Tag Archives: UBC

Food: What can we do?

I don’t know why I didn’t put up my hand.

I don’t know why I didn’t ask the question filling my brain the entire time she was talking.

I’ve rarely been one to shy from asking questions.

I’ve got journalism in my blood for goodness sake; I should have asked the question.

This week I attended the latest installment of the UBC Reads Sustainability series, a program that brings well-known authors to campus to discuss issues of sustainability. It was the first I’d heard of the program, and was intrigued for a few reasons:

1) The speaker, Simran Sethi, is a journalist (see blood above) and her book is called Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. For those of you who’ve been long-time readers, you already know, but for those of you new to the PoP ways, chocolate might as well BE my blood.

2) I am currently taking a Land, Food, Systems course, which is a year-long prerequisite for the dietetics program all about sustainability, systems-thinking, multifunctionalism, etc., which is, without a doubt, my favourite course. The lecturer is super engaging, and my extensive experience as a newspaper journalist in one of the major farming communities of the province gives me a solid base for the content.

Ms. Sethi’s book is an exploration of the changing lands of agriculture through those beloved foods, and the devastating impact of the homogenization of our food that’s been taking over since the industrial revolution.

She talked about how one third of our soils have been eroded.

You can’t grow good food in eroded soils, she said.

She talked about the global trend towards sameness, about how our crops have become a saturated monoculture, one breed of cow for all dairy and meat products, one type of corn, a handful of apple crops versus thousands that used to be grown.

If disaster strikes, we are potentially at risk, she said.

Diversification ensures we have a back-up plan, she said.

We are losing diversification.

She said we need to change things, that we need to invest in our collections, make sure we have a seed vault containing all our seed systems just in case “dooms day” comes; that we need to preserve our wild growth; and support our small farmers.

But she didn’t say how.

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say the approximate 50 or so people in that room were interested and invested in making agriculture more sustainable, steering our farms away from the monoculture of the industrial revolution, committed to supporting our local farmers and farmers’ markets. She was already preaching to the choir.

But, in this case, we are the 1%.

What about the vast majority of the population who is so ingrained in shopping at supermarkets, buying the cheapest product available, either because they can’t afford to do otherwise, or because it’s what they’ve always done. How do we get those people on board?

In order to enact change, in order to stop the small farmers from going under, in order to have a country with food options, a world with biodiversity, it is those people we need to educate and support. Until then, I remain cynical and question whether real change will be made.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been working with the Royal City Farmers’ Market since last January to bring about more education on the value (nutrient and monetary) of farmers’ markets. Last spring, I embarked on a $40 challenge where I spend $40 every market on market-fresh product and outline how long it lasts, the tastes, the meals we get out of it, etc.. For our family, both the taste and monetary savings to our vegetable budget has been a huge eye opener.


When the market went on break for a month between the summer market and winter market, I was so disappointed with every salad I ate in that time. The flavour was just not there.

You can read the posts via the 10th to the Fraser online magazine at www.tenthtothefraser.ca/category/eats-and-drinks/

Tales of a lonely runner

It’s been more than two years since I last had a running partner; it’s been a hard two years. Er, wait, let me rephrase that, it’s been a hard year. (One of the aforementioned years, I was preggers and a new mom, and wasn’t running much.)

When Big Ring and I decided to make our family three, I knew there would be changes. I knew it wouldn’t be as easy for me to drive 45 minutes to run with my favourites, if even possible at all anymore. And I knew it would be difficult, but I thought eventually I’d find a new group of running gals to keep me company, keep my long runs not feeling so long, keep me motivated, competitive, excited to run.

But, to date, there has been no one.

These are the woes of a lonely runner…

And it’s not for lack of trying – this sign went up both in my building and at the market down the quay, both of which I know has a large running community. And the one in my building had all but two of the contact strips removed. Did I get a call?  an email? No.

