Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 16, No. 9, January 23, 2012
Honoured Reader Edition
This is the honoured reader edition of the Gallon Environment Letter and is distributed at no charge: send a note with Add GL or Delete GL in the subject line to Subscribers receive a more complete edition without subscription reminders and with extensive links to further information following almost every article. Organizational subscriptions are $184 plus HST and provide additional benefits detailed on the web site. Individual subscriptions are only $30 (personal emails/funds only please) including HST. If you would like to subscribe please visit If you feel you should be receiving the paid subscriber edition or have other subscriber questions please contact us also at This current free edition is posted on the web site about a week or so after its issue at Back free editions from January 2009 are also available.
The theme of this issue might appear to be food, but we prefer to call it 'eating', particularly food supply and preparation. We mention some reports such as  one published by Canada's International Development Research Centre a few years ago, which we see as having a particularly relevant perspective on food and the environment. Statistics Canada food statistics, some of which are no longer being updated as freely available publications, presented some interesting data on our eating and food spending habits. Then  in a second editorial, we provide GallonLetter's take on the benefits of the local food movement. That comes after an editorial in which we express our dismayy that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is asking for a moratorium on windpower in the Province, potentially undoing much of the progress that the local food movement has made in the last few years!

In Saskatoon, a non-profit is running what seems to GallonLetter to be a very worthwhile initiative to help lower income people acquire and prepare more nutritious meals. We discuss the potential of Meal Assembly Centres, not just for export, as Agriculture Canada has done, but also for the Canadian market. We review the role of consumers in improving the sustainability of food production and processing. Organic farming mostly uses less energy, according to a Nova Scotia Agricultural College and York University study. We have a summary of a useful article from the Organic Center in Colorado on How to Save Money in Order to Buy Organic Food. The Guelph Organic Conference is to be held in just a few days - we provide details and a link.

While discussing vegetarian food and the 'back to the land' movement we came upon the case of a university professor who is said to have been the first to be fired for his “radical” views. He was commenting on the use of child labour in coal mining in 1915. Thinking of the Northern Gateway pipeline, how much progress have we made?

Some processors are promoting corn-fed beef while others promote grass-fed beef. At least in this issue we provide information on the benefits of the latter. Canada's Sustainable Development Commissioner states that "The availability of fish can't be taken for granted." We look at his report. At least one seafood retailer seems to be doing something about this.

As part of our focus on food preparation, we look in this issue at residential energy use and some suggestions on how to cook in a more energy efficient manner, Some of the advice, for example that dishwashers use less energy than hand dishwashing, may be counter-intuitive but GallonLetter suspects they are correct. We will be looking at this area in greater detail in future issues and, we hope, in a book on Ecological Feeding and Fooding which is currently in the planning stage.

We applaud British Columbia for its small appliance recycling program and explore what can and cannot be recycled. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense, and we hope to see more added soon. In our opinion there are few if any in the way of durable household goods made of metal that should not be included in this recycling initiative. Have you thought about the food safety benefits of retailer loyalty programs? The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture has done - we bring you their idea! Did you know that a rainbow trout casserole prepared for a school lunch probably has a lower carbon footprint than the same dish prepared as a ready to eat meal or, worse, prepared at home! Thinking about the ecological impact of our meals puts school lunches in a whole new light! Pineridge Foods is one Canadian baker that is looking at its environmental sustainability - we summarize their presentation.

We also note the Ontario Environmental Commissioner's recent report - we will return to this theme of biodiversity, and particularly the business role in supporting biodiversity, in a future issue. The Energy, Utility and Environment Conference is being held in the US next week - GallonLetter's editor Colin Isaacs will be speaking at the Conference on the theme of corporate social responsibility, another topic that is covered in GallonLetter from time to time. We hope to see you at the Conference. We end this issue with our usual funny (or strange story) - this one about a proposed long pig registry. Go figure!

Our next issue will include a listing of Environmental Awards for Canadian Companies and Organizations. If your organization offers an award that we might miss, please send details to Meanwhile we hope you enjoy this issue and invite you to comment or criticize, or send suggestions not necessarily for publication, through letters to the Editor at This issue is a little longer than usual - good value for money and, we hope, a good read for dark evenings - we think that feeding and fooding is probably as important to our environmental health as just about any other topic! Have a great New Year!


As this issue of Gallon Environment Letter goes to press, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has announced that it is calling on the Ontario Government to implement a moratorium on wind turbines in the Province. The organization, which claims to represent 38,000 farmers in Ontario, making it the largest farm organization in the Province, claims the following problems with what have become called 'industrial wind turbines':

GallonLetter is dismayed but not surprised by the position of the OFA. The organization frequently opposes environmental initiatives and makes claims about how much its members care about the environment when the evidence from field observations is that some Ontario farmers periodically break rules designed to protect neighbours, the environment, and animal welfare. Evidence from the countryside suggests that the environment is among the lowest of the farm organization's priorities.

Unfortunately, no one is going to win the battle that the farm organization has joined. Some of the claims made by the OFA are clearly spurious; others are unscientific. Instead of seeking to resolve the conflicts between those who want Ontario to become a leader in wind power and those who have concerns about nearby turbines, the OFA has chosen to join one side of the battle. There is no doubt that the Ontario government contributed significantly to the problem by implementing a green energy program that removed local control of siting decisions but stopping all wind power development in the province is not the solution to that issue.

Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Ontarians support wind power in the province. Far more want wind power than are committed to local food. If the OFA wants the environmental community in the province to implement a boycott of food from Ontario Federation of Agriculture member farmers it is certainly going in a direction which may well end up with that.

