Stop Wasting our Food!

David Suzuki once again making a very important and seemingly obvious notes about how we humans focus so much on oil and other fossil fuels as the primary source of waste, when we’re also wasting our FOOD!

This post originally appeared on David Suzuki’s blog.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Research Scientist Scott Wallace

Lick the plate: The ecological and economic costs of food waste

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family to appreciate the bounty of the fall harvest. Eating is both a highly social and personal part of our lives, and food preferences can even make for lively dinner table conversations.

In North America we tend to focus on how food is grown and harvested. Consumers face a myriad of labels when they shop for Thanksgiving feasts — organic, free range, cage-free, Marine Stewardship Council, fair trade, non-GMO, vegetarian-fed and locally grown among them. From a sustainability point of view, though, the most important question is missing from these labels: Will this food be eaten or will it end up contributing to the world’s growing food-waste problem?

We’re hearing a lot about food waste lately. Every year a staggering one-third — 1.3 billion tonnes — of the world’s food is wasted after it has been harvested: 45 per cent of fruit and vegetables, 35 per cent of fish and seafood, 30 per cent of cereals, 20 per cent of dairy products and 20 per cent of meat. Food waste ends up in landfills, increasing methane emissions and contributing significantly to climate change. A recent study found Americans waste close to $200 billion on uneaten food while Canadians throw away $31 billion.

These figures only account for 29 per cent of the full cost of waste. They don’t include factors such as labour, fuel to transport goods to global markets, inefficiency losses from feed choices used to produce meat and fish, or food left unharvested. As methodologies are improved and accounting becomes more inclusive, we’re likely to find even higher waste figures. Dozens of studies across many countries with different methodologies not only confirm the increase in food waste but suggest food waste is even higher and on the rise. In Canada, food waste cost estimates increased from $27 billion to $31 billion between 2010 and 2014.

In a world where one in nine people doesn’t get enough to eat — many of them children — this is unconscionable. According to the World Food Programme, poor nutrition kills 3.1 million children under the age of five every year. It’s the cause of almost half of child deaths in that age range. When it comes to feeding the world, distribution and waste appear to be greater problems than population. And yet we continue to destroy more forests, drain more wetlands and deplete the oceans of fish to meet the needs of a growing world population.

Not only that, the monumental economic losses from food waste represent money that could be used to fund much-needed social and environmental programs. Money lost in North America would cover most of Canada’s federal budget. Food waste in Metro Vancouver homes adds about $700 a year to a household’s grocery bill.

Every morsel of food wasted represents unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural lands and disruptions to marine food webs. Based on 2007 data, the UN estimates that the equivalent of 3.3 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions globally can be attributed to food waste. Canada’s total emissions, in comparison, are about 0.7 gigatonnes. If food waste were a nation, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter.

We need to tackle food waste at all levels, from international campaigns to individual consumption habits. In September, the UN agreed to an ambitious global goal of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 as both an environmental and humanitarian imperative. Earlier this year, Metro Vancouver joined the international effort Love Food Hate Waste to meet municipal waste goals and encourage individual behavioural change. A similar U.K. campaign led to a 21 per cent cut in food waste over five years. Grocery stores in France and other countries are offering discounts for misshapen produce under an “ugly fruits and vegetables” campaign. Businesses are using audits to map out where food waste is affecting bottom lines.

Food waste is a crime against the planet and the life it supports. Reducing it not only addresses food insecurity, it benefits everyone. This Thanksgiving dinner, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, locavore or pescetarian, plan for a zero-food-waste meal. Show thanks for ecosystems, growers and harvesters by buying only what you will eat and eating all that you buy.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Research Scientist Scott Wallace

Find original article here.

After the Fast: In Retrospect

So I have finished my fast 10 days ago almost to the hour, and I am not taking some time to reflect on the after math of the fast: what I have learned as well as what I have felt. You can read more about it here.

The fast was easy. It isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome, but in the same breath, I’m trying to think of what the hardest thing I’ve ever done was…. So I guess it was hard, but it was something I could do, so the ten days wasn’t hard then was it? It was challenging I will admit. The part that I found most challenging was finding the strength to continue my daily routines as I was required to be: active and alert. Every movement, by the end of it, was accompanied with a feeling of emptyness of energy and if I got up, it was dizzyness. I had to be careful to not move to fast, or exert to much energy.

What I am still unsure about, and have noticed I have felt from the previous fasts I have done as well, is that I allow myself to look at photos and blogs of food and dreaming about it. Sometimes I feel that looking at them will only strengthen my character by denying myself those nutrients, but also isn’t the the point of doing a fast to mentally block food from my thoughts? This is something I will try and focus on this more in the future fasts (which yes, does mean that I’ll be fasting again, probably not soon though).

