Thursday, August 28, 2008
They made very good muffins, we used them as cakes for our wedding last year.
Recently I noticed that they were open for the public to come in - I though this was great! Finally a local coffee place.
Because it had been not open to the public for so long, I kept forgetting to go in and check it out.
Today we went in and bought some coffee. The first thing that I noticed that the quality of the food I could see was no longer as good as I had expected. Then I noticed the very nature of the direction of the business had changed.
We bought our coffees and were told Yvette had sold the business three months earlier. She had a second child and this is hard to do and run a catering business.
The coffee was awful - it is the worst sort of burnt robusta coffee I could imagine. Worse than the 7-11 next door. I do not expect to go back unless the business changes hands again.
The website, over which we were communicated with Yvette last year, is no longer operating.
I have heard people calling for a move to smaller companies. All this will do is hide the story. Small scale producers are just as able to screw up and their mistakes are less likely to be caught by anyone.
The amazing thing people should focus on is how safe our food system is. A single event like this is major news. A few generations ago the food system killed a lot more people and there was a lot less follow up on deaths than there are now.
I think Maple Leaf should be applauded for how well they have handled the situation.
Will I buy their products in future? Not likely, there is very little they produce that I am interested in buying, though if their was something they made that I did want, I would feel very safe in buying it.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Last night we were both to shattered and tired to try and cook, so we decided to go out and eat. We considered where we could go that would suit our mood and be ok for Max to be there as well. We talked about several restaurants - Mo:le was too expensive and we would not have enjoyed the food, Mint has a menu that seems to be all over the place and I was not into the risk, Eugene's is great but we go there a lot, we were not going to consider any Chinese or Indian so this left us with only a few choices.
Cafe Mexico is a places I have been going to since about 1986. I have had some really good meals there and some acceptable ones, I have never had a bad meal here and last night was no different.
The other week we had some of the most horrific nachos at Spinaker's, the ones last night were everything that godo nachos should be. The chips were freshly made from tortillas, thin and crispy with a lot of flavour. The cheese was well mixed through out and not overwhelming. And finally they did not cheap out on sour cream and guacamole.
I had the prawns diablo - something I have always enjoyed about Cafe Mexico is the selection of seafood on the menu. Mexico has a very long coastline and seafood is core to much of the cusine. Most Mexican restaurants offer very little seafood. The prawns diablo is a dish of prawns in a moderately hot sauce made with a lot of bell peppers instead of tomatoes. The rice accompanying the meal was perfectly done.
The service was good, the restaurant was moderately full which is good for a Monday night in Victoria. I had to laugh to think that many of the servers had not been born when I first ate at the Cafe Mexico.
There is one incident that happened at Cafe Mexico back in the 80s when I ate there that has always impressed me. I was eating there with about six other friends and we were drinking a nice valpolicella but had their last bottle. We wanted another one. The waiter went to a neighbouring restaurant and bought a bottle so that we could drink it. We were not charged anything extra for this, though admittedly they bought more than 20 years of my loyalty to the restaurant.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Something is hitting my cucumber plants, they are not thriving. Leaves are shriveling up, fruit is dieing, I have no idea what is happening.
I am beginning to harvest some cherry tomatoes.
Zucchini is going OK, but not the overwhelming numbers I had hoped for. I wonder if this is a pollination thing?
The pepper plants are pathetic and pointless
The scarlet runner beans I planted very late are doing ok, but only starting to set any beans.
The wheat is 18 inches tall and
The pumpkins are growing everywhere - though only about 8 to 10 fruit have set.
So, this year I have harvested:
- 400 grams of basil
- 1500 grams of parsley
- 200 grams of chives
- thyme, rosemary, dill and sage of about 50 to 100 grams each
- 8 cucumbers
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 12 zucchini
- 10 heads of lettuce
- 15 radishes
- 500 grams of spinach
- 450 eggs - the chickens are laying close to one egg each a day right now
- 3 kilos of figs
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The store is not as huge as many grocery stores are, but the selection is very good.
