Feast of Fields Ticket Giveaway

Mark your calendars – it’s that time of year again, when the best chefs and food producers in our local communities come together to put on the delectable Feast of Fields event.

Held at various locales in British Columbia, this year is FarmFolk CityFolk’s 15th annual food celebration and fundraiser, with the Feast of Fields Vancouver Island event to be hosted at Alderlea Farm in Duncan on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. This is the seventh Feast of Fields to be held in the Cowichan Valley, and will showcase another delicious gourmet harvest. The culinary extravaganza has been hosted at numerous stunning Vancouver Island farms since 1998.

Apple Syrup

“I am thrilled to bring Feast of Fields back to the Cowichan Valley,” explains organizer Melanie Banas. “It’s really the heart of Vancouver Island with so many great foods and wines being produced by extraordinarily passionate people, farmers like John and Katy of Alderlea Farm.”

This year, there will be an estimated 60 local chefs, restaurants, wineries, breweries and producers at the festival, including 30 from the Cowichan Valley. Chef Brock Windsor of the Stone Soup Inn is promising to serve up an “unusual” local creation not regularly found on their menu. The Inn recently received bronze for best Vancouver Island restaurant in Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Awards.

The Unsworth Vineyards and Amuse Bistro, also from the Cowichan Valley, will be at the festival working side-by-side to offer a delectable treat paired with the wines from the vineyard, reflecting the unique character of the Valley.

Preparations are already underway at Alderlea Farm as owners John and Katy Ehrlich get ready to host the expected 900 or so visitors that the event draws each year. Feast of Fields is one of the largest and longest-standing food and wine festivals on Vancouver Island – and sells out every year.

The Vancouver Island Feast of Fields is all about finding ways to reconnect with, and celebrate food, while moving away from a highly automated centralized system of food production. It is a showcase of local food artisan expertise, and local food produce that really puts local agriculture first, and is deserving of everyone’s support. Did we also mention the food and beverages are simply divine?

We have two free tickets to giveaway to the Vancouver Island Feast of Fields festival. Send us an e-mail with your name and address and we will enter you into the contest. Simple as that!

The Vancouver Island Feast of Fields will be held Sunday, Sept. 16th from 1-4pm at Alderlea Farm, 3390 Glenora Road, Duncan.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.feastoffields.com

Tickets are $85 for adults, $15 for youth ages seven to 12, with free admission for children six and under. You can purchase tickets online at www.feastoffields.com or in person at the Community Farm
in Duncan.

GreenMuze.com is a proud sponsor of the Vancouver Island Feast of Fields.

September 3, 2012

The Wheat Grass Machine

The Transform Bar, by Hong Kong-based artist Kacey Wong, is a recycled wood hawker booth where you can grow wheat grass and Wong will make you healthy juices from fresh produce.

The Transform Bar footprint is only 3ft by 4ft (0.9m x1.2m), with wheat grass planters mounted on the exterior walls. The planters can be moved outside to provide more space inside the booth, display the wheat grass or to take advantage of sunlight to grow faster.

The wheat grass juice vendor blends apple juice and wheat grass, bringing awareness to our food source and extending art appreciation to the sense of taste and consumption. Healthy living choices go hand-in-hand with recycled sustainability.

Wong’s inspiration for the Transform Bar came from Hong Kong street hawkers’ stalls that extend and retract their merchandise dependent upon the time of day. The hawker booths are only 3ft by 4ft (0.9m x1.2m), so the Hong Kong market hawker has to be flexible with their offerings and stock the right products in order to make a living. This reflects life in Hong Kong where success and survival depends on being adaptive with the environment through transformation.

June 19, 2012

To Bee Or Not To Bee

Canada has been suffering unusually high losses of bees each winter since 2006. That’s the year when a new and unexplained set of symptoms called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) began to be recognized. The impact to the hive colony was the large-scale disappearance of the worker bees.

Very high commercial honeybee losses have continued since then, with 30.9% of hives lost in Canada in 2010/11. This doesn’t include the serious decline of wild bees or other pollinators. Various infectious organisms, including two species of fungus from the genus Nosema, have received most of the blame; but taken alone they do not account for the symptoms of CCD.

Scientists agree that there must be multiple factors involved. For years there has been strong evidence that one of the culprits may be a family of insecticides called “neonicotinoids” (so named for their similarity to nicotine). They include the world’s number-one selling insecticide, Imidacloprid (an insect neurotoxin), and its best-known relatives, Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam – all of which are widely used in agriculture.