My body has recovered fully. My first bite was of an apple. I could immediately feel the strength pouring through my body from the nutrients, or more specifically the sugars! I had initially planned on being without anything solid, or at least no meat, for 48hrs, but after 30hrs, I went out for Thai food (which incidentally was absolutely delicious), thus breaking my dietary plans. I guess I had broken it with the apple not being blended anyways.  I have also had a meal of sushi, so I’m semi quasi accomplishing my diet plans, although I wish I wouldn’t have eaten the delicious meals directly afterward. I think it was hard on my body, a little bit anyways.

As far as my mind goes, I have searched for a lot of answers, but in the end, I know that the answers will come; this is something that fasting has taught me. In time, all things will come; even the most feared or the most anticipated events you can think of. Having to sit there and focus my mind on tasks that weren’t eating food was very easy once I really whole-heartedly put my self into the mind space, but very distracting when I did not. I found that when I did meditate, it was much more focused, and I was able to find calmness and clarity much easier than any other time I meditate. It feels almost like seeking answers from within (which I have been trying for a long time ever since reading Siddhartha), in a more effective effort. I sit here now and realize I haven’t tried to meditate since, which dismays me also.

As I am now, I am satisfied, but dissapointed with myself for not following through with my dietary goals. It was very hard to not control my eating after the fast, for I craved everything. Still now I crave delicious foods, which maybe has made me more of a snob and appreciating the finer foods (or at least good quality foods) that take time to prepare?

I have found a new level of peace though, a new understanding of life and love, and what is dear to me.. in a way. What are things that are fictitious in my mind, and what are things that are important to me? If I haven’t specifically learn’t all of these things directly as a result of the fast, they have at least been illuminated because of it, which I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to learn such things.

Often I think about what is in my mind necessary to live my life the best I can, and I really believe that it’s more to do with living, understanding, and knowing than second guessing and hesitating. Almost one may think of it as a peaceful dance with the leaves of time.

Day 10 of 10 Day Fast: Completed

So the fast is done. If you have been following me through this, you would already have read my previous days: 9, 8, 5, and 2.

It has been a very interesting journey, one that I have learnt a lot about what people believe, what I believe, what I am capable of, and also what it feels like to go without food for so long. I have proved the myth wrong that a person cannot go without food for such a long time, well maybe it’s not so much of a myth as something that scares most people.

One thing that’s amazed me is that my fridge still has some food in it that hasn’t gone bad! I’ve been writing food blogs like crazy at Exercise and Mind, that have been making me get much more excited about breaking this fast, but now that I am here at this point of break, I eat a little bit, and my stomach cannot handle any more! There are so many things that I want to start eating, but I suspect it’s going to take a few days before my stomach is back to proper working order.

I broke my fast at the hour I started it, 1230hrs, with 1 apple that had made it with me through the whole fast. Yes, it tasted like a million dollars and I ate the whole thing, seeds and all. I am aware the apple seeds aren’t the easiest things to digest, maybe I’ll start an apple tree in my stomach… I had another apple at 1330hrs. Shortly after the first one, I was feeling much livelier, with much more energy. It’s an amazing thing what food does to our bodies, a little bit of nutrition goes a long way.

For my first main meal, I had some homemade carrot and yam soup! Now, I’m not sure if it was because I hadn’t eaten for 10 days, but it was absolutely delicious! I have to be careful about how much I eat though, for if I get too carried away or have too much rich foods, my stomach really isn’t going to like me too much.

This morning I took the time to meditate and do a full stretch. It felt really good, and I always get discouraged when I realize that the fast is over and I haven’t dedicated enough time during it to meditate. I guess this is because I am so focused on what I’m actually doing to take the time. After meditating though, it feels extremely good, I feel lighter, brighter, and a lot more alert and at peace with life; this is a good thing. I appreciate what I have a lot more I feel, and I also feel more in tuned with my surroundings. I like this a lot.

Will I do it again? Absolutely. Will I do it for 10 days? Thats questionable. Will I do it soon? That is doubtful.

It was a great experience, but the fact is, it takes a lot out of me, pretty much takes all my conditioning and training and flushes it out the door. It keeps me fairly un-mobile for the whole time, every bit of energy I do spend weakens me greatly. It was not a health fast, or a cleanse, it was a fast: Spiritual and mind, which is part of the reason why I get upset with myself for not taking more care to meditate; this is ok, and I am pleased with myself none-the-less. I have learnt a great deal about myself, my habits, what I can believe, and also what is important to me as a result of this fast, which yes, I did have a lot of knowledge of these things before the fast, but at some point there was a clearing up of the mess.

