Category: Ethical Eating

Tips for Reducing Food Waste this Festive Season

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  Reducing Food Waste

Laura Trotta: “Every time we throw food in the bin we’re not just wasting our money. We’re discarding the vast amounts of resources, energy and water that it took to produce, process, store, refrigerate, transport and cook the food.

Reducing food waste: photo of a vegan dish

Humous with veggies, orange segments and nigella seeds / Credit: Unsplash

Reducing food waste is one of the top five solutions to climate change listed in the New York Times bestseller “Drawdown…” While animal agriculture creates an estimated 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.

As we move through December and into the New Year, let’s remember to reduce food waste and to include vegan and vegetarian dishes in our Winter season feasting.

Suggested Links

Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes

Food and Climate Action

Foraging for Wild Mushrooms in Maple Ridge

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reducing food waste: photo of mushroom hunters in a Maple Ridge forest

reducing food waste: photo of mushroom hunters in a Maple Ridge forest

Credit: Slow Food Vancouver

In the photos above, we find a group of friends engaging in an ancient (even timeless) human activity …foraging for mushrooms in a forest. They’re members of the Vancouver chapter of the Slow Food movement.

You might ask: What is Slow Food?

Slow Food is a global movement that pushes back against fast food and industrialized food systems. Its mission includes defending local food traditions, promoting artisanal foods and preserving food biodiversity.

The movement calls for tackling the climate crisis through the adoption of environmentally-friendly practices along all stages of the food supply chain, following a seed-to-landfill trajectory.

A brief foray into the shameful state of food waste in Canada today

At the intersection of food, conviviality, agriculture, social justice and everyday climate action … we conclude with a brief foray into the shameful state of food waste in Canada today.

According to Second Harvest: Each year, nearly 60% of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted. That’s 35.5 tonnes of food, or nearly $50 billion, lost annually. Furthermore, organic material in landfills produces methane gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions.

Nova Scotia farmer Richard Melvin reluctantly throws away enough cauliflower to feed a province. Despite being “perfectly good to eat,” up to 40 per cent of his 36 hectares of cauliflower gets plowed back into the ground each year. He’s looking for financial help to give surplus crops to food-insecure Canadians.

photo of a farmer in field holding heads of cauliflower in each hand

Credit: Jacqueline Melvin

photo of worker tossing produce into a huge pile of wasted fruits and vegetables

Credit: Ben Nelms/Reuters

In Langley BC, a worker dumps “pre-consumer food waste” which is fed to black soldier fly larvae to produce animal feed, at Enterra Feed Corporation.

(Edible insects are promoted as a solution to future global food shortages. But critics argue that black soldier fly farming is not an ideal solution for global food waste because it entrenches industrial animal agriculture and diverts attention from deeper food systems transformation.)

Simon Fraser University food researcher Tammara Soma says blame the system for food waste on BC farms and not the farmer. The main problems include shoppers who won’t buy imperfect fruits and veggies, a global food system that creates rock-bottom prices for produce, a decline in local food processors, and a lack of incentives to give away surplus food.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau would not answer the question when asked if Ottawa would consider funding to help farmers salvage crops that would otherwise go wasted.


Food Waste in Canada

The Facts

December food eco-challenge: graphic on food waste in Canada width=
December food eco-challenge: graphic on food waste in Canada

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Join the DECEMBER Food Eco‑Challenge

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  ZW Notebook → December EcoChallenge

It’s a beautiful idea to remind ourselves in December to feel gratitude for our food, and to be aware of food waste and the impact this has on our planet

Come join the Metro Vancouver Unitarian Food Ecochallenge in December by changing your habits and reducing food waste. Check-in to see how we’re lowering food waste during the challenge

*If you missed the start date, you can join any time. Just sign up below, or

eMail unitarianmary@gmail.com to connect with the Zero Waste Team

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Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty

What can we do individually and collectively to reduce harm and bring about climate justice?

Our food system has a huge impact on climate. Food production is fraut with racism and oppression of the people who grow our food. It is also a very complex system. Eating less meat, particularly red meat, has clear health and climate benefits. Large scale change needs to come from good policy and public pressure to create system change. The following organizations are working to create real change for those who produce and harvest our food as well as the impact of agriculture on our planet:

These are good places to start for information and action. Stay tuned for more!

Vegan Cooking with umami

Twelve people participated in our (first?) vegan cooking zoom call.
There seems to be enthusiasm so we may pursue this further, possibly with a monthly “ethical eating” zoom call, sharing our questions, answers, recipes. If you’d be interested, let me know at connect@vancouverunitarians.ca.

Possible topics

  • vegan desserts
  • environmental effects of the animal industry
  • nutrition issues
If you want to review the recording (technology glitches and all!) just click here:
Access Password: ucvucv1!

Resources

Denise has sent me a lot of information that I’ve pasted below.