Colin Isaacs
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Biologist Edward O. Wilson wrote that the world’s food supply relies on a “slender thread of biodiversity” - most of the food supply is from corn, wheat and rice. He warned that "The race is now on between the technoscientific forces that are destroying the living environment and those that can be harnessed to save it. We are inside a bottleneck of overpopulation and wasteful consumption. If the race is won, humanity can emerge in far better condition that when it entered, and with most of the diversity of life still intact." More consumers in developed countries such as Canada are thinking more about their food choices but the race to improve the food chain system sometimes seems to have barely started.

At least a billion people in the world have barely enough to keep from starving. Their food supply may be limited but it doesn’t mean they aren’t trying. There is a marvellous book published by Canada’s IDRC showing how much skill and knowledge people apply to eating uncultivated plants. One chapter shows how poor people in Bangladesh find, pick and cook uncultivated food sources, in what seasons and for different purposes such as nutrition and medicine. This gives the reader an insight into the kind of knowledge that might be very useful to the rest of us sometime.

It has been estimated that, for Canada, about 13% of total residential energy use is for food cooking and storage. It might be reasonable to suggest that householders focus more on reducing energy in other areas such as space heating, but restricting the view to residential energy use gives a poor picture of the overall energy, climate, biodiversity and environmental impact of eating.

More householders eat pre-prepared food and spend time away from home. Much of our food storage and preparation energy is therefore used in offices, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, and holiday resorts. Much of the energy and environmental impacts of food occur before the householder eats the food and afterwards such as in landfills and sewage treatment plants. Actions such as recycling and composting keep material out of landfill which generate methane gas, one of the more potent gases causing climate change.

Wilson, Edward O. The Future of Life. New York, NY: Vintage, Books, A Division of Random House, 2002.

Chapter 7: Biodiversity and the Technology of Cooking: Uncultivated foods and the technology of cooking in Farhad Mazhar, Daniel Buckles, P.V. Satheesh, and Farida Akhter. Food Sovereignty and Uncultivated Biodiversity in South Asia: Essays on the Poverty of Food Policy and the Wealth of the Social Landscape. Academic Foundation/IDRC International Development Research Centre, 2007.


In 2001, frozen pre-cooked dinners and baked goods accounted for 31 cents of every dollar spent on ‘other foods, materials and food preparations’. That compares with 26 cents in 1996. People are also spending their food dollars differently in other ways. For example, more households than ever began buying yogurt. The percentage of households that purchased yogurt jumped from 9% in 1996 to 22% in 2001.

In 2001, 30 cents of the food dollar was spent on restaurant meals with 70 cents spent in stores compared to restaurant spending of 25 cents out of each food dollar two decades ago. In 2001, households spent an average of almost $38 a week in restaurants and $86 on food purchased in stores. Single males spent more eating out.

Supermarkets: Giant Share of Food Dollar

More than 80 cents of every food dollar spent in stores in 2001 was spent in supermarkets. Specialty food stores, convenience stores and other types of stores such as department stores or drug stores were well behind, with less than 10 cents each of that dollar. Direct purchases from farmers and other producers is included in food speciality store which also includes bakeries, butcher shops, and health food stores.

Supermarkets are great for supplying a large portion of the grocery list but rely heavily on the extensive links of globalization. Since the economic crisis, more researchers are reporting on the uncertainty caused by the dense connections of globalization because almost nobody knows what crisis could be next if some of those links are cut by natural or human-caused events. What if there is a flu epidemic which closes the borders to vegetable and other food imports or if there is a nation-wide strike at one of the big food chains. The risk is high that the many households could run short of food.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In many respects, the Buy Local Food campaigns are more a sustainability issue than purely an environmental issue, more about food security and local economic development, though the environment is also important. The idea being that as well as reducing some of the food miles, if you know where the food comes from you can also see at least to some extent how environmentally sound the farm or supplier practices are. Shopping locally, for example, allows for more effective use of returnable and reusable packaging. Hewitt's, a local dairy here in Haldimand, bottles for Harmony Organic and sells organic milk in both cartons and bottles. It makes sense to use bottles, which are much heavier than cartons, when they have to travel only very short distances and are reused again and again.

Large supermarkets and the big box retail and drug stores now selling food are often so large that small local producers cannot sell to them because of the distribution systems. The economies of scale of the large chains often means the demise of local grocers, bakers and butchers. Although it is likely that, if the international food distribution system is disrupted for any reason, the local food supply would not be able to ramp up fast enough to feed all those who rely on the big stores, local food producers and processors, abattoirs, bakers, fruit growers, juice makers and so on could make a difference. Even so, local food may not always be seen as advantageous. For example, in Japan, where local food and seasonal specialities are valued, last year's tsunami and resulting radioactive leaks, caused people to regard local fresh produce, fish and other food from near the radiation zone with suspicion. Even famous restaurants in Tokyo suffered from lack of customers as a result of fears of contamination.

