How could we let Deadmonton win this?

February 1, 2009

edmonton

I received this press release in my inbox the other day and was agog — aGOG, I say! — to read what it said:

(Toronto, Canada, January 29, 2009) Today, Corporate Knights magazine unveiled the third-annual Corporate Knights Most Sustainable Cities in Canada list. The comprehensive ranking identifies Canadian cities whose practices leave the smallest environmental footprint possible and create a healthy, thriving population.

But then… then I read this:

The top cities in the 2009 Corporate Knights Sustainable Cities Ranking are as follows:

Large city category: Edmonton, AB
Medium city category: Halifax, NS
Small city category: Yellowknife, NT

EDMONTON?! Is that, like, a typo for Toronto? Or Vancouver? How could a city in such close proximity to dirty oil, a city renowned only for its enormous mall where you can swim with captive sea lions right after eating in a completely indoors “Chinatown” be considered the most sustainable in all of Canada?

Before I could even let my confusion take hold, I read on:

With the lowest unemployment rate of all cities and the second-lowest unemployment rate of immigrants, Edmonton wants to be an “innovation centre for value-added and green technologies and products,” and is measuring progress by the percentage of green collar jobs created. Edmonton is also the only city in our consideration set to have inclining block pricing on water to encourage conservation.

Um, all right, as much I don’t want to knock the city for their green-collar jobs and negative-reinforcement water-conservation strategy, are these actually the most important factors in being sustainable? What about wind turbines, deep-lake cooling systems and green roofs? What about public transit and bike lanes? Carbon taxes? Population density?? FARMER’S MARKETS AND COMPOSTING INFRASTRUCTURE AND A MILLION OTHER THINGS TORONTO IS DOING?!?

OK, so maybe I’m just a sore loser. It’s just that, while I can see why Halifax won in the medium city category (although, I’d vote for Guelph, personally), this whole study seems suspicious to me. Yellowknife? Honestly? It’s frozen solid up there! They’re just sustainable by default.

Yeesh.

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Three things I love about Meghan’s sprouting video

January 21, 2009

My friend Meghan, a fashionista-turned-nutritionista, has been posting lots of How-To videos on her blog, Making Love in the Kitchen. Most of them I just like to watch, rather than actually attempt myself (I’m thinking specifically of the sauerkraut demo that requires 10 minutes of massaging cabbage and the chicken soup that involves raw bones and scum). But her most recent video, called Sprout, Sprout, Let It All Out, is very cool. You can watch it here:

There are three things about this video that I love:

  1. The costume changes. On most cooking shows, if the host makes something that requires a few hours to sit or cool or whatever, she will have conveniently made a previous batch ahead of time to pull out of the fridge (and will usually say something like, “… I have one ready, here,” and suddenly presto! It’s done and there’s no actual waiting required. But Meghan has clearly produced this sprouting demo over the span of three or four days, and we get lots of variation in her wardrobe and hairstyles to prove it. Actually, I think there’s a direct correlation between the growth of her sprouts and the curliness of her hair.
  2. The I’ve Been Re-Used sticker on her kitchen soap dispenser (which I designed, and which you can order online over here. Stick them on anything you refill at the bulk store and let the world know you’re not consuming more plastic).
  3. The Sprouting! It actually does seem very easy and it’s probably the most nutritious, eco-friendly thing a Canadian girl can make in the comfort of her own home during this heinous winter.

Do you guys make your own sprouts, too? Any favourite beans or seeds?


Tapping into the organic flow (Day 332)…

January 26, 2008

pancake

The flow of maple syrup, that is.

It occurred to me during a recent grocery expedition and some follow-up Google searching how important it is to buy organic maple syrup. Earlier on Green as a Thistle, I wrote about honey, and made the switch to organic for the sake of the bees, but today it’s for the sake of the trees.

Why is it so important to get organic syrup? Well, for numerous reasons, but here are just a few, courtesy of Béland Organic Foods:

  • Organic syrup doesn’t use any lead or lead solder in the processing equipment, so consequently there’s no lead in the finished product.
  • During the running season, Béland cleans its line system with natural biodegradable products.
  • In making organic maple syrup, there are no synthetic chemicals used to control foam during boiling; instead, certified organic and Montreal Kosher vegetable anti-foaming agents are used. Often, at least in the past, pig fat was used to prevent foaming (sick!).
  • While brand-named syrups are sometimes made with sap that’s been treated by UV radiation or microwaved, and the “pancake” syrups are mostly just corn starch, organic Grade B maple syrup is pretty much straight from the tree.
  • Finally, organic sap farms don’t mess with any pesticides or GMOs; they treat their trees with respect to ensure a long and natural life.

So from now on, my sweet tooth will only be sated with ethically responsible syrups. All it requires is spending an extra couple bucks, which I think is pretty simple.

Image courtesy of these guys


Another lube post (no, not THAT lube!) (Day 307)…

January 1, 2008

chainj bottle

Despite the fact that it’s winter in Canada, that on most days the weather falls below freezing and I get cold just walking the five steps from my apartment to the streetcar stop, I’m still trying to ride Deni as often as possible (my rule is that if the roads are dry and the wind isn’t howling, I’ll do it). This means, however, that extra care must go into ensuring my tires are inflated, my brakes are functioning and my chain is greased.

Back in the fall, I ran out of my wet and dry lube but hesitated buying more because it felt like such a direct supporting-the-oil-industry purchase.

But then my lovely assistant Eva came to the rescue, pointing me in the direction of this Treehugger post that talks about ChainJ, a biodegradable alternative made from 100% renewable resources, ie. rapeseed (canola) oil. Yes, it’s technically a monocrop, but it’s not soy or corn so I don’t feel that bad about it.

P.S. Happy New Year, greenies! May 2008 bring you lots of solar power, compost mulch and energy savings!