Food Waste Costs Us All

I was prompted to do research on the topic of Food Waste before my interview with Chef Shane Jordan, author of the book Food Waste Philosophy.  I learned that the social, economic and environmental impact associated with food waste is a subject that we all should and need to be aware of.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, approximately 1.3 billion tons, gets lost or wasted.  The FAO estimated that annually, the direct and indirect costs of food waste adds up to $2.6 trillion worldwide.

Bringing it a little closer to home, in the average Canadian household, one in four produce items gets thrown in the garbage.  That translates to about $1,100 a year that we just toss away.

The impact of food waste hits three areas significantly.  It wastes water, wastes land and releases significant amounts of methane gas.

Water Waste

Water is essential for growing agriculture and feeding animals.

When we throw out food we waste the millions of litres of water that were used to produce our food.

Consider this; meat producers are the heaviest water users. Yes, animals drink water.  But added to this, water is needed for the feed animals eat.  It takes about 8 to 10 times more water to produce meat than grain.

The consumption of animal products contributes to more than one-quarter of the water footprint of humanity

Land waste

Land is used for in the production of food for growing crops and raising and feeding livestock.

As well, discarded food eventually makes its way to landfills.

Food waste is both an ethical waste of land and a physical waste of space.

The land used for production, specifically the crops and grassland used in the actual growing (or raising, in the case of livestock), and the land used for retaining food that has been thrown out.

The consumption of animal products contributes to more than one-quarter of the water footprint of humanity”

Methane Gas

As food begins to decompose and rot it releases methane gas.

Methane is a greenhouse gas which many scientists believe adversely affects the earth’s climate and temperature.  About 20 per cent of Canada’s methane emissions comes from landfills.

Added to this the resources needed to produce the food also have a carbon footprint. Globally, the effect of processing the food that is wasted is equal to about 3.3 billion tons of CO2.

3 Tips for Preventing Food Waste

Meal plan

Meal planning is a good step towards reducing food waste.  It centres your shopping on what is specifically needed and helps you to avoid grabbing the ‘just in case items’.  You tend to not over shop when you know what ingredients you need.

Use your leftovers

Using your leftovers is an obvious way to reduce food waste.  I tend to make soups at the end of the week and throw in unused and leftover vegetables.

Leftovers can be repurposed in to new meals and lunches.  They can also be frozen to use at a later date.

Store Food Correctly

  • Move old things to the front of your pantry and fridge shelves and store new things at the back i.e. first in first out in
  • Date and label your food
  • Place things correctly in your fridge.  Store condiments and other items that don’t spoil easily on the fridge door.  Put your perishables on the shelves of your refrigerator.  Place fruits and vegetables in the fridge bins

References:

http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3991e.pdf

http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

https://farmtogethernow.org/2014/11/08/food-waste-causes-effects-and-solutions/

https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Hoekstra-2012-Water-Meat-Dairy.pdf

https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/help-end-food-waste/

https://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/food-waste-methane-and-climate-change

 

 

 

Let’s Practice Safe Sun!

Welcome to August!

August may mark the ‘last’ month of summer but it has also been designated as Sun Awareness Month.

So let’s talk ‘Safe Sun’ shall we!

⁠Why is it important to talk about safe sun practices you ask?  Well it has a lot to do with the fact that the incidences of skin cancer has increased significantly over the past 25 years in Canada.

Skin cancer is divided in to 2 groups, melanoma and non-melanoma.

Melanoma skin cancer starts in the melanocyte cells of the skin. The melanocytes make melanin and it is melanin that gives skin its colour. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer.

The second group is non-melanoma skin cancer comprising basal cell and squamous cell cancers.  These cancers are less serious types and make up about 95% of all skin cancers

Are You at Risk?

There are risk factors for skin cancer.  If you are at a higher risk, you can take the proper steps to protect yourself.

