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Posts Tagged ‘TRU

Kamloops FIRST Pride Parade!!!

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A couple articles amongst the vast sea of media coverage….

Kamloops This Week: Video, article and photo

Kamloops Daily News: Video, article and photos

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Written by larkinschmiedl

April 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

An unknown source of local food on campus?

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Local food, sustainability and fair trade have come to mainstream consciousness over the past few years, and as a result some businesses are shifting their policies.  Some others are trying to appear to be doing so.

I’ve been noticing these signs in the Terrace cafeteria at TRU over the past few weeks.

The posters are a part of Aramark’s “Green Thread” campaign, described by the company as part of its sustainable food initiative.

Aramark provides the food on a great number of different university campuses across North America, as well as in colleges, high schools, remote camps, businesses and more.

I wonder what action Aramark, the food company that runs almost all the food on campus at TRU, has taken on its stated commitments toward sustainability and local, organic and fair trade food?

In 2010 Aramark published a press release announcing it had received an award as one of Canada’s greenest employers.

It seems there is lots to learn, and I’d like to know more.

I wonder what percentage of Aramark's food is sourced within Canada? Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

"Whenever possible" depends partly on availability, and partly on the level of a company's priority toward sourcing local food. Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

How much local food is served in this cafeteria, and what is meant by 'sustainable'? Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

The Terrace, one of the main cafeterias on TRU's campus. Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Meat on campus: a microcosm

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Local meat without added hormones or antibiotics is what the people want to buy, but it’s not always what’s cost-effective.

Jason Cochran is a faculty member in the Retail Meat Processing program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).  He handles most of the meat ordering for the program, as well as for the neighbouring Culinary Arts program.

The program runs the Meat Store, which is open every Thursday on campus to sell the cuts of meat the students have made.

The customers want local meat, Cochran said, and so that’s what’s in the store, but, “the local beef actually costs me more than the feedlot beef.”  It comes from a ranch just north of Barriere.

The beef the culinary arts program uses on the other hand almost all comes as boxed beef, and it’s from a slaughterhouse in Alberta.

It’s feedlot beef, Cochran told me, and there’s a 99 per cent certainty the animal has been fed hormones and antibiotics throughout its life.

When you buy boxed beef, he said, it could be from three or four animals from anywhere in Alberta or even B.C. mixed up together.  The majority of B.C. beef, he told me, is shipped to Alberta to be slaughtered.

There are two local provincially-inspected slaughterhouses according to Cochran however.  One is called Kam Lake View Meats, and is located in Kamloops.  The other is Rainer Meats and is situated north of Barriere.

Cochran said local beef can be difficult to source because he needs a consistent source of meat.  He also listed the need to trust the supplier and to have a relationship with them as concerns.

The majority of the beef comes into the meat cutting program in the fall he said.

In a typical program year, Cochran will order 15 to 16 cows, which will cost approximately $40,000 altogether.  This would make each cow approximately $2,500.

The two other main types of meat in the Meat Store are chicken and pork.  Each come from a different slaughterhouse in the Lower Mainland.

The chicken is entirely hormone and antibiotic-free, whereas the pork gets one treatment of antibiotics in its lifetime.

Besides operating the Meat Store, the retail meat processing program also sells sides of beef, bulk chicken, does customer orders, and processes meat for both hunters and some local farmers.

Organic produce coming to TRU

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A new source of food will be coming to students on campus at Thompson Rivers University this September.

The students’ union (TRUSU) is looking to start providing a “good food box,” coming hopefully from local organic producer Thistle Farm, for students who’d like to buy local and organic right on campus throughout the school year.

Food boxes are a common way local organic food is distributed throughout communities, as a convenient alternative to the farmer’s market and grocery stores. The boxes are usually delivered to a customer’s home or to a central pick-up location.

TRUSU would like campus to become that location.

Nathan Lane, executive director of TRUSU, said TRUSU is looking at installing refrigeration facilities in order to store the food, and perhaps to store fresh food like carrots for the food bank as well.

The food boxes would be sold at cost.

Lane said the students’ union is set on providing food boxes starting in September, and the only contingency is confirmation of a contract with Thistle Farm.

Thistle Farm provides weekly boxes to around 100 customers locally, and an additional 50 bi-weekly.

The boxes come in different sizes with the small providing enough produce and fruit for one person for a week.

Deb Kellogg, co-owner of Thistle Farm, said the boxes contain 100 per cent locally-grown organic vegetables in the summer, alongside some fruit from the Okanagan and some imported tropical fruit. In the winter, the boxes are one-third locally grown.

Customers can choose whether they want a box of produce, fruit, or a mix of the two.

A small box goes for $20.