Even when food is local, processing for that food in Canada is in decline. GallonLetter's editor used to buy beef direct from a local farmer in the Hamilton area. The farm partner and the customers went to the butcher to say how the meat was to be cut and then we wrapped it and labelled it ourselves for fast freezing for later pickup. Lots of questions were answered there, some gave insight into how this family farmed and some were amusing e.g. a couple of young guys wanted to know what a steer was and got a quick answer from the matter-of-fact farm woman. But then the butcher became big and the small scale farmer could no longer find a place to have the few cows/steers butchered. Since then we have bought most of our meat (beef, lamb, pork, and chicken) from Tony and Fran McQuail who farm organically using a concept called holistic management in Lucknow, not exactly local but still in Ontario. [If you are in Ontario and interested in buying somewhat local organic meat, they are at ]
More money stays local if consumers shop more directly, at smaller outlets or at larger stores which offer local food products. Otherwise, knowledge and resources such as land, equipment, and skilled labour for growing, storing, preserving, processing and cooking local foods may be lost. Crops and livestock adapted to the local area are replaced by mass market versions. If diseases or pests attack what has become a near-monoculture, the genetic resources which could replace the loss may no longer be available to cross-breed a more resistant wheat or sheep, for example.

Colin Isaacs


Large stores are often regionally located making them less accessible to walkers and cyclists. Studies in the US show millions of people live in "food deserts" making it difficult for poor or less mobile people to buy from other than convenience stores where the food is less healthy and more expensive. In Saskatoon a non-profit organization, CHEP, is one of a number of initiatives doing something about this.

The Good Food Box is an alternative food distribution initiative which packs up to 2000 boxes a month. The goals are:
Food security for all is the overall goal. Food Security is "defined as a situation both globally and locally in which:
Seven different types and sizes of boxes are offered. Examples are:
Orders and payment are due in advance, food comes in a returnable plastic container and "Contents change according to season, quality, price, availability of foods, and input from the community."

Collective Kitchens

The CHEP program also offers collective kitchens, usually kitchens in schools and churches. The cost depends on the size of the family, the type of food cooked and childcare with matching funds by the Collective Kitchen Partnership. Participants improve their cooking skills, make connections to the community by helping each other, and build self-sufficiency. Training is offered on such topics as food safety, healthy eating, leadership, cooking for diabetics, how to use recipes, canning workshops, bread-making, canning and freezing, bulk buying, cooking legumes, cooking in large quantities and grocery store tours. The program includes a Grub and Gab supper and discussion forum which is free and discusses food issues.

GallonLetter notes that in some families or neighbourhoods communal cooking is traditional. A feature of a trip on the Dempster Highway in the Yukon/Northwest Territories  is to see the native people in camps on the spectacular Mackenzie River gathered to fish and dry fish. Families and community groups everywhere often share equipment and skills to make foods in large batches to share amongst various families such as ravioli or pierogis, cabbage rolls, sauerkraut or kimchi, cookies or sausages.

CHEP. Good Food Box. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


In 2007, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report identified a new concept which had grown since its launch in 2002, when the first Dream Dinners outlet opened in the United States. The Super Suppers franchise opened its first outlet in 2003 and a number of other companies are mentioned in the report. Meal Assembly Centres help consumers make freezer and oven-ready meals ready in bulk at one time. Consumers choose meal options and can have the options prepared for them or come in and prepare the meals themselves. The ingredients are made ready at each station and the consumer follows the recipe. They can add more or less spice, add or omit ingredients. The cooking instructions are then attached to the food packaging, which is minimal and the consumers switch stations to prepare the next meal. The staff clean up and the consumer takes home the set of meals for freezing. All the entrees can be cooked within half an hour at home usually in one pot or the aluminum tray the food is made on.

Some grocery stores have meal preparation centres, which can be adapted to consumer interest in organic, low sodium, low sugar, low fat, whole grain, whole fibre, gourmet and so on. Some centres also support special dietary needs such as gluten and lactose free. Interests such as locally grown would restrict Canadian access to US meal assembly centres.

Many of the meal assembly chains use large distributors so they might not be so close to home cooking; many of the recipes use already processed foods such as canned soups. It is possible that such meal assembly centres could have environmental benefits by centralizing shopping, preparation and cleanup, and reducing the amount of pots and water use at home. When asked why they didn't just buy frozen food, some consumers say that they liked knowing more about what is in the food, leaving out ingredients not liked and being able to say they made the meal (even if in essence they didn't really do much cooking).

Households Have Decreased Scratch Home Meal Preparation

The report, which is primarily about export opportunities, also talks about some of the data available about Canadian consumers:
GallonLetter wonders if in some households, fresh produce is ever served. GallonLetter's partner used to go for a day to the booth of The Ecological Farmers of Ontario at the Norfolk Fair. Adults, teenagers and children of all ages would try to name the vegetables in a basket (organic but that wasn't essential to the game). They were keen enough to try but many just couldn't do it. The vegetables weren't exotic: cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes, tomatoes but it was a real challenge for many of the people that stopped in a day. The idea that students could be in high school and not be able to identify basic foods was a shock at first. One year a four year old won the contest; he was stuck on the purple onion until his mother said, "The colour is different but it is the vegetable that makes you cry when you cut it." His mother said the child helped out in the kitchen.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In an article in Science in May 2011, U.S. farmers, ranchers and scientists wrote that buyers of food have a big role to play in the necessary implementation of more sustainable agricultural systems. Farms grow food but farms and the rest of the food chain are a major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity, natural resource loss and public health problems. The paper describes the 2010 report by the US National Research Council which identifies already existing alternative farming systems and which calls for "both incremental and transformative changes to address the many challenges of the future." The current industrial agricultural systems are not sustainable.

Incremental changes include "pest-resistant varieties, conservation tillage, integrated pest management and use of crop diversity including cover crops, crop rotations, and other biologically integrative technologies and practices".

