Ethical Eats

Brought to you by Oxfam @ Queen's

Leave a comment

New Year, New Semester, New Food Choices

Before coming to university the idea of LOFT food really had no meaning to me, I didn’t really hear much about it, or think it was something as big as it was. By the end of high-school the idea of fair trade had come about in my one politics class or in my one social justice club meetings but I really never knew fully what it was, what LOFT meant, or why it was as important as it is. By the time I got to university and joined Oxfam all I heard about was LOFT, local organic and fair trade food, but I still didn’t fully know why it was so important, or why my small choices of where I purchase my food or what brands of food I purchase could make any kind of a difference. I also thought that as a university student on a budget I wouldn’t be able to afford all these organic foods or fair trade foods at my grocery store that were more expensive then the rest. It was always just easier to go to metro right by the university and pick up the cheapest products, not thinking about the ethics of it all.

So why is it important than to go LOFT? What does buying fair-trade and local organic foods actually do?

Organic agriculture? What is it, why is it important??

The aim of organic agriculture is to serve mankind in developing sustainable kinds of agriculture, as climate change continues to grow we are continuously looking for ways to reduce the negative impact we have on our world and society and to be able to sustain agriculture to make enough and as good food for everyone. A starting point is a healthy and living soil, the basis for healthy plants and animals. This all aims at creating quality food while still taking care of the environment. As for processing and labelling it would be only fair to not only treat our animals and nature as a vital social justice importance but to also remain consistent with treating small farmers and local farmers from constant exploitation.

This leads into fair trade and its importance as well. The fair trade movement started as a way to call on the injustices of international trade, as it was very much in favour of the industrialized developed countries of the time. Fair trade began to counter this way of trade with criteria for sustainable and fair trading methods.

These two concepts of organic and fair trade food both coexist as ways to prioritize sustainable development for all, taking care of our environment and agriculture, while also maintaining equal rights and protecting local and small businesses from exploitation.

Where does the local part come from?

There are many benefits from buying locally, however also buying from developing countries in a fair trade setting. Locally buying can create many benefits such as more trust as a consumer by having face to face contact with the supplier, here are some categories of the consumption of local products as listed from:

–      Product: consumption according to the season, organic, locally produced, less meat, little packaging, cooking with basic ingredients (not processed or pre-cooked) and GM free.

–      Price: fair trade, a realistic price for producers in our regions, a reasonable salary for every actor in the supply chain

–      Place: buying large amounts once a week in the supermarket, buying at the farm, system of subscription to weekly fruit and vegetable packages

–      Promotion/information: close contact with farmers, information about producer and the supply chain.

Many debates have sprung about how to do both local organic food and fair trade and here is a perfect quote to sum up the solution:

John McAllion, Chair of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, “There need be no conflict between buying Fairtrade and buying local produce. Buy local meat, potatoes and dairy products to support your local economy and buy quality Fairtrade coffee, tea and other products that can’t be grown locally to help Fairtrade producers in the developing world get a fair deal”.

So why does this all matter to you specifically?

As consumers we all have the ability to change the rules of the game, to change how our food is produced, how our agriculture can remain sustainable and how our workers, local farmers, small business owners are treated, how to avoid exploitation and create a world of fair trading and producing. This change starts with us, what we buy and what we endorse matters. By changing a small part of your life and trying to buy locally more often than you already are or by purchasing fair trade items, the terms of trade and production can change. If we all changed our ways slightly eventually more and more we can strive for a fair trade and sustainable world.

After learning about all of these reasons to make fair trade and local organic food choices and learning what these terms actually mean, I have realized that even as a university student I can make a change in my everyday life. I can go to the farmers market more often, or to local businesses for my fruits and veggies. I can purchase fair trade teas and chocolate every once in a while, or buy fair trade coffee for similar prices! Where can I do this? Well next weekend the food security campaign will be going to the many different local and fair trade places around Kingston to learn how easy it really is it go LOFT and how we can really integrate this into our own life. Read our blog next week to see pictures and descriptions of various different places around Kingston and how we are able to go LOFT!

Where did I get this info?

Check out these websites for more info!!



Leave a comment

Exams Got you Down?

If you’re like me then that means you’ve been studying at Stauffer or Douglas Library for far too many days now stressing about all those exams you have to take. Well how about taking a break to eat a delicious LOFT baked good! Tomorrow December 10th Food security campaign at Queen’s will be going around to Douglas and Stauffer Library to offer some delicious baked good all made from fair trade and local products! Check the cards on your baked goods to see ingredients, recipes and more information on the easy ways to go LOFT!