You know when you’re absolutely spent, like you’ve just had a day on the ski slopes, and all you want to do is sit back in the hot tub and suck back a beverage, enjoy it and let your muscles get relaxed, and this is all you can think about? Well, that’s sort of what happens. You loose sight of minor complications, overlook trifles, and realize that all of these sort of insignificant disturbances are nothing to get excited about and are all just things that will happen anyways, so just be happy and all things will work themselves out with care and attention.

So, in conclusion, it was a great success, I received some great support from people all around the world here, and on twitter @kingkabuz, and I am a very happy boy.

Thank you all for your encouragement and wise words, and I am back to normal again!

Day 9 of 10 Day Fast

Well, today is my last sleep before I finish this fast. It has been a very interesting journey, and it feels like it’s been quite a long time actually. I find myself at various points of the day thinking to myself: “wow, I think I could go forever without eating.” But then I realize that this is silly, and that I’m weak and light headed, not to mention hungry!

I’ve been doing a whole lot of posting of foods such as my Red Chicken on my website, in anticipation of the coming food I shall be intaking, but it’s not to nice for me thinking about all the delicious food, and then not eating anything… I consider it a better test of my will….. smart?

One thing I’m pretty happy about is that some of the fruits and veges that I’ve had since I begun are still alive and not decayed. I guess this is a sign of very little toxins that are used as pesticides, as well as to ripen the crop fast to get it to market. I actually had two bunches of bananas, one was organic and the other was regular. I bought two because the regular bunches were green, and the organic ones were just perfect (if not a bit mature). Right now, 10 days later, the organic ones are actually slightly less brown spotted as the regular ones. Amazing, I know.

I was at the grocer a while ago, talking to the grocer, and he was telling me how a banana is so covered with pesticides that a person should wash their hands immediately after touching them. I found this rather disturbing but it really does describe the difference in organic to regular bananas.

So back to the fast.

These last few days I have been getting extremely cold. I am worried about some sort of hypothermia setting in, but I somewhat doubt this will happen. But as I type this, my place is set to 22.5deg C, and I’m wearing a t-shirt, wool sweater, and a hoody; not to mention pants and giant wool socks. Its slightly weird to me, but it’s also fairly cold out, so I’ll accept this. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a cold. I feel my body is at a very healthy state right now, and it would be hard to get a cold, but this could be the inverse of what is actually truth for all I know.

I have also been finding that my sleeping pattern is extremely off. I get tired at about 10 or so, and sleep for 2 hours, then wake up and can’t get back to sleep until about 3 or 4 in the morning. This is ok, for I read for a few hours, but it’s still a bit interesting to me. I remember reading Gandhi’s autobiography Experiments With Truth where he described his sleeping patterns, and it was very similar. It makes me worry less when I remember this!

It has definitely been a bit of a struggle for me to focus on school these past 9 days, but I blame that more on the usual getting back into the swing of things rather than the fast. For me it’s always hard coming back from a break to hit the grind stone and study hard. Do any of you find this too?

Looking in the mirror, I am definitely going inward in the belly area, and not outward, not that I was before, but it’s pronounced. I can feel my hip bones, and my muscles do feel weak if I try and flex.

One odd thing is on day 7 and today, I pooped. Odd thing to mention, but it’s very interesting I could actually do this considering I haven’t eaten anything in 9 days. I was talking to a friend, and he blamed this on the tea that I’m drinking. I’m still only drinking Goji Berry tea, Peppermint tea, and water. Can any of you attest to this phenomenon?

This is about all I can report for symptoms.

Art by Poncho

For mentality, all I can say I’ve gained are:

a) a patience for life, temporary if it may be.

b) a mind for my body. I am aware of most of my movements, and thinking about a lot more of what I do with it.

c) my mind may not have become more clear, and it may not have become more stable, but I would say that I have learned or enabled myself to focus on what I really need to focus on and that I’m starting to push myself in the proper directions without hesitation. I’m not sure if this is due to the reading material, or the timing of the year, or both combined with the fast, but I can feel it within me.

So you see, I have learnt a few things along the way. The most important thing I have learnt is that I am in charge of this life, and that I can do anything. Most people I have told about this say “Why?” or “Thats really not healthy!” or “You’re crazy!” but in the end, they don’t know why I do the things I do, what I deal with daily, and the commitment required for me to follow through on such a thing. I have also had some great friends that have encouraged me, given me great advice on what to do, how to break the fast, to rest, to stay warm, which really warms my heart just thinking about the support I have learned that I do have in the world around me. This is a beautiful thing in itself.