Food-involved folks gather and make things happen at the Kamloops Food Policy Council

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Kamloops Food Bank. Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

They were gathered around a long table up a long flight of stairs on the second floor of the Kamloops Food Bank building.  The Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) is a group of keen food-involved folks from a wide range of organizations and backrounds, with common visions to promote the strength of the local food system.

Each of the KFPC’s members comes from a particular place, and in that place, they are each making food localization a concrete reality, in all different ways.

The KFPC is where they come to collaborate, check in and connect.

Ed Walker is starting a revolution among chefs in Kamloops.  He is the chair of the school of culinary arts at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), and is also the founder of the Thompson-Shuswap Chef Farmer Collaborative.

The collaborative was started to link local chefs with local farmers–and as the best chefs know, the most delicious, quality ingredients come fresh, local and well-grown.  Walker said he wants to make it easier for local food to get into local restaurants.

The Chef Farmer Collaborative was started in just 2010, and has grown exponentially.  It is a non-profit, and to date boasts over 70 members, both farmers and chefs.

The Collaborative is modelled after the Island Chefs Collaborative started by David Mincey and based in Victoria, B.C.

At the Thompson-Shuswap Collaborative’s annual general meeting (AGM) coming up Feb. 12, it will be announcing its newest program–a non-profit loan system that will be available to offer no-interest loans to folks interested in starting up projects or with good ideas for increasing the productivity of an existing one.  The loans will be available to businesses, whereas the already-existing grants are available to non-profits.

The AGM takes place at the Culinary Arts building on TRU’s campus at 10 a.m.

Walker said he hopes to ultimately see chapters of chef-farmer collaboratives all over Canada.

***

On the Culinary Arts building’s roof, there are animals.  Hive animals.  Walker’s colleague, another faculty member in the culinary arts program, is beekeeping up there.  He took a course and learned how to do it, and set up the apiary sometime last year.  More on this in upcoming blog entries, so stay tuned.

Culinary Arts is also trying to get a garden in front of its building, to grow produce for use in cooking.

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The Kamloops Food Policy Council’s AGM is also coming up; March 1 at 6 p.m. at the Henry Grube Centre, their AGM will be a potluck and meeting, and will be themed “Public Produce.”

Elaine Sedgman, a member of the group, will be speaking about edible landscapes in schools.  She said she hopes school gardens can become a more common feature in Kamloops.  She said Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project garden in Berkeley, California is one of her inspirations.

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In terms of edible landscaping here in Kamloops, there is a push to have more streetscape plants be edibles.

The Public Produce Garden here in town, built and first planted this past summer, is also going to be moving to the North Shore in summer 2012.

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One very interesting new local project is the Kamloops Community Food System of 1948 mapping project.  Check out their website.  The group is presently reaching out to schoolteachers in hopes that their maps and resources can be used in classrooms when complete.

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Another new local project that’s just gotten funding is Thompson-Shuswap Food Connections.  This group is looking to link institutional buyers such as the hospital, the University and the prison with local farmers.

Stage two of the project is planned to be a look at local processing facilities.

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Kamloops Seedy Saturday is an annual seed-swapping and workshop event that is happening Feb. 25 this year.  More details to come on this.

Seedy Saturday is a Canada-wide event taking place in many communities.  The idea is for gardeners to get together to share different seed varieties, especially but not limited to those bred and grown locally.

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There is a new community garden in Kamloops called the Wilson House garden.

The organizers of the garden recently received a TD Canada Trust “Friends of the Environment” grant to finish construction (which mostly meant buying the soil to put in the already-built garden).

All other community garden plots in Kamloops are booked for the 2012 summer season.  There are a few left available at Wilson House.

Here is a map with contact numbers for the community garden plots in Kamloops.

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Thanks for reading, and please come back for more information weekly.

Larkin

Percy Schmeiser went up against Monsanto

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Percy Schmeiser at TRU Jan. 25. Photo by Larkin Schmiedl

Percy Schmeiser is a well-known Saskatchewan canola breeder and organic farmer who came into contact with Monsanto when he found unwanted genetically-modified (GM) canola plants growing in his field.  His struggles, lawsuits and victories are well documented in the press, and I had the chance to see him speak live here in Kamloops on Jan. 25 at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).  He is in his eighties now, and sometimes goes on speaking tours to educate people about what he sees as the dangers of GM foods.  He spoke to around 175 people in the Clocktower auditorium.

Monsanto is now the largest seed company in the world.

