Tuesday, 22 December 2015

8 Ways Your Diet Can Reduce Climate Change

Global Climate March- Prince George, Nov 29
With the world's attention on climate change at the recent COP21 conference in Paris, I thought it may be interesting to look at how climate change and food are related issues. A lot of attention has been spent on the big, bad fossil fuel industry but did you know meat production burns more fossil fuels than all the cars on the road combined? Agriculture itself is responsible for up to 30% of all emissions, so changing the way we eat and think about food can help fight global warming!

But what can you do? Making simple changes as a consumer and eater (which we all are) can go a long way if we act together!
  1. The first thing you can do to reduce greenhouse gases and slow climate change? Lose the meat! I am not saying everyone needs to become a vegetarian or vegan, (but that would be great) but even cutting back to one meal a day with meat can make a big difference! Why not try Meatless Mondays?
  2. Go Local!!! As this blog title advertises, shopping local is the best! Buying local products will reduce transportation and processing associated with imported foods. Check the local section in your grocery store, read labels, or shop at the Farmers' Market! 
  3. Buy Whole foods. They will be less packaged, have fewer additives, be less processed...less can be more and it is overall healthier for you! 
  4. Grow your own food! Why not cut out all those middle people, transportation, and waste and go straight to the source by growing your own veggies? Just $1 in green bean seeds can yield $75 worth of produce! How's that for a money saver and planet saver?!
  5. Eat in Season! Eating in season goes hand-in-hand with shopping locally and growing your own food, and will reduce energy and transportation normally expended on your meals. 
  6. Food Waste is not sexy!
  7. Choose Organic. Organic food is produced with fewer chemicals, no artificial hormones, healthier soils and supports a better agriculture system that can feed the world.
  8. Don't waste it! Throwing out food that has already gone through so much to get to your plate is a travesty.  If after all that production, transportation and manufacturing occurs, food is wasted, we might as well leave our cars running all night long for the rest of our lives, too! Don't throw out the energy, time and resources by buying only what you need and taking leftovers home.
  9. Compost veggie scraps and leftovers. Instead of scraps going to the landfill, they will break down in your home composter and make organic fertilizer to grow your own food! Win-win! 

Vote with your dollars and show how we, the consumers, are the ones in control of the demand and will ultimately fix the broken food system we have created!

In good food,

Melanie

"Getting the whole food system to change is a seriously big challenge. But one thing is clear: no change in food means no gain in climate change prevention."- Rebecca Wells & Tim Lang







Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Guest Blog: Meal Exchange

You can find my guest blog at: MealExchange.com

 
I was born and raised in Ontario in Ottawa and Toronto where concrete jungles were my playgrounds and food came from packages at the grocery store and we hung out at the mall on the weekend. I loved shopping at the farmers market, biking to work and thrift shopping, but these things were money savers and I never considered my greater impact on the world I inhabited. When I was planning on returning to school I knew I was interested in the environment but I never realized that in a few years my entire life would be changed by studying it. I chose UNBC for its small class sizes, geographic location AWAY from home and because it had a Farmers Market that I thought would be fun to be involved with.

I began volunteering with the University Farmers Market and applied for a position as the Development Assistant. I didn't get the job but soon took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator that I was able to apply as an internship towards my degree. In my second year I was voted in as chair of the Market Committee. Now I am the Market Manager, in charge of the market that inspired my interest in food studies. Working at the farmers market provided me with connections to other things happening in the food system and allowed me to understand the bigger picture issues like food insecurity & food justice. 

I started eating local, ethical foods and thinking about my consumer behaviours. I spent an entire year eating only from the farmers market just to test my resolve and solidify my feelings towards food. This wet my appetite for other works surrounding food on campus. I became involved with the PIRG on campus and was hired as the Local Foods Coordinator organizing a monthly good food box  and sourcing local coffee and eggs. I started gardening at home and soon became the PIRG gardener on campus and started a market stand in the garden over the summer to sell fresh produce to the UNBC community.

I was hired as a coordinator with the Campus Food Strategy Project through Meal Exchange in 2014. I now had a network of food activists at my disposal and it was great to connect to something larger than our little campus. This has launched me into a research project on food insecurity that I am just sinking my teeth into. We were also able to start a food recovery program on campus rescuing food from the cafeteria and donating it to meal programs in the community. Since we began we have saved over 2000 lbs. of food and are looking at other strategies to build a campus food bank and expand the program to other campus's across Canada.


Who would have thought this city slicker from Toronto would morph into the die hard foodie she is today. Nearing the end of my degree I begin to worry about who will take my place here on campus. Having taken on so many roles I worry I will not be able to find interested students to continue the work that I have stewarded during my time at UNBC. But I know whoever takes over will have a wealth of information to take on from mine and my predecessors experiences and from the connections of our national network of dedicated students with Meal Exchange.

In good food,

Melanie XX

"Without food, we cannot survive, and that is why issues that affect the food industry are so important. " - Marcus Samuelsson

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Life after Locavore


It is interesting to think it has been two months since my local living challenge was completed. What has changed for me since then...not a whole lot. I still do my weekly shopping at the farmers market, still thrifted my Halloween costume and still support local business. The only difference is now I choose to do so out of my own free will instead of needing to for a project.

Cabbage Catch-of-the-Day
The first time I went to order a drink I was struck with the notion I could now order anything I wanted, the power of choice was entirely my own for the first time in a year. I looked at the myriad of drinks on display, read the drink menu and even consulted the bartender for ideas. In the end I ordered the same thing I had been ordering all along, the local beer on tap. For all the choices and freedom I was now experiencing I had something else nagging me at the back of my head...a conscious. I had rather un-deliberately set myself up for a life of conscious decision making.

