracks to find vegetables that might have fallen off of passing trains: turnips, onions, potatoes, maybe cabbage. Tough foods for hard times.

Is eating locally through the winter more a matter of survival than of pleasure or good health? The surprising answer is an emphatic "no." Vancouver-based registered holistic nutritionist Paula Luther is an adherent of year-round local eating for the sake of nutrition. "If we look at what's in abundance right now, we have lots of squash, carrots, things like that, which are actually beneficial at this time of year," she says. These winter foods are rich in beta-carotene, antioxidants, vitamin A -- just the sort of nutrients our bodies need to fight off colds and maintain energy levels for the season.

Heavy mileage

Luther estimates that 50 per cent of her diet is derived from local sources through the cold, wet months. "It's a bit more of a challenge because I'm vegan, so I'm not eating locally raised beef or seafood," explains Luther. Instead, Luther combines whole grains and legumes to create complete proteins. Both of these foods typically travel to B.C. from the Prairies or points more distant, though both can -- and historically have -- been cultivated on the coast. Luther hopes that the current interest in local foods will lead a local producer to realize the opportunity.

According to Andy Jones, the author of Eating Oil: Food in a Changing Climate, a typical calorie of food energy in the industrial food system will require ten calories of input energy.

Of course, most North Americans are accustomed to walking into the grocery store and purchasing whatever foods they like without any seasonal interruptions. This is one of the biggest selling points of the industrial food system. It comes at a price, however -- a peach in the local supermarket this time of year has literally travelled from the other side of the world, where the Southern Hemisphere is enjoying midsummer. Producing and transporting the peach will consume many more calories of energy, most of them burned as fossil fuels, than the fruit itself will provide to the person who eats it. According to Andy Jones, the author of Eating Oil: Food in a Changing Climate, a typical calorie of food energy in the industrial food system will require ten calories of input energy. In an extreme example, it takes 127 calories of energy from aviation fuel alone to deliver one calorie of iceberg lettuce to the U.K. from the United States.

100-Mile Diet

At the same time, many North Americans underestimate the variety of foods that are available locally through the winter. MacKinnon and Smith, for example, topped up their larder with the following at the December farmers' market in East Vancouver: red and orange carrots; three kinds of potatoes; sunchokes, a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes or sunroots; fennel bulbs; apples; hazelnuts; Swiss chard; various squashes; beets; parsnips; leeks; eggs; and three kinds of cheese.

According to Cynthia Sass, a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and instructor at the University of Southern Florida, one of the most important aspects of eating with the seasons is that it leads people to consume a broader diversity of foods, and therefore of nutrients, rather than repeating the same weekly routine of meals. "People have heard some of the messages about nutrition -- they've certainly heard about saturated fat, whole milk, and fatty meat and all of that -- but they're still missing the significance of variety," she explains.

Our knowledge of nutrition is often peppered with misconceptions, says Sass. "We have certain foods in our minds that we associate with different nutrients, and we think if we don't eat that particular food we're not going to get that nutrient. But actually, there are a lot of foods that are rich in these nutrients. So even if you weren't eating, you know, oranges all year round, it doesn't mean you won't get vitamin C," she says. For example, potatoes and cabbage are also potent sources of vitamin C.

Ripe is nutritious

"I'm a big fan of local eating," says Sass. "When things are grown far away, they're typically harvested early and they're not allowed to fully ripen. Nowadays, we know a lot more about these naturally occurring substances in produce -- it's not just vitamins and minerals, but all these phytochemicals and really powerful disease-fighting substances -- and we do know that when a food never really reaches its peak ripeness, the levels of these substances never get as high."

"I always highly recommend that people buy foods at the farmers' market when they're at their peak, freeze them, and then consume them within the next six months," says Sass.

Finally, she says, eating from your local landscape doesn't have to mean you can't enjoy the bounty of the warmer months. It only means that you have to plan ahead. "I always highly recommend that people buy foods at the farmers' market when they're at their peak, freeze them, and then consume them within the next six months," says Sass.