You may be at a higher risk for developing skin cancer if you have:

  • A personal or family history of melanoma
  • Many moles or moles that are unusually shaped or large
  • A susceptibility to burning easily in the sun
  • Light coloured skin, eyes, and hair
  • A history of excessive sun exposure
  • A disease or diseases that suppress your immune system

One of the main causes of skin cancer is over exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

The sun naturally gives out ultraviolet radiation. There are two main types of UV rays that can damage skin.

UVA Rays

  • UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB and play a major part in the aging of our skin.  Think wrinkle rays:)  UVA rays can damage skin cells called keratinocytes. Basal and squamous cells are types of keratinocytes.  UVA rays can contribute to and possibly initiate the development of skin cancers.

UVB Rays

  • UVB rays cause skin reddening and sunburn damaging the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. These rays play a key role in the development of skin cancer.  UVB rays can burn and damage your skin all year-round.  Even in the snowy winter months the snow and ice can reflect UVB rays and damage your skin.

Interesting facts to note

Your skin does not have to be in a blistering, peeling state to be considered burnt.  If your skin has gone red or pink it has been sunburnt⁠.

When your skin gets burnt, the UV radiation causes damage to the DNA of your skin cells and it is this damage that is the underlying cause of skin cancer⁠.

⁠You can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer with proper sun care aimed at avoiding harmful UV rays.

Here are 3 important tips to protect yourself

  1. Seek shade when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.  This is when it is strongest
  2. Cover up with clothing – wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses
  3. Apply sunscreen regularly with at least a SPF15. Use it generously and re-apply regularly

References

http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/skin-melanoma/melanoma/?region=on#ixzz5u2kUehFF

https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2017/05/08/sun-awareness-week-10-new-sun-safety-myths-debunked/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10985-sun-exposure–skin-cancer

https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun-exposure-skin-cancer#1

 

women, sex and cancer

Women, Sex and Cancer

Cancer treatments can have an impact on your sex life.  As a woman, having an understanding of changes that you may experience during the course of your care can help to prepare you and to ease your concerns.

Reproductive Issues

If you are in your reproductive years you should speak to your oncologist, before you begin treatment, about its possible impact on your fertility. Preserving fertility is a viable option in many cases.  It is important to discuss the options available to preserve fertility. women, sex and cancer

Pain or Discomfort During Intercourse

Pain or discomfort during intercourse can also be problematic for some women going through cancer treatment.

Here are some suggestions should this be an issue:

  •  Vaginal lubricants

There are natural vaginal lubricants on the market.  Seek out companies that offer organic oil or water based products.  These will help to increase the comfort of sexual activity.

Coconut oil may also be of use not only as a lubricant but also as an external vaginal moisturizer.

  • Pelvic floor therapy

Pelvic floor therapy for women is a type of physiotherapy that helps with relaxation to loosen tight, tender vaginal muscles resulting in reduced pain during intercourse.

  • Vaginal dilators

Vaginal dilators can help to relieve pain during penetration. They function to stretch the vagina and reduce tightness. They can be used in combination with pelvic floor therapy.

Conclusion

Additional side effects of cancer treatments that can inhibit your ability to enjoy sex include low libido, nausea and fatigue.

It is important to understand that in most cases side effects will be remedied once your treatments are completed.

It is also very important that you keep an open dialogue with your partner during this time.  Speaking to someone with experience in this area may be beneficial both individually and as a couple.

And do remember this.  Intimacy with your partner can be experience in ways other than sexual if, for the time being, a sexual relationship cannot be enjoyed.

 

 

4 Things to Consider if You’re Travelling with a Medical Condition

Guest Post by: Barbara Williams

A majority of travellers who set out to explore the world will have some kind of medical condition, however minor.

But while most will enjoy their adventures without complication, it is worth understanding the importance of taking necessary precautions so that you are fully prepared if your condition does worsen while you are away.