So what does this mean for my future and the choices I will undoubtedly need to make?

Wild Mushrooms from the Market
When I was entirely local I heard about local ice cream being sold at the 7-11. Locally sourced Ice Cream from a corporate chain was one of those little annoyances I used to abhor, now I weigh the pro's and con's carefully before making my choices. I shop expiring items at the grocery store, yet still have only ventured there twice this year. I browse the local section at Save -On and still buy from producers directly. I make choices based on my values and then feel comfortable with my decisions. and that's what i hope if anything others can learn from this experience. You don't have to bee 100% local to understand why local is important but you do need to act on the values that you preach to others.

So let's live more honestly, make better choices for ourselves and the environment and be authentically ourselves.

Love,

Melanie XX

"You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice." Ezra Taft Benson




Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dear Grandpa, Please Don't Vote Conservative!

Button making at PGPIRG 
With the federal election looming I am hoping to combine my interest in food, policy and politics into an ideal candidate I can be proud of. That is to say, to vote with any party other than the Conservatives (ABC). I called my family to discuss the election, as they are in Ottawa I always feel like they have the inside scoop on things. My Grandfather is a lifelong conservative, plastic water bottle drinking, climate change denialist. Speaking to him about politics is like arguing with an arch nemesis. Our conversations go something like this:

G-pa: It's been really cold here, that's why Mr. Gore and Mr. Suzuki have been so quiet eh?
Me: Well Grandpa, cooling temperatures are also a side effect of climate change, not just warming.
G-pa: You talk about using less oil, how do you think Mr. Suzuki gets around? In a car, and you know what those need? And he flies all over the world for events, do you know what planes use to fly?
Me: He bikes to work! And buys carbon offsets and promotes change! (sigh)

G-pa: Harper has done more for this country then Trudeau or anyone, we are now in the top 5 countries because of him!
Me: Top 5 of what? He said we wouldn't recognise this country after he was done with it and boy was he right!

Me: Dad just voted Liberal, you're used to a prime minister with a full head of hair right?
G-pa: Why, does he want to start smoking the reefer on parliament hill? Bunch of criminals!

With Liz Biggar, Green Party Candidate- PG- Peace River  
Suffice it to say I hang up the phone feeling like my degree in Environmental studies will never mean anything to him. I would consider myself a success as an environmentalist if I could convince him that global warming was a real thing and that Stephen Harper wasn't the hero he was painting him as. So now that I have had time to think about it, take this Grampa! A list of reasons why you shouldn't vote conservative next Monday:
  1. In March 2011 the Harper Administration was found to be in contempt of Canadian parliament, the first time in history of any commonwealth government. (Fact)
  2. Also in 2011 the Harper Conservatives were found guilty of election fraud from 2006. (Fact) How are they still in power!
  3. Let's us eat poison! Harper loosened regulations to allow more chemical residues on your food! Gross! It also allows companies to conduct their own safety inspections...saving us money but letting them get away with who knows what! (Fact)
  4. Shut down international aid. Canada was the 6th largest aid donor to Malawi, now we contribute nothing. (Fact) Also drastically reduced Peacekeeping efforts around the world. (Fact)
  5. Spent $29 billion on fighter jets! We're so in debt already! (Fact) Convenient we only have a surplus the year you seek reelection...
  6. Refused to sign the UN declaration designation clean water as a human right! Is that because we have boil water advisories on 93 first nations reserves in Canada? (Fact)
  7. Killed the long form census. Thinks we don't use any of that data for research! (Fact
  8. Silencing Scientists on climate change. If we don't know about it then its not happening? (Fact)
  9. Used xenophobic tactics- Now other countries are seeing our prime minister as the racist and elitist he is. See Bill C-51, Bill C-24, Barbaric Practises Tip line? 
  10. Opposes Gay Marriage, get with the program, even the US is on board! 
  11. Harper has eliminated or weakened almost every environmental protection or law since coming to power. (Fact
I could keep going but I will let you read further on- 

Let's face it Grampa, it isn't about you any more, its about the people you are leaving the world to. It is selfish to think that you can't do anything to change the world at your age because it is up to you to make those changes for us. The mess your generation made will need to be cleaned up, so if we could start sooner rather than later I'd really appreciate the help in voting anybody but conservatives! (ABC)

Love,

Melanie XX

"You cut the brakes on our environment so you could fast-track a pipeline, then forged our signatures so you could sign away our future." Shane Koyczan- The Cut 


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Day in the Life of a Market Manager

Market Twinsies!
One of my jobs, the one I could even say I love the most, is my position as the Market Manager at the University Farmers Market. When I was looking at schools for my undergraduate degree, one of the pulls to the University of Northern British Columbia was access to a farmers market on campus that I had a goal to be involved with in one way or another. In my first year I volunteered every week setting up tables and helping vendors load their goods and became the volunteer coordinator. In year two I was voted in as the chair of the committee and helped with everything from events to wearing a carrot suit when needed. Now in my 3rd and final year I have taken over as the manager and am putting my experience and passion to use every week.

Though the UFM runs Tuesdays from 11-3pm during the school year there are still lots of things happening before market day from organizing special events, to coordinating layouts and finding new vendors. The main event for me is market day. Here is a look at a day in the life of a market manager on a typical market day:
Harvesting in the PGPIRG Garden

7:00- The mad dash begins as I catch the first bus up to the University to begin my day. My first order of business is to get to Campus in time for a quick shot of coffee from Degrees Coffee Co to get me through the busy day ahead.

