Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ahimsa Milk Launches Slaughter-Free Milk Delivery in London England

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY

An update on the progress of the UK's Ahimsa Milk and their efforts to produce milk while ensuring that no cows or bulls are harmed in the process, for the natural life of the animal: Now Londoners can begin having Ahimsa's slaughter-free milk home delivered.

The Independent reports that 50 families have signed up so far. The £2.25/L ($14.02/G) price tag is divided up as £1 for production of the milk, £0.65 towards a pension fund for the cows (to pay for their upkeep and vet bills once they reach old age), and £0.60 for administration and overhead costs. Delivery is an additional 15p.

While that price is well over double what most people are currently paying for milk, what really sets Ahimsa Milk apart is how well the animals are cared for.

All are retired after their last calf (usually around 13 years) and then cared for for the rest of their natural lives; all cows are bred to have only five calves in their lives, every two years; male calves are reared to work the land on the farm, rather than being sold off and eventually killed.

The price may be higher for slaughter-free milk, but if this was the norm the price very well come down and/or everyone's expectation would adjust accordingly. Plus, if it costs double to produce milk while not just treating cows and bulls solely as machines that humans can do whatever they like with, and ensuring that they live out their natural lives in healthy conditions, then that seems like a very fair trade off to me.

Obviously if you're a vegan and believe that no animals should be involved in agriculture (which I'm not sure is an ecologically tenable position, as Sami has pointed out), then even these steps are likely to be unpersuasive.

And if your only concern is the price tag, not concerning yourself with externalized costs either to the animals involved or the environment more broadly, then vegetarian or omnivore alike a doubling in price is probably too much to bear.

But, in case it's unclear from my tone, from this vegetarian's perspective Ahimsa Milk is very much on the right track here.

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Paddling Poets Deliver Poetry Readings by Canoe

Photo: fishquillpoetryboat

by Bonnie Alter, London

It's so Canadian. Where else would you find a group of poets setting out by canoe to give poetry readings? Only in Ontario you say...

It's the Fish Quill Poetry Boat: a group of 8 paddling poets, in four canoes, paddled the Grand River, giving reading tours at small towns along the way.

Travelling along the Grand River, from Elora to Six Nations Grand River Territory, they stopped to give readings and play music in cafes, arts centres, by camp fires, in covered bridges and outside until a storm chased them in. They had a musician on hand to liven things up.

It wasn't easy. The bugs were bad, the racoons took their food and the storms drenched them one night. They were not experienced canoeists but they paddled 5 to 6 hours a day, through all kinds of weather; rain and storms and broiling sun. To make things more challenging they rotated canoes, so each day they were paddling with some one different.

Photo: fishquillpoetryboat

Now comes the question: why did they do it? Canoes are a strong part of Canadian culture and the rivers were the original communication routes in the country before people built roads. They "wondered how taking a bunch of non-nature poets on a supremely "Canadian" canoe tour would affect how we and our audiences think about contemporary Canadian poetry."

Since most reading tours bypass small and mid-sized towns in favour of major urban centres the poets wanted to know if "you show up in a canoe can you still read poems about robots?"

The answer was yes: their poetry was contemporary and not necessarily nature poetry. They read poems about urban lives and how they related to a rural setting. Many of their poems ended up being about the weather.

The experience was memorable; they learned about life in a different part of the country, lived with the elements and as poets were able to define their place in contemporary culture through audience members' heartfelt responses.

... read more story at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Goderich tornado and insurance: What consumers need to know

photo credit: Bun T Pein Photography via Flickr

TORONTO, August 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - After a violent storm and tornado hit Goderich, Ontario yesterday, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is informing consumers about what they need to know if their property was affected.

"First and foremost, those affected should ensure they and their families are safe," said Ralph Palumbo, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC.

Palumbo added: "The property damage to homes and personal property, businesses and public buildings is extensive. Ontario's home, car and business insurers will be there to help residents and businesses recover from this disaster."

IBC reminds consumers:

...Most home and business insurance policies will cover damage caused by wind, including broken windows and removal of debris.

...Auto policies cover wind damage if comprehensive coverage has been purchased.