Read my final conclusions on day 10 here!

Day 8 of 10 Day Fast

Today is day 8 of my 10 day fast, and it feels the same as the others have felt. As I have felt with previous fasts, the worst thing is not the agonizing pain of being hungry (which doesn’t exist) but the overwhelming desire and uncontrolled dreaming of food stuffs. Lately my dreaming has lead me to all sorts of cookies.

The wost thing is that I have some left over cookies that my mother sent home with me after the holidays sitting in my freezer (to keep them properly) for when I’m done the fast.

Something that the fast has made me dream about is to start doing more baking. I decided at midnight last night that I want to try and find a cook book, or at least some recipes that will teach me how to make soups and sauces. But, more along the lines of cookies, I want to start learning how to bake. So, in the wee hours of the evening last night I found myself dreaming about how I needed some muffin tins, as well as some loaf tins and a mix master to start this process.

Back to the fast.

I am finding that it is no problem to do the days these days, except the plain fact that I dream about food. There are times when I’m really hungry, and wish I could eat things, but that’s more because of the mere thought of food, rather than a pain for food.

As far as physical symptoms and properties go, I find that, of course, I have much less energy. On my walk to school, there is a slight uphill section, and at the end of it I am noticeably out of breath. This is rather natural, since for starters I’m not doing any exercise to keep myself in shape, as well, I have no food in me to give me any sort of reserves of energy needed to allow myself to get through this activity.

I have also noticed that at times it feels like a lot of work to get a full breath of air inside of me. My rib cages feel heavy, but it does feel good when I make the effort to breath full.

As well, I notice that while sitting all day at class, if my back is slightly slouched, or not being held in proper posture, it begins to hurt. 2 more days.

Overall though, the main reason why I’m doing this fast was a mental clarity. This I am finding somewhat. I am finding a calm serenity in my mind, which I believe will hold fast when I am finished. Being able to know that nothing else matters is a very great thing, but also knowing and studying how I react is a very beneficial test. The most strange thing is that I find I am able to not be stressed at all. During this whole process, I have been in very interesting situations that should have caused me much more stress, but as it turns out, I have been calm and relaxed and accepting of what it is that fate deems necessary. Now, this may or may not be due to the fact that I am also reading a book called: “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, which is an extremely great read and I recommend to all of you readers.

So, I am happy, I feel healthy (in spite my weakness), my sleep patterns are weird and off, but during the day I feel alert. Although, I do get tired earlier so I do go to be early which then gives rise to me getting up at midnight to do some work and going back to bed after a few hours. This reminds me of Gandhi, and how he used to have the most intense sleeping patterns, where he would sleep in a similar fashion, except he had a few cat naps in there as well.

I am finding that the Honey Tea is an essential factor to this fast. It works as a slightly better hunger depressor than water and tea, but still isn’t food. I’m only using about half of a teaspoon of sugar in my tea, and it allows me to keep my blood sugar up and eliminate the woozy, dizzy, sick feelings that sometimes overcame me.

2 more days and I think I can make it. So tempting to just start eating some foods, but I will prevail the victor of this challenge I am certain. Any words of encouragement?

Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke

Read more about day 9 here!

Food Insecurity in Developing Nations

My friend Taylor, over at her blog has been doing some studies that I would like to highlight here to hopefully reach a wider audience.

I feel that global environmental, and human rights issues are valid on any platform, so I will discuss them here.

Today I will tackle food insecurities, which are a pretty damn essential part of all of our lives. Were talking the security to go the grocery store and find food in there, and food that we actually have the money to pay for.

Us in North America, at least most of us, are fortunate enough to be able to get into our cars, drive to the closest market, which by the way there are at least half a dozen to choose from, put .25cents into the buggy to push around our green machine to fill up with whatever catches our eye for consumption.

In other developing countries, however, this isn’t the case. It is estimated that in the last two years staple crops like rice have tripled in price mainly due to oil. Transporting, farming, reaping, and delivering are all elements that require the precious oil. With this crisis increasing in scale, it is estimated that an additional 75-100 million people have been pushed into poverty and food insecurity, which isn’t a good statistic at all.

To me its incredibly sad that the USA spends billions of dollars on their war efforts, when they could be fighting a better humanitarian cause and peace. Although, I have just looked up the stats on the Department of State Budget records , and it does look like in total the US is contributing around $1.5 billion USD towards International Organizations and an additional $1.5 billion USD in contributions to various International Peacekeeping Activities. It seems all the number are coming up around $1.5 billion USD however, as they are spending another $1.5 billion USD on USAID operating expenses. Thats one hell of a budget if you ask me. Somebody talk to my boss about this..