8:00- As I was also the gardener for the summer, harvest time is still in progress. I arrive at the PGPIRG Garden as early as possible to pick and wash the weeks ripe vegetables to bring to sell at the UFM.

9:00- Set up begins in the NUSC event space that houses our weekly market. I arrive before volunteers and prepare the space for vendors to arrive. Set up may seem similar every week but behind the scenes a complicated game of Tetris is happening with vendors preferred spaces, last minute cancellations and purposeful placement of each type of goods fighting it out with weekly special events for the ideal space.

The Market Before Vendors Arrive
10:00- As volunteers arrives to help we meet vendors at the loading docks and load their goods onto carts. Volunteers then head to the market and I assign them their table for the day.
As I learnt from our first market we need to carefully map out who is using which outlet to make sure we don't lose power, which happens more often then you'd think.

11:00- The Market opens to the public! As eager customers begin to trickle in last minute set up is still going on. There are always a few late arriver's that need a bit of help getting going and I rush around the room to ensure vendors have every thing they need to get through their day, be it small change, an extra chair or even a coffee.

Market Time 
12:00- The rush hour is on and we see a few hundred people through the market during the busy lunch hour. I make sure there is enough change for jams and kale and answer questions to people coming through. As it is my third year at the market there are a lot of familiar faces and I always try to say hello to everyone.

13:00- As the peak traffic time ends a slower paced market atmosphere emerges and more people lounge in the chairs and chat with vendors. I take this opportunity to visit each vendor to collect weekly table fees and do my personal shopping at the same time.

14:00- If it is quiet enough and everything seems to be running smoothly I indulge in a 10 minute back rub from Kathy at Relax-in-chair. A guilty pleasure, which I have never regretted.

15:00- The second the clock strikes three the mad dash for carts to leave begins. Unlike the morning as vendors trickle in over an hour the exit is much more instantaneous. Volunteers struggle to get carts fast enough to meet vendor itching to get back to the farm or pick up their kids.

Crunchette the UFM Mascot
Oh no! We find a cooler with sausages left behind by a vendor and call them straight away to let them know we have them and arranging pick up for the next morning. Sometimes if we are lucky someone leaves a sweet treat for volunteers to thank them for their much needed hard work that day. Other times I buy cookies to show them how much we love having them around!

16:00- Accounting is finished and we deposit revenues for the day at finance before they close at 16:30. Clean up finishes and we make it so it looks like the market had never happened.

17:00- At the end of a busy day I am always thankful the Thirsty Moose Pub is our neighbour (and another job of mine). Once everything is tidied and the last of the tables are taken down I grab a chair at the bar and sip a local brew to finish out the day.


As you can see it is a busy day full of challenges and there is never a dull moment. It is a happy place to work, a place full of good food, homemade crafts and lovely people. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

See you on Tuesday,

Melanie

"What makes the farmers market such a special place is that you're actually creating community around food." -Bryant Terry


Thursday, 17 September 2015

The 5 More Times I Failed at Being a Locavore

I originally wrote 5 Times I Failed at Being a Locavore but have since needed to add to that list.
Here are 5 more times I slipped up and purchased outside of my BC region:
  1. Sim Card
    • I bought a used iPhone 5 and thought I could just cut down my sim card to fit into the new smaller model... but it turns out it is a different card all together, so I had to buy a new sim card from Telus to go with the new phone. #fail
  2. Drinks
  3. I don't think that bucket of
    alcohol is local....
    • Those drinks my friends bought me at the bar in return for me buying dinner was a total cheat of the system, I admit it, I failed, it was the alcohol talking. 
  4. Greyhound
    • If you can't find a ride you can't go...should be my new rule but on planned holidays sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pay for a bus. It is better on emissions then a flight and at least I don't drive myself however I recognise that greyhound is an international company and therefor makes this list. 
  5. VIA Rail
    • Trains are the most sustainable way to travel cross country. I went to a conference in Toronto and then hopping over to Ottawa for a quick family visit before the school year. Travel in itself should be off my list if I was 100% local but sometimes all the sacrifices you make during the year will hopefully help you offset the annual pilgrimage to visit your parents. (You can hear about my trip in this post- VIA: The more (in)human way to travel?)
  6. Medicine
  7. Vancouver, BC- Natures Medicine
    • In general I try not to take medications whenever possible. I stopped taking Tylenol for headaches or arthritis pain (yes, I have pretty bad arthritis for my age) instead trying to live through the aches and using natural remedies. However, once this year I was so sick that I broke down and bought cold and flu medicine from the drug store. In my defence I chose a small independent pharmacy in town and bought the no name product...but I still felt like a failure for needing drugs. Full disclosure over the year i bought, one back of Fisherman's Friends, cold medicine, and a prescription inhaler... 
Cheers to making mistakes and learning from them!

Melanie 

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."- Albert Einstein

Thursday, 10 September 2015

What I Learned from A Year of Living Locally

Can you believe it has been an entire year since I switched to local? That is a year of supporting local businesses, eating delicious local food and discovering hidden gems close to home.
Ryerson University

In one year I...
  • Lost 20 lbs 
  • Paid off all my credit cards (How I Paid off my Credit Cards by Going Local)
  • Learned how to make cheese
  • Learned about the food system
  • Discovered local business's
  • Became a gardener
  • Went on the local radio and news
  • Learned about myself
  • And spread the word of local

There were times when being a Locavore felt socially isolating but what I learned from this experience far exceeded any of the personal struggles I faced. I learned that eating local is just the tip of the iceberg of things we can do to live more sustainably. My eyes were opened to the flaws in the food system that became more obvious when I took the time to learn about my food and what I was consuming. And once you have been wisened to the ills of the world, it is difficult to ever go back.

