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Archive for April, 2014

vancouver farmers markets photo by Yuri Artibise adjusted

Photo: Vancouver Farmers Markets Photographer: Yuri Artibise 

It’s that time of year again! Local FARMERS’ MARKETS are starting up! Sunday, May 4,  is the Spring/Summer start day on the North Shore. Fresh, locally grown–often ORGANIC–vegetables and fruits will again be “for sale” outdoors, 10 am — 3 pm. North Shore locations include Ambleside and Lonsdale Quay. For a schedule of days OPEN, see 2014 Market Dates.

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Photo: Trout Lake Farmers’ Market in Burnaby (British Columbia)

For May 2014 start dates and times for Vancouver/Lower Mainland locations, see Vancouver Farmers’ Markets.

[For those across Canada, see Farmers’ Markets Canada. In the United States, the number of Farmers Markets has nearly doubled in the last 5 years. For those in the US, just Google “Farmers’ Markets” for your own locale.  

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Photo: Farmer Chris Bodnar and four-year-old daughter Clara sowing seeds on their Glen Valley Organic Farm Photographer:  Les Bazso, PNG Vancouver Sun

Community Shared Agriculture is growing exponentially! That’s great news for consumers. More and more consumers are skipping the produce aisle in supermarkets not just to buy direct from Farmers’ Markets, but to buy direct from farmers. How? With prepaid contracts for boxes of locally grown produce delivered fresh each week during growing season.

Jeremys-Eggs

Photo: Jeremy cleaning and sorting Glen Valley Organic Farm eggs for market

According to Tallulah Winkelman of FarmFolkCityFolk, these “direct from farmer” contracts are the fastest growing option of the Eat Local movement.

Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) benefits farmers by paying them “upfront” for crops, eliminating what otherwise would be gaps in income during the “planting and growing” part of the season. Plus farmers and consumers get to meet each other.

CSA is “one of the best grassroots ways of connecting to a local farmer and connecting to your food. And I love that there are so many kinds of CSAs now; you can add fruit shares to your vegetables or get a seafood CSA and now there are honey CSAs. Most CSAs come with the promise that the produce is naturally grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, or they are full-on organic.”  [Source: FarmFolkCityFolk]

Why buy local? Local Harvest has an answer:

Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies has facilitated a type of agriculture that’s destroying our planet, by polluting our soils and water, “weakening communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands.” The security of our food systems–not just in Canada and the US, but worldwide–is increasingly threatened. This is demonstrated by e-Coli, GMO-seed contamination, and other health too frequent scares in the news.

Multi-national, mega-agribusiness-oriented food systems will ultimately fail–long term, sunk by unsustainability. Why wait for circumstance to force us to abandon destructive patterns of consumption? Instead, follow the Local Harvest lead for “Real  Food,  Real Farmers,  Real Community.” Buy local, direct from farmers!

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Photo: Chris of Glen Valley Organic Farm with a load of fresh organic squash

For Canadian and American consumers: Find the organic food that’s grown closest to you: Where to Buy Local Organic. Buy direct from farmers!

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gmo_No Poll sharpened

Photo:  GMO monster illustration from The Liberty Beacon

Hilarious, but oh-so-true illustration! AND a majority of British Columbians would agree! A recent poll by Insights West finds 66 percent think NEGATIVELY of Genetically Modified (GMO) or Genetically Engineered (GE) food! That’s two-thirds! Of these, 56 percent support an outright BAN across Canada.

The Canadian Government is–as usual–slow to match public opinion. Federal approval for GMO food on store shelves continues, with the Government claiming–despite evidence to the contrary–that GMOs pose no health risk.

Local governments know better. Richmond has already banned GMO crops on all Richmond farms. (Though, 3 GMO cornfields still operate under ‘exemptions.’) Richmond Councillor Harold Steves, who comes from a long line of farmers, applauds all those who question GMO practices.  Says Steves:

While potential for long term health risks is debated, the many pesticides and herbicides sprayed on GMO foods pose an immediate threat. “Because [GMOs are] engineered to resist [herbicides and pesticides], it allows poison to be put directly on our food.”

[For more about this poll, see Genetically Modified foods not popular among British Columbians.]

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Photo: The Atlantic selection of organic grapes and tomatoes

Apparently reading labels in not enough anymore! Not only are Genetically Engineered foods NOT labelled at all, but foods labelled as “organic” might not be ORGANIC!

“When is USDA ORGANIC not organic?”  That’s  a question asked by the US magazine, The Atlantic. The answer, alarmingly, is this:

“More often than you probably realize. The USDA keeps a National List of inorganic products that can legally go into foods labeled as organic. The casings for those tasty USDA Organic sausages can come from conventionally raised animals that have been fed antibiotics. The hops in your favorite organic beer can be sprayed with all manner of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Strawberries can be labeled as organic even if they had their start in a conventional nursery. According to USDA rules, if 95 percent of a product is made up of organic ingredients, it can be called organic.”

Should we be worried about this 5 percent? Public interest groups like the Cornucopia Institute say “yes” and are “complaining that the National Organic Standards Board  too often weakens regulations in the face of intense lobbying by corporations who are more interested in the higher profits conferred by the word “organic” than in strong and meaningful standards.” [Source: The Atlantic]

Ah, the politics of food![To read FULL ARTICLE, see “How Much of Your Food Labelled as Organic is Actually Organic.For organic food labelling rules in Canada, visit Canadian Consumer Information Gateway.]

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Video: Mark Kastel Presentation About Organic Watergate

“If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it.” This quote from Michael Pollen applies even to SOME food labelled “organic”! 

Are any of these brands in your shopping cart: (Silk, Starbucks, So Delicious, Horizon, Zico, Blue Diamond, Pacific, Carnation or Tempt)? If “yes,” you’ll be pissed to know what Mark Kastel’s has to say about “Organic Watergate.”

The Cornucopia Institute just released  a full PDF Report that sheds light on some more questionable practices of the USDA and NOSA “National Organic Standards Board”. That’s the agency that regulates organic food (in the US). The report is filled with allegations of corporate corruption, a corruption which has allowed agri-businesses to use CHEMICALS in organic products WITHOUT sufficient regulatory oversight.

Particularly worrying is Carrageenan, a carcinogenic substance derived from red algae, AND which is found in ALL the products listed above! [Source: Cornucopia Institute]

If you thought ONLY Genetically Modified (GMO) products need to be avoided, think again! The Cornucopia Institute’s report (and video above) will make you wonder!

[While on the subject of GMO foods, even more corruptioon is in the offing: US Congress Wants To Ban GMO Labeling.] Who could make this stuff up?!

 

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Ban GMO reduced 2

Photo: Just Lable It  poster

Score ONE for indigenous Mayans in the Campeche Region of Mexico! This ancient and savvy community has won a two-year legal battle to get Monsanto and Genetically Modified (GMO) soybeans—“suicide beans”—BANNED.

This follows an earlier ban of Genetically Modified (GMO) corn maize in Mexico. “Kudos” to these agriculturally savvy—and determined—Mayans!

[For MORE, see Indigenous Mayans have won a huge battle in the fight to ban #GMO soybeans in Mexico.]

The next worldwide “March Against Monsanto” is scheduled for May 24th. Join the fight against Monsanto and Genetically Modified foods. For a schedule of events in your area, see May 24th Everywhere. Monsanto CAN be beaten!

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Photo: Logo for the new Buycott (smartphone) app

Great news! Now there’s an app to AVOID Monsanto products AND any other products by companies you do NOT want to support!

It’s called Buycott. Look closely! This is a “buycott,”  not a “boycott.” With the Buycott app your money talks directly to multinationals like Monsanto. Your grocery purchases and other consumer spending can be organized to directly reflect your principles–and healthy preferences.

For iPhone users the app is already available FREE at the Apple Store. Android users free app is “coming soon” (currently in development).

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Photo: Screen save of free Buyout app newly launched

Buyout is the work of Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, but many contributed to the “idea.” [Check out Forbes “New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto And More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart” for details.]

This is another possible “end run” around Monsanto, despite the “unlabelled” products conundrum. Buycott is an app for empowering your shopping choices! Three cheers!

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