Transformative changes include "the development of new farming systems that represent a dramatic departure from the dominant systems of present-day American agriculture and capitalize on synergies and efficiencies associated with complex natural systems and broader social and economic forces using integrative approaches to research and extension at both the farm and landscape levels. Examples include development and broad adoption of water conserving production systems in areas of water shortage and overdraft, landscape-scale reduction of nutrient and other materials runoff from agricultural lands that contributes to major hypoxic zones, and assessment of the potential and cost for broad adoption of alternative animal production systems that address many environmental and social concerns of some dominant production systems."

The problem is not the shortage of technologies, as many examples of innovative alternative agriculture practices already exist, but the structure of the agri-food industry which relies on high volume, low cost feed, food and fuel with farmers restricted by contracts to supply to large consolidated food companies. The lifestyle of consumers is dependent on these systems which have "contributed to a national obesity and health crisis." Most agricultural policies are not designed for sustainability. Developing countries can learn from the US so that they can avoid the problems of the industrialized agricultural system. The US and developed world can learn from the developing countries about sustainable farming practices.

Consumer Demand

Consumers are already changing the system by demanding more socially and environmentally responsible food including animal welfare, ecosystem protection, worker safety and conservation. Examples of expanded demand include the US Department of Agriculture Certified Organic label, local, organic, and grass-fed livestock. The authors suggest that consumers could do much more to drive public policy to support farms which achieve sustainability goals and to change the marketplace.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A guide produced by The Co-operators and Natural Step Canada encourages homeowners to take steps towards sustainability by thinking of the home as part of the greater system of community and the environment. For example, reducing waste means that less goes to the landfill which may then not need to be expanded at great expense to the taxpayers.

Thinking of the home as a system with interconnected parts includes
Each part of the system affects other parts.

Householders are asked to think about things by answering questions each one of which has some guidance on what to consider. First steps relate to identifying goals and taking stock on a whole house basis and then each room gets attention. The bigger system view is also to be considered. Specific to the kitchen are:
GallonLetter lauds the thinking about the home and its people as a system which in turn is also part of a system. For example, it should encourage people to be more aware of how where they live and how their circumstances affect their impacts on the environment. For example, BC Hydro reminds residents that they can use as much as half of the quantity of detergents than is commonly recommended by the manufacturer if they live in a soft water area e.g. Metro Vancouver. Of all the kitchen appliances, if there is an appliance to choose first to upgrade to the highest energy efficiency it is the refrigerator because it runs 24 hours a day.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Three Canadian professors doing research in organic agriculture reviewed 130 studies to compare farm-level energy use and the Global Warming Potential GWP of organic and conventional production sectors. They concluded that on a whole farm basis, organic farming uses less energy on a per hectare and per farm product basis, with possible exceptions for poultry and fruit sectors. For GWP, evidence is insufficient except that results per hectare are better for organic farming than GWP per unit product. Organic farms are less likely to be able to use energy offsets such as biogas, energy crops and biomass residues because they need the biomass to build soil.

Farm use of energy in the total food chain is estimated to be 35%. Organic farms show 20% improvement in energy efficiency compared to non-organic farms reducing total food chain energy use by 7% or more. Wholesale/retail activities in the food chain including cooling, packaging and processing require 30% or more of the total food system energy. So other means of reducing energy include reducing food waste, processing and packaging.

Lynch, Derek H., Rod MacRae and Ralph C. Martin. The Carbon and Global Warming Potential Impacts of Organic Farming: Does It Have a Significant Role in an Energy Constrained World? Sustainability 2011 Vol. 3, pp 322-362.


The 31st Annual Guelph Organic Conference: Seeds of Co-operation, will be held January 26-29, 2012 at the Guelph University Centre, Guelph Ontario.

This midwinter event is intended for traders. farmers, gardeners, researchers, me and media. Eaters are welcome too as organic food is for sale, samples for tasting are available and the cafeteria offers an organic meal. The two day weekend trade show and expo is free to the public. The 34 workshop program is fee-based but the fees are very reasonable. Topics include building local organic value chains using a co-op model, Organic Council Ontario focus on youth and social media, organic seeds, organic livestock, grow your own organic mushrooms on logs, forest gardens,  an1equipment for small farms. Inquiries organix[] Tel: 519 824 4120 Ext 56205


The Organic Center (Boulder, Colorado) advises consumers on how to save money overall with the goal of buying more organic food. They ask consumers to vote with their dollar to keep organic in the stores. Among the 10 tips are:
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Helen and Scott Nearing moved from Manhattan to the country first to Vermont in 1932 and then to a farm in Harbourside, Maine in 1952. Admirers came from all over to talk, eat and work with these two back-to-the-landers who wrote 50 books, among the most famous being "Living the Good life" and "Continuing the Good Life". Scott died in 1983 at the age of 100 and Helen at 91 when she hit a tree while driving a car.

In her book Simple Food for the Good Life, Helen Nearing had some advice which includes, "the universal rule for good cooking might well be: have fresh things of the highest quality, prepared as simply as possible, and cooked at the last moment so nothing sits around long. ...The simpler the food, the better the rawer, the better; the fewer mixtures, the better. This way of eating involves less preparation, less cooking, easier digestion, more food value, better health and more money saved. "

Her recipes are about doing “without” including such ingredients as meat, fish, fowl, white sugar, white flour, baking soda or powder, salt (unless sea salt), eggs, milk, breads, pies, pastries. Instead there is fruit, vegetables and the whole grains.

