Food – Pictures
The London Green Directory!
Food (Chapter in progress)
It is food that gives us the energy to work, play, think and create. We all need a variety and range of foods that can be prepared easily. We should also be eating more healthy foods to keep us moving daily. In recent years, we have come to expect a wider concern with the ease of shopping than in what the item wastes in nutrition, calories and packaging. On top of that, our global food system contributes 21%-37% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. The sources of this are nitrogen fertilizers, deforestation in order to create agricultural land, methane from livestock, food processing, transportation and packaging, and heating greenhouses. Our food system is also responsible for polluting our ecosystem with synthetic herbicides and pesticides as well as unfairly treating farmers and agricultural workers.
We can reduce the impact on our environment and improve our health by:
- Growing some of our own food and herbs
- Eliminating use of pesticides and herbicides
- Using locally grown fresh produce to decrease use of fuel in delivery
- Buying food with as little packaging as possible and in bulk
- Varying our diet with lentils, beans, rices and nuts
- Eating more raw or lightly cooked foods ie. steamed, stir- fryed
- Cutting down on sugar, salt and caffeine, fats and heavy meats
Creating a vegetable and/or herb garden at home is a great way to cut back on grocery bills and eat healthy, local produce. You can buy produce seeds from grocery stores, local businesses, and gardening trade shows. On top of that, seeds and cuttings can often be harvested from the produce we eat and be used to grow our own.
Make sure you know the growing conditions of your produce before planting them as every plant has different requirements for sunlight, water, temperature, and space. This information can often be found on the back of seed packets or can be researched online. Improper care leads to less produce, slower growth, and/or wilting.
Herb and vegetable gardens can be grown indoors or outdoors. Indoor gardens often require supplemental lighting, or you can avoid this by growing plants that prefer more shade like leafy greens. For people living in apartments, purchase planters that can be hung over balcony railings in order to maximize gardening space.
If you have a composter, gardening waste such as leaves and wilted flowers, can also be turned into compost which you can later add to your garden to grow healthier plants.
If you find your garden has become infested with pesky bugs, you can use biological control agents to manage their populations in a safe and sustainable way. Biological control agents are predatory invertebrates that feed on pests, you can either purchase them from specialized stores or you can also attract them to your garden by planting specific vegetation. An example of a biological control agent would be ladybugs which feed on aphids. There are other sustainable ways of dealing with pests such as pheromone traps which can be used for pests like Japanese beetles and handpicking them and throwing them into a bucket of soapy water. Make sure a bug is a pest before removing them from a plant, you can use resources like insect identification guides and BugGuide.net to identify it. This will also give you a chance to learn more about local beneficial and harmful bugs in your area.
Take one quick glance around any grocery store and you will notice that almost every single item is packaged. Sometimes the packaging will be recyclable such as cardboard boxes or glass bottles, however, a lot of the time items will be wrapped in plastic. Plastic packaging is destined for the landfill where it will pollute our environment.
Take sustainable action by avoiding purchasing any food items that have plastic packaging or components. Look for alternatives that have minimal plastic packaging, recyclable or biodegradable packaging, or ideally, no packaging at all. When purchasing produce, only buy produce that is unpackaged, and instead of putting it into plastic bags, use reusable cloth bags.
Eating a balanced diet is key to being healthy and staying energized. A balanced diet includes foods of different colours, your plate should never be filled with a food of just one colour. Half of a meal should consist of fruits and vegetables while the other half should be comprised of grains and proteins.
Eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables is essential as they contain a large amount and variety of nutrients such as fibre, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. They are also low in calories, fat, and cholesterol and could potentially decrease risk of chronic diseases. It’s also better to eat whole fruit and vegetables instead of juices, many juices are supplemented with large amounts of sugar.
There are 2 types of grain, whole grain and refined grain. Whole grain is the healthier option, it contains more components of the plant making it more nutritious while refined grains are milled, removing fibre and other essential vitamins in the process. Refined grains are often enriched wit vitamins but are still less healthy than whole grain products. Examples of refined grains would be white flour and bread while whole grain products are foods such as brown rice and quinoa. Grains, especially whole grains, contain nutrients such as iron, fibre, and vitamins that help with metabolism.
