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How to Save our Ontario Farmland

Save Ontario Farm Land

Between 1996-2016, Ontario saw equivalent of 5 family farms paved under each week.

Over the past two decades, Ontario lost farmland at a rate of 175 acres (about 70 hectares) a day, the equivalent of five family farms each week, according to a recent analysis of census data from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). 

That loss has largely been on the urban rim of Ontario’s cities, where outer suburbs meet with some of the country’s best-quality soil, which is being replaced by houses on large lots, new roads, highways and strip malls at a daily magnitude roughly equivalent to 135 football fields between 1996 and 2016, the OFA said. 

The analysis is part of a new advocacy campaign launched this month by the farm group, which seeks to give the preservation of Ontario farmland used for food production new urgency.

Among the most recent threats to farm country, according to the OFA, are Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs, a powerful mechanism used by the province to override local councils to fast-track development that, until the election of the Progressive Conservative government under Doug Ford, was rarely used in the province. 

Save Ontario Farm Land

Use of MZOs raises ‘significant issues’ for farmers

“There’s significant issues with MZOs and the lack of long-term planning,” said OFA president Peggy Brekveld, a northern Ontario dairy farmer. 

She pointed to a number of recent examples where Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark used his extraordinary power to override local planning processes, including fast tracking a housing development in Caledon, a Chinese-owned glass factory in Stratford, as well as a number of other developments in the Greater Toronto Area

While Brekveld criticized the government, she fell short of answering whether farmers, who are among the Ontario PC government’s biggest supporters, may also be its biggest victims when it comes to MZOs. 

“It’s a great question, but I’m not going to go there. Instead, I’m going to say everybody benefits if we look at long-term land use planning.” 

However, the province told CBC News that it only uses MZOs when a local community asks for it. 

“MZOs issued by our government on non-provincially owned lands have been at the request of local municipalities,” Krystle Caputo, director of communications for Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, wrote in an email. 

“The previous Liberal government carved up the Greenbelt 17 times, so it is no surprise they were losing 175 acres of farmland per day,” she said. 

London, Ont., home to some of best land in Canada

The problem of urban expansion is of particular concern in the fast-growing London region, where large swathes of some of the best farmland in Canada  have been paved over in the last half-century for shopping malls and suburban housing developments. 

“Look at how much London has grown,” said Crispin Colvin, a Thorndale area farmer and an executive member of the OFA board of directors. “Masonville being the cattle farm that it once was in the ’70s and ’80s and to the PetSmart and Loblaws. It’s a big problem.”

Colvin said beyond London, many of the small towns and villages that fall into the city’s orbit are also growing quickly, as more people push outwards trying to find cheaper land outside the city — turning places such as Ilderton or Lucan, Ont., into bedroom communities. 

“All of that is class one, two and three land, which is the best land in the country, let alone Ontario, and we only have about one per cent of all land in Ontario that fits into those classes of one, two and three.”  

Under the Canada Land Inventory or CLI, land is graded for its potential agricultural use from one to seven, one being the highest potential for use in mechanized agriculture with high to moderate nutrients and seven being the least, including marshland, rock and steep slopes. 

“The more we lose class one, two and three farmland, the less opportunity we have to grow locally,” Colvin said, noting that Waterloo Region is among the only urban areas in Ontario that shows a preference for building up rather than out. 

Save Ontario Farm Land

Urban growth threatens rural sustainability

The OFA argues the current practice of destroying farmland in favour of urban development at a rate of 175 acres daily is unsustainable because if it continues, it could one day affect the country’s food sovereignty, whereby a people have control of their own food and nutrition from growth to consumption. 

“We lose sight of the fact that food is the most important aspect of development that we should be looking at. We should be protecting our food source.

“If we continue down this path, ultimately Ontario and Canada could be a net importer of food rather than a net exporter of food and that could change our whole economic structure as well, not just our concern with food security.”

Colvin said one only has to look as far as the COVID-19 pandemic to understand what happens to nations who do not control the supply of vital commodities such as food, which he likens to vaccines in the current health crisis. 

“Countries that had vaccine ability were keeping it for their populations and their people. Imagine what would happen if we end up doing the same thing with food?” 