"Live simply so others can simply live."- Mahatma Gandhi
Un-Local Night

I learned that I have changed, even if the world around me has not. I recently visited Toronto for the National Student Food Summit and was disillusioned with a city that used to feel like home, instead it felt like an urban sink hole where all the problems of society seemed to flourish. I know now that I can carve out the kind of life I want by making decisions every day that will benefit me as well as others.

My first week of un-local-ness culminated with a blow out un-local night at Earl's Prince George with friends. When the cloud in my head lifted the next morning I understood that though it felt good to be bad I still had a guilty feeling left over, a feeling I could be free from as an ethical consumer.

I am a Locavore, I am a Freegan, I am a Change Maker.

Cheers to the end of a great year, and the beginning of a lifetime of local living.

XX Melanie

"Be the change you want to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, 24 August 2015

VIA: The more (in)human way to travel?


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Last year I took Via rail from Jasper to Toronto for my annual pilgrimage to my homeland and to attend a conference at the same time, the view was beautiful but the service was discriminatory and pretty awful. This year  I decided to give it another shot and was joined by my sister from Vancouver all the way to Ottawa. This nearly 5 day journey would be made even more daunting by adding the budgetary restraints of students which meant we could only afford coach seats and not cabins. For 4 nights we would have to eat, sleep and live in our chairs only venturing up and down the cars for the occasional stretch and exploration. 

The classes are divided by the seating, service and physical compartments of the train. We in coach sat at the front and had access to the cafe and viewing car by day and the dining car by reservation for hot meals. The us and them perspective of the train had me thinking about what type of people would be using this mode of transportation. In the cabins it seemed to be largely retiree’s and upper middle class families that could afford the $1000 to 10,000 cost per person for a luxury cabin that comes with a sleeping surface. 

Mount Robson, BC
At least once I planned to go to the dinning car for a nice meal. When I entered the dinning car with my sister for breakfast once morning we were immediately addressed as economy class passengers in front of the other passengers, to clearly define our status to them. We were then asked if we understood that this meal would be more expensive then the canteen in our area of the train and asked if we could afford it.  I was like "WHAAAAAAAT!" The obvious display of classism was never more apparent to me then in this moment and I wanted to leave immediately but instead forced my way through a breakfast that seemed so unappealing. I am not ashamed of my poverty, being able to afford a train ticket is a luxury in itself and should not be under valued. Our service was inferior to others and the constant glares from the other passengers made the rest of the meal really uncomfortable.

The train is supposed to be the most sustainable mode of travelling cross country with less emissions then a plane or car journey. And yet I couldn’t help but feel as if I was on a cruise ship dumping waste at every port and living extravagantly. Every meal in coach is served in a styrofoam container and there very little recycling. VIA contracted out their meal planning and catering years ago to a corporate model so poor food quality and heavily processed ingredients are a standard on board. Sure we expelled fewer emissions but the waste that was produced in the 5 days of the route we were on might surely make up for any initials carbon savings.

Somewhere in Ontario
This combined with the obnoxious and elitist service makes me questions the slogan "the more human way to travel". I secretly dreamed of becoming the VIA rail sustainability manager and leading them down a path of greener choices. A business however established must constantly be engaged in strategies to be more sustainable if they want to continue in the future as environmental compassion begins to trickle into the main stream. 

Like last year I left the train with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth and 8 hours behind schedule. I had enjoyed the view but was left with too many gaps in my mind to appreciate the journey. As a locavore I took the train instead of a flight as it was the exception we made to travel as long is it was not a personal vehicle or flight it seemed more ethical. I love taking trains, I will most likely continue using them as my transportation of preference, however I am not certain I will choose this service again.

But at least now I have made it to my destination, Toronto, Ontario which I am here to attend the National Student Food Summit with Meal Exchange for the weekend. If have places I should check out in Toronto or Ottawa let me know by Twitter @melaniejadea

XX Melanie

"But I complain about the police the way the rich complain; not the way the poor complain. The difference is everything." Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

7 Non-Local Things on my Shopping List

With only a few short weeks until my year of living locally draws to a close, I am going to be sad to leave the Locavore challenge behind. I have nearly made it through an entire year of no Starbucks, no new clothes, no flights and no rum...and I survived! I found these things don't seem to be missing from my life and have evolved past them becoming more self sufficient and conscious along the way!!! Hurrah!
There are however a few things I have been anxiously awaiting to purchase once my term is complete September 1st, here is my list thus far:
  1. New shorts
    • My long lost backpack
    • I need new shorts for biking and haven't been able to find a suitable pair used. You could add biking gear to this list as there are a few things like and air pump and winter tires I have been waiting to buy.
  2. Backpack
    • My own backpack was stolen from me this year (Letter to a thief) and I have been borrowing a friends until I can purchase a new one. That bag came with me when I lived and travelled Europe and moved me across Canada. An investment in a new bag will hopefully last me for another 10 years. 
  3.  Coconut oil
    • I managed to make it through the year while going through my giant Costco sized coconut oil tub but I am almost out and can't wait to buy more. I used this sh*t on everything, I cook with it, brush my teeth, moisturise, make my own sunscreen, makeup remover, condition my hair. I love the stuff and don't want to live without it anymore.
  4. Birkenstock's
    • Totally ordering shots!
    • Last year my pair died after 4 years of faithful service and I am really excited to buy a new pair of quality shoes that will last just as long. I will be shopping from their vegan line and investing in quality shoes that will last beyond their aesthetic qualities. 
  5. Lingerie
    • Though I have been mending my undergarments at home some of them are on their final stretches and I am counting the days until I can replace them. My underwear drawer has been added to with handmade panties but I am needing a bit more support in the upper torso region ;) 
  6. Fly
    • I want to start flying again! I managed to travel this year going to Vancouver (x2), Seattle, Victoria, Nanaimo & Terrace by ride-sharing and am taking the train to Ontario soon to visit family. A year without flying hasn't been so bad but I do have the travel bug and am itching to get on the road again...er in the skies.
  7. Mascara
    • I want this shirt too! 
    • I finally found my one true love mascara and haven't able to buy it this whole year. I tried homemade versions, Lush cosmetics and going au naturelle but am eager to replenish my fresh face staple.