Protein is the most important macromolecule in the body, it’s a key component in creating bones, hair, hormones, muscle, blood and so on. This is why we need to keep an eye on the protein rich products we eat. Protein rich foods include red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Protein rich foods are also often high in iron, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E. However, eating too much meat can have negative impacts on your health, always eat meat in moderation. Meats are often high in calories so consuming too much meat is likely to exceed the recommended daily intake of calories. In addition, limit the amount of processed meats you consume such as bacon and hot dogs, these meats often contain large amounts of LDL cholesterol which can increase the risk of heart problems.
Consuming dairy or calcium-fortified products is essential as calcium promotes bone health. Dairy products are also high in vitamin D which helps to maintain bone structure. Avoid dairy products that are high in fats and LDL cholesterol as consuming to much of these can be harmful to your health and will often exceed your calories intake for the day. If you prefer to avoid dairy, there are plenty of calcium-rich alternatives such as:
- Calcium fortified products like juices, almond milk, and cereal
- Canned fish
- Soy products
- Leafy greens such as bok choy, kale, and collards
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that people eat small amounts of oil as they are rich in healthy fats and contain high amounts of vitamin E. Recommended foods to get oil from are fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Gain a deeper appreciation for local plants and fungi by delving into sustainable foraging. Foraging involves visiting local forests and natural areas and harvesting plants and fungi to consume. It’s a great way to learn about local species, their nutritional properties, and how to identify them. It can also save costs on groceries and allow you to try cooking with ingredients that cannot be bought at the supermarket.
When foraging, always make sure you come prepared for the weather and with an identification guide. Foraging will often take you to areas that are prone to ticks so make sure you wear long sleeve shirts, closed toe shoes, and long pants to avoid risk of tick bites. Many plants and fungi have lookalikes that can be hazardous to your health, make sure you are certain that the plant you are foraging is the correct species. If you are not certain do not harvest the plant. Some species such as pheasant’s back mushrooms also only cause adverse reactions in some people so make sure you do your research before foraging.
To ensure you are foraging plants sustainably, do not overharvest, if there are very few of one plant in an area, do not pluck it. Also, avoid harvesting too much from one plant if possible. The exception to this would be invasive species such as garlic mustard, however, precautions must be taken to prevent spreading the seeds of invasive plants. In regard to fungi, make sure to not harvest too many mushrooms as this can prevent the fungi from reproducing. Do not pluck the mushroom, make sure you cut it off about a centimetre from the bottom in order to protect the fragile mycelium.
A typical meal has traveled thousands of kilometres before making it to your table. Consider the true cost of your food in terms of transportation and the emissions and smog generated, processing, refrigeration and distribution. In supporting local farmers and businesses, you reduce your ecological footprint and move towards organic foods or seasonal fruits and vegetables to reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals. You also access fresher produce picked likely the day before, giving it more flavour and nutrition.
Consider a commitment to eat only foods within a 100 mile radius of your home. Visit http://www.100milediet.org/get
Ask your favourite restaurant if they use local and organic produce! It’s the next frontier of food and critical to sustaining our natural resources.
8 planet Earths’ worth of resources would be needed if every person worldwide lived like the average North American: Source – 100 mile diet.
Buying locally grown food, achieves one of the ten challenges in the David Suzuki Nature Challenge, an action list to most effectively protect the environment and improve our quality of life. Another challenge on this list involves eating meat-free meals one day a week. Most of the world’s water is used for agriculture. However, meat production and processing requires far more water compared to any other food process. Meat production is also the world’s largest user of land, for pastures and arable land.
For information on where to shop local, organic food, please see the London Area Organic Growers website.