Author Credit:

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who’s worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca

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How to Make Fire Cider – Natural Immune Booster

How to Make Immune Boosting Fire Cider

Written by: Andrea Scarborough, Naturally Knotty Farms

Fire Cider
Fire cider harnesses the beneficial properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs, plus vinegar and raw honey for a nourishing drink with a little kick.

I first discovered a recipe for fire cider years ago. It didn’t sound like something I wanted to try immediately, but when I read about the immune-boosting benefits I decided to be brave and give it a try. Years later, it’s a staple at our house around cold and flu time.

Fire cider is a traditional recipe that contains garlic, onion, ginger, cayenne, vinegar, and raw honey. The original recipe calls for horseradish, but for the sake of the kids I typically substitute echinacea root.

Fire Cider

Fire cider harnesses the beneficial properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs, plus vinegar and raw honey for a nourishing drink with a little kick.

How Does Fire Cider Taste?

Judging by the ingredients in the recipe, you might not expect it to taste very good. I didn’t either and I was quite pleasantly surprised by the taste. I’ve even tried it on salads as a dressing and it has a mild peppery and sweet vinaigrette flavor.

In the winter months, I sometimes take a teaspoon or so of this a day or use it on salads. If illness hits, I’ll take that dose every few hours or add a tablespoon to hot water or herbal tea a few times a day until I feel better.

For the kids, I reduce the cayenne or leave it out and they don’t mind the taste too much since the honey helps balance out the vinegar taste.

If you try fire cider and like it, I highly recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs book as the reason I first discovered this remedy.

Fire Cider
Garlic, Onion, Jalapeno, Orange, Ginger, Apple Cider Vinegar

Spicy Fire Cider Recipe

An old herbal remedy that uses the germ-fighting properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs. plus vinegar and raw honey for an immune boosting and nourishing drink with a little kick. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1 bulb garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 TBSP dried echinacea root (optional)
  • 1 orange (sliced, optional)
  • 1 jalapeño (sliced, optional)
  • apple cider vinegar (organic, with “the mother”)
  • raw organic honey
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Place onion, garlic, ginger, and echinacea root, orange, and jalapeño if using in a quart size mason jar. Make sure garlic is at the bottom and completely submerged.
  • Add enough apple cider vinegar to cover the ingredients. Use a fermentation weight to make sure all ingredients are below the liquid level.
  • Cap tightly and leave in the jar for 2-3 weeks, preferably in a sunny or slightly warm place.
  • After 2-3 weeks, strain and discard the herbs.
  • After straining, measure the apple cider vinegar left and mix it with an equal amount of raw honey and add the cayenne pepper.
  • Store in the refrigerator and take 1 teaspoon as needed daily or when illness strikes. I’ve taken as much as 1 teaspoon an hour during illness until I felt better.

Notes

Don’t worry about the garlic turning green — it’s a normal reaction for garlic immersed in an acid. 

Do you make your own Natural Immune Support? Tell us about it in the comments.

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6 Reasons Why You Should be Making Bone Broth

Bone Broth

Bone broth has become very popular recently, especially among health-conscious individuals. This is because it’s believed to have many health benefits.

Although there is no published research on bone broth itself, there’s plenty of evidence that suggests drinking it may be very beneficial.

This article takes a closer look at bone broth, how to make it and its potential benefits.

What Is Bone Broth?

Bone broth is made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals.

This highly nutritious stock is commonly used in soups, sauces and gravies. It has also recently gained popularity as a health drink.

Bone broth dates back to prehistoric times, when hunter-gatherers turned otherwise inedible animal parts like bones, hooves and knuckles into a broth they could drink.

You can make bone broth using bones from just about any animal — pork, beef, veal, turkey, lamb, bison, buffalo, venison, chicken or fish.

Marrow and connective tissues like feet, hooves, beaks, gizzards or fins can be used.

Health benefits of Bone Broth
Benefits of Bone Broth

1. It Contains Many Important Vitamins and Minerals

In general, bone broth is very nutritious.

However, the nutrient content does depend on the ingredients you use, as each brings something different to the table.

Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other trace minerals — the same minerals needed to build and strengthen your own bones.

Fish bones also contain iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function and metabolism.

Connective tissue gives you glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds found in cartilage that are known to support joint health.

Marrow provides vitamin A, vitamin K2, minerals like zinc, iron, boron, manganese and selenium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

All of these animal parts also contain the protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and yields several important amino acids.

As the ingredients simmer, their nutrients are released into the water in a form your body can easily absorb.

Many people don’t get enough of these nutrients in their diet, so drinking bone broth is a good way to get more.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know the exact amount of each nutrient contained in the broth because every batch of bones is so different.

2. It May Benefit the Digestive System

Scientists have discovered that your overall health depends heavily on the health of your intestinal tract.

Not only is bone broth easy to digest, it may also aid in the digestion of other foods.

The gelatin found in bone broth naturally attracts and holds liquids. This is why properly prepared broth congeals in the fridge.

Gelatin can also bind to water in your digestive tract, which helps foods move through your gut more easily.

It has also been shown to protect and heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract in rats. It is thought to have the same effect in humans, but more research needs to be done to show its effectiveness (1Trusted Source).

An amino acid in gelatin called glutamine helps maintain the function of the intestinal wall, and has been known to prevent and heal a condition known as “leaky gut” (2Trusted Source).

Leaky gut, which is associated with several chronic diseases, is when the barrier between your gut and the bloodstream is impaired.

Substances that your body doesn’t normally allow through leak into your bloodstream, which leads to inflammation and other problems.

For all of these reasons, drinking bone broth may be beneficial for individuals with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

3. It May Help Fight Inflammation

The amino acids found in bone broth, including glycine and arginine, have strong anti-inflammatory effects (3Trusted Source).Arginine, in particular, may help fight the inflammation associated with obesity.

One study shows higher levels of arginine in the blood are associated with decreased inflammation in obese women (4Trusted Source).

Another study in rats suggests that supplementing with arginine could help fight inflammation in obese individuals, but more research needs to be done in humans to support these results (5Trusted Source).

While some inflammation is necessary, chronic inflammation may lead to a number of serious diseases.

These include heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and many types of cancer.

Because of this, it’s important to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods.

4. Its Nutrients Have Been Shown to Improve Joint Health

Collagen is the main protein found in bones, tendons and ligaments.

During the cooking process, collagen from bones and connective tissue is broken down into another protein called gelatin.

Gelatin contains important amino acids that support joint health.

It contains proline and glycine, which your body uses to build its own connective tissue. This includes tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and ligaments, which connect bones to each other.

Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are natural compounds found in cartilage.

Multiple studies have found that glucosamine and chondroitin can decrease joint pain and lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis (6Trusted Source7Trusted Source8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

The proteins in bone broth have also proven beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes painful damage to the tendons and ligaments.

In one study, 60 people with rheumatoid arthritis consumed chicken collagen for three months. Symptoms improved significantly in all 60 participants, with four showing complete remission of the disease (10Trusted Source).

5. It Is Weight Loss Friendly

Bone broth is typically very low in calories, but can still satisfy hunger.

Studies have found that eating broth-based soup on a regular basis can increase fullness, reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss over time (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

What’s more, bone broth contains gelatin, which has specifically been shown to promote feelings of fullness (13Trusted Source).

One study found that gelatin was more effective at reducing hunger than the protein casein, which is found in dairy products (14Trusted Source).

Another study in 53 men found that, when combined with resistance training, collagen helped increase muscle mass and decrease body fat (15Trusted Source).

6. It May Improve Sleep and Brain Function

The amino acid glycine, found in bone broth, may help you relax. Multiple studies have found that glycine helps promote sleep (1617Trusted Source18Trusted Source).

One study found that taking 3 grams of glycine before bed significantly improved the quality of sleep in individuals who have difficulty sleeping (16).

Taking glycine before bed helped participants fall asleep faster, maintain a deeper sleep and wake up fewer times throughout the night. This study also found that glycine reduced daytime sleepiness and improved mental function and memory.

Therefore, drinking bone broth could have similar benefits.

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