A friend suggested maybe the resident pot smokers were using the papers for rollies 😉

Now. Let me tell you. Running by yourself isn’t a bad thing, in fact, I think sometimes it’s a great thing. But having a running partner, or a group of partners, is so beneficial… if you’re not feeling a run, but you’ve got someone waiting, you’re not gonna bail; if you’re running a tempo pace, and your partner is kicking ass, hell yeah, you’re gonna kick some ass too, even if only to save face; and if you’re running for hours through miserable rain, or hallucinogenic heat, a good partner can make those hours feel as though they are but mere minutes.

And, if you had a run like I did on Friday, well, a running partner is crucial.

Remember last week when I said I was directionally challenged? Yeah, more like directionally disabled. I headed up to UBC with a route that would take me about 90 minutes to complete. The area is a fairly familiar running ground for me, but the routes planned are ever changing, which is one of the things I love about running out there (and the fact that Big Ring and I can do tag team meetups with Little Ring). Just as I was about to leave, Big Ring reminded me – twice! – that I’d be turning on East Mall not Westbrook Mall. Okay. Okay.

I turned onto Crown. I turned onto 16th. I crossed over at the roundabout. I turned onto Thunderbird. I had my eyes peeled for Westbrook Mall, but instead came to a fork in the road. Oh frig.


I really should glue directions to my eyes!

Seems Big Ring’s reminder didn’t register. Oops. Luckily, I was able to figure out the mix-up fairly easily and get back on my way. But, if I’d had a running partner, I likely wouldn’t have got lost… in fact, when I was running with my favourites, I don’t think we ever got lost. Sigh.

But wait, that’s not all. I also neglected to charge Garmin. At 30 minutes into the run, I got my first ‘low battery’ alert. Two more subsequent alerts sounded before it finally crapped out at 70 minutes in. Now, if I’d had a running partner, I would have had accurate details of the run, and wouldn’t have had to pull out the iPhone (again) and get my Run Keeper app up and going for the final leg. Sigh.

Where’s a charge when you need one?

Enough with the sighing! Let’s get me a running partner(s) already. If you know of anyone who might match or even semi match my pace in the New Westminster area, please send them my way!


  • 11:30 a.m. BG before: 10.2
  • Temp. basal – 50 per cent (3 hours)
  • Carbs: none
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Distance: 15 km
  • Average pace: 5:48 min/km
  • Average cadence: 87 spm
  • Fuel: @60 minutes BG: 6.9 1 fig newton
  • 1:30 p.m. BG after: 7.4
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent (1 hour)


For the love of bling

It wasn’t Tiffany’s, but it was bling.

As I stood in the cool Juneuary air with my moms, my favourite running chick and Miss Speedy next to me, a smile washed across my face while listening to the event organizer talk of the reasons why we had all congregated at Thunderbird Stadium that morning: “We wanted to stay fit, keep active, bond with other women,” she said. But my favourite running chick, she knew we were there for other reasons. She leaned over towards me, soft giggles exiting her mouth as she whispered, “I’m here for the bling!”


Saturday morning my moms and I walked the 5 km Starbucks Run for Women, while my favourites ran the 10k.

Favourite Running Chick and Miss Speedy.

It’s always a risk signing up for first-time events, knowing that they can’t possibly live up to the glory of well-established runs, but hoping they won’t completely bomb (ie. run out of water, run out of fuel, have no spectators, have unenthusiastic volunteers… I’ve been burned on this in the past). But this run, for its first time in Vancouver, was so well organized, it didn’t feel like a small run at all! It had great volunteers, an awesome motivational speech by Canadian Olympian Jen Heil, who also ran in the 5k event, and coming into the finish line, all our names were announced by none other than John Stanton – just like in big time events!

I couldn’t have asked for a better morning. It was a gorgeous setting through the trails of UBC, and great mother-daughter bonding time for me and my moms.


This was the first time my moms and I have participated in an organized event together, and let me just say, she’s a little motorer. There was only one time, early on as we climbed a hill, that she had to slow me down, telling me that she didn’t quite have the fitness in her legs that I’ve got built in mine. But as soon as we crested that hill, it was as though she had a fire chasing her legs. I kept asking her, how she was, if we needed to slow down, and with a lovely smile on her face she kept telling me she was doing great.