Sustainability is at the forefront of Fairtrade as its goal is to strengthen economies, create a fair society, and that resources are consumed within our means. This is accomplished by providing farmers and workers with a fair income for their produce and labour. Fairtrade also promotes worker rights and safe working conditions for those that work on plantations. Farmers and workers are empowered by connecting them with stakeholders and giving them a voice on an international scale. Consumers also pay a Fairtrade Premium which communities can use to fund better healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Fairtrade farmers are also expected to farm in a sustainable manner and are provided training to learn about sustainable farming.
Fairtrade items can be found at grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, and local businesses. All Fairtrade products have a label on them confirming that they are certified Fairtrade.
Fairtrade products include:
- Ice cream
These products are often organics as well.
Arva Flour Mill
|Flour in paper bags, packaged bulk goods. Educational programs for children from k-4 are available.
Bellamere Winery and Event Centre
|Fresh produce, fruit and grape wines made on site, prepared vegetarian meals, breads, no preservatives bakery.
|Goods in bins.
|Goods in bins for bulk purchasing to reduce packaging.
The Covent Garden Market’s Farmers’ Market
|Outdoor Farmer’s market Thurs & Sat May-Dec. Indoor market with vendors food and shops.For list of vendors:
|Bulk foods. Can bring your own containers.
Convent Garden Market’s Farmer’s Market
|Organic fresh meat, produce, dairy and bakery products.
Fire Roasted Coffee Co.
|Certified Fair Trade Coffee. Main headquarters (where the roasting is done) 3392 Wonderland Rd Building 7 Unit 6, London ON. Coffee is sold at the London Farmer’s Market at Dundas and King, on Saturdays from 8-3, also at Trails End on Dundas East (outside city limits) on Saturdays from 7-4. During the Summer months (May-Thanksgiving) Coffe is sold at an outdoor market on HW 21 South of Grand Bend.
Gibraltar Weekend Market
|Individual booths including produce, organic meats, spices ,and baked goods.
Good Health Naturally
|Health Food Store.
London and Area Food Bank
|Pickup service for donations of non-perishable food items.
London Food Co-op
|Local organic produce, meats and dairy, baked goods, fair trade coffees, prepackaged goods – no preservatives/additives.
Lyn-Dys Organic Foods
|Certified organic food.
Marshall’s Pasta Mill & Market
Family- owned restaurant/ catering/ retail store of homemade Italian food.
McSmith Organic Farm
|Open Sat 10a.m – 2p.m.
Organic produce, grains, herbs, meat and eggs. Call ahead for large orders. Certified organic chicken for sale.
|No preservatives in homeade foods. Natural frozen yogurt and catering also available.
Urban agriculture brings London communities together in order to grow, process, and share fresh produce between neighbourhoods. It includes strategies such as community gardens, urban beekeeping, community kitchens, farmer’s markets and more. Benefits of urban agriculture are:
- Creation of greenspaces for food
- Active outdoor community engagement
- Increased access to fresh, local, and affordable food
- Forming habitats for pollinators
Many neighbourhoods in London have community gardens, these are a great way to connect with your community and get the chance to grow produce, especially if gardening space is limited at home. They also offer a way to get inexpensive, fresh, and nutritious produce. These gardens turn once unused plots of land into a sustainable greenspace. Currently the City of London has over 15 community gardens and over 400 plots. Community garden plots are also available for rent depending on your income. You can find a list of London’s community gardens and the price to rent them here.
An additional form of community gardens is school gardens, where students get the chance to create a community garden together. This gives students the opportunity to learn more about the food system and how their food is grown.
Pollinators are essential to the wellbeing of our ecosystems which is why we need to protect our bee populations. Urban agriculture promotes the creation of pollinator gardens as well as urban beekeeping, where people keep hives on their property. If you’re interested becoming a beekeeper, make sure to follow provincial guidelines which limit how close bees can be to residential and public spaces.
Another aspect of urban agriculture is community kitchens. These provide people with an opportunity to share cooking skills and engage with their community. It can also provide low income communities with local and fresh food and spread awareness on the need for food security.
