The Facebook-based trading phenomenon with the dubious name Bunz was unknown to me until a couple of weeks ago when its local chapter turned up in my newsfeed. A network with dozens of chapters, like its close cousin, Freecycle, the Halifax Bunz has 8000 local members and is growing weekly. Clearly, this is an idea…

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Our house is not blessed with an abundance of shelf space, and so we must choose our books wisely. I’m pretty assiduous with the yearly weeding out of already-read or unloved volumes, but there is one group of books I would be hard-pressed to part with: my collection of 1970s cookbooks.

Grease-stained and dog-eared, to me they are the perfect escapist literature: a blend of the practical, the comforting, the beautifully illustrated, and the sometimes bizarre. Sure, the dishes they describe can be fussy and time-consuming. I know there are many recipes in there that I will never, ever make. I still love reading them, and when I lack a good novel to lose myself in, I will often pull out a favourite cookbook so I can be transported back to my favourite decade of them all.

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There’s an uncomfortable truth that I’ve encountered often in my thinking and acting (via book authorship and public speaking) on the subject of healthy food: this kind of food is usually the domain of the privileged, and not just because of the higher cost associated with it.

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I’m going to sound about a thousand years old—and not a little intolerant—when I admit my fondness for two venerable alimentary maxims: “Eat what’s set before you” and “Clean your plate.” More specifically, I’m attracted to the straightforward, can-do spirit animating this approach to feeding ourselves, a spirit that is totally lacking at today’s dinner table.

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March Break starts on the 13th, and parents who forgot to register for day camp are now racking their brains for ways to keep the kids happily occupied all week. Here on the East Coast, we had a dress rehearsal for the break in mid-February when a winter’s worth of snow got dumped on us over several days, cancelling school and releasing an avalanche of “What are we doing today?” heard across the region. We should therefore be ready for the real break… but are we?

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World Water Day, March 22, is an excellent time to reflect on how much our survival as a species is connected to the fate of this precious resource.

Water is threatened on all sides by pollution, privatization, and industrial and domestic overuse, yet we often treat it as though it were a limitless commodity, a kind of earth-abuse that will come back to haunt us and our descendants for years to come.

Wanting to shrink our ungainly eco-footprint with respect to water, my family has been able to reduce its water intake to about one-quarter of the Canadian national average. Between October of 2015 and October 2016, our most recent annual water billing period, we have averaged around 250 litres per day–in our household of three people, or just over 80 litres per person per day (by comparison, a March 18, 2009 National Post story states the average single Canadian and American uses about 340 litres per day).

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This past holiday Monday, I and a group of friends and family held a fundraising dinnerat my son’s school in support of two organizations supporting human rights and immigrant settlement in our community. Our goal was to make a dish from each of the seven countries on the current US travel ban (Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and Libya).

I’m happy to report that we sold all 50 tickets to the event, and raised over $1000.00 in support of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

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Last week, I attended a roundtable discussion on the topic of food waste, one of the great shames of modern life. Every year, 28% of the food produced worldwide is wasted; the land mass needed to grow that amount of food would cover China and Mongolia. Worse still, much of the food we throw away will end up in a landfill rather than as beneficial compost (except in fortunate municipalities where composting is mandated). A whopping 47% of wasted food occurs after purchase, which means we consumers are responsible for the bulk of tossed edible items, some of which are still perfectly safe to eat.

This needs to change.

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…A whole lot of “news” is inaccurate, urgently negative, and/or horrific, much like the ingredients in processed food, and many of us feel torn between our desire to remain well-informed about current events and our need to maintain our emotional equilibrium. This is not a selfish impulse—if we are flattened by despair, how can we act to better our world? There’s a reason airline passengers with dependents are instructed to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others with theirs, in the event of emergency.

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