The end is in sight, and once I stock up on the non-local "essentials" I feel like I can go another year of local! (...or maybe even longer..) 

Have a lovely day,

Melanie XX

"People don't cheat by chance, they cheat by choice"- Anonymous 


Monday, 3 August 2015

How to Go Local in 1 Week

Thinking that making the switch to buying local is difficult? Think again! Here is how to go local in just one short week:

At the SGU Dome Greenhouse at UNBC

Day 1: Look at what you have at home.

Go through what you already have in your cupboards and evaluate where things are sourced from. Maybe you will notice those Hardbite chips you love are already locally produced or the that your organic butter is local too! Realizing what you have that is local will help you see how far (or not so far) you have to go!


Day 2: Shopping day

When going through your usual grocery store take stock of the local produce section, bulk or local sections that you may not have noticed before. Every item you pick up you can check where it comes from, a side effect of being a locavore is knowing what is in your food and where all of it comes from. There are apps that can help with this (10 food apps) and can help you identify where a product comes from and what company produced it. I would start by looking for products produced in your country and then narrow it down as much as you can to your region. 

Day 3: Find the local business's near you. 

You favourite spot could already be a local business and source local ingredients, if not you could explore what other options exist in your communities. Here in Prince George I am lucky because the cool bar in town, Nancy O's, also happens to be a local one and likes to source locally when possible. Say so long to the Walton's of Wal-Mart and the Billes at Canadian Tire and make the choice to visit small independently owned retailers. Switch to quality over convenience. Support families not corporations.  Put money into your neighbours pockets. 

Day 4: Find a Farmer

You can visit a Farmers Market, join a CSA or visit a farm stand to discover what produce is available right now in your community. Do a Google search or ask around at your farmers market to for more places you can go. 
CSA box from Hope Farm


Day 5: Grow Food

Be apart of the movement of people learning to grow their own food and take back the ability to create %100 local meals. Save money, learn about your food, be healthy, get a tan, sounds pretty good to me. 

Day 6: Thrift it

I am in the process of downsizing again before I move but it is a good idea to go through the things you don't need and do a little bit of a life cleanse. Then you can take everything you don't want and sell it on Kijiji.ca or Facebook or donate it to a local thrift store. Find your new favourite shops in town and learn that you don't really need to buy new as often as you'd think. Buying used clothes is essential to the local lifestyle unless you happen to be a seamstress who makes everything themselves  (that would be pretty rad).

Day 7: Be a Locavore

Now that you have become aware of your buying power you can be more diligent in your consumerism (hopefully consuming less all around!) You will be conscious of the purchases you make and weigh the values of local and seasonality like a pro.

Have a lovely local day,

Melanie XX

"...small individual actions can insight larger patterns of change." - Patterns of Awareness, Patternity.org 

Monday, 20 July 2015

3 Typical Locavore Dinners

You only eat local? Wow you must be starving, how can you find enough to eat! Well here is a taste of what I eat for dinner and where it comes from. Being local is more delicious than you can imagine!

Dinner 1: When it's too hot to cook


Homemade Vanilla Maple Sun Tea (Check my Recipe page!)
  • Green Tea, from the free shelf at UNBC
  • Vanilla, from the free shelf
  • Maple Syrup, I brought back from the ByWard Market in Ottawa last summer
Prince George version of Caprese salad with:
  • Basil, from my garden
  • Cherrie Tomatoes from HSH Grocery
  • Avalon Sharp Cheddar from Ave Maria's
  • Balsamic vinegar & Olive oil, found on the free shelf
  • Bread from the Farmers Market with Avalon Butter from Ave Maria's
Dessert

Dinner 2: When friends are coming over


This meal was created by the ingredients from the Hope Farm CSA box.
  • Balsamic roast vegetables (made with Kale stems, beats & leaves, kohlrabi leaves), 
  • Pizza with carrot & radish top pesto (Recipe), Pizza crust from the farmers market. 
  • Potato salad
  • Radish & Kohlrabi carpaccio (Recipe
  • Fresh salad rolls with an Avocado left behind from more Couchsurfers
We used everything from root to tip! Thank you Hope Farm!


Dinner 3: When you harvest from your garden


This year I have a plot up at the PGPIRG Sustainable Learning garden at UNBC.  So sometimes dinner is what I bring home from the garden and make delicious! 
Garden Salad:
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Basil
  • Salted Sunflower seeds from Wilson Square Market 
  • Balsamic vinegar from the free shelf for dressing

Cheers to great dinners and even greater company!

XX Melanie 

"Nobody trusts the industrial food system to give them good food." - Joel Salatin 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Beautiful Bernadette


I have a confession to make...I, Melanie Anderson, am in love! She is young, fit and takes me out whenever I want. She's good to me, carries my groceries for me and supports me in everything I do. She's a hot ticket, whenever we are out together I get compliments on my arm candy. We go to work together every morning, racing ourselves up the hill and challenging ourselves to always be better, faster, stronger.

