Ethical Eats

Brought to you by Oxfam @ Queen's


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

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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 http://tourism.kingstoncanada.com/en/kingstonfood/localfoodrestaurants.asp.

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- http://saltofkingston.com/ 

Ian Stutt and Patchwork Gardens- http://www.patchworkgardens.ca/

Justin Hillborn and Fat of the Land Farm- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fat-of-the-Land-Farm/809417689086906 or fatofthelandfarm@gmail.com

Wendy and Wendy’s Mobile Market- http://www.wendysmobilemarket.com/

Charlie Forman and Forman Farms http://formanfarms.ca/

Kingston Farmer’s Market- http://www.kingstonpublicmarket.ca/

Community Supported Agriculture through Root Radical Rowns- http://www.rootradicalrows.com/ 

Epicurious Catering- http://food.epicuriouscatering.ca/ 

 

 


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Eat Organic Foods Because Gwyneth Paltrow does

Just kidding. Doing something just because Gwyneth Paltrow does it too is not the best idea. But here’s a question that the Oxfamily gets asked often. Apart from health reasons, why should people other than incredibly wealthy and out of touch celebrities bother spending extra money on ethically produced foods when our contributions will probably not make such a difference in the big picture?

“Every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” This quote by Anna Lappe is the reason I personally think we should be educated and conscientious about what we buy. Being someone who says they care about the environment and social justice while not making an effort about it is just as ridiculous as being a member of the Green Party who drives out to the woods ever night in a SUV to start forest fires. This is because our economy runs on two principles that anyone who has gone to the first lecture of Econ will be able to tell you.
1. Our economy organizes itself based on supply and demand.
2. Everyone wants to maximize profits.

In relation to L.O.F.T foods, this means that if producers can see a visible demand for their products, they’ll make more of it. If there is more demand for L.O.F. T foods, companies that support this endeavor will continue to exist. In turn, there will more farmers with the ability to invest money back into their own communities, which helps their local economies thrive. More kids will be in school and there will be less greenhouse gases because of less transportation costs. Additionally, this mean you eat less pesticides, get less sick from animals that have been pumped so full of antibiotics and growth hormones that they are practically exploding.

Still, it’s true that the effects of buying ethical foods are not immediately visible. Though it would be nice, it’s not like the smogs in cities lift ever so slightly every time we buy an organic tomato. But perhaps the effects of many people supporting L.O.F.T foods are more obvious than you think. The healthy foods movement is definitely main-stream now. Think about it, in movies like 21 Jump Street (it’s so funny, go watch it), the cool kids are now the skinny “crunchy granola dudes” who have Eco-friendly transportation instead of jocks with sports cars. Who would’ve thought that would happen? Also, why else would so many plastic wrapped hot dogs claim to be made of “all natural ingredients”? Brands would not advertise to have organic or natural ingredients if they didn’t think it would help people would buy their stuff. It’s not all about food either – people are starting to care about what they wear. Now, it’s more than just random indie clothing brands that are supporting Fair Trade. Think about how popular American Apparel is, or the fact that not too long ago, Stella McCartney (the brand) joined the Ethical Trading Initiative. The reason brands publicize that they do this is because they recognize how the values of the world is changing, and they are adjusting themselves to cater to what we demand.

P.S. Guess what? Fair Trade has existed since 1988, and it’s going to stick around because we want it to.

– Jennie 

Information borrowed from:

http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/what_is_fairtrade/history.aspx

http://www.stellamccartney.com/

http://www.goodreads.com/


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Food = Respect

Ah, the holidays! This cherished season is a time to celebrate winter, family and friends, and of course, delicious food. Food has always been an important part of human celebrations around the world. Cooking and eating together shows care and creates warm memories and lasting traditions, especially during the holidays. The spicy smell of gingerbread cookies, hot mulled apple cider after a day outside, and Christmas dinner are indelibly imprinted in my mind along with winter and the holiday season.