While most of our grandparents, or certainly our great-grandparents, didn't think too much about nutrition, they did prepare for the coming winter. Pantries full of canning jars and root cellars were the norm. Today, the skills of food preservation are making a comeback. "When you go to the farmers' market, the people who grew [the food] are probably some of the best people to ask because, 'They grow it, they know it,'" says Sass. "But if you can take the time to make sure you have the skill and knowledge you need to fulfil your calorie requirements, then I think it's fantastic. Amazing. Even if we could just get people a little bit closer to that, it would be great."

article by Jeff Nield, The Tyee

The Tyee is an independent alternative daily newspaper based in B.C. Canada.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

creative inspiration

hey kids

the season is in full swing! farmers' markets & gardens alike are bursting with beautiful & tasty delights. looking for new ideas on what to do with the bounty? check this out for a little creative inspiration....

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Gorilla Foods

hey folks - summer is finally here!
The freshness of it all is exciting. What better time to integrate more raw - live - foods into your diet.
Check out this video on Gorilla Foods. I love Aaron's food for many reasons - it is organic, local, fresh, and bursting with love. Once you try it - there is no going back.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

in my genes?

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

Martin Luther

Monday, 12 May 2008

community gardens

City gardening grows
Community gardens provide precious space for
urban green thumbs and sanctuary searchers


Paula Luther visits a community garden site on the corner of Victoria Drive and Hull Street.

Gardening isn’t just for your grandma anymore. Getting down in the dirt can be a great way to get some physical activity, grow delicious food and connect with people in your neighbourhood. The main obstacle urbanites are facing when it comes to gardening is finding land, which is why community gardens are becoming more popular. “Community gardens are very important for a few hundred reasons, but as our cities become busier, as people’s lives become more stressful, gardening generally is a really good way to feel better, de-stress and you get the added

benefit of exercise and some healthy food,” said Mike Levenston, founder of cityfarmer.org, a website that promotes city farming and urban agriculture. According to Levenston all you need to begin farming in the city is a bit of land and sunlight. “If you want to start a community

garden, first find a vacant piece of land and second, find out who owns it and go and see if you can get permission,” Levenston added. Paula Luther is a coordinator at the Trout Lake/Cedar Cottage Food Security Network. She said that another way to begin city farming is to join a local

community garden, particularly if you’re inexperienced. “It brings people together and we get to share our knowledge and learn from each other and it crosses those cultural and social barriers,” Luther said. According to Luther, community gardens have the power to lighten the burden on emergency food provisions such as food banks. “They can also transform neighbourhoods,” she added. Gardening volunteer Christine Boyle said that an isolated sports field at Grandview Elementary School was used by drug addicts and sex trade workers before a community garden began there in 1999. And although their garden gets raided and vandalized periodically, Boyle believes that it has brought their community closer together. “It’s really neat to have these intergenerational connections around something as important and vital as food and the earth,” Boyle said.

Visit cityfarmer.info to find gardens in your area or log onto the City of Vancouver food policy website to find all the tools you need to start one.



Friday, 2 May 2008

Everything you need to know about eating

Everything you need to know about eating

Chow down like the Greeks, steer clear of the supermarket. A Coles Notes guide to Michael Pollan's latest book


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

May 1, 2008 at 9:31 AM EDT

'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

With those seven simple words, author Michael Pollan sums up pretty well everything you need to know about eating and good health.

In his recently published, brilliant book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, he argues convincingly for a return to simplicity.

Today, Mr. Pollan says, we are eating less and less food, and more and more "edible foodlike substances" - all manner of processed foods.

Americans - and, to almost the same extent, Canadians - are the most food-obsessed culture on Earth, fretting incessantly about the health consequences of food choices.

Mr. Pollan says this has created a nation (or two) of orthorexics - people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.

Just look at newspapers, magazines, books and Food TV. They are loaded with articles and shows about the benefits of food's various parts, or more specifically its components, like omega-3s to prevent Alzheimer's, lycopene as an antioxidant, and monounsaturated fat as a cholesterol buster.

In other words, we speak no more of foods, but of nutrients.

Mr. Pollan labels this reductionist view of what we put in our mouths (and stomachs) nutritionism. In the ideology of nutritionism, foods are the sum of their nutrient parts.

To which Mr. Pollan's reply is: Nonsense.

In Defense of Food says that, on the contrary, what matters is food in all its glory.

