Ethical Eats

Brought to you by Oxfam @ Queen's

Hello friends! Though we all try to eat LOFT as much as possible I know ;), there do come those times where you end up buying something you know is not LOFT. We all fall victim to the flashy marketing, cheap prices, and accessibility of those brands that have enjoyed commercial success. In order to help consumers to buy brands that are making the biggest steps towards environmental and gender justice, Oxfam created the Behind the Brands campaign! This campaign aims to expose how large corporations measure up in areas of: women, small-scale farming, treatment of farm workers, water, land, climate change, and transparency.


Check out the Company Scorecard:

Sign the petition:



Nestlé and Unilever have  currently developed and published the most policies aimed at social and environmental risks within their supply chains, while ABF and Kellogg have the fewest. I learned this from the report at the link above!

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– Erin

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Big-Boy Bean Burgers

For the most part I am pretty content eating vegetarian, not only is the food cheaper in general (which is fantastic as a student!) but there’s the obvious ethical component that gives me a sense of empowerment that I am hurting the planet less. Despite these motivating factors to be a vegetarian, I sometimes get a strong desire for a juicy sirloin or a hefty all-beef burger that takes two hands to eat. Enter: Big-Boy Bean Burgers.

soooo scrumptious!

Soooo scrumptious!

Mama gave me a great recipe for some delicious rice and bean burgers that go part of the way in filling the void in my heart left by meat. These patties give you the hearty experience you look for in a good burger, with light earthy qualities from the thyme and a fresh, crisp flavour from the green peppers. Here’s what you need to make the burgers:

  • 1 1/2 cups of brown rice (not parboiled variety)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 1/2 oz. canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 1/2 oz. canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • flour or cornmeal, for coating
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

30 minutes Prep – 10 minutes cook – Makes 10
(not including refrigeration, go watch some Shameless in that time!)

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package, allowing it to slightly overcook so that it is soft. Drain the rice, transfer it to a large bowl, and reserve.

Put 2 tablespoons water and the Worcestershire sauce in a skillet, add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.

Put the onions, garlic, cooked rice, beans, bread crumbs, egg, cheese and thyme in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to your own liking (I usually add way more pepper) then blend until combined. I usually get down and dirty instead of blending, instead opting to mash everything in a mixing bowl either by hand or a potato masher. Add the bell pepper and grated carrot and mix well. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 1/2 hours, or until quite firm. (Rarely takes me that long)

Shape the mixture into 10 burgers, using wet hands if the mixture sticks. Coat them in flour or cornmeal – Freeze the ones you plan on saving for later fun times – they’ll be ready to go when you want them.

Heat the oil in a  skillet and fry the burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until piping hot.

Voilà! Great burgers!

I like to serve on fresh buns from either John’s or Wolfe Island Bakery, sometimes add in a fried egg with cheddar for some added protein, red tomato slices, avocado, and some Dijon mustard!

Cooking should be fun – a chance to break the rules and try new things so take these as guidelines to making great burgers, I rarely follow them directly myself. Other ideas can be using Quinoa instead of rice, mixing in cilantro in substitution for thyme or some jalapeños for a spicy punch.

Let me know what great combinations you come up with!

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A Different Kind of Shopping

Picture this:

It’s September. Your classes are done for the day, and you’re strolling down a beautiful street amid old brick buildings. As you pass by the neat shops that line the street, you see an idyllic sight ahead of you. Bright colors and sounds  overwhelm your senses. As you approach, the reason for the crowds of people becomes clear. Heaps of fresh lettuce, carrots, and sweet corn are piled beside baskets of  apples and blueberries. Homemade butter tarts and maple syrup jostle with  fresh pressed apple cider for your attention. The delicious aroma of fresh bread mingles with the scent of fresh-cut flowers. ‘Am I dreaming?’ you ask yourself happily. ‘I’ll never need to shop anywhere else!’

