Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Urban Food Revolution by Peter Ladner

Here I am again!

"the struggle for individual agency ... I find to be at the very center of urban life ... Both as workers and as consumers, we fieel we move in channels that have been projected from afar by vast impersonal forces. We worry tha we are becoming stupider, and begin to wonder if getting an adequate grasp on the world, intellectually, depends on getting a handle on it in some literal and active sense. Some people respond by learning to grow their own vegetables. " from Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft

With a quotation like the above, right in the introduction, are you surprised that I really want to get hold of Peter Ladner's book? Ladner is Canadian, has been involved with urban agriculture in British Columbia.

The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities. Peter Ladner. New Society Publishers, 2011. paperback
You can look over the Table of Contents and read the Preface from the website of New Society Publishers:

Book blurb from the New Society Publishers website:

Our reliance on industrial agriculture has resulted in a food supply riddled with hidden environmental, economic and health care costs and beset by rising food prices. With only a handful of corporations responsible for the lion’s share of the food on our supermarket shelves, we are incredibly vulnerable to supply chain disruption.

The Urban Food Revolution provides a recipe for community food security based on leading innovations across North America. The author draws on his political and business experience to show that we have all the necessary ingredients to ensure that local, fresh sustainable food is affordable and widely available. He describes how cities are bringing food production home by:

ü Growing community through neighborhood gardening, cooking and composting programs

ü Rebuilding local food processing, storage and distribution systems

ü Investing in farmers markets and community supported agriculture

ü Reducing obesity through local fresh food initiatives in schools, colleges and universities.

ü Ending inner-city food deserts

Producing food locally makes people healthier, alleviates poverty, creates jobs, and makes cities safer and more beautiful. The Urban Food Revolution is an essential resource for anyone who has lost confidence in the global industrial food system and wants practical advice on how to join the local food revolution.

shopping trip .... glitter and plastic

Hello everyone,

I made a rare trip to Masonville Mall area today. There were a whole bunch of items I wanted to locate ... things not sold where I work, but for which I get asked. I did find most of them, so will know where to suggest people shop.

The main thing I found though was piles and mounds and shelves and shelves and shelves full of STUFF. One store had pillars 10 or 12 feet high with things hung up that high - surely an inconvenient storage system for the staff! How many lint-brush-roller thingies would have been on the one section of pillar - 8 across the row, with a couple on each peg, and 14 or 16 rows high? Pillows and furniture on shelves too high for people to reach.

I went into a popular home furnishing store - and I admit I love looking at Christmas decorations and furnishings - but there's so much of it that I find myself wondering what value any of it will have for anyone. Glitter and plastic, glitter and tin, glitter and paper, glitter and more plastic. So much merchandise stacked - in multiples - that I cannot focus on the attributes of any one object before it melds into the identical one atop it ... or competes visually with items on either side.

I went into a major bookstore, admittedly indulging my fondness for journals, and just because I could I looked up one book. The store didn't have it. It's an urban agriculture book that I'll order where I work, tomorrow and will tell about in a separate post. The major bookstore did, however, have a cube of some dragon book or other, discounted. And the major bookstore's smaller bookstore (in Masonville Mall itself) was its own surprise. There was a whole section of children's books that were stacked spine out so customers have to shelf read to find a book; how does that sell anything?

And the big craft store didn't sell Christmas letterhead paper ... anywhere in the aisles and aisles and aisles of duplicated plastic and glitter, glitter and paper, metal and glitter ....

It was a useful venture and traumatic all at the same time. Finding out that all that STUFF doesn't have any value to me ... priceless.

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WASTE LESS this Christmas

Good morning everyone,

I've mentioned before that I subscribe to the World Watch Institute's e-news ... see

The latest mailing is a great guide to wasting less this coming Christmas season.

My guess is, of course, that if you read my maunderings you already re-use, recycle, refashion, and re-generate anything and everything that crosses your path. You probably spend less on Christmas gifts than the $600+ dollars that some survey said Canadians expect to spend this season and less than the other $600+ that will be spent on Christmas preparations that aren't gifts. That detail made me want to cut down on my own total (somewhat under $150.00 last year including gifts) and get knitting.