What is LOFT?

Local and fair trade food!

  • Fair trade supports small scale farmers and workers who are marginalized from trade in a variety of ways.
  • The goal of fair trade movements around the world is to support and help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability and food for all
  • It is based on a partnership between you (the consumer) and the producer
  • Fair trade terms creates an improvement of trade to then allow opportunity for small scale workers to improve their lives and plan for the future
  • Fair trade acts as an easy way for you the consumer to assist in the movement to end poverty and world hunger through your everyday task of shopping

How can you go LOFT?

Simple things in your day can be turned into LOFT food, Oxfam at Queen’s turned their Baked Goods give away into LOFT food by using local products and using fair trade chocolate from the fair trade snack bar on campus instead of using popular brand chocolate! Chocolate chip cookies with fair trade chocolate are simple and delicious!

For more information on Fair Trade worldwide visit the websites:

Additionally here are just a few Fair Trade Recipes we have found that are easy and fun for you to try!! Especially for all that holiday baking coming up… ->

Fair Trade Banana Bread

225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour 100 g (4 oz) butter 150 g (5 oz) caster sugar 450 g (1 lb) Fair Trade bananas (the gooier the better) ½ teaspoon salt 2 eggs 175 g (6 oz) mixed dried fruit

Directions Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Peel and mash the bananas, and then mix all the ingredients except the dried fruit together. You can do this in a food processor, or by hand in a basin. When they’re all thoroughly mixed, add the dried fruit. Spoon the mixture into a 1 kg (2 lb) non-stick loaf tin, spread it out evenly and bake it for 1½ hours. The loaf is done when a skewer pushed into its middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Crumbly Banana Squares

175g Fair Trade sugar 175g margarine 225g self raising flour 100g porridge oats 2 medium Fair Trade bananas, mashed 25g sultanas (or similar) Caster sugar

Directions Warm your oven to 200°C. Cream the sugar and margarine together. Cut in the flour and oats to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle half into a baking tray (12 by 8 inch) and press down lightly. Spread over the bananas and sprinkle the dried fruit. Sprinkle the rest of the mixture over and again press down lightly. Bake it for 25 to 30 minutes until golden. To finish sprinkle with caster sugar Wait until it cools (if you can) and cut into appropriately-sized chunks

Nutty Chocolate & Coffee Brownies Makes about 12 brownies:

50g dark Fair Trade chocolate, roughly broken up 110g butter 2 eggs, beaten 225g unrefined (golden) Fair Trade sugar 50g plain flour 1 teaspoon baking powder pinch of salt 100g hazelnuts (chopped in half) For the frosting: 100g butter, softened to room temperature 100g icing sugar 100g cream cheese 1 tablespoon strong black Fair Trade coffee

Directions Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease a tin measuring approximately 27cm x 18cm and line with baking parchment, allowing paper to rise 3cm obove the tin. Toast hazelnuts in oven for 10 minutes (maximum) until lightly browned. Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Stir in sugar. Beat in eggs and chocolate mixture until well-mixed. Stir in hazelnuts. Pour mixture into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until centre springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in tin. To make frosting, beat butter and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in cream cheese and coffee. Spread frosting on cooled Brownies. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes, then cut into squares

Mocha Ginger Biscotti Makes about 10 Biscotti:

Biscotti are very hard Italian biscuits which are lovely dipped into coffee for breakfast or a midmorning snack. 100g plain flour 30g Fair Trade cocoa powder ½ teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt 120g unrefined (golden) Fair Trade sugar ½ tablespoon Fair Trade ground coffee 30g dark Fair Trade chocolate, roughly broken up 2 eggs, beaten 2 balls of stem ginger, finely chopped

Directions Heat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Sieve flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add sugar, coffee and chocolate. Process until finely ground. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs and continue to process until mixture binds together into a firm dough. Carefully add milk by the teaspoonful if dough is too dry. Fold in the stem ginger. On a floured surface, roll dough into a log and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn down to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Allow log to cool, then, using a serrated knife, cut into 1cm wide slices. Lie slices flat on baking sheet and return to oven for 15 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Hot Chocolate from scratch

1 tbsp. Fair Trade cocoa powder 2 tbsp. Fair Trade white sugar 2 tbsp. water 1 c. milk a bit of vanilla, if desired

Directions Combine cocoa, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Heat it on low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the paste from sticking to the pan. After about 1 to 2 minutes, add milk and vanilla. Mix it all together until it reaches your preferred temperature. OR for real decadence simply add chunks of your favorite Fair Trade Chocolate to warmed up milk and stir thoroughly. Finish with lashings of whipped cream


“What Is Fairtrade?” Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO):. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.