From the time they first came on the market, starting in 1995, these chemicals were known to be highly toxic to bees. However, only in 2010 and 2011 have researchers in the US and France found that the combination of low doses of neonicotinoids and Nosema infection significantly weaken bees, and cause more deaths than Nosema alone.

In early 2012, researchers from Purdue University investigated bee deaths in Indiana that occurred around corn planting time. The corn seeds were first treated with Clothianidin and/or Thiamethoxam, and then coated with talc to lubricate the seeds’ flow through the planting machines. The machines blow large amounts of talc into the air as they plant. The scientists discovered that the insecticides were concentrated in the talc to a level 700,000 times the lethal contact dose for a bee.

Canada’s Pest Management

Regulatory Agency (PMRA) registers pesticides for use in Canada. Its evaluations are based mostly upon studies provided by the applicants: the agrichemical companies that make millions of dollars from selling the products. Even when the studies are insufficient and the PMRA requires the companies to do more research, the agency may provide “conditional” or “temporary” registrations.

Canada Puts Labels on Containers

In 2007, there were 33 registrations for Imidacloprid products, plus four applications; five years later there are 47 registrations and 24 applications. The brand names include Admire, Genesis, Alias, Grapple, Gaucho, Concept, and Stress Shield. The crops on which they can be used have also expanded to cover a wide range of vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits. Yet there are presently no PMRA evaluation documents environmental impacts of Imidacloprid dated later than 2001, even though the registrations were said to be “temporary pending further studies.”

Under Re-evaluation Since 2009

The author obtained information from the PMRA that Imidacloprid has been under re-evaluation since 2009. However, there is no indication of any apparent effort to inform the public. The author sought relevant documents under the Access to Information Act, but the request has been referred to the Health Canada Media Relations‘ staff, as is now the policy for all journalists’ inquiries.”

What we do know, as posted on the PMRA website, is that in 2010 the agency received at least three reports of unusually high bee mortality in Quebec. The investigation reports state that it was “highly probable” that the deaths were due to Clothianidin or Thiamethoxam.

To date the PMRA data base shows a total of 81 registrations for five neonicotinoid insecticides: Imidacloprid, Acetamiprid, Clothianidian, Thiacloprid and Thiamethoxam. Of these, 33 are for agricultural use, the rest are being used on trees, golf courses and lawns, in greenhouses, and as flea and tick treatments for pets.

Canada’s pest management agency rationalizes these approvals by claiming that the risk to bees is “mitigated” by putting labels on the products that prescribe safe application rates and practices. Such labels tell farmers not to apply the insecticide when plants are in flower or bees are nearby. However, this ignores the fact that the neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides that are absorbed into every part of the plant; neonicotinoids that coat the seed at planting time are transported to the pollen and nectar.

Value to Food Production

In every case, these pesticides are approved for use on the basis of their “value” to human food production and other benefits. But there has been no serious consideration of what the loss of bees takes away from food production.

A study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) found that some 100 crop species provide 90% of food worldwide, and 71 of these are bee-pollinated.

The collapse of domestic and wild bee populations would be simply disastrous for the human race. This is why a number of scientific teams have been racing to determine the cause of their decline; yet, in the name of protecting food, the PMRA and other agencies in the US and Canada are ignoring the evidence – at the very time when climate change and peak oil already pose serious and massive threats to food security.

Anne Sherrod is a director of the Valhalla Wilderness Society. She has been writing on environmental issues for 35 years. To Bee Or Not To Bee was previously published in the Watershed Sentinel, the independent voice for environmental news in British Columbia. Visit: www.watershedsentinel.ca/

June 17, 2012

Baguette Furniture

Is there anything worse than a stale baguette? Only when it ends up in the garbage! Polish designers Gosia and Tomek Rygalik (Studio Rygalik) upcycled old baguettes to create tables dubbed the Bread Experience. The unusual table were made for the Vienna Design Week Laboratory.

In a world where food wastage is so high in many countries, taking a little of that food garbage and upcycling it is a great idea for repurpousing uneaten food.

April 10, 2012

New Purple Strawberries

The Purple Wonder strawberry, from Cornell University horticulturists, recently impressed everyone at the Philadelphia International Flower Show with its color and taste.