When we crossed the finish line, we were rewarded with a specially designed Foxy bracelet; the only thing missing were the firemen to hand them out 😉

Moms showing off her bling…

Favourites showing off their bling!

And the cameras, my gawd, they love the thumb-sucking alien baby bump! I swear I’ve never before had so many pics taken of me by event photographers! And yes, I did “borrow” these … Thanks My Sports Shooter!

And this wasn’t even all the pics taken of me!

Total mileage this weekend: 18 km; 3 km shy of a half marathon!

And that’s the smile of ice cream cake visions about to become reality in my belly 😀

One-fingered salute

It is truly amazing how unfocused or just plain ignorant drivers, cyclists and walkers can be.

Mario and I went out for a bike ride around UBC, Stanley Park and Spanish Banks yesterday, which proved to be a rather busy, traffic-congested day. Wasn’t really much of a surprise given  that it was the unofficial second last day of summer. Not only were there eager students moving into residence, there were tons of families, couples and singles crowding the areas, wanting to get as much beach and sight-seeing time in as they possibly could before school starts up again.

We were keen to catch the last rays of summer too.

Mario and I were on high alert. Had we not been, had we been riding in la-la-land like so many of the other leisurely cyclists and others on the road, we more than likely would have been ending the ride on a stretcher.

In the little more than two-hour jaunt, I was cut off by repeated jaywalkers, as well as a Mercedes Benz as I sped down the hill at Prospect Point, and a guy on a fixie coming off the crowded sidewalks up from English Bay. I was also sandwiched by a roadie on one side and an asshat recreational cyclist on the other passing me at Spanish Banks, and was harassed by a topless guy in a bright orange souped up Dukes of Hazard car, as he impatiently revved his engine behind (so obviously in a hurry to get to Wreck Beach) wanting me to move over, despite there not being any room for me to move over – he even honked his bloody horn at me and then shouted out his window for me to move the hell over when he finally did pass by. Mario (being the knight in shining armour that he is) gave topless guy the one-fingered salute!

And then there was the super cute cruiser bike chick, with her sundress, big sunglasses and scarf, who jetted out into the crosswalk without looking both ways. I’m betting she wouldn’t have looked quite so cute with Lapierre’s tire tracks stamped all over her face. Just saying…

Seriously people, is it really so hard to register a bike is coming your way? Really?



  • 11:45 p.m. BG before: 7.0 (3.5 hours)
  • Temp. basal: -80 per cent
  • Distance: 55 km
  • Average pace: 21.8 km/h
  • Time: 2:23:55
  • BG @1:30 p.m.: 4.6 BG @2:30 p.m. 3.2
  • 4 p.m. BG after: 9.1
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent (2 hours)

Despite the traffic, it was a beautiful day for a ride in a beautiful location with a beautiful person that helped take my mind off the fact I wasn’t running. I just wish my blood sugars would have gotten the beautiful memo. Mind you, the BG drama wasn’t overly surprising.

My body’s sensitivity to insulin almost always goes extreme when on the bike, and as such I have to lower my basal rate drastically, sometimes shutting it off altogether. But I didn’t want to turn it right off, knowing I’d be on the road for a few hours, and would inevitably face a post-ride high as a result of such a prolonged reduced rate.

However, because I was contending with a low BG reading an hour prior to the ride, it was a little more tricky figuring out the perfect insulin-exercise equation, as my BG could shoot up with the additional sugar intake, or drop down once I started pedaling. As well, I also had to guesstimate a lunch bolus half way through the ride for the best tuna waldorf sandwich EVER and a chocolate chip cookie the size of my hand. Unfortunately, my guess wasn’t the best guess … especially when my belly, as much as she wanted it, could NOT finish the whole cookie!

It’s a sad day when the belly denies the chocolate chip cookie.

About a half hour back on the bike after lunch, I was feeling the shakes, and had to pull over. Good thing I wrapped the remainder of that cookie up in napkins. Hello sugar 😀