Leave a comment

Syrian Refugee Crisis-A Food Security Issue?

Over the last couple weeks Oxfam at Queen’s food security campaign has been discussing the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the various effects it has on food security, both within Syria and the surrounding countries in their attempt to supply food for Syrian refugees. To start of this discussion we found it important to discuss the effects conflict and crisis’ in general have on food security.

How does conflict effect food security?

Majority of evidence on the correlation between conflict and food security proves to be a negative effect. There can be both minor and major impacts such as in cases of spontaneous protest demonstrations, minor impacts can arise causing food prices to increase in these areas or even causing food vendors and markets to close down for periods of time. Major and more extreme impacts are those that create “food wars”, a concept which includes the use of hunger as a weapon in active conflict, food insecurity follows as a consequence.

The Four dimensions of food security:

Availability, access, utilization and stability.

Availability of Food in Conflict?

Conflict directly reduces the availability of food firstly because it disrupts production, hostilities can prevent normal farming, fishing and herding operations from continuing, which for millions of poorer households can act as the main source of income and food supply. Many of these land owners and crop owners during conflict will have no choice but to flee from their land leaving all of their assets behind and being placed into communities in which they have no land to own and nothing to support themselves. Not only does this effect the landowners current state in other communities, it effects the chances of coming back to their land after peace is achieved. The crops and lands being abandoned can create various problems including pest and disease infestations which can take years to achieve the same rates of production as before. Conflict can also disrupt the flow of food and create public and private investments in food production and marketing to dry up due to governments in conflict diverting funds to other sources such as financing military operations.

Conflict reduces access to food?

Populations that are forcefully displaced by violent conflict suffer the greatest reduction in their access to food. As these populations are separated from their livelihoods economic access is greatly affected. In many cases refugees are forced to liquidate their assets in hopes of being able to purchase food after fleeing. Many crisis’ however drive food sales down and generates returns that are far less than anticipated leaving refugees in need of international assistance and funds to survive.

Conflict impairs the utilization of food?

Effective utilization of food is a measure of how well the access to food supplies are used to promote health and productivity. This includes adequate knowledge and application to nutrition and child care as well as having proper health and sanitation services. Conflict directly effects the proper utilization of food as their is less access and availability to food and limited access to properly prepared and stored food. In refugee camps the lack of health care is correlated to the lack of nutritional food sources leading to fatal outbreaks of disease in which many will not prevail.

Instability of food availability, access and utilization?

The main problems within conflict-related food uncertainty are for farming and agricultural communities in their decisions to either invest resources and risk loss or flee with no assurance of whether supplies will be attained.

The Syrian Crisis and Food Security Issues

Looking through the four dimensions of food security it is easy to see that Syria is facing issues among all dimensions of food security. In our last blog post we looked at the steps of how the Crisis was started and the various different degrees to which it has extended. Through these steps it is noticeable that refugees are suffering from a lack of food security. Not only is there a problem within the country regarding stability in food security, however there is a major crisis in bordering nations to supply sufficient amounts of food to refugees.

The number of displaced refugees in bordering nations is increasing and they are in need of assistance, it is becoming almost impossible to sufficiently provide proper amounts of nutritional food to the millions of refugees in need.

What can we do?

  • Oxfam has reached over 1.6 million people affected by the Syria crisis, across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
  • In Syria alone more than 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance such as water, food, and shelter.
  • The steady arrival of families displaced by the conflict in neighbouring countries is putting extreme pressure on local infrastructure and economies.

The solution

Organizations across the world are providing assistance:

Oxfam is providing aid and long-term support to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the crisis.

What can we do to help?

  • Get informed
  • Learn about Oxfam and other organization helping in the crisis
  • Donate!

Support Syria’s refugees here at oxfam’s website:


Simmons, Emmy. (2013). Harvesting Peace: Food Security, Conflict, and Cooperation (Environmental Change & Security Program Report Vol. 14, Issue 3). Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“Syria Emergency | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide.” Syria Emergency | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

“Syrian Refugee Crisis – Double Your Impact.” Oxfam Canada. 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.