His earlier book The Omnivore's Dilemma was all about the ecological and ethical dilemmas of our eating choices. His thesis was that our personal health cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are part.

In Defense of Food, published in January, is the logical next step and answers the question: Okay, what should I eat?

Mr. Pollan's response, as stated above: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

But in a volume of 244 pages, he has room to elaborate.

The book is definitely worth reading and digesting in its entirety, but here is the Coles Notes version:

Eat food

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize. Dump the processed food and don't eat anything that's incapable of rotting.

Avoid products that contain ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable or more than five in number. These are all markers of highly processed foods.

Avoid products that make health claims. While this may seem paradoxical, to make a health claim a food product must have a package.

Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle aisles. Dairy, produce, meats and fish line the walls, while processed foods are in the middle.

Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. Shop at a farmers' market.

Mostly plants

Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Scientists disagree on which nutrients in plants are best, but they all agree that plants are healthy eating.

You are what you eat eats, too. The diet of animals has a bearing on the quality of food they produce. It's worth looking for pastured animal foods.

If you have space, buy a freezer. Buy fresh foods in season and in quantity, and freeze them.

Eat like an omnivore. The greater the variety of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases.

Eat well-grown food from healthy soils. This is a more precise way of saying eat "organic," a term that has been perverted.

Eat wild foods when you can.

Be the kind of person who takes supplements. Popping vitamin pills doesn't appear to be very useful (with some notable exceptions like folic acid and perhaps vitamin D), but people who take them are more health-conscious, educated and affluent, and tend to eat better.

Eat more like the French, the Italians, the Japanese, the Indians, the Greeks. Those in traditional food cultures eat much better than those with a contemporary Western diet.

Regard non-traditional foods with skepticism.

Don't look for a magic bullet in a traditional diet.

Have a glass of wine with dinner.

Not too much

Pay more, eat less. Choose quality over quantity.

Eat meals. Don't graze.

Eat at a table. Not a desk. Not in a car. Not in front of the TV.

Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

Try not to eat alone.

Consult your gut. Practise a principle that Okinawans call hara hachi bu - eat until you are 80-per-cent full.

Eat slowly.

Cook and, if you can, plant a garden.

There is nothing too difficult here. It's a lot of common sense.

As Mr. Pollan notes wryly, no animal other than humans needs professional help in deciding what to eat.

It is a sad symptom of our confusion about food that we need to consult a nutritionist, a physician, a government food pyramid or - horror of horrors - a journalist on such a basic question.


Wednesday, 30 April 2008

garden love

“The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby – how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.”

Alice B Toklas

i am so deeply inspired & satisfied by my garden this year. so much so that i have started a backyard community garden with some pals just around the corner from my place. we have been dreaming, planning, shoveling, moving compost, and more compost, and even more compost. i am in awe of each seed i plant. each seed contains life potential, and the history of generations of farmers. it connects me with that history and the very earth itself. i feel such joy as i see the seed coming to life - busting forth - its bright green freshness brings me into the moment - allowing me to appreciate - really appreciate all that makes up this wild & wonderful experience of life. lucky lucky lucky....

you can see what we are up to at the graveley gardens - graveleygarden.blogspot.com

Thursday, 17 April 2008

interviewed in shared vision

Confessions of a Meat-Eating Vegetarian

What's more important to me: saving the planet, or my health?


Let me confess. I love being a vegetarian. For almost 15 years I was practically the poster girl for going meat-free. I salivated over soy, flipped over falafels, and was turned on by tahini. I thrilled to a meal at the Naam or Foundation, and visibly recoiled when I saw friends gulping pork gyoza.

Passing up meat never felt like a sacrifice. I grew up eating chicken and beef, but in my early 20s I came to a scientific conclusion: meat was gross.

I refused to partake fully in holiday meals, loading my plate with vegetables and, I’ll admit, more than a little smugness. When I called home to update my parents on the latest—which often included the non-news that I was feeling a little rundown—they’d chant, in unison: “Eat some meat!”

Feelings of superiority aside, there are a lot of great reasons for going veg. Beans and greens are way cheaper than filet mignon. Then there’s the valuing of one being’s life over another. (Do we eat dogs and cats? Then why is it OK to go at chickens with cleavers?)