...Marine insurance policies will usually cover damage to boats from wind.

...Homeowner's and tenant's policies usually provide coverage for additional living expenses if a home is uninhabitable.

Consumers should contact their insurance representative as soon as possible to discuss coverage and deductibles and to report damage claims. To facilitate claims processing, homeowners should document all property losses. And, if safe to do so, they should protect their property from further damage.

To help affected residents and businesses with insurance-related questions, IBC is deploying its Community Assistance Mobile Pavilion (CAMP) to Goderich. IBC representatives will be available to speak with consumers and media today at the Knights of Columbus Community Hall, 390 Parsons Court.

CAMP is one of a number of initiatives by Canada's home, car and business insurers to help Canadians prepare for, and cope with, disasters. The national program provides disaster victims with on-site, quick-response, insurance-related information.

In addition, IBC representatives attending the 2011 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Annual Conference will be available to speak with media about the situation in Goderich at the London Convention Centre (Salon A), 300 York Street, London, at 1:15 p.m. today.

Affected residents can also call IBC's Consumer Information Centre in Ontario at 1-800-387-2880 (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for answers to insurance-related questions.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 114,000 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $40 billion.

To view media releases and information, visit the media section of IBC's website at

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FarmzOnWheelz - Connecting urban audiences to agriculture

August 16, 2011 - from the Agricultural Adaptation Council newsletter

On the move bringing country to the city, FarmzOnWheelz, an interactive and educational exhibit, is successfully introducing agriculture to urban audiences. This 600-square-foot exhibit aims to communicate with teenagers and their families about a wide variety of farm issues including animal welfare, food safety, nutrition and renewable energy sources.

The Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC) in partnership with the Ontario Science Centre, designed and built FarmzOnWheelz. This project was approved for $443,000 in funding under the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD) program and was launched at the Canadian National Exhibition in August 2009. Since this time, the travelling exhibit has been present at various agricultural events across the province including; the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (feature attraction of 2009), Woodstock Museum, BioEnergy Science Fair, Poultry Industry Show, International Plowing Match and the Farm Machinery Show.

FarmzOnWheelz is reaching out to urban audiences increasing awareness, understanding and acceptance of the benefits, value, technologies and innovations in farming. On May 26, 2011, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Carol Mitchell, recognized the success of the FarmzOnWheelz exhibit and presented OFAC with the Premier's award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

To learn more about FarmzOnWheelz please visit:

This project was funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Adaptation Programming and administered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Snapshot of Wind Power in a Small Texas Town (Video)

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York

Okay, so it's a little hokey at times, but this video that Peter Sinclair points to at Climate Crocks is a nice depiction of the economic benefits of wind power in struggling rural communities.

I've harped on the importance of recognizing the real-world impact renewable energy projects have before -- for some reason, folks (politicians in particular) forget that building and running wind turbines creates jobs and provides new revenue streams for local economies.

And at a time when one tenth of the nation is out of work, it's hard not to see the benefits provided by the renewable energy sector beyond their clean power generation -- the sector continues to be one the few bright spots in the nation's economic picture. Still quite small, but bright indeed.

So the question is, how can we scale up the deployment of wind and solar to bring economic relief to more communities like this one? It seems that with the unemployment rate stagnating, the stage is ripe for a jobs bill that focuses on renewable energy production -- hey, a guy can dream, right? Seriously, though, I'll delve further into this prospect next week: I've got an idea for a Jobs for Energy Security Act that I think Obama might want to check out ...

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Kid's View of a Humanure Garden & a Great Poop Song (Video)

Image credit: Humanure Handbook

by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA

Whether it's humanure composting in urban Oakland, or safer sanitation with humanure in Haiti, there are many advocates of humanure systems and other forms of composting toilets around the world. Yet every time the topic comes up, there are concerns about sanitation.

Maybe this video of a young girl frolicking in a humanure-fed garden will make skeptics more comfortable. Or maybe it will scare the living daylights out of them...

We have, of course, posted on the Lovable Loo humanure toilet before. It's a $195 kit for a humanure toilet and collection system. (The composting is done elsewhere.)