Friday, August 15, 2008
As to more exotic fruits and vegetables, forget it in this city. The citrus selection is very narrow, Meyer lemons are even hard to come by. Kosher salt is not easily found.
For selection in the mainstream stores, Fairway and Thrifties are about equal in selection, though Fairway does have a much better Asian selection. Why people still go to the Safeways here in town I have no idea because they offer a very limited selection and high prices.
I would like to see something Lesley Stowe fine foods, though in an ideal world I would like to see something like the food floors at Harrod's or Selfridges.
On a positive note, I am getting about six eggs a day, several cucumbers and zucchini every day, harvested lots basil and paresly and my figs are just beginning to be ready to eat.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sheila, Scott and I went there for dinner because I really could not think of anything to make. I have enjoyed eating there and so we all looked forward to our meal.
The meal was sub par. It was a disappointment that kept hoping would recover. Sheila and I had the nachos to start - for $17 and Spinnakers calling itself a Gastropub, I expected something beyond the ordinary. I expected perfectly executed nachos with a twist. Instead we got nachos that were thrown together. The cheese was not properly melted and in large clumps. They were in the bottom 20% of nachos I have had and not something a chef at a gastropub should have allowed out of the door.
My beer was good, a proper Hefeweizen.
My meal was a thin crust smoked salmon pizza with goat's cheese. It was awful. The pizza had no balance, the cheese was heavy and rich as was the salmon. The pizza was crying out for an acidic edge, a good vinaigrette. I sprinkled malt vinegar on it and this helped, a bit, but not enough to make it edible. The smoked salmon should have been a thin sliced lox style and not lumps. The cheese should have been an haloumi and not a cherve style one.
Sheila had a falafel burger. It was not well executed. Falafel should be crisp on the outside and have some grainy texture on the inside. Her burger was not nearly crisp enough on the outside and the inside was more like a paste than what it should be.
Our server was nice enough, but did not pay attention to us as the diners. He did not notice that I had not eaten most of my pizza. He did not ask us how the food was with enough time to answer. I could understand that slightly if they were very busy, but it was not that busy.
This experience is going to push me away from trying their food in future and only go there for the beer.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
--- Original Message -----
Where does our food come from? It’s an important question for consumers. The rising cost of oil has driven up prices of basics like wheat, rice, and cooking oils to levels that can no longer be ignored. How to reduce our dependence on food supplies that travel an average of 4,500 kilometres to
Please join us on Wednesday, August 20, 2008, as we look for solutions to questions about food supplies. Your voice is needed at a town hall meeting that will bring together food activists, urban and rural farmers, agricultural experts, commercial food vendors and distributors. Hear from a local Metchosin farmer who has started growing wheat to supply local bakeries hit hard by rising grain prices and a local urban farmer who converts back yards to market gardens. Listen to how Thrifty Foods works to maintain consistent market sources. Other speakers will include a Vancouver Island Health Authority representative, a community garden proponent and a restaurant chef/owner.
Express your concerns. Add to the debate.
Town Hall Meeting
Food for Thought
Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 7 p.m.
Greater Victoria Public Library boardroom
A forum about how to cultivate sustainable local food sources and
how to ensure reliable sources in
moderated by Alex Atamanenko, MP
BC Southern Interior
Hosted by Denise Savoie
Member of Parliament for
Admission is free. Bring a friend.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Community Composting is a business run by Matthew Mepham and Kyle Goulet. It has been operating since Oct 2006 and has about 800 people subscribing to the service.
The service costs $20 a month. For that price they provide you with a large container, 360 litres in size, for your compost. You fill it up, and this takes some effort and I only manage it because I have a lot tree branches and yard waste that need to be removed from this house. They pick it up once a month and leave with a 20 litre bag of compost.
I have my own compost bin in the yard, but I could have filled it a dozen times over with the material I would have deposited in the container from Community Composting. I have saved myself many trips to the transfer station to get rid of yard waste (and avoided making a mess of the car). I live close to a place where I can get rid of yard waste but it is still a pain to do. Having someone come pick it up is great. If you have more than a bin full - and that would mean a lot - you can leave it beside your bin in green garbage bags.