Nearing: Food Philospophy One Aspect of Social- and Eco-justice

Recently Canada’s Natural Resources Minister called domestic and American environmental groups “radical” for participating in the Northern Gateway Pipeline consultations while he found it perfectly acceptable to have foreign and domestic oil companies participate. In that context, Scott Nearing was fired from the University of Pennsylvania (not the same as Penn State) for his "radical" views in 1915.

He was an economics professor who deplored the economic inequalities in America and committed to making a contribution not only to the students and the University but society at large. More specifically he objected to use of child labour in coal mining. The university president fired him because coal mining executives on the University’s Board didn’t like to be criticized. Nearing is said to have been the first university professor fired for his “radical” views. Apparently he was regarded by many as brilliant and his situation is credited with fuelling a long discussion on the need for tenure to protect academic freedom from political and corporate interference. GallonLetter hopes that the NRCAN’s Minister attack will also fuel a discussion that the environmental view will also gain a kind of tenure so that governments cannot dismiss environmental protection due to political and corporate interests.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Manitoba Forage Council is promoting grass-fed beef which is said to be high in omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid, both said to have health properties. Advantages of animals spending most of their time on pasture rather than a feedlot are said to include:
A production protocol assures those in the food chain that the cattle meet the specifications such as:
GallonLetter notes that if the program increases the land in pasture and if the number of animals on the pasture is not too high, depending on other management practices there could be a positive effect on biodiversity as compared to growing corn and other grain crops to feed the cattle. Grassland birds are among those most seriously at risk in parts of Canada.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Scott Vaughan this year audited the marine capture fishery in Canada including First Nations, commercial and recreational users but not inland fishing or aquaculture.

Fish stock may vary naturally or otherwise. For example in 2009 the Pacific salmon run in the Fraser River was dismal, only 1.9 million sockeye represented a continued downward trend and much lower than the 10 million predicted by the Pacific Salmon Commission. Then in 2010, the run in the Fraser River was over 34 million sockeye, the highest number since 1913. Before European arrival the numbers of sockeye were thought to be over 100 million. The increase in 2010 doesn't mean the stock is now going to bumper numbers. The CESD says that Canada committed to using the precautionary approach for fisheries management by signing the United Nations Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Stock for managing these kinds of stocks and in essence also for managing domestic stocks.

The study outlines key properties of sustainable fisheries. Properties are divided into four categories: environmental, economic, social and organizational. As well as limits on harvesting based on ecological limits not only for targeted species but non-targeted speies and the application of a precautionary approach if there is uncertainty about the stock, the ecosystem itself whcre the fishery operates must not be allowed to degrade over the long term. The harvest limits are adjusted if external factors affect the health of the stock.

Eco-certification of fisheries is both a positive and negative. Generally it would be a good sign if a fishery can demonstrate it meets the criteria needed to get certification. Ecocertification is also a complication for managing fisheries. Certification is expensive for fisheries managers and fishers and if it becomes a requirement to obtain access to the market, it can be a hindrance. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies 18 Canadian fisheries and 130 fisheries globally.

Vaughan asked in his winter report "Will fish continue to be available in the future to provide the food and jobs on which many people have come to rely? The availability of fish can't be taken for granted."

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Loblaws Inc. has committed to "ensure that all of the wild and farm-raised seafood and fish in our stores is sustainably sourced by the end of 2013." Steps include:
The leaflet promoting the initiative in the stores says, "By taking these steps we're becoming a more responsible retailer and we're giving our customers the option to choose sustainably sourced seafood. We want to be your number one seafood destination....Get on board with us."

The stores left some of their seafood display trays empty to show consumers that some fish species which used to be for sale are no longer offered for sale.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The latest energy data published by Natural Resources Canada show that residential energy use increased by 14% from 1990-2008. Total residential floor space has increased by 46% while the total increase in households is 33%. The energy use would be even higher were it not for energy efficiency.

If homeowners think only about energy, then the most effective steps to take are to reduce space heating which accounts for 62.8% of residential household energy use. Water heating is next at 17.5% and appliances at 13.9%. There has been a decline of 15.6% in the residential energy use attributable to major appliances and a 149.9% increase in the energy use of other appliances including televisions, video cassette recorders, digital video disc players, radios, computers and toasters. Lighting is 5.0% and space cooling, which has increased by 118.8%, is still only 1.6% of total residential energy use.

Energy for food includes many of the energy uses of the home which are not easily allocated: space heating for a place to cook and eat, water use for cleaning the kitchen and eating space, ditto for lighting, even energy for major appliances may not always be for food use although oven, range, microwave, refrigerator and freezer (if one is in the house) probably are. The old extra beer frig in the basement is often the target for recycling advertisements by hydro companies.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Tips to save energy and money on cooking by Natural Resources Canada include:
Choosing different options for cooking:
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A US review of energy use changes from 1997 to 2002 indicate that food-related energy use has increased at the rate of six times the rate of increase in total US energy use. Food related energy use is expected to continue to increase. Reason include substituting energy to replace labour in the food chain, population growth, more outsourcing of manual work at the family level, more use of food suppliers such as restaurants for preparation and cleanup,and more expenditure on food per capita. Many of these are due to increased affluence. Food waste has also increased. The food chain stretches from agriculture, processing, packaging, transportation, whole/retail, foodservice and household.

Waste, water, deforestation, overfishing, air pollution, ocean degradation by runoff of farm chemcals, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of food production aren't assessed.

Agriculture has replaced labour with machinery and more use of agricultural chemicals, increasing both direct farm energy use and of energy for the production of farm inputs. Transport distances have increased. Energy use per truck mile has increased while energy per freight car rail has decreased.