Plus, a vegetarian diet is better for the environment. Production of livestock requires way more energy, land, and water than plant foods. And a recent campaign by the Humane Society of the United States says that eating meat (and eggs and dairy) contributes more to global warming than driving a car.

But most of all, I didn’t eat meat because I felt I hadn’t earned the right. If I couldn’t kill a creature with my own two hands, I just didn’t feel entitled to chomp on its flank.

But lo! My veg-head days were numbered.

Several months ago, tired of feeling sick and tired, I sought the counsel of one of Vancouver’s best naturopaths. Sure, I knew I had a little daily-triple-espresso problem, but other than that, I fully expected the good doctor to ply me with a few supplements and send me on my way.

Which was why I was unprepared for her diagnosis: “You might want to think about eating meat.”

The room began to spin, and I broke out in a hot sweat. “Excuse me?”

“It’s possible your B12 and iron levels are low. And the best source of those nutrients is grass-fed beef.”

I couldn’t have been more incredulous if I’d spotted David Suzuki driving a bright red 2008 Hummer H2 through the streets of Kitsilano. Was I going to have to start eating beef? Would my vegetarian partner still kiss me? Even more shocking: had Mom and Dad been right all along?

I sought a second opinion. And a third. Again and again, I heard words that were not music to my ears.

Meghan Hanrahan is a registered holistic nutritionist in East Vancouver. Two and a half years ago, she was following a vegan diet that didn’t compensate for missing nutrients. Then, just as she was starting nutrition school, she began to experience numbness and tingling in her limbs, intense fatigue, difficulties with word retrieval, and “a deep sensation that things weren’t right.”

She was tested for multiple sclerosis; thankfully, her symptoms were just the result of nutritional deficiencies. She was advised to begin eating meat—something her raw-foodist/vegan community of friends didn’t exactly throw a party over.

Slowly, Hanrahan began adding animal products to her diet. Her symptoms have disappeared, but she doesn’t necessarily intend to eat meat forever. “It’s absolutely possible to be a healthy vegetarian,” she maintains. “There are lots of great reasons to be one. But it’s very individual. It’s about recognizing when a diet no longer serves you. It’s not one-size-fits-all.”

Even Molly Katzen, creator of the ardently vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant cookbook series, now eats organic meat. This has brought Katzen considerable condemnation from the vegetarian set. (Hey, just a few months ago, I’d have been throwing rotten bean sprouts, too.)

Of course, many maintain that eating meat is not necessary for good health. Look at Brendan Brazier, the Ironman triathlete and staunch vegan. And although Paula Luther, a registered holistic nutritionist in Vancouver, works with carnivorous clients (“My recommendations are always client-specific, rather than focused on a dogma,” she says), she follows a vegan diet.

Me, I’ve decided to take the advice of the naturopath. Not that getting on the train to Meatville has been easy. Several weeks ago, I ate my first hamburger in years—only to later have a disturbing dream about an adorable, brown-eyed Jersey cow.

The concept of chewing dead flesh will probably never excite me. But neither does the thought of being unwell.

Kathy Sinclair is a Vancouver editor and flexitarian who is learning to love non-medicated, organic, free-range, nitrite-free bison sausage—for now.


Monday, 24 March 2008

lessons from the garden

"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."

William Blake

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

happy spring equinox!

asatoma satqamaya
tamasoma jyothir gamaya
mrithyorma amritam gamaya

like a seed moving from darkness to light
lead us from ignorance to truth
and from death to eternity
let peace prevail erverywhere

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

recipe for success

"The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment,
you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

year of the potato!

Did you know?

The potato comes from the Andes, in South America, where it has been consumed for about 8,000 years. It was first taken to Europe in the 16th century by Spanish adventurers interested in its medicinal properties.

There are seven recognized potato species and more than 5,000 potato varieties still growing in the Andes. Potatoes play a critical role in the local farming economy there as well as in the cultural life of the Quechua and Aymara communities who grow them. These farmers still take advantage of its medicinal qualities. The juice of their local varieties helps to control nasty coughs, for example.

The nutritional value of these superior indigenous varieties is also impressive. Unlike the fat, white, starch-filled varieties used to make French fries, the small, colourful, and pockmarked types in the Andes are full of protein, vitamin C, and important antioxidants. And they taste a lot better!