Ethical Eats

Brought to you by Oxfam @ Queen's

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Food Tank

Jaclyn Gates, one of the Oxfam Co-Chairs, stumbled across an amazing food security website the other day. I was going to use it as a starting point for a specific issue, but there was so much content available that I couldn’t decide what to write about! So instead, consider this post an introduction to!

Food Tank describes itself as a Food Think Tank “for the seven billion people who have to eat every day.” Focusing on solutions for global hunger and the obesity epidemic, Food Tank highlights people and organizations around the world who are creating a sustainable food system from the ground up. Over the next year, President Danielle Nierenberg will be speaking at agricultural conferences across the United States and Europe.

Currently, the home page features articles on climate change, holding the food industry accountable for healthcare costs, the International Year of Family Farming (2014!), apps to support animal welfare, and an innovative new approach to rice farming that uses less water. See why I couldn’t just pick one issue to highlight here? And check out the “Partners” section for a list of organizations that are doing amazing work to fix our broken global food system (including Oxfam America)!

Next time you need to procrastinate, check out and get up-to-date on the latest food security news! Now I’m off to download that animal welfare app…

– Hannah Shirtliff


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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:

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Farmers’ Markets: Coast to Coast

Hi everyone!

After a brief hiatus while everyone recovered from exams, Ethical Eats is back up and running for the summer! Over the next few months, members of Oxfam at Queen’s will be posting about local food from, favourite recipes, and food security issues from across Canada. If you have anything that you would like us to write about or events you would like us to publicize, leave a comment!

The beginning of summer marks the kick-off of many farmers’ markets and, so to start off I’d like to provide some links to some well-known farmers’ markets across Canada. Check them out this summer!

Victoria, BC: The Victoria Public Market,

Vancouver, BC:

Edmonton, AB: Old Strathcona Famers’ Market,

Calgary, AB:

Saskatoon, SK:

Regina, SK:
Winnipeg, MB:

Toronto, ON:

Ottawa, ON:

Montreal, QC:

Quebec City, QC:

Fredricton, NB:

Moncton, NB:

Halifax, NS:

Charlottetown, PEI:

St. John’s, NFLD:

Happy shopping (and eating!)

– Hannah

P.S. Where are your favourite places to buy local food in the summer? Leave a comment below!


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The Beauty of Fresh Bread


Upon sitting down to write today, I have been inspired by the meal that currently sits in front of me, begging to be eaten.  Yesterday, as I was strolling by the farmer’s market that sets up every Wednesday in front of the John Deutsch University Centre at Queen’s University, I decided to treat myself to a loaf of Wolfe Island Bakery “Whole Wheat Red River Bread.”  This is a well-known treasure of the local Kingston bakery that is located at 311 Queen Street.  As I sat through my class this morning, all I could think about was when and how I was going to get back to my red river bread, with its fresh, fluffy texture (so fresh, having spent so little time travelling from the bakery, that upon sitting out on a cold spring day its moisture fogged up the bag).  And now it sits before me – two slices toasted and buttered.  So simple – containing only whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, cracked rye, flax seed, sugar, yeast, and salt – and so real (however, the delicately rich taste is actually quite “unreal”).  The ingredients are not the only things that are real about this bread.  What is especially significant to local food culture is that the people are real.  In purchasing this bread, I interacted with an actual person who works in the actual bakery where this bread was made.  In handing over a well spent $5.00, I knew that I was supporting this community member as well as a bakery in Kingston that in turn supports even more community members.  So combine the unreal taste of a fresh loaf of red river bread and the very real exchange between community members and you have a little slice of heaven.  This is the simple pleasure of being able to consume local food that is produced, sold, and bought with care.


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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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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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