The World Watch articles notes that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year (1.3 billion tons). It's a head-shaker of a percentage.

The article I've linked to above is talking about reducing waste of food in a North American household that has the more-than-enough-plus-extras-in-the-pantry-and-leftovers-in-the-back-of-the-fridge, which, I'm guessing is your own situation. It's mine ... and I'm so grateful for it. And I know I can do better on using up those leftovers before they become compost!

It talks about supporting an organization that second harvests restaurant food [food recovery] for community agency distribution, buying free trade food items as gifts.

I'm going to suggest supporting an organization that advocates for organic, low-input agriculture or permaculture, or has one of the gifts of animals or garden packages (World Vision or USC). Support or start such in your own community. I'll get the urls. I still can't figure out how to leave an in-progress post and search out something to put in here.

So, all for this morning.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not an ode to my new toothbrush

Good morning everyone,

I hope you are all well and happy.

Today I'm going to talk about a very small matter: my new toothbrush.

My new toothbrush has a curvy blue and white handle. Some parts of it are much thicker than others. One place has little bumps. The bristles are higher around the edges than in the middle; the outer central bristles are a different colour from the rest.

The curves are supposed to be ergonometrically correct, ie. they are supposed to fit my hand so I'm comfortable brushing my teeth and will do so longer than I used to. The place with the little bumps - I'm guessing - is to keep my fingers from slipping as I hold the toothbrush; this will prevent me from jamming the toothbrush into a tooth and breaking it, or stuffing it down my throat and choaking. By not doing these damaging things, I will not sue the maker of the toothbrush.

As it turns out ... the way I hold the toothbrush has the handle curve pressing into my palm, instead of my palm curving into it. So, that part doesn't work.

I've not had my hand slip yet, so maybe the bumpy part works. However, since I've never had a previous toothbrush escape my grasp, I cannot make a fair judgement.

As for the bristles, both lengths feel the same ... I'm guessing the coloured ones are a signal to me to use them to do the little gum-line wiggle that one is supposed to do while brushing ... they are sort of a target zone. I don't know if this makes a difference.

The thing that got me started on this is realizing that the handle of the toothbrush, with its two types of plastic, must surely use twice as much plastic as an old-fashioned, basically straight-handled toothbrush.

So, it's a good thing that before I toss out an old toothbrush, it goes through use as a cleaning tool.

And you know what? I just realized that the handle fits my hand better when it's turned over for use as a grout scrubber. So, next year I'll have a good cleaning tool.

Here I sit, shaking my head in wonder at it all. I make the wage I make. You make the wage you make. A designer making $40,000 - $60,000 a year designed this toothbrush and a major drug store chain paid for it to be made. If I had cable TV, I might even know if the company pays to advertise this minor hygiene tool.

Let's guess that my new toothbrush wasn't even made on the North American continent and certainly not by unionized workers. Were the resources used to make it taken from the country where it was made? Were the resources transported by fossil-fuel using ship to that country, then transported back to North America? I know the handle wasn't from a recycled plastic, because that information was not noted and promoted on the package ... and such recycling may not always use less resources overall anyway.

Did I mention that I hate shopping? Even for the little things like a toothbrush?

How does this relate to saving the world in my spare time? Good question. Maybe only insofar as if I keep my teeth in good shape and spare myself huge dental bills, I'll be able to make a few Christmas donations to environment groups.

Best regards to all, as always,

Why's Woman

Sunday, November 6, 2011

where nowhere is heard a discouraging word

"This farm happened because I walked into a house I wasn't sure I could buy, with the belief that no matter what, I would make it mine. It wasn't a case of money, or who I knew, it was a case of stubbornness, faith, and belief in myself and in the outcome I had written down on a piece of paper months ago that I carried with me everywhere I went in my back pocket."

Jenna Woginrich' latest blogpost takes us through a description of a wickedly good pot pie ... and then switches to encouragement to follow our dreams.

I've been stewing in my doubts and fears lately. Thanks Jenna, for the encouragement to remain stubborn, faithful to a dream and to believe in myself. Also, I'd forgotten that magic of writing down the specifics of what I want and carrying it with me.

I'm off to do that right now.

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman