A Shout Out to Halifax – Urban Gardens

I like to take this post to highlight one of the great things going on in Halifax. A lot of Canadians outside of the Maritimes (*cough* Vancouverites *cough*) see us as a little behind the times, a little old fashioned, a little backward. Those people have never been here. We have great minds here and they’re doing great things.

The Urban Garden Project is happening through the Ecology Action Centre. This project supports local community gardens in Halifax. They give advice, help provide equipment and connect volunteers with gardens in need.

This project is great as it creates a source of local food while at the same time raising awareness of why local food is important.

Thanks to the Urban Garden Project for making Halifax a little more forward-thinking, a little more environmentally friendly, and a little cooler!

“Fake meat answer to food shortages?”

That’s more or less the headline of a story that ran yesterday on the CBC news channel.

What? I didn’t know we had food shortages! But after a little searching, well there’s some bad stuff going down in the world.

7 people in Egypt died in a riot of people waiting to get bread.

People in Haiti are eating mud to get essential minerals.

Here in Canada wet weather is taking a bite out of crop harvesting in the prairies.

Eep. I didn’t realize things were so bad. There was a day when I couldn’t find spinach in any grocery store in Halifax, but other than that things haven’t really appeared on my radar. However, with extreme weather becoming more and more of a norm, we can only expect more of the same. Prices for food staples are going to continue to rise, especially on the things we eat (or our food eats) all the time, like flour and corn.

Is fake meat really the answer? I had written about fake meat before, but I never thought about this side of the issue. With the technology of growing meat tissue in a laboratory, can we feed the world’s population? Maybe. But do we need to? NO

Like I said, I haven’t noticed a food shortage. I don’t have to resort to standing in line for hours for bread or eating mud to survive. I have a lot of food in my cupboards. It sometimes goes bad and I have to throw it away.

People are eating mud and I’m throwing food away.

This is wrong. Why do I have so much and they don’t have anything? Because I can afford to pay for it? The way we perceive our food in the Western world needs to change. We eat way too much! We’re obese. We join gyms to counteract the very act of eating. We really could get by with eating a lot less as a society. One particular food item we eat too much of is meat. Why would we need to grow more of it in a lab?! North Americans have an extremely high protein diet. Our portions of meat are too big and our frequency of meat consumption is too high. If we start eating only what we need, we wouldn’t need so much food in the first place!

What you can do:

1) Know your portion sizes. One protein serving is about the size of a deck of cards. How big was the last steak you ate?

2) Only buy what you need. Are you always throwing out half a head of lettuce? Make a list of what you want to eat that week and know how much of each item you want to buy. Also, clean out the fridge regularly. That way you remember what’s in there and don’t let it go bad or buy doubles.

3) Think about all the money you’re saving and weight you’re not gaining. Like I’ve said before, it’s hard to care about a riot in Egypt but easy to care about things that hit close to home. So be selfish and do this for yourself!

We need to change the way we perceive food now, before the problems does hit close to home. Growing meat in a lab is not the answer we need right now.

“It’s not usually this warm, I don’t understand”

Really? You don’t understand? Have you been living under a rock?

The title of this post was overheard by me on the bus, spoken by a local to a tourist, as the local tried to explain it wasn’t always this warm/humid here.

But she claimed to not know why.

Climate change.

We hear about it all the time and now we’re living it. There’s tornados and floods in Central Canada, longer, drier droughts in Australia, heat waves in Europe, wetter wet seasons in Asia resulting in massive flooding. That’s climate change. It’s not happening 10-15 years from now, it’s happening now and people are doing the ostrich and sticking their heads in the sand. They see and feel climate change first hand but refuse to acknowledge what it is.

I think they’re afraid. Afraid of admitting that our lifestyles are and have been damaging for a long time. Afraid of admitting we’ve gone too far and there’s nothing we can do to stop it from getting even warmer, drier, wetter and windier. I’m afraid.

But we can’t just stick our heads in the sand. The governments should be the ones dealing with this. They need to step up to protect their people when they need it most and are too scared to deal with it themselves. They should be funding local food operations for when droughts and floods decimate our overseas suppliers. They need to be encouraging wind farms for when oil runs out. But they’re not. They’re sticking their heads in the sand too! WTF! Help us! You’re the ones in charge!


I guess we’ll just have to look out for ourselves.

So it’s up to you to support local food ventures. Maybe you should look into joining a local CSA. Buy local at your grocery store. The apples from New Zealand are not tastier than the apples from Nova Scotia (unless you live in New Zealand, then go for it).