 But I think we have a tendency to view the holidays as the sort of exceptional time where we can eat, drink, and be merry without responsibility. When surrounded by the plenty of the holidays, it can be easy to treat food lightly. But while it is also for our pleasure, food is essential for life, One in seven people in our world go to bed hungry, but it’s estimated that one third of the food produced for human consumption never gets eaten. Compare that to the fact that many Canadians’ biggest food worry over the holidays is staying slim!

Most of the people in this country will have more than enough to eat over the holidays. This year, let food take on an extra special meaning for us. Instead of just enjoying our food,  I think that we ought to respect it. A lot of people have had a part to play in providing us with mashed sweet potatoes we love: from the Chinese farmer that grew it, to your grandmother that baked it into a dish. In this context, food represents a lot more than what you see on your plate

While we enjoy the joys of this wonderful season, lets make sure to appreciate the food we eat, and not waste it. After all, something as important as food deserves respect.

Debrah Zemanek

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http://www.unep.org/wed/quickfacts/

 

 


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Certified Local Sustainable

The L in LOFT is not always easily accomplished and can get even more complicated when you add sustainability to the mix.

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Local Food Plus (LFP) is a Canadian non-profit aiming to educate consumers, producers, and distributors about the benefits (and standards) of local and sustainable foods. LFP developed criteria to certify local sustainable foods so that consumers know, and understand, exactly what they’re purchasing.

The definition of local is often ambiguous ranging from 100km radius to within a province or group of provinces. Likewise, sustainable is overwhelmed with limitless conditions. LFP seeks to amalgamate the two concepts identifying local sustainable food as:

  • being grown or caught, processed, and marketed locally
  • financially viable for all stakeholders (not just chain retailers/distributors)
  • ecologically responsible
  • meat from producers who treat animals with respect and without reliance on artificial hormones or drugs
  • socially responsible workplaces (fair wages, fair treatment)
  • energy conservation (low reliance on fossil fuels)
  • water conservation (low water waste)
  • stewards of the environment (biodiversity and protecting wildlife)
  • helping to grow a resilient food system

The LFP label is subject to independent third party expert inspections. And unlike organic labelling systems, LFP does not charge farmers for the entire cost of certification but charges a minimal fee while the rest of the expenses are paid through LFP fundraising (reducing the burden on small-hold farmers).

LFP got its start on the University of Toronto campus proving that the differences students make in their community can extend to the entire food system.

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– Angela


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The Educated Omnivore

Food. It’s kind of a big deal. It shapes entire cultures, has to power to change the way we feel about ourselves, and has a major impact on both the economy and the environment. We are driven to make the best choices we can when it comes to food, and this leads a lot of people to vegetarianism. Eating this way is often lighter on the planet and better for you than conventional diets, so I’m all for it. But the purpose of my post is to mention an alternative that is equally positive and dare I say, more exciting- educated omnivorism. 

Being an educated omnivore involves knowing about where your food comes from and making choices based on your  values- a lot like vegetarianism, but more open minded.. This savvy breed of eater tends to consume a balanced diet, with as much local, organic, fair trade, or otherwise good produce and products as they can obtain. When it comes to eating meat, as with all other foods, they make sure that it is produced in ways that align with their values. Here are some examples of meat an educated omnivore might choose:

  • Grass fed beef from a local rancher (meeting the cow optional)
  • Trout caught by a friend when they went on a fishing trip
  • Christmas turkeys raised in your backyard
  • Pole and Line tuna (caught without drag nets)
  • Pork from farms that use permaculture methods (see first link below)

I know an educated omnivore that only eats an animal when she or someone in her family has killed it. This is her own way of making the best choices for herself and the environment, without limiting herself to a vegetarian diet. 100 Mile House, B.C., the magical land that I hail from, is an impractical place to be a vegetarian, because there is local beef raised on every corner! Educated vegetarianism is also important, as there are many social and environmental issues with with modern agriculture.. Soy, for example, is one of the most destructively produced crops in the world today. No matter what your diet is, there is still choices to be made.

