Food systems can be compassionate as well as healthy and sustainable.

For companies in the business of making food, their work often involves animals.  But livestock production today raises serious questions about the ways animals are treated for human sustenance.  Intensive, large-scale operations for meat, dairy and eggs attract criticism from animal advocates and others.  As well, mainstream consumers increasingly want to know their food was made in ways they can feel good about.

To protect our agricultural base, we’ve got to “Love the Land.”

lenore 1“Love the Land.”  It’s a phrase has haunted me since I heard it from Lenore Newman.  “We’ve got to love the land, or we’ll lose it,” she says.

Canada Research Chair in Food Security and the Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley, Dr. Newman has been a sought-after speaker recently on the Agricultural Land Reserve.  It’s on people’s minds now that the B.C. government has been reviewing the ALR and its governing Agricultural Land Commission.

Housing should recognize that people need people.

People need people.  Some people also seem to need dogs, but that’s another story.   For now, let’s talk about humans.Neighbours in hallway winter:spring 2014

Here’s a snapshot of a few, who are some of my neighbours here on the fourth floor of our condo complex in Vancouver’s Kitsilano.  If you examine the image, you’ll notice that the neighbours seem to be enjoying chatting and visiting with each other.  From L ro R, that’s Claire, Heather, Doug, and my husband, Harley.  The dogs are Chimi (big), Kipu (little), and Roxy (held by Doug).

Our vision must be stronger than our fears.

Guy Dauncey insists on being positive.  If we’re going to make progress on Guy Dauncey photothe big issues of our time, we need to focus on the visionary possibilities that could define our economy and society, he says.  Instead of ruminating on the problems facing the world, we can devote our energy to solutions.  “The power of our vision must be stronger than the power of our fears.”  I need to hear that, so I rode my bike downtown to hear Mr. Dauncey speak at the Vancouver Public Library recently. Having experienced his high-energy brilliance in past lectures, I didn’t want to miss his talk entitled Imagining a Beautiful Green Future: Vancouver 2032.

Turning food waste into animal feed addresses two problems at once.

Here’s a powerful idea that may provide a quantum leap in addressing food-system problems. It’s the initiative of the Vancouver company Enterra Feed Corp., which takes food waste and transforms it into renewable food for fish, livestock, and plants.  Using a clever technology involving insects, Enterra has developed a way to take urban-sized piles of bruised tomatoes, stale-dated cakes, fish offal and more, and transform it into fish meal, oilmeal for livestock, and plant fertilizer.

Powerful ideas from our first ‘Community Conversation’ on food

Getting people together to share ideas can be exhilarating and productive, especially when the topic is so central to our lives as food.  That was the focus of a Community Conversation held at Vancouver’s Gordon Neighbourhood House on January 14, 2014, which I co-facilitated along with GNH Community Food Advocate Andrew Christie, with assistance from UBC Bachelor of Social Work practicum students Emily Melzer, Fibby Pan, and Markayla Benstead.  More than 40 neighbours attended to voice their experiences in trying to access good food and eat in ways that are healthy for  individuals and community.

Food banks can be transformed to address the roots of hunger.

“Is there anything I could do to help?” asked the young food-bank client.  She was there for her weekly bag of groceries, but it would be another half-hour before recipients would be allowed to line up.  Meanwhile, she was able-bodied and wanted to assist at the busy tables heaped with bread, packaged foods, and vegetables