As in Canada, the amount of time individuals spend on cooking and cleaning at home has been reduced sharply. Calorie intake from the 1970s to the mid-1990s for away-from-home food increased from 18% to 32%.

The report describes the chain for a packaged salad. The consumer part of the chain may involve travelling to the grocery store by car, refrigerating the salad mix, using dishes and utensils which are washed in a dishwasher all adding electricity use to the count. Leftover salad may be ground in garbage compactor or disposed to a landfill.

The salad is one of 45,000 different products available in a supermarket store, each with a different energy profile. There are an estimated 140,000 retail food and beverage stores in the US and 537,000 food and beverage service establishments, also each with a different energy profile. Each of these establishments stores, prepare, cleans and disposes of food as do other establishments such as sports arenas, schools, hospitals and other facilities involved in food-related activities.

Cooking Appliances/transport: Energy Portion

Estimates for 2002 food-related household electricity which accounts for 26% of total household electricity use are:
Figures are also given for natural gas and propane cooking. The assumption was that 1 in 7 shopping miles are food related resulting in food-related transport accounting for 2% of household vehicle miles. This may be an underestimation.

Product Mix

How much people buy and what people buy affects the energy. For example, changes in consumer budgets for processed dairy, processed fruits, meats (beef, pork and other meats) and vegetables reduced energy flows in the food chain for those products while increases in spending on frozen, canned, snacks, alcoholic beverages, pet food, and food away from home increased the energy flow. The increase in food-related energy use would have been higher but for this changed product mix and allocation of the food budget.. The changes reduced the increase by 20%.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The supermarket chain Sobey's provides Green Cooking Tips including:
GallonLetter notes that in areas such as in Ontario where we have smart meters, dishwashing off-peak hours which is after 7pm and before 7am on weekdays and all day on holidays and weekends, also saves money while reducing peak load on the power generation system.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Since October 2011, residents of British Columbia have been able to drop off more than 120 small appliances at over 100 locations in the province. The Unplugged program under the Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association is the first Canadian small appliance recycling program expecting to recycle two million small appliances a year which used to go to landfill. The press release says the scrap will be processed in Western Canada, separated into different materials with the metal smelted, glass and plastic sorted and sold for reuse. GallonLetter sure hopes that this means that this material which includes counter-top microwave oven doesn't end up dumped overseas. New products will have a recycling fee applied. There are 14 different categories including garment car, air treatment, floor cleaning, personal care, time measurement and even small items such as air fresheners.

The length of the list just of small appliances used in the kitchen might be a little surprise for our readers. Maybe next time there is an electrical gadget to buy, we all will ask the question, "Does our home really need this and will we use it enough to justify the environmental impact?" Maybe like giving puppies when it hasn't been determined yet that the family can commit to a pet, it should be a faux pas to give electrical appliances as gifts unless specially asked for.

The Recyclable Small Appliance List for B.C.

Kitchen Countertop – Motorized
• Blenders
• Beverage fountains
• Can openers
• Cheese maker
• Coffee grinders
• Cotton candy makers
• Drink mixers for home use
• Electric knife sharpener
• Food bag openers
• Food chopper
• Food processors
• Food slicer
• Gelato maker
• Germ killing cutting board
• Hand mixers
• Ice crushers
• Ice cream makers
• Ice cream whippers
• Juice extractors
• Juice press
• Knives
• Smoothie maker
• Stand mixers
• Meat grinders
• Pasta makers
• Potato peeler
• Salt and pepper mill
• Spice grinder
• Wine bottle openers

Kitchen Countertop – Heating
• Barbeque
• Bread makers
• Buffet warmer trays
• Chocolate fountains
• Contact grills
• Countertop ovens
• Countertop rotisserie ovens
• Crème brule makers
• Deep fryers
• Double burners
• Egg cookers
• Fondue pots
• Food bag sealers
• Food dehydrator
• Food steamers
• Fry pan/griddles
• Heating coil
• Hot air corn poppers
• Hot plates
• Mini hot dog rollers
• Panini press
• Portable stoves
• Pressure cookers
• Rice cookers
• Sandwich makers
• Slow cookers
• Soup makers
• Tabletop grills
• Toaster ovens
• Toasters
• Waffle irons
• Woks
• Yogurt maker

Kitchen Countertop - Heating (Coffee/Tea)
• Coffee urns
• Drip coffee makers
• Espresso/cappuccino makers
• Hot beverage makers
• Kettles
• Percolators
• Pod coffee makers
• Tea makers

Countertop Microwave Ovens
• Countertop microwave ovens 1 cu. Ft and over
• Countertop microwave ovens less than 1 cu. Ft

What’s Not Accepted
• Appliances not powered by electricity or batteries
• Large appliances (e.g. dishwashers, ovens, washers, dryers)
• Appliances designed for commercial or industrial use
• Built-in appliances (e.g. ceiling fans, some microwaves, central vacuums)
• Appliances with refrigerant (e.g. air conditioners, refrigerators, dehumidifiers)
• Appliances still containing food residue, liquids or vacuum bags

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In November 2011, the Canadian Appliance Manufacturers Association and the Retail Council of Canada released a draft for major appliance stewardship. to comply with The BC Recycling Regulation (B.C. Reg. 449/2004 – the “Regulation”) under the Environmental Management Act which comes into effect July 2012. Among the appliances specific to food preparation, storage and food cleanup are:

Refrigeration Appliances: Includes standard household refrigerators without a freezer unit, standard refrigerators with a freezer unit (top mount, bottom mount or side by side), chest freezers, upright freezers and under cabinet refrigerators, wine coolers, beverage centres, electric water dispensers, and ice makers;

Cooking Appliances: Includes gas or electric ovens and ranges with gas or electric cook tops, warming drawers, built in cook tops, and over-the-range microwave ovens with or without hood vent combinations and ventilating range hood

Dishwashers: Includes free standing or built in electric powered dishwashers

Food Waste Disposers: Includes electrically powered devices attached to drain that mechanically crush food waste and discharge it into a household drain

Trash Compactors: Include electrically powered devices that compress household waste for subsequent disposal.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.