If you’re on Facebook, do join us at the Unitarian Ethical Eating Group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/unitarianethicaleating/

Goals of the Ethical Eating Group:

  • build education and awareness around the importance of food choices
  • respect individual choices and diversity – provide support and information for people wanting to shift their eating choices
  • encourage congregational engagement on ethical eating and action.
  • provide information on Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist initiatives related to ethical eating and encourage people to engage as individuals or as congregations

Approved by the Environment Committee of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver on October 13, 2013.

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Oak Street Farmers’ Market

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Oak Street
Farmers’ Market

by Mary Lage

It was a grand adventure. The best of times. A crazy idea. A proud part of our Unitarian history. We started Vancouver’s first all-organic farmers’ market on the UCV parking lot.

To paraphrase Joni Mitchell:

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They paved paradise … so we put up an all‑organic farmers’ market

Don’t miss this short documentary film by Jen Rashleigh and Rob Dainow on Opening Day at the Oak Street Farmers’ Market.
Tomato Meter 91% 4 stars rating

It Was a Grand and Crazy Idea

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Back in 2011 a group of intrepid UCV members came up with an idea: Why not start an all-organic farmers’ market in our parking lot? What’s not to like? Under the direction of our sustainable food guru, Grant Watson, we began to make plans for the Oak Street Farmers’ Market.

We bravely climbed a steep learning curve of city permits, farm visits, grant applications, and logo choosing, among a panoply of other tasks. One of our most debated tasks was deciding whether to put the apostrophe before or after the ‘s’ in farmers market. We had our grand opening in June with music, city officials, inspirational speakers, and a ribbon cutting ceremony – and we were off!

We spent the next five years creating a strong community built around delicious organic food, great music, artisan stalls, stone soup making with donations from all our farmers, and even a massage chair.

Exciting Times

Highlights included being the first market to feature wine and spirits, zucchini races, cooking demos and even a film series on ethical eating. We were proud to nurture first time farmers’ market vendors and musicians, and we welcomed volunteers from the deaf community.

Along with physical and financial backing from the church, UCV volunteers provided a considerable amount of sweat equity. Challenges included the weekly erecting of a huge and heavy piece of equipment that came to be known as the “Frankentent”, dragging multitudes of boxes out of the church’s narrow crawlspace, and keeping the electricity flowing to the parking lot by means of extension cords, covers, and ingenuity.

Navigating the challenges of starting and running the first all-organic farmers’ market in Vancouver proved difficult. Midway through operations, the city decided to enforce its sign bylaw not allowing us to put up signs in the neighbourhood. As well, several other farmers’ markets opened soon after ours in the area.

In spite of having incredibly dedicated members on the Oak Street Farmers’ Market board, after 5 years of operation, we had to close due to our continued financial instability. Our grand adventure came to an end but the memories and the community continue on.


Plant Based Eating

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Nearly 30 years ago, Denise Swanson and the Environment Committee began to promote plant based eating to respect animals, protect the environment and support healthy eating

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Left: Plant based Sunday brunch 2008
Right: Photo by Keith Wilkinson — Apple tree in community garden at UCV

By Denise Swanson

One of my strongest lifelong interests has been the protection and promotion of respect for animals. In 2007, there wasn’t any committee at UCV with that particular mandate, and the Environment Committee seemed a good choice to work with on this pursuit. Especially so, given that animal agriculture is one of the top industries responsible for environmental destruction.

One of my strongest lifelong interests has been the protection and promotion of respect for animals

Most people have goodwill toward other species and the individual members of them. The overwhelmingly largest number of animals in need of protection are those on factory farms. Many are aware of the routine horrors behind factory farming (quite apart from their link to zoonotic diseases). An obvious way to protect them is to refrain from supporting their abuse by not buying – by boycotting – their ‘products’. Thus, I turned my attention to what is fast gaining momentum as an environmental as well as animal protection movement: plant-based eating.

I learned from reliable sources that balanced plant-based diets are nutritionally sound for all life stages. Not only that, they are significantly protective against some of our society’s most significant chronic health problems: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and various cancers.

I saw the UCV committee lunch fundraisers as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and show that entirely plant-based meals were not only possible but delicious . For the next several years, the Environment Committee collaborated to produce dozens of lunches for the congregation. I also worked on smaller-scale plant-based food service projects for other UCV events, such as workshops at the farmers market, a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in Hewett Hall, and put on cooking classes to show that preparing these foods is easy and fun.

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The warm and energetic support of the UCV Environment Committee is a fond memory!

Another project I worked on with the Environment Committee involved developing some new church policies: using coffee that is organic and fair-trade, and providing plant-based milk options at coffee times.

During this time, I had been involved in several film festivals, and decided to host one at UCV focused on food and the environment. This was another great learning experience for all of us.

The warm and energetic support of the UCV Environment Committee is a fond memory!

image of fruits and veggies

Denise Swanson and David Steele led a forum, in 2019, on plant based eating. … Feel free to explore the links below they provided, for in-depth information and delicious recipes

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