But now the team behind the loo, which was designed by Humanure Handbook author Joe Jenkins, has found a new spokesperson in the form of Lovable Lulu, and a new troubadour in the form of Frank Meyer, aka Thangmaker. And just in case you are still not convinced by the safety of a humanure composting system, check out this article by Joe Jenkins on humanure composting sanitation (PDF).

... read more story at

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fromagerie Bergeron again recognized as one of North America's finest cheesemakers

SAINT-ANTOINE-DE-TILLY, Quebec, August 11, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Fromagerie Bergeron is pleased to announce that two of its creations were honored as among the best cheeses in North America at the 27th Annual Competition of the American Cheese Society.

Coureur des Bois took silver in the very competitive flavored cheese category, while Six Pourcent earned the bronze in the low-fat cheese category.

The American Cheese Society 2011 Competition drew a record number of 1,676 cheeses created by 258 different companies from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For the first time the competition was held outside the United States as part of the Cheese & Fromage: Common Cultures event held in Montreal from August 3 to 6.

Brothers Sylvain, Mario, and Roger Bergeron, and the company's master cheesemakers can be proud of these honors that spotlight the company's talent for producing large volumes of artisanal-quality cheeses at an affordable price.

The Bergerons, a third generation of master cheesemakers

A family business founded on August 16, 1989, by a third generation of master cheesemakers, Fromagerie Bergeron has over 150 employees. Production runs 24/7 and more than 26 million liters of milk are processed each year to offer a range of nine fine cheeses, fresh-made cheeses, table cheeses, as well as Gouda and Parmesan fondues. These honors once again recognize the dedication and creativity of its master cheesemakers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guelph Turfgrass Institute ... Trial Garden Hosts Open House

GUELPH, Ontario August 10, 2011 - University of Guelph News Release - The University of Guelph is holding its annual trial garden open house on Aug. 17 from noon to 8 p.m. at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute, 328 Victoria Road. The event is free and open to the public. Offering an opportunity for the greater Guelph community to get a sneak peek at what’s likely to appear in gardening centres next year, guided tours will be available. Details are available online .

“Ongoing favourites in all areas, such as vegetables for small urban spaces, will be available, but there’s also much to see that’s new,” said Rodger Tschanz, a U of G plant agriculture technician who manages the trial garden. “For instance, ‘Romeo’ is a new series of the popular Diascia; it’s an addition to last year’s ‘Juliet’ series. There’s a new tri-colour corn that can be grown for popping or simply as an ornamental, and there are peppers that some suggest are attractive enough to be used as cut flowers. Perennial growers will be interested in the Echinacea varieties that are more compact and have different colours, while among the annuals planted in the shade area adjoining the Frost buildings, the 16 cultivars of the New Guinea Impatiens seem to get larger every year.”

A second generation black Petunia with a more open and dramatic flower form has been trialled this year. Another striking plant is Purple Fountain Grass, dubbed “Vertigo,” with incredibly dark purple leaves, Tschanz said.

Also new to the trials are “Combos,” three cuttings pre-selected to be planted and sold together based on complementary vigour, form or colour. Members of the public can vote for a favourite “Combo” and are encouraged to contribute to the information that the trial garden provides the breeders by voting for favourite flowers overall.

Guelph and Wellington County master gardeners will be available throughout the day to provide information about the various plants and flowers and answer questions from visitors. The City of Guelph’s healthy landscape team will also be there to answer questions about natural pest control and wise water use.

Located along the entrance to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute, the trial garden’s 1,400 square metres of growing space allows gardeners to see what flowers and plants perform best in southwestern Ontario’s climate. It’s the only university-operated ornamental trial garden in the province and is part of a network of research centres across North America set up to determine which plants grow higher and fuller, bloom quicker, withstand extreme weather conditions and resist common plant diseases.

“There will be several twists on old favourites for visitors to enjoy, such as a white-flowered Joe-Pye weed,” Tschanz said. “With beds and containers featuring sun and shade plants, annuals and perennials, vegetables, ornamentals and cut flowers, there is something for everyone.”