As a rule, anyone who is planning to travel with serious underlying health problems such as cancer or heart disease (among others) should always consult with their doctor before they travel.

But here are four other things to consider if you’re travelling with a medical condition.

  1. Do You Need a Doctor’s Letter?

We have already mentioned the need to consult with your GP before you travel, but you may also need them to write an up-to-date letter if you intend to carry large amounts of medication or an emergency injection kit, which requires you to take hypodermic needles on to a plane. Security staff at airports are used to dealing with cases like this and so will quickly understand your situation. But if you don’t have a letter that has been signed off in the last week before you travel you could face the life-threatening situation of having that medication confiscated before you travel. Don’t put yourself in that position.

 

  1. Know Where to Get Medical Care at Your Destination

You can’t do enough research and preparation on your destination. You should know where you will go if you fall ill and need to see a doctor. You and your travelling partners should also know where you would go in the event of a medical emergency and where the nearest major hospital is. If you do fall ill, you may not be in a position to explain what you know, so make sure you spend some time talking to your travelling companions to make sure they know it all. They should also know the number for your travel insurance company, as they can be invaluable in helping in the event of an emergency. Join the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, as they can be hugely helpful too.

  1. Keep Your Medication in Your Hand Luggage

Perhaps this is self-explanatory – but don’t trust the airlines with your medication. Travel can be completely unpredictable, and you can never be sure your luggage will arrive where and when you do. So, take it in your hand luggage and keep it close at all times. You should also ensure you have enough medication for the duration of your trip. Carefully count out how much medication you have and then pack more just in case your trip goes on for longer than you anticipate.

 

  1. Wear Medical Alert Identification

If you have an underlying medical condition you should already know that you need to wear a medical alert tag, but this is especially crucial when you are travelling. You can now programme medical alert information into your smartphone, allowing medical personnel to check your condition if they find you unconscious or unable to respond. Don’t take any chances.

 

3 Common Characteristics of Cancer Survivors

June is Cancer Survivor Awareness Month.  Battles are being won as the war against cancer continues.

  • Over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after a cancer diagnosis (Canadian Cancer Society)⠀

 

  • Cancer death rates have been declining since 1988 among men, and since the mid-1990s among women (Government of Canada, Canadian Cancer Statistics)⠀

  • Cancer mortality rates are decreasing more than 2% per year for lung, colorectal, prostate and oral cancers in males; breast and ovarian cancers in females; and Hodgkin disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, and larynx cancer in males and females (Government of Canada, Canadian Caner Statistics)⠀

My unique vantage of being both a cancer survivor and a professional working with cancer patients has offered me the opportunity to bear witness to some common threads that weave many survivors together.

Although not exhaustive, I feel that these are the most constant traits of cancer survivors that I see.

3 Common Characteristics of a Cancer Survivor

1. A resolve to make necessary changes in diet and lifestyle

cancer survivorsMany cancer survivors change their diet to include whole, plant-based foods and eliminate processed, pro-inflammatory foods because they understanding that what they eat can either enhance health or detract from it.

Supplements to support health are often included along with dietary changes.

The importance of proper sleep, exercise and mindfulness is appreciated and strived for within the lives of many cancer survivors.

2. A willingness to take active participation in determining their cancer protocolunderstanding

Most cancer survivors have asked questions, considered many avenues of care and have taken an active role in determining the cancer protocol that feels right for them.  Many cancer survivors have taken an integrative approach to their care including modalities such as yoga and meditation in to their cancer protocol.

3. A belief that their body can heal

Survivors tend to have a strong belief that given the proper tools their bodies can overcome and heal from cancer.  Once established, a common trait of survivors is the firm belief that their protocol will be successful.

Life after a cancer diagnosis is different.  As with any profound event we experience, cancer resets the framework for us moving forward.  But we do.  We move forward.

We are survivors.

cancer survivors

 

References:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cancer/canadian-cancer-statistics.html

http://www.cancer.ca