Bernie (that's what I call her) and I go to the Farmers Market every weekend without fail. She is pretty dependable that way. She's a little heavy but I tell her not to sweat it, I like her just the way she is. We love being outside together and cruising around town whenever we can. When no one else is around, I can count on her to be my constant companion. She takes me places I've never been before. 

She's got a wide rear end, I joke with her that "baby got back', but she doesn't mind me saying so. For Bike to Work Week we biked 100 km together! She helps me get up the University hill every morning, always being very patient as I struggle along.

I wipe her down every weekend, making sure she is well lubed and looking spiffy....In case you haven't deciphered, Bernadette is my new bike!

Together we help reduce my impact on the environment by lowering carbon emissions. She also helps me get into shape, how can I resist riding such an attractive specimen? She has shown me the difference a quality bike makes and helps me be a better biker. One day I'd like to take her on longer trips, but we are working our way up to it.

Love,

Melanie & Bernie XX

"Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." - Franklin P. Jones

Sunday, 5 July 2015

How I Paid Off my Credit Cards by Going Local

Today was a good day. Today I paid off the last dollar on my last credit card, a card that has carried a balance since I got it in 2008. I made a goal this year of paying off ½ of my credit card hoping the sacrifices I was making as a Locavore would pay off. And it did! In 10 months I have paid off my entire card!

I got my first credit card on my 18th Birthday to book plane tickets to Ireland. By the time I left on the trip I had maxed it out. The next year, I applied for a second credit card with another bank...and then a third, low interest card. These cards funded important causes like the Melanie goes to the Dominic Republic fund,  Melanie moves to Europe foundation and the all important Coach purse investments. That's when the eye opener hit me, I had accumulated over $10,000 in credit card debt. Any money I saved I used to travel thus the cycle of debt continued and my balance has remained quite high since. Until now.

Here are some of the ways going local has helped me reduce my debt and maybe how it can help you: 
  • Buy less
    • Reducing your overall consumption is the best possible way to go and that means keeping more $$$ for other things. Those impulse buys like Starbucks and Target are off the table when you only shop local. I still get treats from the market though ;) 
  • Buy better
    • Better quality purchases have cut down on my cost of replacing items over and over again. Spending a little more money on things that are hand made or from local business's pays off when it lasts 10x longer then the Wal-Mart equivalent. 
  • Make your passion work for you
    • I have been so lucky to find work doing the things I am interested and passionate about. Managing the University Farmers Markets means I get paid to be where I love which is also where I shop and get to know lovely people. 
  • Freegan it up
    • I have been pretty active in collecting food waste when I find it and over time this adds up to savings on my grocery bill. I would say nearly ½ of my diet has been food that would other wise have gone in the garbage. I have also foraged for wild foods ( Going Wild) and grown my own produce to help save. 
  • Credit Union
  • Notankers.ca
    • Switching banks has helped me save even more money (Putting your money where your mouth is), I switched to a local credit union and don't pay fee's for storing my money now. Integris has been helpful in my personal life as well as housing business accounts for my work and helping me save money as a student. 
  • Travel
    • Instead of buying flights I spent money exploring beautiful British Columbia this year. I saved again when I used Couchsurfing and AirBnB for my accommodation instead of booking into a corporate hotel. 
  • Biking
    • If you drive or take the bus to get around, biking will help save you money on transportation. This is year I've biked my legs off and see the benefits on my wallet and my waist line. 
  • Healthier
    • Eating better food and being more active has also made me healthier. I don't use any medications anymore including my asthma inhaler and even shy away from Tylenol for headaches choosing natural remedies and keeping my money away from grubby pharmaceutical companies and in savings. 

I have become a better spender now, and learnt that I want to live within my means and ultimately be debt free. In 3 years of University I will have a whole new set of debt to worry about and I am just grateful that now I can focus on debt from my education and be free from my big scary credit card, forever! 

Happy spending,

Melanie XX

"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy local, and that's kind of the same." -Unknown 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

8 Reasons Why I'm A Vegetarian

I am a supporter of anyone who eats meat in moderation and from sustainable sources but for many reasons I am not a meat eater. I have been a vegetarian since 2002 (with a couple breaks here and there) and to me it is completely normal now and not difficult at all. Which is why I was surprised when people mentioned it would be difficult to eat locally and maintain a vegetarian diet. I only eat local, organic dairy and farm fresh free range eggs because it fits with the local side of my diet so really I am a hybrid Vega-Locavore!

Friends Not Food
Here are my reasons for being a vegetarian (they have changed a bit since I was 12):
  1. Save the planet! 
    • Vegans and vegetarians cut out emissions associated with meat production, and those are big numbers! Meat consumptions comes out to about 14.5% of total co2 emissions (that's as much as all the cars on the road!) So eat less meat, make less gas, help reduce climate change, save the planet!  
  2. I don't want to support the industrial agricultural system. 
    • That promotes meat consumption in excess and heavily processed foods. Whole foods and organics are a priority for me so a vegetarian diet makes sense. 
  3. For my health
    • Less cholesterol, less chemicals, lower in fat, less sodium, less processed....the list continues of the health benefits of plant based diets. Switching to vegetarianism can decrease your chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in half. 
  4. Animals are my friends
  5. Pet or Meat? 
    • Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows is a really interesting Ted talk you should check out if you are thinking about making the switch away from eating animals (or if you are just cool and like Ted talks).  I first became a vegetarian because of my love of animals and that aspect will always be in mind when considering food. 
  6. If I can't kill it I can't eat it. 
    • The only way to be really responsible for your food is by growing/raising your own. Then you can understand how it came to be and respect it. Therefore by not having the stomach to raise my own meat to slaughter I will remain vegetarian. 
  7. Vegetables are better for the environment
    •  Growing vegetables takes less energy, water and space than livestock. It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 lb. of meat or 25 gallons to produce 1 lb. of wheat. On the same parcel of land you can grow 100's of times more vegetables then meat, so over all vegetable production is a better use of our precious resources.  
  8. Feed the world
    • We can consider the amount of deforestation, water and waste involved with growing crops to feed livestock, crops that could go to feed the worlds poor and hungry. We currently grow enough food to feed all of earths inhabitants if we were just more efficient  in its use. 
  9. Feel better
    • Being conscious of my food choices and and knowing where and how my food was produced gives me piece of mind so being a local vegetarian lets me rest easy. 