It is great to see this service in operation in the city.
Langford farming’s uncertain future
By Edward Hill - Goldstream News Gazette
Published: August 07, 2008 1:00 PM
Nearly every morning Don Steffler packs a cooler with fresh eggs for sale at the top of his driveway off Happy Valley Road. With suburbia encroaching fast, his hen house is almost a quaint throwback to the past.
While Steffler sits on 2.2 acres designated as provincial agricultural land reserve, housing subdivisions are cropping up on next door. After 12 years trying to farm the land and raise livestock, he’s applied to remove the property from the ALR.
It’s a growing refrain from Langford landowners with ALR land — they own acreage that may or may not be farmable while their non-ALR neighbours subdivide, sell and build-out.
With more housing comes more potential to pollute what soil remains, and for increasing clashes between farmers and new residents, Steffler says.
“I’ve tried farming in Langford for years but have run into so much opposition,” he says. “People don’t like the noise or dust or the smell. On one hand they say feed us and on the other they nail you to the wall.”
Langford has about 292 acres of ALR in 83 parcels, the majority in the Happy Valley area. Most are between two and five acres. Their are three commercial farms remaining in the city.
Steffler’s ALR exclusion request, like several others in Langford, is in limbo until the City forms an agricultural advisory committee to review what land is and isn’t farmable.
The provincial agricultural land commission makes the final decision on exclusions, but it takes some of it’s cues from municipal councils. Langford opposed five exclusion applications in 2006.
A 2007 report on Langford ALR land found about 111 acres had little agricultural use, but recommended the remaining 191 acres be retained. Such ALR land has “excellent potential for development for a node of vibrant agricultural activity,” the report said. It also acknowledged some south Langford rural residents had little interest in farming, while farmers weren’t likely to set up shop with acres going for $300,000.
That report initiated a plan for the City to start buying ALR farmland using a $500 development cost charge. These days the Agricultural Land Acquisition fund has about $300,000.
Mayor Stew Young says Langford wants to preserve “real” agricultural land in perpetuity for co-operative gardening and greenspace. Large-scale farming hasn’t been a reality in Langford for a long time, he says.
“Is Langford a farming community? No. Can we create hobby farms? Yes. Will that be able to feed Langford in the case of a catastrophe? Absolutely not,” Young says.
“Langford’s goal is to own as much ALR as possible that is farmable. The community will own that land. If people don’t want to farm it, that’s OK. It’s still a good benefit to own that land.”
Local farmers will sit on Langford’s agricultural review committee, among other community members, to review ALR exclusion applications.
The City’s overall agricultural strategy probably won’t be completed until early next year, said Rob Buchan, Langford’s clerk administrator.
Young says the City is trying to strike a balance between fairness to property owners and preserving what farmland remains without it being corrupted by land development.
“It’s part greenspace and part agricultural strategy,” he says. “Happy Valley is still a semi-rural area. It can be developed but within that we can preserve farmland. People have to do their homework and realize they could be buying near a farm.”
David Stott, food security co-ordinator with the Capital Families Association, said it’s understandable some Langford ALR landowners want out of the ALR system.
“Farmers have always been the ones who in effect are left out of prosperity,” Stott said. “The challenge is individual verses social needs.”
Stott said senior government, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture for instance, needs to provide incentives for small-scale farming and the retention of ALR land. Aspects of the government’s regulatory regime suits large corporate farms but discourage small agricultural operations, he says.
Stott noted the soil around south Langford isn’t as productive as the “deep loam of Saanich,” but there is still plenty of room for agriculture, if supported by the community.
“The critical question is what will it take to induce people to support the maintenance of land for agricultural purposes?” Stott says. “If all those lands are lost to development we will lose land that could be needed for future food production.”