Leave a comment

Syrian Refugee Crisis- The Situation

As a politics and global development student at Queen’s University I find it amazing how little I know about the Syrian Crisis, especially how it affects surrounding nations, food security, and the emphasized effects it has on woman and children. It is so important for us all to not only listen to what the news is saying but to go into depth with it and actually look into it on our own time, to look at all the different effects it truly has on an international scale. This week on ethical eats we are going to look into the situation of the Syrian Crisis and learn how we can help, the first step towards helping is getting educated!

Where did this all start?

8 steps of how it all started:

  1. Uprising turns Violent: 2011-Pro democratic Protests in Deraa erupted after the arrest and torture of teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. Security forces opened fire on demonstrators killing several… more protestors took to the streets. This triggered unrest nationwide demanding President Assad’s resignation, government use of force created more protest by July hundreds of thousands of people were taking to the streets.
  2. Descent into civil war: This violence escalated to civil war, rebel brigades were formed to battle government forces. The conflict increased to not only be a divide between those for and against President Assad, sectarian overtones became present between the countries Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect. This has drawn in neighbouring countries and world powers. The rise of jihadist groups has become present.
  3. War Crimes: UN commission of inquiry has evidence that both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes including murder, torture, rape, and enforced disappearances. Government and rebel forces have been accused of using civilian suffering-blocking food, water and resources. Islamic state- terror in northern and eastern Syria, public executions and amputations.
  4. Chemical Weapons: August of 2013-rockets filled with nerve agent sarin were fired at agricultural districts around Damascus. The prospect of US military involvement made President Assad agree to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Despite this there is documented proof of the use of toxic chemicals by Syrian government on rebel groups resulting more deaths.
  5. Humanitarian Crisis: More than four billion people have fled Syria, mainly woman and children, one of the largest refugee exoduses of history. Neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan are struggling with accommodating all these refugees. Syrian social welfare systems are in a state of collapse.
  6. Rebels and the rise of jihadists: Secular moderates are now outnumbered by jihadists and Islamic State. 2014-US coalition launches air strikes in Syria in an effort to degrade and destroy IS.
  7. Peace efforts: Neither side is able to defeat the other, the international community agrees that only a political solution could end the conflict. A number of attempts by the UN and Arab League at ceasefire and dialogue have failed. Geneva Communique led by US, UN and Russia broke down.
  8. Proxy War: Arab spring uprising, proxy war has drawn in regional and world powers.

This is the situation that has erupted in Syria, these are the facts and the process that has brought the world into an international crisis of how to assist Syria. The major problems are how to assist refugees.

How is Food Security important in the Crisis?

Some facts from Oxfam international:

  • Over 220,000 people have lost their lives in the Crisis
  • 6 million people have fled from their homes
  • 4 million refugees are living in neighbouring nations
  • 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance such as food, water and shelter

Millions of refugees from Syria are fleeing to bordering countries, millions have had to flee from their homes, their lands, with no food, water, shelter. Many are injured, sick and in desperate need of assistance. The problems surrounding food security issues is the inability for neighbouring countries to supply all these refugees with sufficient amounts of food, water and resources. Syria and bordering nations are in need of support from the international community.

How to help?

Oxfam international is taking donations to help million of refugees across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.


“Syria: The Story of the Conflict – BBC News.” BBC News. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

“Syrian Refugee Crisis – Double Your Impact.” Oxfam Canada. 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

Leave a comment

”What do you want your food system to look like?”


On Wednesday night I attended an exciting and interesting discussion on local food in Kingston. As readers of the LOFT Food Guide, I hope you enjoy my report of this inspiring event. At least 200 community members were in attendance, ranging from new born babies and their parents to the old and gnarled, and including a handful of students like me. We met in the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library. Local wine was sampled, and attendees mingled about, munching on tiny quiches, cheese, and chocolate meringues from Epicurious Catering.

As I took my seat, the man next to me eyed my snacks. I told him where he could find them, and when he returned he introduced himself. Turns out he used to work for Dupont (now Invista), the chemical plant in Kingston, but that he’d been looking into working on the new ‘ecological community farm’ that is Salt of the Earth. I shook hands with another man who introduced himself as Ian, the head chef of Chez Piggy. It’s one of Kingston’s most highly esteemed restaurants and a proud supporter of local farmers.