It’s up to you to promote sustainable energy. Write your local officials and tell them you want to see solar panels on town hall. If a wind farm is proposed in your neighbourhood, support it instead of worrying about it ruining your view. A drought will also ruin your view.

Sadly, it’s up to you to worry about climate change. I know it’s scary, but we can adapt and survive. We’re really very resourceful when we need to be. It’s just a matter of recognizing that we need to be right now.

Breaking with Tradition

There were over 150 000 weddings in Canada last year. That’s everything from sneaking off to city hall to breaking the bank on an all-out traditional bash.

Think about the last traditional wedding you’ve been to. Beautiful flowers for the wedding party, on the tables, on the pews. Toast after toast to the happy couple. So much food you couldn’t possibly finish it.

Those flowers were most likely grown with pesticides and possibly shipped overseas. It was easier to get 150 plastic wine glasses than 150 glass wine glasses.  In the rush to clean up and get home at the end of the night the catering staff skipped sorting out the compostables and all that left over food went with the trash (with the plastic glasses that could have been recycled).

Well, tradition is lovely but you can’t cling to something out of nostalgia when it’s just all-round not good for us or the planet. As an educated, environmentally/socially conscious group of brides-to-be and grooms-to-be we have to do what we know we should but cringe at the thought of: break with tradition.

You might want to start by mentally preparing yourself to deal with the expression on your grandmothers face when she gets her email invitation. I think invitations are an area that can easily be upgraded to planet-friendly, but it possibility one of the hardest. Invitations are the first thing guests experience about a wedding. They set the tone, arriving in a colour that matches the flowers and bridesmaids’ dresses. They’re pretty, customized and give all the info your guests need.

But they use resources. Lots of paper. The invitation. The envelope. The response card. Are all your guests going to recycle it? Lots of postage. Trucks driving the letter to your guests. Trucks driving the response cards back to you.

You can still get all the pretty, all the customization, and all the info to your guests without the tree chopping and exhaust billowing. Email! Websites like Cocodot let you have what looks exactly like your traditional invitation without all the guilt. Beautiful, customized invitations, along with all sorts of other handy features, such as links to registries, wedding websites and guest tracking. When I first saw this website my first thought was “people won’t like getting an email invitation”. But this is the bride and groom’s wedding, not the guests’, and why would they set aside their values for their wedding? If anything this is a chance to embrace your values.

(As an added bonus, it will also most likely cost you less)

150 000 weddings in Canada a year. You could save a lot trees.

***Author’s Note*** I got engaged! In case you couldn’t tell. Don’t worry though, all my posts won’t be about weddings from now on. I’ll try to bring up topics that are applicable to other situations. You can use email invitations for any event; anniversary, birthday, just because. And I’ll still cover some non-wedding issues. Like the BP oil gush being plugged (for now).

This week’s Green Product!

There’s a stew of claims about the adverse health effects of deodorant. Did you know that Alzheimer’s patients have higher than normal concentrations of aluminum in their brain tissue? Did you know that antiperspirants use aluminum to close your pores so you don’t sweat?

Now, there’s no clear evidence that shows that the aluminum in your brain got there by being absorbed  through your armpits, or that aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer’s, but it makes you think. Plus the mining of aluminum is definitely not a good thing for the environment. There’s also chemical fragrances, formaldehyde (the stuff your frogs were in before you dissected them in grade 11), and talc. Talc was exposed as being illegally mined from an Indian wildlife sanctuary in 2003 and being sold to companiess like Unilever, which owns the Axe and Degree brands.

Guess we’ll just have to stink, right? Wrong!

I started using Crystal Body Deodorant. It’s made from Ammonium Alum, a rock salt. It leaves a salt film on your skin that stops bacteria from growing, and they’re the ones that stink. It’s working for me; I know because I forgot to put it on one day. I recommend re-applying if you put it on in the morning and are going out again at night, it doesn’t seem to last as long as conventional stuff. It was more expensive than conventional sticks as well, but I have a feeling it’s going to last a long time. It seems to get used up slower than a roll-on or a regular stick so I expect it will work out on the plus financially by the time you need to get a new rock.

** This does not stop you from sweating. Just from stinking. **

Thanks to the book Ecoholic by Adria Vasil, where I got my info for this post. It’s a great book for those concerned about what’s going in/on/around their bodies and what every thing they do does to the planet and how to fix it!