Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Heinz plant closure part of trend squeezing farmers out of Canada’s system, says NFU

The closing Heinz plant in Leamington, Ontario

Note to farmers: Don't put all your tomatoes in one big basket

News Release from the National Farmers Union

(Leamington, ON) – The closure of the Heinz ketchup plant announced last week is the latest of several Canadian food processing plants bought and then closed by investors that move production to other countries in pursuit of higher profits. The trend bodes ill for Canadians who want to eat food that is grown and processed within our borders, and is a direct result of the federal government’s policy drive to expand agri-food exports at the expense of Canadian food sovereignty.

“Since 1989, Heinz’s Leamington plant has shut down the pickle line, its peach, baked bean, soups and vegetable canning lines, the frozen vegetable product line and its vinegar operation. From hundreds of products now all that is left is baby food and tomato product lines. Even so, the plant was still very profitable,” said Mike Tremblay, Essex County Local NFU-O President. “The new owners want even higher profits, and free trade deals just make it easier for processors to pick up and move, leaving our farmers with no market for their tomatoes and other vegetables, and putting hundreds of local people out of work.”

Canada’s produce growers work hand-in-hand with the processors. Although the growing season is short, producers can provide fruit and vegetables year-round as long as there are companies to can, freeze and package what we produce for longer-term storage. A viable food processing sector and farmers with the capacity to produce enough of the foods necessary for a balanced diet are critical parts of a successful food system.  

“It is ironic that as Canadians are becoming more interested in buying locally-produced food, our supermarkets have less access to products that are actually grown in Canada,” said John Sutherland, NFU Ontario President. “According to Statistics Canada, the total area used to grow vegetables declined by 13.5% between 2006 and 2011, due primarily to the loss of processing capacity. The only way to reverse this problem is to refocus Canada’s food policy to promote food sovereignty instead of commodity exports.”

NFU Vice President (Policy) and BC vegetable producer, Colleen Ross commented, “It would be a shame if local farmland that is so well-suited to vegetable production could no longer be used due simply to the lack of processing capacity. There are pockets in each province where the combination of excellent soil and micro-climate makes ideal vegetable-growing conditions. Without policies to ensure local and regional processors’ survival, our farmers can’t make a living and Canadians will end up eating even more imported fruit and vegetables.”
In recent years, the CanGro fruit, tomato and vegetable plant in Exeter, north of London, ON and its peach plant at St. Davids in the Niagara region, along with the Bick’s pickle plant in Dunnville, ON were purchased by US-based multinational corporations and then closed. The local farmers who grew vegetables for them have either quit, now export produce for lower prices or have switched to growing crops such as soybeans, corn and wheat. Increasingly, grocery stores are buying food that used to be grown in Canada from companies that have shifted production to lower-cost processing facilities in India, Brazil, United States, Mexico and elsewhere.

“This is the price that ordinary Canadians – in this case, farmers and workers – pay for a food system dominated by global corporate interests,” Ross declared. “For these corporations ‘local’ is simply wherever they can get the cheapest price.” 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Alkaline foods for vibrant health

Baby spinach growing at Rolling Hills Organics

by Angela Doss 

(NaturalNews) The typical American diet is a deadly one, consisting primarily of toxic and acid-forming foods like processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, refined grains, conventionally produced meats and dairy, and hidden genetically modified organisms. All this, combined with a plethora of other challenging environmental factors (such as lack of rest, psychological stress, and pharmaceutical drugs), mean it's no wonder that more and more people are being diagnosed with chronic, degenerative illnesses or otherwise deadly conditions for which modern conventional medicine claims to have no known cure.

One of the basic underlying problems with this unsustainable lifestyle - and there are many - is the average consumer's lack of understanding that the body must balance the blood's pH levels at a slightly alkaline level of 7.365 in order to survive. When a person ingests food to "burn" for fuel, the digestive and metabolic process transforms it into a kind of ash which is either acidic or alkaline. The laws of modern biochemistry further explain that it is not the organic matter of foods (whether the food itself is acidic or alkaline), but their inorganic matter (such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulphur, phosphorous; that is, how they break down in our bodies), that determines either the acidity or alkalinity of this ashy residue.

For this reason, and because all foods in nature contain both acid and alkaline-forming elements according to the Conscious Living Center, balance is either achieved or thwarted as a direct result of the foods we choose to eat. Too many acid-forming foods can have dire consequences for our health, with "acidosis" being a common diagnosis in diabetics, for example. This is because when the nutrients required to maintain this slightly alkaline state cannot be obtained from food, the body will instead draw from its own stores, like the bones or other vital tissues - damaging its ability to repair itself and detoxify heavy metals, thereby making a person more vulnerable to fatigue and illness. And the margin for error is small. Even an only slightly acidic pH of 6.9 can actually lead to coma and death.

Of course, the ultimate goal is balance. Eating too many alkalizing foods can lead to its own fair share of complications over time, but the risk of this is seemingly less likely, given the current sorry state of today's highly addictive consumerist diet. To combat the effects of such a diet, here are six of the most alkaline-forming foods to work into your everyday meals:

1. Root vegetables

Due to the healing "yang" nature of these foods in traditional Chinese medicine, and their tendency to be more rich in minerals than many other vegetables, it may be safe to say that you can't get enough of them. Look for radishes especially (black, red or white), as well as beets, carrots, turnips, horseradish and rutabaga. Ready to eat after steaming for just 15-20 minutes, root vegetables will help you feel both satiated and better grounded.

2. Cruciferous vegetables

These are the veggies we all know and love, made even more delicious with just a small amount of healthy, homemade sauce like pesto. Choose from broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and the like.

3. Leafy greens

These include kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens and spinach - of which spinach may in fact be the best pick. Known especially for its rich vitamin K and folate content, spinach is also packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre, helping to improve digestion and even vision.

4. Garlic

A true miracle food, garlic appears at the top of innumerable lists of foods that encourage overall health, and alkaline-forming food is no exception. Among its other benefits are its ability to promote cardiovascular and immune health by lowering blood pressure, cleansing the liver and fighting off disease.

5. Cayenne peppers (capsicum)

As part of a family of potent, tropical peppers which contain enzymes essential to endocrine function, cayenne is among the most alkalizing foods. It is known for its antibacterial properties and is a rich supply of vitamin A, making it a helpful agent in fighting off the harmful free radicals that lead to stress and illness.

6. Lemons

Lemons may be the most alkalizing food of all. As a natural disinfectant, it can heal wounds while also providing potent and immediate relief for hyperacidity and virus-related conditions, as well as coughs, colds, flu and heartburn. Lemon also works to energize the liver and promote detoxification.

So it can't hurt to think twice about what's on your plate at your next meal, but not doing so might. Just applying that age-old motherly advice to "eat your vegetables" can be a solid first step in achieving better health.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Box of Herbs

It being the beginning of November, we are now officially into the off-season. With a few thousand garlics planted out over the last two days, the fields are now in dormant mode. Fresh produce must come from the hoophouses only – until March when we start anew. Our new off-season offering – to be unveiled at the first indoor winter market at Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market this coming Saturday, November 10 – is this painstakingly created selection of certified organic dried herbs. The Box of Herbs is chock full of potent herbs and spices, containing a range of goodies for your culinary kitchen counter, your natural medicine cabinet, and your gift basket for friends and family. Get creative making teas, spicing up your cuisine, aromatizing your house, and healing with herbs!