Tag Archives: sustainable

Like Wine for Trees

Next time someone asks if you prefer red or white, say, “How about green?” If you had to choose between wine and the environment… But what if you didn’t? Oenophiles and tree huggers, unite and raise a glass to sustainability! A carbon neutral wine is now available in Ontario and British Columbia. Santa Margherita’s Pinot Grigio is not only Carbonzero Certified, but also for every 750ml bottle sold from April 1st to 26th, 50 cents will be donated to Tree Canada in support of creating sustainable forests across Canada.

sustainable wine, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio

The sustainable taste of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, carbon neutral and top seller

Ideally, environmentally and ethically, everything we buy would be sustainably produced down the road at eco-friendly outfits by well-paid workers who loved their jobs. But most things we buy come with an ecological cost. I happen to like Italian wines (and Spanish, French, Chilean, Argentine…), so while I enjoy a number of wines produced in nearby Niagara and though I am conscious of the environmental expense of transporting wine and other products across the ocean and the continent, I sometimes want—okay, often want a wine from some excellent but distant wine producer.

In the past, I’ve had wines marketed as eco-friendly, with names like “Happy Frog” or whatever, some of which taste like what their names imply. But Santa Margherita’s Pinot Grigio (apparently the top selling Italian wine in Canada) I will drink again.

Okay, so I like the wine, but what is its environmental status? At Canada Blooms (on at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, until March 23rd), I spoke with the instigators of this initiative. Federico Trost, Santa Margherita’s sommelier and export manager, spoke of his company’s sustainable production practices “from grape to shelf.” They not only control the growth of the grapes, they even make their own bottles.  When I asked Carbonzero CEO Dan Fraleigh how Santa Margherita earned carbon neutral status for their Pinot, he praised Santa Margherita’s ongoing initiatives, which include emissions reductions and renewable energy production (for details, see http://www.carbonzero.ca/news) and then described three of the projects undertaken with the carbon offsets the winery purchased to make a difference beyond their own efforts and be certified carbon neutral: projects with Bison Transport in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, turning landfill emissions into fuel in Niagara, and repurposing methane emissions in Quebec. He said these aren’t the “excuse to pollute” variety of carbon offsets; they are “buying offsets that wouldn’t otherwise have existed.”

Michael Rosen, president of Tree Canada, which plants 600,000 trees a year, told me the cost, from germination to planting, is $4 per tree. Less than the cost of a glass of house wine, but still an expense. Fortunately, on top of the 50 cents for each bottle sold, Santa Margherita will donate another 50 cents every time you use the hashtag #sm_pinotgrigio. So, give a tweet, and if you want to enjoy a wine with no fossil fuel aftertaste, go to an LCBO or BC Liquor store (by foot, bicycle, public transit, or carpool) and stock up for Earth Day with Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, the one with the plantable basil-seed tag around the neck (750ml LCBO $17.95; BC Liquor $19.99 ). Sustainable wine? I’ll drink to that!

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Water WAnTER: Waste Not Want Not

Water: Think Globally, Drink Locally

Whenever I think about what’s important, water comes to mind. Nothing does a body more good than water. I fill myself with water, I immerse myself in water. The closer I live to water, the happier is my life.

UN Water World Water Day

UN Water World Water Day

Water is it.

I would not claim that I use less water than others, but I think about how I use water, and I appreciate water. We use water the way we use the word “it“, without thinking about it, without considering what it means or where it came from or how we would get by without it. It’s crazy how it is always there for us.

Will water always be there for everyone?

If you don’t know what happened in 2000 when an American corporation bought all the water in [Cochabamba,] Bolivia, including the rainwater, then you have not yet seen the most important film so far this century The Corporation (2003).

Another film that should interest all fresh-water drinkers is Blue Gold: World Water Wars (2008), just one of the films being shown at the Ecologos free Thursday evening film series Water Docs in Toronto from March 22 World Water Day until April 22 Earth Day.

If documentaries aren’t your thing, consider the political weight of Canada’s water as examined in the dramatic Paul Gross mini-series H2O(2004).

Paul Gross mini-series H2O

What can one person do?

Appreciate your water. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/freshwater/

Let others have their water. http://www.blueplanetproject.net/Involvement/index.html

Don’t stop bathing, but think about how much goes down the drain. Here are a couple of habits I’ve acquired:

  1. When running the water till is gets cold/hot, I collect that “waste water” in a pitcher and save it for my plants.
  2. BYOTW. I almost always bring a bottle of tap water whenever I leave the house. I’ve rarely had a day when I didn’t wish I had some water, so I try to always have some with me. (The only time to buy bottled water is when travelling in regions where the local water system carries little beasties my gut is not accustomed to and the other options are dehydration or dysentery. I’ve learned to go for sparkling water to make sure it is not bottled tap water).
UN Water World Water Day, How Much Water Is Needed For That

How Much Water Is Needed For That?

But water is wasted everywhere you look, and it’s not just about tap water and bottled water. Water is inextricable from agriculture, food security, the oil sands, etc., etc., etc. Water is everywhere wasted.

Happy World Water Day!

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Conscious Food Festival, Thought for Food

Toronto’s second annual Conscious Food Festival at Fort York National Historic Site, today and tomorrow, is an opportunity to meet local people who bring you good things to eat. Unlike old familiar festivals around town, this festival is new enough that there is no waiting in line, no crushing multitude. Good food, good weather, good space, good music, good karma, good moods, good times all around!

Conscious Food Festival 2011 map of venue

Conscious Food Festival 2011

While other nations starve, most of us in Canada are able to eat anything from anywhere at any time. But think before you consume. Watching what you eat is about more than just your personal well-being. There are other people, other species, and a whole planet to consider.

It’s not as simple as following some no-buy list, or swallowing every “organic” label hook-line-and-sinker. As Dan Donovan told me when his Hooked fish market opened this spring, sustainability is not about which species you buy, it’s about how that fish gets caught. And the same goes for any other food item. It’s important to know where and how that food was grown, and how was it harvested and brought to where you are.

With Chef Martin Kouprie and members of the Pangaea team

With Chef Martin Kouprie and members of the Pangaea team (and a bag of cookies from ChocoSol!)

At the Conscious Food Festival today, I was fortunate enough to have a good long chat with affable, Fredericton-born Chef Martin Kouprie of Pangaea Restaurant. His new book Pangaea: Why It Tastes So Good is available at the festival at a discount. (And the halibut and ratatouille today did indeed taste so good!)

Other books that will give you thought for food are Locavore by Sarah Elton, Edible City co-edited by Christina Palassio, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

And if this kind of thing is your cup of tea, keep your eye out for the next Brewer’s Plate fundraiser.

Bon appétit!

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Locavore Doesn’t Mean “Eat Locals”

Locavore is a new book (if you read as slowly as I do) by Toronto food writer Sarah Elton ( CBC Radio’s Here & Now). It’s a good book — published locally without pesticides or antibiotics, low-fat and high in fibre — but the title could be misleading.

An herbivore (“a” herbivore? now there’s something to fight about) eats herbs, a carnivore mangia il roastbeef, an omnivore eats a family car “specially designed for India”. So I opened this book expecting to learn something about how to take nutritional advantage of people in my neighbourhood. Sure the Emersons are lovely people, but could they be an important part of my diet?

Turns out “cannibalism” isn’t even in the index. Locavore is about choosing, when the choice is there, to buy food that is produced closer to home. Why is that such an important thing to do? Read it yourself, you lazy bugger!

Locavore by Sarah Elton

Locavore, by Sarah Elton

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