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The Progressive Economics Forum: Grocery Wars: Lessons from Canada’s Changing Retail Landscape

As Target Canada tumbled into bankruptcy, Loblaw announced that its fourth-quarter profits more than doubled. What can be learned from this tale of two retailers?

The main reason for Loblaw’s surge was its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart last March, which turned it into Canada’s largest grocer and pharmacy chain. Shoppers contributed $3 billion to Loblaw’s $11.4 billion take in sales, a 50% jump. Profits more than doubled from the previous year as Loblaw also saw cost savings from the merger. The irony behind this success story is that it was likely Target’s arrival on the retail (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Drinking Coffee Regularly Decreases DNA Damage

I start my day with coffee and writing a post about good news. Today those two things merged rather well: it turns out drinking coffee regularly can lower the chances that one’s DNA will get messed up.

DNA is always doing bizarre things and if those things get too bizarre then it can cause some very bad mutations. For some reason coffee keeps your DNA doing the right thing.

As one commentator on Reddit said:

Their findings indicate that those who drank 750 ml (~3 cups) of coffee per day experienced 27% fewer strand breaks in white blood cells than (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: The Hobbit Ends

I saw the last Hobbit [8/10] movie on Friday, with Jeri. We had food at Montana’s just before. I had the veggie feta burger and it was very good, it tasted just like a meat burger. My distant cousin ended up being seated at the table next to us.

The most exciting part of the movie was in the first ten minutes, but it was overall enjoyable. It was plain that if you hadn’t seen earlier installations of this series, you’d feel a bit left-out. The part of the plot depending upon the Dwarf king’s promise was a bit weakened (Read more…)

Things Are Good: A Veggie Diet Could Prolong Your Life

There are tons of benefits from having a vegetarian diet from improved individual health to having less of an impact on the environment. Now there’s one more reason to have a vegetarian diet, or at least something close to one, it’ll help you live longer.

Scientists have long believed that an ultra low calorie diet – aproximately 60 per cent of normal levels – can lead to greater longevity.

But now a team of British researchers have discovered that the key to the effect is a reduction in a specific protein and not the total number of calories.

That means (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ‘Tis the Season to Rethink Our Charitable Giving

This op-ed by yours truly was published in The Province. The examples are BC-specific, but the message is much broader: donating to charity is not enough, we also have to change the status quo that forces so many people to turn to charity in a rich country like Canada.

It’s December, the season for charitable giving. Wherever you turn you see boxes and bins collecting non-perishable food items for the local food bank or toys for the less fortunate children in our communities.

The cashier asks if you want to add a $2 donation to your purchase. You donate (Read more…)

Things Are Good: No Need to Deforest the Planet for More Food

One of the leading causes of deforestation right now is food production. As population levels grow we need more land to feed more people and this as resulted in the cutting down of forests for arable land.

We’ve already seen that a simple diet change can protect forests and save wildlife, and that one can slow deforestation by being vegetarian. But we know that people are often hesitant to make simple changes that can have large impacts, so what do we do?

Lucky for all of us, we don’t need to modify our behaviour as individuals. We do need (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Neil Young dumps Starbucks over company’s Monsanto alliance, GMO secrecy

Read this Nov. 19 opinion column from the health blog Natural Society on socially-conscious rocker Neil Young’s decision to publicly boycott Starbucks over its support of GMO products.

I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one. ~ Neil Young

I, like Neil, have lined up at a Starbucks counter, waiting patiently behind ten people to get my caffeine fix. But there’s something that changed this habit. The coffee shop on every corner (there are almost 12,000 stores in the US) is helping to keep you in the dark about GMOs in your food and (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: #LyingLeona Lets Them Eat Cake From The Dump

Conservative Minister Leona A. is a disgrace. That means she’s a fine representative of the Conservative Party of Canada.

You may remember other Lying Leona blunders from such stories as Canada phasing out coal, and the Canadian government isn’t muzzling scientists.

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Build The Change #skpoli #YXE

This is awesome. The 3 competing projects are all so great, it’s honestly hard to choose. I was just talking about being able to invest in solar power though, so I may go with the SES option. $1000 gets a future co-op membership too!

BCBC GFJ

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Crazy Cats and Brain Parasites

It reads like a script for a scary movie: an alien parasite invading our brains, taking control of our minds, changing our behaviour silently, secretly; making us do what it wants. And it’s happening now, in homes across Canada and the USA. Alien puppet masters over-running the nation, one household at a time. But it’s […]

Things Are Good: The Rise of Urban Agriculture

Industrial agriculture is not kind to the environment and has been attributed to deforestation of the rainforest to the massive bee die-off. Yet, we find ourselves attached to this 20th century model of centralized production. Lucky for civilization, this is changing!

Small scale urban agriculture is getting large enough as an industry to compete with the large scale industrial production.

Urban agriculture in large cities goes a long way in redefining the food industry, he said. Piloted by Alvarez and fellow Humber College Graduate Craig Petten, Aqua Greens is trying to do just that with an innovative yearlong growing cycle. (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: As California drought drives up BC food prices…a dam to flood our best farmland?

California’s Central Valley is facing record drought conditions

As British Columbians share a meal this weekend, giving thanks for the food with which we are so blessed, year-round, let us pause for a moment to consider where so much of it comes from: California.

Let us also say a prayer for the last truly productive tracts of local farmland we have left, now threatened by industrial development – first and foremost being the Peace River Valley, in northeast BC, where the proposed Site C Dam could wash away enough good agricultural terrain to feed a million people.