Does this sound amazing? You’re in luck, because I’m describing none other than Kingston Public Market. It’s located a ten minute walk downtown from Queen’s University. You can visit it every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in Springer Market Square right behind City Hall, from April through November. Not only is this market a treasure trove of delicious local food, at 212 years old, it is also Ontario’s oldest market! The market  has been providing healthy food and a sense of community to  Kingston residents since 1801. Isn’t about time we  joined the trend?

April’s coming up, so when you need a  break from studying, head on down to check out the Kingston Public Market. Not only will you be buying healthy, high quality food directly from  local farmers and artisans, but you’ll be enjoying a taste experience like none another. In addition, you’ll get to avoid the unnecessary cost that come with processed food from a grocery chain. Metro may be closer, but if you give it a try, you’ll soon find that nothing compares to the satisfaction you will get from market shopping.


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Being a Vegetarian (or Flexitarian) in Residence: Part Two

So, what can you eat that’s healthy, appetizing, and filling?

– Every cafeteria at Queen’s has a vegetarian and/or vegan station, and the food is usually better because they prepare it in smaller quantities!

– You can usually find vegetarian food at other food stations – just ask!

– Ban Righ and West Campus always have tofu available as a stir-fry option

– Salads in Leonard! Grab a plate from the pizza station and fill it up with lettuce and veggies, then add tofu or beans for protein

– Leonard Cafeteria’s pre-made salad bar often features yummy, high-protein vegetarian options

– The pizza station often serves whole-wheat no-cheese or vegetarian pizza, but it’s not usually listed on the menus near the door

– When nothing seems appealing, or you want a quick snack, have a banana with peanut butter

– Hummus is a great dip for whole-wheat pita bread or vegetables, and it’s a great source of protein

– Cottage cheese is available at every meal, and it’s high in protein and calcium. Try it with fruit at breakfast or as a salad topper at lunch and dinner!

What to Avoid

– The key to good nutrition is variety, so make sure that you don’t end up eating the exact same thing for lunch and supper every day!

– Make sure that carbohydrate-based foods like bread and pasta don’t make up the basis of your meal

–  Cheese is a great source of nutrients, but use it sparingly because of its high fat content

Where are your favourite places to get vegetarian food on campus?  

– Hannah

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Eating Fair Trade

There are a lot of uncertainties about what “fair trade” is and there’s no conclusive answer. It’s a fairer way of doing trade and the consumers interpret that as they wish. An easy way to know whether what you’re buying is truly “fair trade” or not is to look for the Fair Trade International logo.

fair trade

Still, Fair Trade certified products are plagued with misconceptions. Hopefully this post can clear some of those up for you…

Misconception #1: Fair Trade is just an economic agreement

Fair Trade is not just an economic agreement but includes a manifold of other standards and regulations required for certification. Certified Fair Trade products guarantee farmers are not exploited receiving better prices and longer-term, meaningful trading relationships. To be a Fairtrade certified product, producers have to meet certain criteria ranging from labour standards to sustainable farming to democratic participation (ie. as a co-operative). Company relationships with producers need to maintain a minimum price and longer contracts regularly audited by an independent certification body (FLO-Cert). A Fairtrade certified product does not solely mean a fair price is given to the producers but encompasses a myriad of other requirements.

Misconception #2: Fair Trade is more expensive

Although the nature of Fair Trade necessitates higher prices for producers, it does not automatically mean the products are unaffordable for consumers. You’d be surprised at how inexpensive and available Fair Trade products can be.

Misconception #3: Fair Trade is difficult to find

Fair Trade products are more readily available than many assume. Regular grocery stores, even Metro, Loblaws, and the Campus Grocery Store, have Fair Trade products in stock. It is true that Fair Trade is not as easily accessible as regularly traded products but with consumer pressure for stores to start selling more Fair Trade this can certainly transform.