Resource sharing allows for community members to work together in order to build a more sustainable and healthier neighbourhood. When it comes to urban agriculture in London, resource sharing consists of starting a tool library where people can borrow gardening tools instead of buying their own, and seed swaps where people can exchange their heritage plant seeds. Resource sharing can help promote community projects such as community and pollinator gardens and can also improve the living spaces of community members. It can also remove barriers by engaging community members and providing them with tools and knowledge they may not have had access to otherwise.
Farmers markets allow for small scale farmers and other community members to sell their products. This promotes local businesses and gives people an opportunity to buy food locally, reducing their ecological footprint. It also increases the availability of nutritional food and prevents ‘food deserts’ which is where fast food restaurants are much more accessible than grocery stores.
Food waste is a massive issue within Canada, in fact a third of all food produced in Canada goes to waste. Urban agriculture aims to mitigate this by offering strategies to reduce and divert the amount of waste that we produce. One strategy is composting on the residential and community scale. This involves using a composter to break down organic matter such as food scraps and yard waste to use in the garden. Many community gardens in London are seeking quality compost in order to grow healthier and ore nutritious plants.
Food hubs are a collection of resources regarding food systems that are accessible to the general public. Food hubs include resources on:
- Food nutrition and knowledge
- Food decisions
- Ecological factors involved in food
- Food skills such as gardening and cooking
- Self-efficacy and confidence
Food hubs will also contain information on food-related initiatives in the area such as community gardens, tool libraries, and community kitchens. They empower the public by providing all the information they need on food in their local area.
Community education and training provides accessible and hands-on experience working with food. This can include workshops and festivals and bring the community together to celebrate food. Education in food systems is key to informing people about the resources and the needs and benefits of our current food system. If you would like to attend free cooking classes, the Covent Garden Market hosts them every Saturday from 11-12. For more details, click here.
You can find more information on urban agriculture in London here.
London Food Charter
The purpose of the food charter is to promote food security within the London area. This would mean that every single Londoner has access to safe and nutritious food at all times. In order to accomplish this, the Food Charter envisions a London where:
- Londoners have a just and sustainable food system
- Everybody receives an income that can afford them safe and nutritious food
- Stores and markets that sell food are easily accessible
- There are plenty of opportunities to teach people about food
- Londoners can take part in urban agriculture
If you would like to review the Food Charter, click here.
Middlesex-London Food Policy Council
Middlesex-London Food Policy Council is dedicated to providing the Middlesex-London area with a safe, equitable and environmentally friendly food system that is accessible to everybody. The mission of this group is to:
- Provide a way for the public to discuss issues about the food system
- Involve the public in decisions regarding food systems
- Foster coordination and communication between different sectors of the food system
- Create and change policies
- Provide support programs
Means of carrying out this mission are pushing for policy changes that benefit the community, identify food system issues, develop initiatives to take action, involving the public on the conversation about food systems, and by conducting research on local food systems.
For more information, click here.
Middlesex-London Community Food Assessment (2016)
The Community Food Assessment, or CFA, was focused on analyzing the benefits and needs of food systems within the area and coming up with an action plan in order to improve it. The CFA hoped to engage the community on the topic of food systems in order to spread awareness on food-related issues, and food security and sustainability. The CFA intended to provide the community with food sovereignty which is the right for people to have access to healthy and culturally appropriate food that is sustainably harvested. The assessment of the food system consisted of 10 categories:
- Population statistics
- Food production
- Food access and distribution
- Food purchasing and consumption
- Food education, knowledge and literacy
- Food waste management
- Food policy and advocacy
- Risk management and food safety
- Food innovation and technology
- Food funding, finance, and investment
These 10 categories were the scope of the CFA.
Furthermore, the assessment outlined 4 areas to take action on and plan community initiatives around them. These 4 areas were:
- Food waste reduction
- Food literacy
- Food processing and distribution
- Small-scale agriculture production
To learn more about the Middlesex-London Community Food Assessment 2016 click here.