Have a lovely day,

Melanie XX

"Violence begins with the fork." -Mahatma Gandhi 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

6 Places Where Locavores are Normal

It may seem like the local food movement is a budding trend but in reality it is a way of living that traces back to our origins as human beings. Even 50 years ago 'local' was what was available and what you could afford and it hasn't been until modern technologies and transportation advances has led us to the global market economy we live in today, where local became a trendy thing to do. In North America we take this mostly for granted, feeding into the global economy by making things like banana's and orange juice part of our daily diets increasing our dependancy on imported foods. Though North American's eat largely global diet's there are still cultures around the world that can support themselves from the food they produce.

Here are places/cultures where local eating is the norm, even today:
Pisa, Italy 
  • Italy
    • To Italians local means fresh ingredients and campanilismo 'pride of place'. If you look at traditional Italian foods they are based on ingredients found somewhere in the boot. The Italian diet is based not only on fresh organic produce but the the seasons and the menu's fluctuate based on what is fresh and in season locally. 
  • Amish- Pennsylvania Dutch 
    • As the reigning homesteaders the Amish usually have sizeable gardens and farms to grow/raise their own food. The Amish eat only in season because of this and can large quantities of food to last through the winter. Their connection to food comes from a religious connection with God and nature so eating locally is morally right to them. 
  • Bolivia
    • Last year the Bolivian government banned McDonalds from their country. That goes a long way in saying they denounce foreign corporations and want to maintain local food cultures for their peoples. Bolivian's are proud nationalists and therefore eat in season, local produce in most meals. 
  • Singapore
    •  Full of fanciful smells and colours, Singaporean cuisine combines local and foreign flavours infusisions for true taste experiences. Selecting from hawker food stalls you can benefit from ordering directly from the chef and supporting a food economy heavily influenced by local and available ingredients. 
  • Cuba

    • Havana, Cuba
    • With the sanctions placed on Cuba in the 60's the country learned how to produce their own goods to survive. Now Cuba make's everything from Tylenol to cheese all by themselves and is a great example of a modern society that has not embraced globalization. Their cuisine reflects this with it's local spices and produce with infusions from other caribbean countries. 
It look's like I have a few places to add to my bucket list! 

Happy travels,

Melanie 

"Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture" - Mark Kurlansky

Friday, 12 June 2015

From Party Girl to Locavore

2007

A wise teacher of mine sent me an article called: From Drunk Dude to Dude Making a Difference, to show I wasn't alone in my struggle to live better. And after reading I realized how far I had come from a corporate, self centred urbanite to...well a locavore. I wasn't necessarily a drunk chick and my house is way bigger than a shed but I can definitely see a bit of me in this blog. I worked in corporate sales for and airline, partied with my friends, ate crappy food, shopped all my money away (and built debt) and Toronto was my whole world. I might have still been doing that today if heart break and boredom did not push me to make a change.

2008
I travelled (nothing new there lots of people do this everyday day), I ate meat, breaking from my decade long vegetarian diet and I had experiences. Travelling expanded my horizons and made me think more about others, made me realize possibilities and allowed me to be who I wanted to be. When I returned to Canada I had a goal of learning more and finding out what I wanted to dedicate my life to.

2009
University has been a trans-formative experience for me. Not only have I changed most of my consumer behaviours but I am closer to finding a 'calling' then I have ever been before. Turning my interests into work and manoeuvring the student life had changed me for the better. I began to care, about something other than myself.

\
Ok, so I haven't changed entirely (as you can see from the photos) but how far it seems I've come from my old self. Instead of hopping on the subway I bike, instead of designer purses I thrift, instead of creating debt I am eliminating it and instead of sugary cocktails I drink local wines and beers. I care about something other than my own existence and work at making the world a better place.

2014
This year as a Locavore has changed me too. Learning there is another way to live is the first step in changing yourself. Ten months later I know the end of my challenge is approaching but I don't feel like it will deter me from the lifestyle I have come to appreciate.


Have a lovely day,

Melanie XX

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself" - Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, 4 June 2015