For landowners such as Steffler, the development of Langford’s agricultural strategy will delay his ALR exclusion application process.
Labour and transportation costs are making local commercial farming less attractive and less viable, Steffler says. Meanwhile, he points to land next door already cleared for 42 lots.
“My buffer went out the window and I have to wait for another year while Langford gets its strategy together,” he says. “I’m locked into an un-winnable situation.”
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
This region needs to have at least several abattoirs. Metchosin is clearly the right place to have this on the Westshore. I wonder why the right to farm act does not apply in this case?
This comes from the Goldstream News Gazette
Metchosin slaughterhouse moves forward
By Charla Huber - Goldstream News Gazette
Published: July 31, 2008 1:00 PM
After a heated planning and environment committee meeting, Metchosin council passed the motion to prepare a rezoning bylaw for a proposed abattoir.
Abattoir owner Michael Peterson is operating Cole Creek Farm on Winfall Road and will be until 2011 when his lease expires. At which time Peterson hopes to open a new abattoir on Tom Plasterer’s 180-acre farm on Lindholm Road.
Plasterer and John Buchanan, both sheep farmers are project partners in the proposed abattoir.
Some residents and property owners on Lindholm Road are giving the cold shoulder to the possibility of this new neighbour.
Paul and Kelly Gruno, neighbouring residents see the abattoir as a step towards industrialization in Metchosin.
“It’s a windy valley with odours, our property values will be devastated,” Kelly said. “We wanted to grow old on our properties.”
That feeling echoed by several people at the meeting. Some said if the project is given the go-ahead, they would move.
However, other Mechosinites claimed if the rezoning was rejected they would be out of work.
Terry Sterling, a farmer of 22 years, said without a slaughterhouse, fewer people will keep animals in Metchosin. Without animals there won’t be enough manure for farming, he said.
“It’s a tough thing to sit at this table,” Mayor John Ranns said. “The abattoir is good for the community but it will have an impact on some local residents.”
Others spoke in their support for the abattoir and its contribution to the community.
“We shouldn’t be rural in name only,” said Derek Wulff, president of the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin. “To be a rural community we have to have these rural amenities.”
After hearing neighbours voice their comments, Buchanan said if the rezoning was passed he would do his best to eliminate the residents’ concerns.
Each day the abattoir is in operation, all waste from sheep, goats, pigs and chickens would be trucked off the property, he said. This is a practice Cole Creek Farm is currently using, though they are only a sheep abattoir at the moment.
Due to mad cow disease (BSE), certain parts of cows would have to be disposed of by private companies and sent to an incinerator in Alberta.
Before getting picked up, cow waste will be stored in a separate chilled room ensuring there would be no smell, Buchanan said. “I don’t want there to be a smell of rotting meat.”
Though the idea of composting the waste was discussed, Buchanan said he is not sure if they would ever use it as an option.“I don’t think if ever we would do it,” he said.
As for the traffic concerns, Buchanan said, “I don’t think traffic is a serious issue, we might increase it (on Lindholm Road) by 25 cars a day.”
The only issue Buchanan is uncertain of is noise. Currently the animals are stored in covered, outdoor pens. At the present site there have been no noise complaints, said Peterson.
If the rezoning is passed and noise does become an issue, Buchanan said he would “side” the pens meaning keep the animals in ventilated enclosed pens so the sound would not travel the same. “We can minimize the effect,” Buchanan said.
The abattoir rezoning bylaw is scheduled for first readings at the Aug. 11 council meeting. A public hearing will be held in late September.
“Without it I don’t see how most of us (farmers) will continue,” Buchanan said. “Someone would like a lake next to their property, but no one wants a slaughterhouse.”
Monday, August 4, 2008
Madrona farm seeks wealthy benefactor
By Roszan Holmen - Saanich News
Published: July 27, 2008 1:00 PM
Updated: July 27, 2008 2:10 PM
Madrona farm seeks wealthy benefactor
A: dunc took lots of different shots for the June 9 article
Note: organizers are trying to pull together details of a fundraising event by Monday morning to include in this update.
