Your Health is Your Wealth – Eating for the Future

Article from Gaia College's March 2019 Newsletter

Astrid’s Nutrition Month Rant: Your Health is Your Wealth – Eating for the Future

Finally, a food guide I can stand up for!  It goes a long way to addressing not just what to eat (mostly plant based whole foods) but HOW we eat. Stopping to eat meals together with friends and family is as important for our wellbeing (including digestion) than WHAT we eat and Canada’s food guide goes even further, advising us to cook more.  This I like very much – it’s the only way to control what goes into our food which is way too much sugar, salt, and preservatives. What ever happened to just tasting the food the way Mother Nature made it?  Plus, with a little menu planning and the right tools (I can’t live without my Instant Pot pressure cooker) cooking becomes a form of creative expression and relaxation.  To do that so I don’t get overwhelmed with a lot of time spent, I always plan for leftovers and do pre-prep on light cooking days for the next day.

What the food guide doesn’t address, and it should, is HOW the food is grown. We mustn’t be complacent, but continue to educate ourselves on the issues of food growing as this impacts our nutrition, health and health of the environment….in other words – our future.   We need to fight for a food system that protects farmers from seed patents controlling all seed. Farmers should have the right to save their own seed and develop new varieties, which they’ve always done in the past but not so much in the last 60 years – in this way they breed resiliency and local adaptation, important traits for erratic climate change.

We deserve a food system that labels GMO foods and GMO ingredients for all Canadians.  How about a food system where we reward farmers for doing the right thing by using practices that regenerate and promote the health of soil. Regenerative practices, like in ecological and organic farm systems, can lead to healthier soil which is an important carbon sink drawing down CO2 from the atmosphere.  How that works is that when soil is over-farmed and doused in synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, the life in the soil is killed off.  On the other hand, rich, healthy soil has microorganisms in it that consume carbon and sequester it.  So, if we can turn the majority of the world’s agricultural land to regenerative practices, we could heal the soil enough that it could start sequestering a whole lot more carbon – enough to actually reverse climate change (source Regeneration Canada).  That’s what a very important conference is planning to address - The Living Soils Symposium - which is taking place in Montreal March 28 – 31

A main critique of the new food guide is that it isn’t realistically affordable for too many Canadians.  Cooking whole foods from scratch is actually much more affordable but it means we have to learn how to cook again. To that point, I can recommend 2 books: Scraps, Wilt and Weeds – Turning Wasted Food into Plenty by M. Refslund. Another is Cooking With Scraps by L. Hard. But, finally, we deserve an equitable food system that gives the same support to new farmers and organic growers as it does to conventional farmers, which would result in better food choices and prices for consumers.  That’s eating for the future.

Gaia College Instructor

Interview with David Tracey

Gaia College Marketing Manager CJ Rice sat down with Living Green Infrastructure instructor David Tracey with some questions about teaching and his passion of ecourbanism.

Q: David, how did you get interested in Gaia College?
A: I find teaching is like writing in that it helps me understand what I know (or need to know if I hope to help others on the path). When I learned Gaia College was rooted in the same ecological principles I’m passionate about, I wanted in.

Q: What led you to working in ecourbanism? And, is this the definition you would use to describe it?
A: Wow, I had no idea it was an academic pursuit with a literature of its own as described in that link. I just put together the two notions of ecological practice as key to our survival and the fact this transition has to happen in cities where most of us live. Ever since, I’ve tried to apply my academic training in politics and landscape architecture to real-world solutions in environmental design. So when people ask what I do, sometimes I say “community ecologist.” (Not that I know what it means either.)

Q: What do you love about living in Vancouver in general, and what (if anything) would you like to see change?
A: I love how new Vancouver feels. It’s like a gangly teenager, smart and a little stupid at the same time, but with potential to grow into something fabulous. Most encouraging is how it’s slowly discovering it isn’t really new at all, that there’s an indigenous wisdom here based on centuries of a deep relationship with the land.

Q: How did you get involved in Aboriginal policies, when your work is generally related to trees?
A: I only wish I had some involvement with aboriginal policies. I’m mostly just admiring from the sidelines, watching in awe as they continue to do the heavy lifting on campaigns like stopping Kinder Morgan profiteers from cooking the planet with more pipelines through more fragile landscapes.

You can read David Tracey's full instuctor bio here.


National Occupational Classification Application

Gaia College is supporting SOUL (Society for Organic Urban Land Care) in preparing an application to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) for an addition to the National Occupation Classification (NOC) to recognize organic gardeners, horticulturalists, and landscapers. You can learn more about the NOC here. This information is used by the Government of Canada as well as current and future employers to reflect the ongoing occupational research to incorporate information on new occupations. This application will be a description of the unique work, skills and education for people working in the organic land care sector.

To help us out, please complete our short survey on your professional background, education and experience before midnight (local time) Sunday, November 19. You can find the survey here.