5 Things I Will Only Buy Used (and 5 I Will Not)


There are now things I have discovered are so much smarter to buy used that I will never (ever) buy them new again. Here is my top 5 list:
  1. Clothes
    • Jeans are a hard thing to find used but with enough perseverance you can find anything at a thrift store and as most fashions are revivals of previous looks you can even be more authentic! + Halloween Costumes! 
  2. Sheets
    • So much cheaper to find sheets used. I recently upgraded to a California King bed that I inherited in a move and I was a little worried about finding sheets for this gargantuan. Lucky me I got the last set at St. Vincent de Paul's! 
  3. Books
    • Why would I ever want to buy a book again? I visit the library and second hand book stores for my literary needs. Where I thought it would be difficult was in University but I've usually wound up sharing a textbook with a few other people to avoid buying my own. 
  4. Dishes
    • Vintage and antique dishware can be found for pennies compared to newer items. You can often get a full set of dish't in perfect condition for less then the cost of a plate at the retail store. And super cute too! 
  5. Designers
    • Consignment! When I lived in Toronto my friends and I would save up for our yearly trip to the outlet malls in Niagara Falls. Not any more now that I have discovered the miracle that is consignment stores.  Not only do I find beautiful pieces, they are also wayyy less expensive then even the outlet prices will ever be. Take that big industry!
We all have our lines that we just wont cross, here is a list of mine when shopping at the thrift store and how I have become creative in finding alternatives
  1. Pillows
    • I still have not been able to get over the idea of buying used pillows that someone else has drueled into at night before you. Still what is a locavore to do? I have managed to inherit the pillows I currently have but it leaves me searching for a more sustainable solution to newer ones.
  2. Shoes
    • Ok, I will buy shoes like  high heals or flats used but maybe not walking shoes or Birkenstock's that have been worn in enough to remember their previous owner's steps... 
  3. Underwear
    • I will not buy underwear second hand and as a consequence am running very low on my supply. Instead I had these beauties hand made by my dear friend at Wolfe & Hardy Co. It may cost a bit more, but totally worth it in the long run. 
  4. Makeup
    • Used makeup just dosn't seem sanitary...On a recent trip I found this local homemade makeup company and I love the stuff I picked up! Check it out if you are in Seattle- Atomic Cosmetics
  5. Hair Brush
    • Dido with hair accessories 

Happy hunting, 

Melanie XX

"Everything I buy is vintage and smells funny. Maybe that's why I don't have a boyfriend." -Lucy Liu (and probably me too) 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Going Wild: Foraging for Food

In my last post I talked about free food but this week I take it to the next level being the ultimate freegan by foraging.

Last weekend I hopped on my bike and took advantage of the sunshine to search for wild foods. Wild food locations are highly guarded by those who forage for them and it isn't often you will find someone willing to share their sacred location with you. Not knowing the first thing about where to start my good friend and spirit guide for the day Aaron took me and a group of explorer's out in search of fiddleheads and false Solomon's seal.

Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads are fern babies, at least that I called them, and their picking season is very limited so knowing where to find them and when to go is tricky business.  I fried my fiddleheads in butter and added salt and homemade honey mustard and they were delicious! I am headed back out this weekend to collect enough to freeze to last for the summer. False solomon's seal It is also a budding plant that if picked at the right time I'm told tastes just like asparagus, I have yet to try mine but I remain skeptical they taste the exact same.

False Solomon's Seal
We were participating in something that seemed so natural and primitive yet a foreign concept to many urban dwellers. Foraging was a way for us to connect back to the land and to our roots, reminding us that food doesn't always come from a grocery store, and maybe that we don't need to be dependent on them. We were also participating in the ultimate Locavore diet eating food that we were cultivating ourselves that was in season,  environmentally responsible and as close as you could get to home.

However as much as I wish to advocate for foraging you might also want to consider how popular it has become in recent years and how that might impact the wild foods and their resiliency. It is possible to take too much from the land so be sure to only take what you need and leave some behind so that plants can have a chance to naturally rebound. We might also consider growing edible plants at home, why not plant your own personal supply of wild garlic and not have to worry about competing foragers discovering your special spots!

With my first foraging trip under my belt I have definitely developed a taste for more! There have been pretty bad forest fires in my area recently which means mushroom's particularly Morel's will be in good supply this spring. I am hoping to go out and find some soon if I can find a knowledgeable guide to show me the way.

Any other tips for wild foods?

Have a lovely day and get outside if you can!

Melanie XX


"Earth was not built for six billion people all running around being passionate about things. The world was built for about two million people foraging for roots and grubs."- Doug Coupland





Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Freeganism or Free-loading?

Muffins being put in the garbage
Sometimes there is a fine line between what I do when I salvage food waste... and being a bum. As anyone who has ever met me would know, food waste is a major pet peeve of mine. So if anything is going to be left behind more often then not I will take it home or try to find a mouth to eat it. But sometimes I can't help but feel that the things I am eating from the trash or taking from events, are not normally apart of a local diet. Last week I found a compost bin full of ripe bananas, they were still yellow with brown spots so had been discarded, naturally I took them home and threw them in the freezer to be future banana loaves. A locavore eating bananas? How can this be apart of a local diet?

Confession: I take the garnishes off of platters and bring them home! Kale Smoothie anyone?

Freeganism is a play on words with veganism and eating free food, it has been typically associated with dumpster divers and therefore people of lower income standing and not necessarily those looking to reduce waste. But by taking food for free you are also moving to an anti consumer ideology and alternative form of living. When I take food that is destined for the compost bin or worse, the landfill, I am ensuring food will be consumed and not wasted. I am not purchasing or selecting it in any way so do not become part of the demand for it. Or do I?

Confession: I take unused lemon wedges from drinks at the bar. Lemon Earl Grey tea!

The lineup from the Residence Reciprocity room.
Because they are open they should be thrown out.
By taking leftovers I can't shake the feeling that there are others that need it more then I do. The ethical dilemma doesn't stop me from taking things that were meant for the garbage though as I more often the not end up as a last line of defence for food from catered events and reciprocity shelves.  Sometimes I feel that these issues are more prevalent in Universities which is why I so often get lucky or maybe just because I am aware of these issues now I notice them more often. My diet has become heavily subsidised by free food either given to me by friends or that I find abandoned. In any case with the end of the semester and everyone moving out I was given so much food this year and found so much more left behind at the school I will be set for the rest of my days...well on olive oil vinegar at least.


So taking leftover food: freeganism or free-loading?


XX Melanie


"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."- Albert Camus