Purple Wonder is sweet and aromatic, with outstanding strawberry flavor,” according to Courtney Weber, a small fruits breeder and associate professor of horticulture at Cornell. “But the color is something you won’t be able to find in any grocery store.”

“The color develops all the way through the fruit, which might surprise consumers accustomed to supermarket fruit with color mostly on the surface,” Weber explained. “And letting the fruit ripen on the plant just makes the berries sweeter.”

The Purple Wonder has few runners and so is ideal for pot growing, suiting backyard and city strawberry growers alike.  Apart from looking good and tasting good, they are also full of antioxidants, are insect and disease resistant, and can be grown in most temperature zones across the US. Cornell is going to file a plant patent for the Purple Wonder later this year.

The Philadelphia International Flower Show runs March 4th-11th, 2012, but Cornell has an exclusive licensing agreement with seed company W. Atlee Burpee Co. to sell their Purple Wonder seeds.

March 11, 2012

Spain’s Volcanic Cuisine

If you want to enjoy a meal cooked on an unusual stove, El Diablo Restaurant on Spain’s Island of Lanzarote is a perfect choice – the restaurant uses energy from a volcano that last erupted in 1824.

The high temperature gas that vents from the volcano were turned into the stove heating in 1970 by the late Cesar Manrique who built a magnificent restaurant in the Timanfaya National Park with architects Eduardo Caceres and Jesus Soto, complete with a giant grill to barbeque meat and fish dishes at around 400°C.


March 7, 2012

The Skyfarm Garden

The Skyfarm by German designer Manuel Dreesmann allows people to grow food in their own home. The hanging spherical gardens offer city dwellers fresh greens without the carbon footprint and pollution of long distance transport.

Dreesmann’s spherical molded acrylic garden designs hang from the ceiling and from the balcony, making them ideal for the high rise buildings in city centres.

February 29, 2012

African Root Beer

SABMiller, a large worldwide brewing company, makes Impala Beer from local African ingredients using a mobile Dutch processing unit (from the Dutch Agricultural and Trading Company, DADTCO).

The locally grown cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a woody shrub that has a starchy root that is high in carbohydrates, it is also used to make tapioca. It is a major food source in the tropics and SABMiller buys and processes the cassava locally too.

“By creating market opportunities for subsistence farmers in our value chains, we are able to increase their productivity, allowing them to feed their families and generate an income for the first time,” explained Andy Wales for SABMiller. The company is currently buying cassava from more than 1,500 smallholders.

Andy Wales implements SABMiller’s Ten Sustainable Development Priorities; identifying social, economic and environmental issues within the group’s strategies and business plans. This covers areas of risk such as water scarcity as well as areas of opportunity such as promoting local economic growth through smallholder farming.

It seems the beer also tastes good according to Wales. “It’s excellent, not too dissimilar from a regular lager. It looks exactly like any other beer – golden and sparkling with a foam head.”

A locally sourced beer, that encourages smallholder farmers to grow a commercially useful crop sounds like a great idea! But, how’s the hangover?

January 19, 2012

World’s Largest Coffee Cup

Although I think the last thing our jacked-up, over-stimulated society needs is larger portions of java, the folks at McPhee’s Products seem to think bigger is better – particularly when it comes to caffeine.

The 6inch (15.3cm) tall, 10inch (25.4cm) diameter porcelain cup allows you to drink 20 cups in one sitting from what is probably the world’s largest coffee cup. The coffee cup sells for US$47.50 (€37.2).

January 10, 2012

Versatile Lunch Kit

To help promote healthier living, and encourage people to bring their own food to the office, the Sabine Staggl designed food kit includes a plate, cutting board and a bowl, which can also be used as food containers. The carrier bag also doubles as a tablecloth.

The flexible bowl can be inflated to protect the food contents, and later can be squished flat for easier storage.

“With this kit I want to support the philosophy of bringing food from home, and providing a healthy alternative for all those who consume non-fresh and heavy food in fast-food restaurants,” explains the artist.

December 30, 2011

Transformed Teapots

UK-based silversmith David Clarke is world-renowned for his innovative approach to creating highly unusual works of silver art. Using a process of combining old and new items of silver, the artist works to juxtapose the various pieces into surprisingly zany combinations.

His recent series Yeaha, which debuted at the Ornamentum Gallery during Miami Week 2011, is an exhibit of transformed teapots that have been reconstructed and re-welded into new representative shapes including  a wood stove and even the female form.

December 23, 2011