I took some audio and pictures of his talk, and here is part of what he had to say:

Schmeiser says these are the fundamental issues that were on the line when he took Monsanto to the Supreme Court of Canada: Video

Schmeiser says Monsanto threatened him in various ways: Video

He said that farmers fall under Monsanto’s contracts even if they haven’t signed.  They are bound by virtue of what is in their fields–so if Monsanto’s GE plants pollinate with your plants and begin to grow on your property, even if you don’t want them there, you can be held responsible.  He read out the contract, and it was, frankly, shocking.  Here is some more information about the contracts Monsanto produces.

Monsanto has its own investigation and police force, and puts out ads encouraging people to let them know if they see ‘Monsanto’s’ plants growing in their neighbour’s fields.  The company offers gifts to anyone who provides information.

For more information on Schmeiser, his history with Monsanto, and his views, search his name in Google and you will have plenty of information on your hands.

***

Here are some more bits of information about GM foods for folks who are not familiar:

GM crops were first introduced to the world in 1996.

Genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) are not labelled in our food in North America, despite all the unknowns.  In Europe, GM food is banned.  (As one consequence of this, North America cannot export GM crops, or crops contaminated with GM genes, to Europe.  Canola is one of these crops, since it can no longer be guaranteed GM-free even if it’s organically grown, due to cross-contamination where the GM plants breed with the plants in the organic field.)  Percy Schmeiser took Canada to court at the U.N. in Geneva over lack of GMO labelling.

The science to date about GM foods is not conclusive.  The largest factor concerning GM is that its effects are unknown.

The social and political effects of GM, and the workings of Monsanto, are however much better known.

The Institute for Responsible Technology publishes the “Non-GMO Shopping Guide.”  One useful piece of knowledge I found when scanning through it is that, “If a non-organic product made in North America lists “sugar” as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.”

Here are some links to further reading about Monsanto and some of the controversies the company is involved in (and this is just the tip of the iceberg).

Monsanto, World’s Largest Genetically Modified Food Producer, To Be Charged With Biopiracy In India, HuffPost Canada, Oct. 2011

Monsanto Accused In Suit Tied To Agent Orange, NPR, Feb. 1, 2012

Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds, The WIP, May 2011

Occupy Wall Street Stands with Farmers, Says Enough! to Monsanto, CommonDreams, Jan. 31

This WordPress blog has many articles relating to both Monsanto and food issues generally: Food Freedom

A couple of Monsanto’s technologies:

Round-Up

Terminator Seeds

There is so much to learn about GM, and it’s an ongoing discussion in the larger community as well as the scientific community, with new discoveries being made all the time as we deepen our understanding of this extremely powerful and potentially very dangerous technology.

It’s important to separate the social structure and corporate structure of GM foods from the science of it so that we can understand each piece of the puzzle as we consider the problem.  And it’s equally important to be able to unite these factors and see it as a whole, for that is how it is presently operating in our world.  A big part of that whole is determined by what Monsanto is up to.

TRU art gallery experiments with community building

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Larkin Schmiedl: Omega Contributor

If you visited the TRU art gallery in Old Main last week, you likely noticed a very unique exhibition.

Openwork, curated by third-year visual arts student Emily Hope, transformed the gallery into a workspace in the midst of an art installation. It ran from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4.

Students from many different disciplines gathered on the comfortable couch, chair and benches in a corner of the gallery.

Knitting, embroidery, sewing and other fibre arts made by current and recent grads of the visual arts program, and their mothers and grandmothers, were displayed alongside found objects.

Hope explained that traditionally, fibre crafting has a strong history of community-building, and her aim was, “that the same kind of thing would happen [here]—and it did.”

“Knitting’s probably the thing that most people decided they wanted to learn,” she said.

The gallery contained a sewing machine, bins of fabric, a knitting machine and a bookshelf full of instructional manuals, all of which visitors were welcome to use.

Sculptures and displays sat on the floor, atop shelves and pinned to the wall.

Visual arts student Hugo Yuen sat in the gallery and knitted a wool tie, which was then displayed as part of the exhibition. It was his first knitting project.

CBC radio played quietly beside visitors while they drank tea and coffee and shared in the many snacks in the gallery each day. Visitors chatted and shared skills with one another.

“It’s first impressions—often it’s the first minute in a gallery that determines your level of comfort,” said visual arts instructor Marnie Blair.

“If you can become comfortable in one gallery space,” Hope said, “then you can become comfortable in other gallery spaces.”

One of Hope’s other aims was to break down people’s hesitation and the feeling that they don’t belong or don’t have the education to be in an art gallery. Visitors remarked on how comfortable and relaxing the space was.

Hope estimated that an average of 40 people came through the gallery each day, and that about 10 people spent time regularly in Openwork.

See on The Omega’s website:

http://theomega.ca/2011/02/07/tru-art-gallery-experiments-with-community-building/

Written by larkinschmiedl

February 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm

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