The discussion, hosted by Charles Summer and Morgan Alger of Salt of the Earth, began with the farmers answering questions about their position at the forefront of the local food movement. How they got started, what their greatest accomplishments and challenges were, what kept them joyful, and where they saw themselves in the next five years. We heard from Wendy Banks of Wendy’s Mobile Market, Justin Hillborn of Fat of the Land Farm, Charlie Forman of Forman Farms, and Ian Stutt of Patchwork Gardens.

It was truly inspiring to hear the passion that these people have for good and ecological food production. Wendy has been helping farmers in the region for almost a decade by making their products more accessible through her delivery service. Justin and his wife Andrea pasture-raise beef, pork, and poultry on their farm between Kingston and Napanee. Charlie is an agricultural legend: he has 2400 planted acres and is thinking about expanding. He’s grown crops, including non-GMO soybeans and corn, for nearly his entire life. Ian and his partners at Patchwork Gardens grown certified organic vegetables. 

When the discussion turned towards how to create a good and healthy local food system, I was inspired by the support that Kingston  has for organic and locally produced foods. One woman, in response to the comment that consumers have to be prepared to spend more, said that since she’s saved money since her family started receiving all her produce from a Community Supported Agriculture bin delivery system. ”The packaged crap doesn’t end up in our cart anymore!” Many restaurants in Kingston buy a substantial amount of their ingredients from farms in the area. Places like Chez Piggy, Harper’s Burgers, and the Kingston Brewing Co., as well as the rest on this list

The questions, comments, and applause were still flying as I slipped out after two hours. If I learned anything from Wednesday night’s event, it’s that Kingston is a great place to be. My desire to support the farmers and food producers of the area is stronger than ever after having seen the face of local food. Farming isn’t an easy life,but these people are so passionate about what they do.

Building a good local food system is the goal of many, and here are some of the conclusions that arose that evening:

  • Kids need to be targeted, because if they get hooked on the taste and excitement of good food, parents will follow. Focusing on lunch programs in schools as well as school gardens are two things that Wendy is involved in.
  • One of ways to convince others of the necessity and goodness of local food is to feed them. Invite someone over and cook them dinner. Serve them Justin’s grass-fed beef, and Ian’s vegetables, and watch them start to understand what all the fuss is about.
  • We have to accept the seasonality and imperfection of food, as well as the true cost. Strawberries just don’t grow in the middle of winter! Eating local isn’t necessarily a more expensive choice, but we can’t expect constant availability or to expect the same prices. 

 Learn more!

Salt of the Earth Farm- 

Ian Stutt and Patchwork Gardens-

Justin Hillborn and Fat of the Land Farm- or

Wendy and Wendy’s Mobile Market-

Charlie Forman and Forman Farms

Kingston Farmer’s Market-

Community Supported Agriculture through Root Radical Rowns- 

Epicurious Catering- 



Leave a comment

What can we eat if we can’t eat wheat?

This week, I decided to write about an aspect of food security that is often not factored into the equation – the complications of celiac disease on food security, in North America in particular.

Celiac disease is a genetic intolerance to gluten – found in wheat and therefore most of what we eat today –  causing inflammation of the digestive tract and interference with the absorption of nutrients. For those with the disease, in varying degrees of sensitivity, a lifelong gluten-free (GF) diet is the only cure*. 

Celiac disease is now 4 times as prevalent as it was 60 years ago*, and highest in Western Europe and the U.S*. Suspicious that the richest region of the world, the region that historically consumed almost all of the world’s wheat, is most afflicted by this disease, isn’t it?!. One hypothesis is that more  human immune systems are rejecting wheat because of what this ancient grain has become:  a genetically modified and hybridized crop seen in all commercial American fields. This technological wheat is heavily subsidized by governments to increase yields and export to an increasingly wheat-hungry world. Check out the great documentary “A Place at The Table” for a ton more information on tackling America’s food security issues.

Nearly half of American children will receive food stamps in their lifetime, which average out to about $4 a day for food*. The struggle to put food on the table is severely worsened when a family member must eat GF foods. One blogger ( calculated that she spends more than 3 times that amount ($13) on essential gluten-free food per day. 

The increasing rate of this disease is not something that is likely to go away. Within the past two years, three of my friends have developed an intolerance to gluten, although they all ate it as kids. The limited availability and high cost of GF foods greatly limits poor families’ access to a nutritious diet. Although the Global South is always a major focus of food security issues, I hope this article has shed some light on systemic hunger issues that exist within North America as well.