Educated omnivorism is something that everyone should take to heart. All it takes is some interest and a dash of effort  to find out how the food you are eating affects the world around you, Making better choices when it comes to food is more than just eating less meat.

 

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On eating meat the right way:

 

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/can-animals-save-us/joel-salatin-how-to-eat-meat-and-respect-it-too 

 

An interesting discussion on meat vs. no meat:

 

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/can-animals-save-us/just-the-facts-should-we-eat-animals

 

 


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Growing a Better Future

GROW is Oxfam’s food security campaign launched in 2011. Oxfam’s sustainable solutions include…

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This means sharing how we consume food and how corporations and institutional structures function. We can make a difference by using environmental resources more delicately, addressing climate change, and helping farmers adapt to rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Let’s change what and how we consume.

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This means utilizing women farmers in developing countries giving them equal access to land, seeds, equipment, credit, and training. We can make a difference by helping women farmers in developing countries gain equal access to land, seeds, tools, and credit that would help them grow more food and eat better. Let’s change how food is produced.

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This means that the distribution of food needs to more balanced. We can make a difference by asking our governments to change policies that undermine people’s right to food. Let’s change policies and ensure the right to food is met.

What we want to see:
investment in small-scale agriculture that recognizes women having a critical role…this does not mean large corporate farms should not exist,  but they currently get most of the investment and support — resolving the food crisis will take a variety of approaches in which small-scale agriculture (which feeds 1/3 of the planet) can do
moratorium on land-grabs in developing countries
– responsible government regulation
– stop climate change

What you can do:
– buy food produced fairly and sustainably
– demand accountability from companies
– get governments to include support for sustainable agriculture and women farmers in the aid budget
– press the government to stop subsidizing food for fuel
– reduce greenhouse gases

 – Angela


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Sunshine in a Glass

Smoothie

Everything is turning “green” these days – “green” soap, “green” pencils, “green” paper. Let’s get out of those quotation marks and start literally eating green! Over the past few weeks, with a little help from the internet and a lot of help from my Magic Bullet, I’ve come to be a smoothie addict. What is so appealing about taking beautiful fresh fruits and veggies and grinding them to a pulp you ask? Well, you tell me another way to get a full serving of spinach and kale into my body while tasting like sunshine in a glass. They’re a great healthy snack or breakfast, and super quick and simple to make.

First I’ll start with the basics of how I go about my smoothie concoctions:

  1. Pick two or three fruits that would go nicely together (either fresh or frozen)
  2. Pick a dark leafy green vegetable that seems like it has no place with those fruits
  3. Chop everything into cubes about the size of dice and throw them into your blender/Magic Bullet
  4. Fill the space between your yummy health cubes with water *or there’s an option to add a spoonful or two of yogurt if you’re feeling adventurous
  5. MIX IT UP!
  6. Pour into a fun glass, stick a crazy straw in and enjoy!

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along my smoothie-making journey:

  • Adding half an avocado makes your smoothie deliciously smooth and creamy (almost yogurt-like)
  • You can buy frozen spinach cubes at the grocery store and add one to the mix to make your smoothie nice and frozen
  • Pineapple and banana are attention demanding best friends. These two overpower anything in your smoothie!
  • Mixed berries are easy to find frozen (and can be found at Grocery Checkout in the ARC) and are a great dose of antioxidants
  • Notice a fruit you can’t pronounce and have never seen while browsing the grocery store? Pick it up! Trying out new mixtures keeps your smoothies fun and exciting.
  • If you’re looking for a big kick of health, try adding in a powder health optimizer, my personal favourite is Vega One – Berry (plus it makes your smoothie extra green woohoo!)

I wish you luck on your smoothie making journey and hope you grow to love them as much as I do!

Find an irresistible combo that needs to be shared with the world? Post it in the comments below!

-Carly