Over the past year, events catalysed by a government seizure of dried cured meats from Harborside Farms have propelled Manitoba Food Policy unto uncertain waters. A burgeoning market for local foods, which Manitobans ensure is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable, goes to battle against government food safety regulations. The regulations are claimed to be unclear, which makes them hard to follow. A coalition of fishers, processors, farmers and citizens have rallied in support of the local food market in Manitoba and are calling themselves FEAST (Farmers and Eaters Sharing the Table). They are demanding a say in policy-making, and from the FEAST report last month, it seems they are doing just that! The province is currently reformulating the regulations towards “outcome-based standards”. This means the process by which the food is produced is less important, provided that the resulting food passes safety standards. This works in the favour or small-scale growers and providers as it allows methods to be used outside of regulated mass growth projects, and does not require the purchase of expensive equipment. Issue still remains within the criteria for safe food though; the onus lies on the producer to create a safe product, but the judgement from regulators working within a guideline. Further work at defining the standards for safe food is needed, although the policy is moving in the right direction!
This is some serious news!!! Bee attractive plants that gardeners use to promote Bee procreation, have been tested and found to contain neonicotinoids! In Canada!
The seeds of these plants are treated the same way as farmers crops – they are soaked in the pesticide so that as it grows, the pesticide is contained within each cell of the plant. It is more effective than spraying and reduces labour hours, however at what price? These neonics are the same that have polluted the water supply throughout the states, and has been banned from use in animal fodder and animal and plant refugee conservation sites.
About 50% of the bee-friendly plants have enough of the pesticide to kill bee’s outright, and 40% have two varieties of the neonics! Samples were taken from London, Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver, all with similarly disturbing results. How are we as consumers able to encourage growth in the bee population if the plants we buy to do just that, are actually detrimental to their numbers?
A new study released by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that over 60 per cent of “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides shown to harm and kill bees. Of the samples collected from London, 100 per cent contained neonics, the highest amount in the Canadian tests.
The plants tested were: Calibrachoa, Gerbera Daisy, Shasta Daisy and Zonal Geranium. All but the Zonal Geranium showed two neonic pesticides, increasing its sub-lethal effects.
The Canadian data is part of a larger study, Gardeners Beware 2014, released by Friends of the Earth in Canada and Friends of the Earth U.S. with Pesticide Research Institute (PRI). Garden plant samples were collected from top garden retailers from 18 cities across Canada and the United States. Canadian samples were collected in London (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Vancouver (British Columbia).
Gardeners Beware 2014 reported that 51 per…
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Yesterday 1.3 billion gallons of mining waste burst from a Mount Polley gold and copper mine’s tailing pond in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. Canadians in the region cannot drink their water, and authorities can not yet tell how many more Canadians will be effected as the water continues to flow through creeks and streams. The area is sparsely populated limiting human impact, however the environmental harm created is vast. Lake Erie’s algae bloom is a natural reaction catalyzed by human activity, whereas this disaster is a direct effect! Carelessness, and laziness are two qualities the future of our planet strongly relies on, and yet they were not shown. Read Think Progress’s full article here.
SeaWorld could be in trouble because of “Granny,” the world’s oldest known living orca. The 103-year-old whale (also known as J2) was recently spotted off Canada’s western coast with her pod — her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But while the Granny sighting is thrilling for us, it’s problematic for SeaWorld.
First of all, SeaWorld has claimed that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live,” when simple figures or even living and thriving examples — like Granny — can give us a pretty good idea. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation project estimates that whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old, on average; many of SeaWorld’s orcas die before they reach their 20s. Perhaps because of their reduced lifespans, the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages, which could also diminish their overall health.
Read the full story here.
Based in Vancouver, Canada, LUSH Handmade Cosmetics’ mission is to make effective products from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils, and safe synthetics. The cosmetics company purchases ingredients only from companies that do not conduct or commission tests on animals, and they only test their products on humans. Furthermore, LUSH invents its own products and fragrances, making its products fresh by hand using little or no preservative or packaging and using only vegetarian ingredients.
The company’s inventors started making products by visiting farmer’s markets and flower shops, bringing their fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers back to their labs, and infusing them into their newest inventions. In fact, LUSH has its own ingredient encyclopedia called LUSHopedia. LUSH keeps track of all of the ingredients it uses in its products and lists them alphabetically in LUSHopedia (from African marigold oil to zinc oxide).
In addition to using as little packaging as possible, LUSH’s commitment to environmental stewardship includes finding ways to eliminate waste. The company works hard to ensure that the majority of its output from making and transporting products is recycled, composted, or re-used. Also, LUSH makes it a priority to use ingredients that are produced in a sustainable way. In keeping with this fresh, eco-friendly philosophy, LUSH uses almond and olive oil—not mineral oil—partly because the company thinks (as they state on their website) that “fields of trees make our lives much richer than oil fields.”
By the numbers: Just this year at LUSH, responsible buying of recycled supplies for the company’s administrative offices helped save over 300 trees; 511,363 liters of water (135,000 gallons of water); and 675 gallons of oil. Moreover, LUSH’s responsible buying also helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28,000 CO2 equivalents. Thus, LUSH’s commitment to environmental stewardship has had and continues to have a significant, positive impact on the environment.
To visit LUSH’s website, click here.
To peruse the complete list of ingredients LUSH uses in its products, click here.
To learn why LUSH made the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, click here.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is a facility that was chosen for the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, and for good reason. The Toronto-based hospital has implemented and continues to implement green initiatives in five key areas, including: environmental programs; energy conservation; waste management; sustainable transportation; procurement; and an education and awareness campaign.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has implemented exemplary sustainable transportation initiatives such as using hybrid vehicles for its security personnel and Smart cars for its parking and transportation staff. The hospital has also introduced the ZIP Car shared use program (for patients and visitors) and secure bicycle parking cages. In partnership with Smart Commute and Curbside Cycle, Sunnybrook hosted the “Most Unlikely Cyclist” contest to demonstrate that cycling to work is truly an option. Last year’s winner received a new bike and hosted a blog to share her experiences as she transitioned into a two-wheeled commuter.
The hospital also implemented a water conservation program and waste management programs as a part of its green environment initiatives. Its water conservation program consisted of the installation of over 1,100 low-flush toilets. This one change allowed the hospital to save over 185 million litres of water annually. In addition, its waste management initiatives have included an enhanced recycling and reuse program (including a reusable meal container program); composting programs; use of environmentally friendly cleaning products; and the introduction of a unique florescent bulb “eater” machine that breaks down bulbs into recyclable material while capturing 99.99% of the potentially harmful vapors. Also, in response to feedback from anesthesiologists in 2004, Sunnybrook installed a unique Canadian-made anesthetic gas absorption technology to reduce (by 95 percent) the amount of waste gas released into the environment. This new gas absorption technology will prevent the release of over 470 tonnes of C02-equivalent gases into the atmosphere (which is about the equivalent of removing 150 cars from the road). Overall, Sunnybrook’s current energy improvements are estimated to save $2.6M and reduce C02 emissions by 8,965 tonnes annually; that is the equivalent of taking 1,410 cars from the road.
To visit the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre website, click here.
To learn more about Sunnybrook’s green energy initiatives and why it was chosen for the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, click here.
Although Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery is located in Abbotsford, BC, its real roots can be traced to the Silver Hills Guest House wellness resort in the Okanagan Valley of BC. The Silver Hills Guest House purports the benefits of a vegan-friendly diet as a means of achieving a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Not long after the wellness resort opened in 1989, the resort staff discovered that they were unable to find wholesome, all-natural bread that fit their vegan dietary values. Brad Brousson, who was on the wellness resort staff at the time and who later became co-founder of Silver Hills Bakery, recalled a way of baking bread that his mother had taught him using sprouted grains. Silver Hills decided to make its own unique sprouted bread; the demand for the Silver Hills sprouted bread grew; and Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery was born.
The process of sprouting grains consists of cleaning, rinsing, and soaking the grains in water until they begin to sprout. This process allows the grains to release their valuable nutrients. Silver Hills Bakery then mashes the sprouted grains into dough that is used to make their specialty sprouted bread.
Silver Hills’ bread is healthy in a number of ways: The bakery’s products are organic, vegan, gluten-free and free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The Silver Hills production facility is certified organic by QAI (Quality Assurance International), an independent regulatory agency. Also, the Silver Hills staff regularly tests all ingredients for GMO contamination, which means that the customer can be certain that no GMO ingredients will ever be used in Silver Hills products or sold in their retail store outlet.
In order to understand what makes a product non-GMO, general knowledge of what makes a product a genetically modified organism is required. GMOs are plants and animal species created through gene splicing or biotechnology (also referred to as genetic engineering). Most genetically modified plants were created to be resistant to pesticides and extreme temperature ranges (such as drought) for the purposes of improving nutrition and producing higher crop yields. Advocates for the GMO movement declare that GMO crops are more nutritious than non-GMO crops. Moreover, they argue that GMO crops are environmentally beneficial and aid in addressing world hunger. In many cases, however, GMO crops have demonstrated the opposite of these intended effects; they have instead raised many questions about consumer and environmental safety. In the United States and in Canada, governments have approved GMOs for use based primarily on studies conducted by the companies that created the GMOs (companies that will, subsequently, obtain profits from their ongoing sale and distribution).
A number of crop strains are deemed to be at risk of being GMO (because they have, at some point, been bio-engineered). These include alfalfa, canola, corn, papaya, flax, rice, oil, yellow summer squash, soy, zucchini, and sugar beets. The bread-making industry often uses ingredients derived from these risk crops, such as citric acid, flavorings, sucrose, amino acids, sugar, yeast products, vitamins, and vegetable oil. Animal byproducts such as meat, eggs, milk, honey, and other bee products are at risk as well due to potential contamination from feed and other input factors. Wheat itself wasn’t considered an at-risk crop until the discovery of GMO wheat in an Oregon field in May 2013.
As a part of its mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle, Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery joined the non-GMO movement. Silver Hills uses only non-GMO ingredients. These include amaranth, apples, barley, buckwheat, hemp, khorasan wheat, oats, millet, pumpkin seeds, rye, quinoa, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, and spelt (a grain that is higher in protein than wheat).
To visit the Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery website, click here.
To learn more about GMOs and the non-GMO movement, and to read a list of companies that have joined the non-GMO movement, click here.
“This may very well be the most significant big tree discovery in Canada in decades. This is a tree with a trunk as wide as a living room and stands taller than downtown skyscrapers,” said TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) photographer and campaigner, who first noticed the exceptional tree several months ago before returning to measure it with AFA co-founder Ken Wu yesterday, in a press release from AFA to Vancouver Observer.
Here’s more on the discovery of Canada’s second largest recorded Douglas-fir tree from the press release:
Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) have found and measured what appears to be Canada’s second largest recorded Douglas-fir tree, nick-named “Big Lonely Doug”. Preliminary measurements of the tree taken yesterday found it to be about 12 meters (39 feet) in circumference or 4 meters (13 feet) in diameter, and 69 meters(226 feet) tall. Ministry of Forests staff will visit the site and take official measurements of the tree in early April. Big Lonely Doug is estimated to be about 1000 years old, judging by nearby 8 feet wide Douglas-fir stumps in the same clearcut with growth rings of 500-600 years.
“This may very well be the most significant big tree discovery in Canada in decades.This is a tree with a trunk as wide as a living room and stands taller than downtown skyscrapers,” stated TJ Watt, AFA photographer and campaigner, who first noticed the exceptional tree several months ago before returning to measure it with AFA co-founder Ken Wu yesterday. “Big Lonely Doug’s total size comes in just behind the current champion Douglas-fir, the Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest, which grows just one valley over.”
“The fact that all of the surrounding old-growth trees have been clearcut around such a globally exceptional tree, putting it at risk of being damaged or blown down by wind storms, underscores the urgency for new provincial laws to protect BC’s largest trees, monumental groves, and endangered old-growth ecosystems,” stated Ken Wu, AFA executive director. “The days of colossal trees like these are quickly coming to an end as the timber industry cherry-picks the last unprotected, valley-bottom, lower elevation ancient stands in southern BC where giants like this grow.”
Read the full story here.
A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity. Resource companies will now be able to drill exploratory wells, build roads and dig giant test pits, all in the name of pipeline and transmission line “research”.
Unless we act now to repeal this law, some of the most beautiful parks in Canada could be opened up to industrial development. This could set a dangerous national precedent as oil, gas and mining companies scramble to extract as many fossil fuel resources as possible from deep below the soil. But if we add our voices to the thousands of letters that the BC Ministry of Environment has already received, they will be forced to respond.
Take action now to keep Big Oil out of our parks.
Our provincial parks are legally held in trust for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public. But now, some of our most pristine and beloved landscapes in the country are in real danger. Leaked documents show that the BC government is already considering redrawing the boundaries of 30 parks to accommodate destructive new gas and oil pipelines. And now the new Parks Amendment Act could open up these beautiful landscapes for industrial activity – including exploratory wells 75 metres deep and sample pits 250 metres deep.
Read the full story here.