Who doesn’t like free food?

I’ve had these pics on my computer for a while now, but I’ve been trying to document my adventures in urban foraging.  Almost a month ago, I spent the afternoon finding wonderful free food, like elderflowers, wild garlic scapes, wild grape leaves, mullberries, wild cherries, and black raspberries.

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I couldn’t help but brag about this when I visited my friend Alex in Toronto, so we went on an urban foraging walk.  And so I present to you:

Things you don’t expect to find in a park in Toronto.

Namely, food. (more…)

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August 3, 2009 at 12:44 am 3 comments

Clear Gold

Michigan is proposing build a pipeline to drain 322 million litres of water from Lake Huron. Ontario hasn’t agreed to it yet, because the proposal doesn’t contain assurance that the water “will stay in the Great Lakes basin and be used efficiently.” Since moving water from the Great Lakes sounds a lot like the plan for solving Lake Mead’s problems without addressing the issues of wasted water.

The people murmuring about Water Wars are starting to look less and less crazy as time goes on.

Sarnia solved the issue of water conservation. They raised water prices and imposed watering restrictions, and a miraculous thing happened. “The water is so bloody expensive, that’s why people are not using it,” according to Coun. Anne Marie Gillis. They cut their water down to 81,000 cubic metres/day from the 181,000 it’s licensed to sell. So, to celebrate, they are begging people to waste more water, because the loss of revenue is putting them in the red.

Water is more valuable a resource than coal, oil, or gold. Three days without it and you die. Period. And as we start to watch folks around the world try to deal with their water shortages, it’s probably a good idea to look at our relationship to it. The average American uses 4500 litres of water per day (and I can’t imagine the Canadian numbers are much different—but if you know your food consumption in kilograms, you can calculate your water footprint). It’s not so surprising when you realize that it takes 200 litres to make 1kg of plastic, or that it requires 2-4 barrels of water to extract a barrel of oil from the tar sands. And then, of course, there’s food.

(more…)

August 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm 1 comment

Ontario Energy Audit

If you or anyone you know lives in an old house, check out the ecoENERGY retrofit program. They just increased their grants by 25% (and if you’re in Ontario, the provincial government will double your grant payments), so even if you’re renting, i’m sure your landlord will be interested.  The grants totally covered the cost to insulate our walls and attic, and helped us replace our obsolete furnace with a high-efficiency one, so we’ll be laughing when we get our gas bill this winter. Plus, they’re letting us apply for an extension (but still sending the cheque for the work completed did so far), so hopefully we’ll be able to do more.

July 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm Leave a comment

Food Standards, eh?

The Food Standards Agency wants to help you make an “informed choice” about your food. They’ve put together a study, comparing the nutritional value of organic versus non-organic food. Of course, calling it a study is a little misleading. They’ve read other people’s studies, and have parsed out the answer: there’s little nutritional benefit to organic food. Of course, “The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences,” so it’s easy to see how they came to that conclusion.

Oh, and they didn’t think it was important to consider the effects of eating pesticides, many of which are carcinogenic. Thanks, Food Standards Agency; I could have made a terrible environmentally conscious decision if you hadn’t opened my eyes (again)! Eat on

Via BBC

July 31, 2009 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to…eat

My garden is swimming. Every day I look up at the sky and think, “oh, come on, can’t we have just one day without rain?” I’m fighting a war against fungal diseases on my tomatoes (spoiled milk is an amazing weapon!) because it’s been so cool and wet… and Alberta is becoming a desert.

This year we’re really getting to see what slaves we are to water. We still don’t have corn in Ontario because of the wet cold, while Alberta’s crops are about 2 weeks behind normal because of their drought. For Alberta cattle farmers, that means that rising feed prices are forcing them to sell huge percentages of their livestock because there’s no grass for grazing.

“We’ve had about an inch and 2/10ths (three centimetres) total since the snow left, and we didn’t have any snow,” one farm worker is quoted as saying in a Calgary Harold Article.

Mexico’s water shortage is now an emergency so bad that they’ve announced a 10 month water rationing plan, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.

“If we don’t act now, both the government and the citizens, we won’t have enough water in the city during the dry season – February, March, April, May, primarily,” Ebrard said, adding that 13 of the metropolis’ 16 boroughs could be completely without water.

Does this sound familiar?

Imagine having to cut your water use by 10% Sunday’s through Thursdays, 25% on Fridays, and 50% on Saturdays (I’m not sure how the math works to get through 4 months even with these reductions). Imagine trying to supply North America with tomatoes etc with those kinds of restrictions.

It’s not just oil prices that are causing food costs to rise. You can’t grow food without water.

Did you know that it takes the same amount of water to produce 2 pounds of beef as to shower every day for a year? Two Pounds.

But we don’t think about the cost of water until things get bad, because the planet is covered in it. Sure, most of it is saltwater, and more and more of it is being contaminated every day, but it’s everywhere. Take Australia, for instance. They’re surrounded. Of course, they learned pretty quickly, as Treehugger points out, that you can’t grow food without fresh water:

Water shortages drop Australia's rice production to almost zero

Water shortages drop Australia's rice production to almost zero

And we can only expect the water crisis to get worse as the earth warms.

More on clear gold this week.

July 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm 1 comment

Canadian Food Import facts

If you’re looking for motivation to eat local, here’s a good start:

EDIT:
Youtube’s taken it down (I can’t imagine it was Hellmanns that asked them to do it); watch it on Vimeo:

Hellmann’s – It’s Time for Real

July 24, 2009 at 8:39 pm 1 comment

Broccoli!

First Broccoli of the season… and it’s huge!

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July 22, 2009 at 9:48 pm 2 comments

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