By Don Blakely, On Farm Food Safety Specialist, Food Safety & Traceability Programs Branch
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs OMAFRA

Most grocery retail chains now offer loyalty cards to customers as a way of offering discounts and encouraging them to shop at their stores. The retailer benefits by obtaining data on what consumers purchase.

Recent foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States have uncovered another benefit to loyalty cards. When someone gets food poisoning tracing the food source cause can be a big challenge. Most people cannot remember everything they consumed in the previous weeks to being sick. By getting permission from those who were sick, trace out teams were able to access their grocery purchasing data from their loyalty card accounts. The result was finding common purchases across several sick individual’s accounts and quick identification of the food product causing the problem. This new tool has not been utilized yet in Canada but it is good to know we have a new method for discovery if faced with a foodborne illness outbreak.

For training and other resources, call 1-877-424-1300, or visit our website Food safety questions? Ask us. We can help.


The variables in ingredients, geography, distances, agricultural practices, processing, packaging and transport are just a few factors which make analyzing the environmental impacts of dinner complicated. Many studies focus on one ingredient or product. An innovative approach is a study of the carbon footprint of the Finnish food sector using a typical Finnish lunch plate consisting of half vegetables, one quarter protein and one quarter carbohydrates. Interpretation of these and all life cycle assessments depend on various elements including the system boundary which specifies what is considered and what is not

Comparisons were made for the standard plate prepared at home, in public food service and for an industrially prepared ready meal. The home and ready meal servings were standardized for 740 kcal and the school lunches were the actual size. Finns apparently eat a lot of ready meals with home prepared meals more common more on weekends than weekdays. The impact of a standard plate depend on raw materials and production process.

A single lunch portion varied between 570g and 3.8 kg of CO2 e (carbon dioxide equivalent). Salad (150 g portion) grown in a greenhouse had a carbon footprint of over 600g CO2e and a salad made from field ingredients ranged from 130g to 370g CO2e. For the average plate, about 70% of the CO2e was due to production of the raw materials on the farm. For vegetarian lunch plate, the farming share was between 30-50%. Waste and water use weren't studied.

The conclusions of the study are that eco-foods, better for human health and the environment, should include
The lowest carbon footprint lunch plate was a school-made vegetable macaroni casserole with a close second a homemade broad bean (fava bean) patty with mashed potato. The lowest to highest carbon footprint for rainbow trout cassorole was school, ready to eat and home. Minced beef meat-macaroni cassorole made at home had almost double the CO2e compared to the other foods.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Another older Scandanavian study on meals looked at broader environmental impacts besides climate change and came to similar conclusions: home cooked doesn't automatically reduce environmental impacts. Comparing food requires a vast number of parameters.

The meal was meatballs with potatoes, bread, carrots and milk, a common meal in Sweden. It can be home-made, purchased frozen or semi-prepared (chilled fried meatballs with mashed potato powder). It was assumed that the meal was consumed on the day it was made or purchased so home storage was not counted. The study didn't analyze other aspects of meal preparation such as taste, nutritional quality, cultural or social values such as making something traditional for the family.

The conclusions would vary with different meals but the differences between this meal in its three versions (home made, semi-prepared, industrially processed) were small. Most of the impact was due to agriculture which accounted for 30% of the energy impact and 95% of eutrophication (the other 5% is sewage treatment and transport). Transport in industry, packaging and consumer areas were also significant. Variations depended on raw material use, packaging and residue/waste treatment.

Some observations were:
Perhaps the most valuable comment made by the authors is that of looking not at the food chain as it is today but what it could be including changing systems such as agriculture, energy, waste and sewage treatment.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.

As households and food services outsource food preparation to food processers, energy use from commercial food processing increases due to increased volume. Efficiencies to achieve environmental goals become even more important for the ccrporate food sector. A presentation by Dominic D’Amours, Director, Sustainable Development at the lifecycle conference CYCLE2010 in Montreal outlines how using life cycle based environmental assessment is part of the sustainability strategy at Pineridge Foods (Toronto, Ontario). Pineridge has bakery and other food businesses. In 2007, it acquired Gourmet Baker and Oakrun Farm Bakery.

The presentation addresses Gourmet Baker but Oakrun uses over 2500 tonnes of packaging to pack bagels and muffins for Tim Hortons and investigated improvements such as increasing the amount of product per shipment and reusable containers.

The presentation outlines the various components of environmental impacts of the Gourmet Baker lifecycle including:
The climate change impact for 2008 was allocated 13% for supply chain and operation, 86% storage and distribution and 1% product use. The climate impacts varied widely by raw materials, by type of packaging material, and activities at different locations and factories.

Some of the other observations were:
The data informed the Sustainability Strategy Plan which aims to improve performance in:
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Comox Valley Regional District headquartered in Courtney, British Columbia offered the Green Cone for sale for composting household waste including waste not commonly recommended for home composting.