Apparently, however, agriculture only receives about 4% of this foreign assistance from the USA, which is matched by most other countries around the world with such funds.

Her classmates and her did some research on an organization called ACDI/VOCA which uses value chain analysis to understand the private sector development in emerging economy settings to jump start economic growth and poverty reduction. I know, its a doozie. Go here to understand more about her project, and to gain more knowledge of the crises our less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world are facing.

Richmond Night Market, BC

The Richmond Night Market is completely what one would expect from a chinese market, except its catered to those folks who go out at night. So, one should expect a slightly more carnival feel to the market.

Upon entering into the market, one feels like they may have just snuck in the back door, but no, its really the entrance. There is no glorious sign exclaiming: “Welcome to the Infamous Richmond Night Market” in bold letters. Instead, you are greeted with the steady glow of excessive lighting, plastic filled stands, and people ever where.

It is very similar to a flea market, except there is no flea’ing. At the flea markets there are usually a few tables with new gadgets, each individually wrapped in their clear plastic shells; stuff you really don’t need, but are oohhh so cool. For instance, they had these tripods, that were mini tripods. Probably no bigger than a foot tall, fully extended. Something like that could really come in handy at times…

The real reason why people go to the market is the food, and let me tell you, it was splendid. I basically turned off all instinct to be thrifty and bought as much as I wanted. I ate squid, octopus tentacles, chicken, and duck neck to name a few. Before I knew it my cash reserves were nearly depleted, and we had to run to the bank machine to get some flow.

Parking was an interesting thing. If you drive right into the market, you can park for 5$ in their parking lots, or you can park before you turn onto the main road where the market is and park for free, but this comes with a walk that some aren’t willing to make. If you arrive after midnight, you can park right along the main street for free. One should be weary though, for this parking is known, and starts to fill up right as the clock strikes 12.

I’m glad that I finally made it to the night market. Although, I must say, I expected something similar to  china town during the new years celebration, but instead, I was greeted with an expensive taste testing event, with random tables filled with random things that I really didn’t need.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly suggest that you do, so that you can say you were at the world renowned Richmond Night Market, and this way you can judge for yourself how much you enjoy it. I would be really interested to hear how all of you find the experience!

Fast Completed – Mission Accomplished

So, My fast has now been accomplished. It was a great journey, and I really felt good about doing it. Although, the last 2hrs was probably the hardest. I ended up starting to cook my dinner at 630 (end of fast was at 7), thinking that I’d be done making dinner by 700, but it turned out I finished making it by 645, SO, I had a very insistent roomate who persuaded me to not eat until 700 exactly, by his clock. That part helped me wait until then.

I started eating slow, and continued that way the whole meal. Taking breaks. I didn’t want to eat anything to fast as to hurt my stomach. The whole time eating I could hear it sweetly calling my name in happy lamenting.

My stomach grows hungry again as we speak. This might clear the fridge out this hunger…

So I’ve learnt, as I’ve stated before, that I will not die from starving, and that I can survive. I now know what its like to starve, and I’ve gained this valuable knowledge about my body.

I’m not really sure what else I’ve learnt. I didn’t do soul searching, or meditating, it wasn’t about that this time for me. It was more, I guess, about cleansing my body from badness, and to gain a new understanding of how it works. No, it was not about getting skinny, I’m very fit and lead a very healthy life. Yes, I follow very rigorously.

Anyways, I’ve survived, and will live to tell my friends, family, children, and grandchildren about it.  Yai!

Does anybody out there have any other thoughts on fasting they would like to share with me? I’d love to hear!

Homemade Gravy

Well, tonight I had some of my left over Roast Beef from last night, which was delicious then, and just as delicious tonight. But, I decided tonight, I needed to add some liquid or extra sauce to it, just to make it off the hook.

To start off, i boiled about a half cup of water. I also took about a half a cup of hot tap water, and put it into a cup with a cap for shaking along with two heaping teaspoons of regular flour. I shook this, in order to mix the flour in with the water (no clumps) and when the pot of water boiled, I poured the mix in. I then added about 1/4 cup of coconut milk, stirring it all together.

Once this was all in, I turned the heat down, so the mixture just barely simmered, and started adding my spices, which all were about 1/2 a teaspoon each:

  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • tumeric
  • savory
  • coriander

Once those were in, I added 1 chopped into little pieces mushroom, and 1 ring of an onion.

I kept this simmering for 10 minutes or so, stirring the whole time as I steamed my veges and the result was amazing!

I wish I had a picture, but good luck!