Small cheques are trickling in, but the Friends of Madrona Farm Society are on the hunt for a benefactor to help buy the land before its looming deadline.
The goal is to donate the Saanich farm to The Land Conservancy, to preserve it as organic farmland for all time.
David and Nathalie Chambers have leased the 27-acre lot on Blenkinsop Road from David's family since 1999. The family would like to settle the estate but have offered to sell it to the TLC at the reduced price of $1.4 million.
So far, the fundraising society has raised $80,000. One large donation provided $10,000, while a bulk of the total raised came from people contributing their $100 carbon-credit cheques.
"We're at the bottom of the pyramid right now," said Ramona Scott, manager of TLC agricultural programs. To meet its December deadline of $250,000, TLC must secure a few large donations. "We call it the friend-raiser stage," said Scott.
To find out more about the project, visit www.conservancy.bc.ca and click on, "Help save Madrona farm."
Friday, August 1, 2008
Capital Region Food Charter
Vision: a sustainable and secure local food and agriculture system that provides safe, sufficient, culturally accepted, nutritious food accessible to everyone in the Capital Region through dignified means.
Principles for Food and Health in the Capital Region:
Nutritious Food Is Essential for a Healthy Population
- No one in the Capital Region should go hungry as safe, nutritious food is a basic right of everyone.
- Access to healthy foods, coupled with good eating practices, are important factors in determining the overall health of CRD residents.
- Neighbourhood access to nutritious food increases the likelihood that people will have healthy diets and should therefore be part of community planning.
- Shifting from emergency food provision to food self-reliance, including nutritional education and skills training programs are important for increasing the health of CRD residents.
Localized Food Systems Contribute to the Social and Economic Health of the Community
- Fresh food produced close to home is the foundation of our regional food system.
- Sustainable food production is an integral part of the economy of the Capital Region and surrounding area.
- Farmland should be used for food production using good stewardship practices, for the social and economic benefit of the region as a whole.
- Regional food products must be fostered through support for and promotion of farmers markets, farm gate sales, local food outlets, and local products, including within our food service industry and public institutions.
- Ensuring that local farmers/workers and processors receive a fair price/wage for their products/labour is integral to the sustainability of food production in our region.
A Sustainable Food System Fosters Resilience to Global Warming and Supports Long-term Environmental Health
- Food must be produced, processed and distributed in a way that is environmentally sustainable.
- Producing food locally/regionally is an important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transportation/food miles.
- Local farmland is a precious resource that must be protected to ensure long-term food production capacity in the face of an uncertain climatic future.
- Local farmland also plays a multifunctional role in terms of protecting watersheds and wildlife, and in providing green space and viewscapes. These values must be recognized and supported.
- Initiatives that encourage bio-diversity, soil fertility, soil conservation, zero-waste, and minimization of environmentally-persistent, unhealthy chemicals must be supported.
Planning a Local Food System Is Part of Planning for the Future
- Farmers must be supported and local farmland recognized as essential for our long-term food production capacity.
- Fresh water and marine eco-systems must be protected, and sustainable harvesting practices encouraged.
- Communities’ traditional, scientific, and Indigenous knowledge and practices must be respected and protected both in their own right, and because, they contribute to the genetic diversity and seed fertility that are the cornerstones of our ability to feed ourselves.
- Income, employment, housing, transportation, health and recreation policies must be congruent with attaining greater food security for all CRD residents.
- A strong commitment to local food will support emergency preparedness and the endurance of our communities in the face of climate change, uncertain global food production, and environmental or economic disruptions.
Healthy Food Systems Are Integral to a Resilient Community
- Food brings people together in the celebration of family, friendship and community. It also strengthens links between diverse cultures and communities.
- Food security contributes to the physical, mental, cultural, spiritual and emotional well being of our region’s residents.
- Food self-reliance is strengthened through community-based food programs, such as community gardens, fresh food box programs and collective kitchens.