BC depends on (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Perfect Cuppa

I was incited to blog about the “perfect” cuppa by an article in The Guardian titled, “How to make tea correctly (according to science): milk first.” As a user of many tea bags – a single bag per cup – I must protest. You cannot possibly get a decent cup of tea that way. The […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Extra Virginity

For some time before I got this book, I’ve been aware that there is more to olive oil than meets the eye. Or tongue. How much more really was startling. When I started reading Tom Mueller’s 2012 book, Extra Virginity: the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, I was simply amazed at how little I […]

The Common Sense Canadian: BC Hydro vastly underestimates loss of farmland to Site C Dam

At a recent press conference in Vancouver, renowned agrologist Wendy Holm and lifelong Peace Valley farmer Renee Ardill spoke to the vast, quality farmland that the proposed Site C Dam would flood or disrupt.

“These soils are completely unique,” explained Holm, a past president of the BC Institute of Agrologists.

They are in an east-west running valley with a Class 1 climate. They are alluvial soils. These were undervalued by the BC Hydro process.

In fact, Hydro counted just 13% of the land that would be lost to future agriculture in its environmental report on the dam, Holm charged. She testified (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Freegan Food Activist Exposes Grocery Industry Waste

You’ve got to hear about Rob. He’s an interesting guy, doing what I did last Summer except on a much larger and more successful scale.

The Common Sense Canadian: Site C Dam: Food for thought

Check out this short video from The Peace Valley Environment association and The Common Sense Canadian’s Damien Gillis on the extraordinary agricultural land that would be flooded by the proposed Site C Dam.

The Peace River Valley, in northeast BC, provides much of the province’s energy needs from two large dams and tens of thousands of gas wells. It is also home to some of the country’s best agricultural land, now it is threatened by the proposed Site C Dam, which would flood or disrupt 30,000 acres of rich farmland – enough, say expert agrologists, to feed a million people.

With (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Site C: Damning the Peace…while US decommissions hydro projects

Damien Gillis and Kootenay Co-op Radio’s Suzy Hamilton discuss Canada’s plan to build a massive new hydroelectric project on the Peace River, while America is busy decommissioning dams.

The Peace is home to some of Canada’s best farmland, 30,000 acres of which would be impacted by the dam – enough to feed a million people. Meanwhile, Site C will likely cost taxpayers well over $10 Billion and continue driving up power bills.

Based on BC’s electrical self-sufficiency and the different stories the public has been told about the need for the project – from powering proposed liquefied natural gas projects and exporting excess (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Avoid Brown’s Social House

Nicola Tee wrote:

Hey! Just wondering why you have the archaic & sexist rule that your waitresses have to wear a minimum 1″ heel while they’re on their feet all night? The men don’t have the same rule. That’s terrible, and I actually won’t be back because of it. Please pass that on to head office, thanks.

Brown’s wrote: “the policy that our girls need to be in a 1″ heel is a brand standard…”

I won’t be opting to return to Browns because of this. I’m also going to be telling my friends to avoid Browns, and will (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Another fad bites the dust

The gluten-free fad took another major hit to its already weakened credibility this week when researchers who had first diagnosed “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” found out that, oops, they were wrong. It doesn’t exist. A story in Business Insider tells the tale. In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key […]

Things Are Good: Save the Oceans!

What’s a marine biologist doing talking about world hunger? Well, says Jackie Savitz, fixing the world’s oceans might just help to feed the planet’s billion hungriest people. In an eye-opening talk, Savitz tells us what’s really going on in our global fisheries right now — it’s not good — and offers smart suggestions of how we can help them heal, while making more food for all.

The Common Sense Canadian: Peace Valley farmland, ecosystems worth $8 Billion a year: study

The Peace River Valley is one of Canada’s most fertile regions (Damien Gillis)

Keeping the Peace Valley’s farmland and ecosystems intact would be worth $7.9 billion to $8.6 billion a year, says a new study from the David Suzuki Foundation.

The region, in northeast BC, is under threat from the proposed Site C Dam – which would flood or disturb over 30,000 acres of prime agricultural land – along with natural gas fracking operations, logging, mining and other forms of industrialization. The study is a follow-up to an earlier report which analyzed the area via satellite imagery, determining that some 67% (Read more…)

Things Are Good: You Can Lower Greenhouse Emissions With a Simple Change in Diet

Want to lower your impact on the environment by reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted to bring you food? Yes, you can ride your bike (or walk, or take the bus) to the grocery store instead of driving, but there’s an even simpler solution: adopt a vegetarian diet.

Researchers in the UK have concluded that the production of meat and animal-based foods produce a ton of waste.

The production of animal-based foods is associated with higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than plant-based foods. The objective of this study was to estimate the difference in dietary GHG emissions between self-selected (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Supermarket Loves Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables

Just because it’s not good looking doesn’t mean it tastes bad. Growers take their odd-looking fruit and usually sell it to juice, soup, or canneries instead of grocery store. One grocery store chain in France decided to take the produce usually rejected by consumers and make something fun out of it. This marketing synopsis covers what they did:

Intermarché launched the Inglorious Fruits&Vegetables, a film, print, poster and radio campaign, celebrating the beauty of the Grotesque Apple, the Ridiculous Potato, the Hideous Orange, the Failed Lemon, the Disfigured Eggplant, the Ugly Carrot, and the Unfortunate Clementine. Now you can eat (Read more…)

Things Are Good: LED Farms Could be the Growing Fields of the Future

As humans flock to cities and the surround them with suburban sprawl we have covered some of the most arable lands in concrete. This has caused problems of food security, access, and sustainability. Urban farming is nothing new and will continue to spread, but what about industrial-scale farming in cities?

A farmer in Japan has taken an old warehouse and modified it into an enamours and efficient farming operation using specialized low-powered LEDs.

The farm is nearly half the size of a football field (25,000 square feet). It opened on July and it is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce (Read more…)