Mostly home composters have been advised not to compost meat, dairy, fat and egg shells. The most common reason has been that animal-based products are more likely to attract animals although some animals even carnivores like coyotes will eat vegetables if nothing more meaty is available.

The Comox Strathcona Waste Management offered Green Cone Food Digesters to divert not only fruit and vegetable scraps but also "cooked and uncooked meats, fish and bones and dairy products along with other food wastes such as bread and pasta." It is not suitable for yard waste.

It could be that there are still good reasons in some circumstance for not composting animal-based waste but on the whole GallonLetter is happy to see this shift to recommending composting all food waste at home. We have been doing this for many years using a different unit (the Enviro-Cycle) which we like better than the Green Cone but it might be a personal preference. Composting all food waste, rather than just the plant-based food, means we can put the garbage out only when we need to e.g. every four to eight weeks because there isn't enough volume to put out weekly. If there were food waste in the garbage, it would become too smelly.

In addition to reducing waste to landfills, among the benefits of having the garbage and recycling vehicles stop less include less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions due to less congestion in urban areas when trucks block traffic, less idling because the trucks don't have to stop and load. Diesel trucks emit particulate matter which is of growing concern for human health. Trucks use more fuel stopping and starting. Trucks also make less noise when they don't have to stop and haul the containers around. It would also be nice to think that less stopping reduces the physical demand on the garbage collector.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


While Canada agreed in 2010 to international biodiversity targets to be achieved by 2020, the responsibility for achieving those targets falls primarily on the provinces. The Ontario Environmental Commissioner of Ontario says that without a strategy, the province won't be able to halt the decline of plants and animals in Ontario. Many ministries have responsibilities.

One of those related to the food theme of this GallonLetter is the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs OMAFRA. There are about 57,000 farming operations in Ontario. The ministry's three strategic priorities are:
1. Thriving Agriculture and Food Sectors
2. Strong Rural Communities
3. Safe Food, Healthy Animals, Healthy Environment.
Among the tools OMAFRA has available for conservation and wildlife protection include:
ECO says that in order to meet the targets for biodiversity, OMAFRA should ensure that:
GallonLetter notes that farm association such as the Ontario Federaion of Agriculture describe farmers as stewards of the land. Obviously some farmers are and some aren't so it would be good to know how the measure works out for OFA members as a whole. We sympathesize with opposition to regulations which don't achieve results and put an unnecessary burden on business but OFA's 2011 review doesn't sound that hopeful for biodiversity initiatives. OFA has an Open for Business Working Group intent on ensuring that "our farm businesses do not fall victim to regulations that penalize farming practices in the name of conserviation and preservation."

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.

EUEC 2012

EUEC 2012, Energy, Utility and Environment Conference. Phoenix, Arizona. January 30-February 1, 2012.
Theme: Clean Tech Stratagies for Environment & Energy Security
Program with 600 speakers on 12 tracks:
- Policy & Legislation
- Clean Technologies
- Multi-Pollutant Control
- Energy & Climate
- Wind, Solar & EV
- CCS & Carbon Mgmt
- GHG Strategies
- Biofuels & Biomass
- Sustainability
- Energy Efficiency
- Renewable Energy
- Operations & Mgmt
For each session of two hours, the speakers have 20 minutes. The moderators maintain a tight time schedule as delay in one session means delay in the following ones.
An example of a session is the one on Sustainability 10am – 12pm January 30, 2011, a session GallonLetter’s editor is speaking at as environmental consultant, the speakers include:


If you enjoy Gallon Environment Letter or find it useful for your work or interests, may we recommend the GallonDaily report. Found at , GallonDaily provides short articles and reports on topics of particular interest to green businesses. One article appears almost every day Monday to Friday - we recommend visiting at least once a week. Our real enthusiasts can also sign up for email notification as new articles are posted.
Recent topics include:

Traceability of food has been a component of organic food for a long time but since disease outbreaks such as BSE in cattle, food poisoning in meat, leafy greens, canteloupes, nuts, etc and deliberate food fraud such as adulteration by melamine and lead, traceability of food products throughout the food chain is becoming more common. A satirical piece in Small Farms Canada concluded that regulations for tracing pigs, now being enacted by Agriculture Canada, could be just as onerous as the long gun registry the federal government was so eager to get rid of. The author Al Pope raises pigs and chickens on a very small farm in the southern Yukon. He writes a weekly column called Nordicity in the Yukon News, which first published this call to Canadians, "Canadians, reist! Don't let your freedoms be trampled into pig poop."

Pope.Al. Harper government ushers in national long pig registry. Feds ignore this basic truth: pigs don’t kill people, people kill people! Small Farm Canada. January-February 2012. [by subscription] and also partially at
Copyright © Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
119 Concession 6 Rd Fisherville ON N0A 1G0 Canada. Fisherville & Toronto

Send Letters to the Editor, for possible publication, to

All rights reserved. The Gallon Environment Letter (GL for short) presents information for general interest and does not endorse products, companies or practices. Information including articles, letters and guest columns may be from sources expressing opinions not shared by the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment. Readers must verify all information for themselves before acting on it. Advertising or sponsorship of one or more issues consistent with sustainable development goals is welcome and identified as separate from editorial content. Subscriptions for organizations $184 + HST = $207.92. For individuals (non-organizational emails and paid with non-org funds please) $30 includes HST. Subscription includes 12 issues about a year or more.