- Food security means that our region takes responsibility for growing and processing the food we need and looks to a trade regime that fosters social justice, environmental sustainability, and community development throughout the world.
- Domestic and local ownership of our food supply is critical for the region’s future.
- Healthy local food systems involve the active stewardship of all sectors of the community: public, private, and voluntary.
Working towards these principles is the responsibility of individuals, organizations, business and community associations, institutions, authorities, and local and regional governments in BC’s Capital Region.
The Capital Region Food Charter honours Canada’s commitments to global and local food security. This includes the United Nations Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights specifying the right of everyone to adequate food, and Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security. The Action Plan states: “the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger” and “food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Therefore, to develop and promote food security in the Capital Region in accordance with the Capital Region
Food Charter, in ways that we are able, we can:
- 1. Promote and support the right of all residents to healthy food.
- 2. Advocate for income, employment, housing, and transportation policies that support access to food.
- 3. Promote eating locally grown food as a way to increase consumption of fresh foods, reduce “food miles” and increase local economic stability.
- 4. Protect productive farmland in our region and support strategies to make it accessible for farming.
- 5. Protect our fresh water and marine eco- systems and promote sustainable harvesting
- 6. Ensure appropriate quality and supply of water for agricultural and home use.
- 7. Promote convenient access to healthy and affordable foods at the neighborhood level.
- 8. Work with consumers, municipalities, and institutions to promote healthy food purchasing practices that support local farm and food businesses.
- 9. Promote partnerships and programs that support rural-urban food links through farmers’ markets, the Box Programs and other rural-urban initiatives.
- 10. Support incentives to enhance environmental values, and recognize the multifunctionality of farms.
- 11. Support and encourage urban agriculture through community gardens, backyard and
- rooftop gardens, and city fruit trees.
- 12. Support strategies for regional waste disposal and composting systems that recycle nutrients for regional food production.
- 13. Support training and income-generating programs that promote farming and food
- security within a community economic development model.
- 14. Support health and nutrition promotion strategies that encourage and increase the
- health status and self-reliance of all members of the population.
- 15. Work proactively to achieve these goals through the Regional Food and Health Action Plan as well as support a regular community food security assessment on the Capital Region’s progress towards food security.
- 16. Work proactively to achieve and support a Regional Food Council to support planning, policy and ongoing decision making in support of this Regional Food Charter.
MORE INFORMATION ON CR-FAIR:
CR-FAIR funding support provided through:
Financial support for this project provided by Vancouver Island Health Authority's "Community Food Action Initiative" through ActNow BC - the government of BC's investment in promoting healthy choices through a partnership-based, community- focused approach to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce tobacco use.
Everyone in the Capital Region has a role in creating a healthy local food system.
These actions will be achieved by the choices of individuals and the actions both alone and through working together with local, regional, provincial, federal and First Nations governments, community-based organizations, community associations, farm organizations, food processing and food service businesses and organizations, Aboriginal peoples, resident groups, business organizations, trade unions, educational and health institutions.
The Vision of this Charter will live and breathe through individual and collaborative support and action.
On behalf of ___________________________ , I/we,___________________________support the vision of the Regional Food Charter.
Signed this _____________day, _______________month______________year.
This proposal for a Capital Region Food Charter was developed through the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR).
For more information, and to be involved in this exciting initiative, contact CR-FAIR at (250) 383-6166
or email email@example.com.
To access the 2008 Capital Region Food and Health Action Plan, both the summary and full document, and for background information the 2004 Baseline Assessment of Food Security in British Columbia’s Capital Region see www.communitycouncil.ca
We offer the following definitions:
- Food security: In a food secure community, the growing, processing and distribution of healthy, safe food is economically viable, socially just, environmentally friendly and regionally based.
- Food system: The food system is the path of food from field to plate, including production, distribution, marketing, preparation, consumption and disposal.
- Food miles: The distance between food’s point of production and consumption, an broader definition includes all of the energy required from seed to plate. This measurement is increasingly recognized in its relationship to climate change.