Misconception #4: I’m a student and Fair Trade just isn’t possible for me right now

Fair Trade products are available on campus at cheap prices! Oxfam at Queen’s started what is now known as the Fair Trade Co-Operative a few years ago. The sole purpose of the Co-Op is to have Fair Trade products available on-campus for the student body. The Co-Op sells Fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, and other treats at whole-sale prices making absolutely no profit. Our products are from Canadian-based companies (Equita, Camino, and Just Us) who work with co-operative farmers from all over the world. The kiosk is run entirely by volunteers out of the Walkhome booth in the lower JDUC from 11:30-4:30 every Monday to Thursday.

fair trade 2fair trade 3

No excuses now: it’s fair, it’s cheap, it’s on-campus, and it’s delicious.

— Angela

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Being a Vegetarian (or Flexitarian) in Residence: Part One

In August, I made the decision that when I came to Queen’s I would become a vegetarian (or at least a flexitarian – someone who eats meat on occasion but tries to avoid it as much as possible). To go from eating meat twice a day to once a week was a big adjustment at first. However, once I got into the habit, and found foods that I enjoyed, it was easy to keep it up. Seven months later, I probably eat meat two to three times per week, when I need to grab something quickly from a fast-food place on campus and there are no appealing and filling vegetarian options available. In this first post, I’ll explore my reasons for becoming a flexitarian.

Why Go Veg?

Reducing your meat consumption is good for your body! (As long as you’re still eating healthfully, that is!) Without meat as the center of your meal, you can make fruits and vegetables the main focus. You’ll soon find that your plate at dinner is more colourful, and you gain a greater appreciation for simple flavours. Immediately after meals, you feel less sluggish and tired. Becoming a vegetarian also has long-term benefits: you reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes, and increase your potential lifespan. Of course, it’s important that you replace meat with protein sources such as beans, tofu, peanut butter, hummus, and cheese (in moderation), rather than simple carbohydrates and high-fat foods. French fries, potato chips, and brownies may be vegetarian, but that doesn’t make them healthy!


Your actions will also have a wider effect, benefiting the environment and reducing the demand for factory-farmed animals. Factory farming is a term used to describe the practice of raising animals such as chickens, pigs, and cattle in high-density environments. Factory farms want to produce the biggest possible animals as quickly and cheaply as possible. Crowding of animals leads to injuries (which often go untreated) and an overuse of antibiotics to counter diseases. The animals are often inhumanely slaughtered and processed in dangerous environments for workers. All of the steps involved in factory farming lead to pollution, destruction of local ecosystems, and wasteful uses of resources. Sodexo, the company which runs the Queen’s cafeterias, has promised to source sustainable fish and seafood by 2015, but their website mentions nothing about the consequences of factory farming or sourcing meat products from ethical sources.


In my next post, I’ll explore the healthy vegetarian options available in the Queen’s University cafeterias. Check it out if you want to make the switch or just reduce your meat consumption by going veg a few times per week!

If you’re a vegetarian already, why did you make the switch? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

— Hannah

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Some thoughts on LOFT

Want to consume in a way that is more environmentally, morally and economically sustainable? Try eating local!

With food, energy and transportation being some of the biggest sources of environmental degradation, it is the everyday choices we make that matter. But what constitutes local production? One can consider local to be food produced no more than 200km away from their home or another can consider it to be anything produced within the province. Either way, by eating locally we are not only investing in Canadian farmers, but transportation costs are decreased and food miles are diminished. If Ontarians consumed locally, the emissions equivalent to almost 16,000 cars can be saved! Becoming aware of the difference your food choices make is the first step in collectively moving towards a more sustainable future. If you really want to become a conscious consumer, choose eating both locally and organically. Pesticide use can cause cancer, birth defects, ADHD and autism and not to mention the amount of toxic run-off that finds its way into our water sources. We need to come to the realization that food can no long be synonymous with convenience and extensive availability if we want to move towards a more sustainable future.

Here are some images from our event “The Ultimate LOFT Challenge”! This event compared products such as red peppers, honey, chocolate, apples, and ketchup that were produced locally against the same product produced internationally.

loftloft2loft4 loftie5

— Emily