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The Good Shopper Blog

"Canadian pride may not rest on our sleeves, but it resides deeply in our hearts."

Steve Miller


05
Nov
2010
05:21:48

Fall back Canada and check your alarms

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Growing up in Canada

I am not the only one who gripes about how many more hours are required in one day. If we really needed more we could fly to Venus for their generous 5,832 hour day, except that the air quality isn't so great. Luckily, we can save ourselves the 38 million kilometre journey and be thrilled to get an extra hour this weekend, albeit at 2 in the morning. For those at you with night lives, last call has been extended! Those of you with kids...you'll be up to see the dawn, I'll have the coffee brewing!

  

Daylight savings time was first implemented in Germany in 1915 and was soon adopted by Great Britain, Europe and Canada, though Benjamin Franklin had first suggested the idea a century earlier. Because the Sun shines while everyone is still asleep, pushing the clocks forward in the Spring causes people to wake up earlier and be able to better use the Sun's light. That is why we 'spring ahead' the second Sunday of March and "fall back' the first Sunday in November.

  

In Canada, it is up to each province to decide to use daylight time, and most follow the program. The exceptions are most of Saskatchewan, who has remained on standard time since 1966 and is joined by some border towns in Manitoba and Alberta. There are some pockets of Ontario and BC as well as Quebec, north of 63 degree west longitude, who remain on Atlantic time year round. Frankly, it's all a little confusing. I wonder if it is really worth the effort? In the winter it feels like you travel to work in the dark and you trudge home in dark, making the little sunlight you do see, bliss, as it sparkles on the snow.

In a nutshell,  daylight savings was designed to help save energy by timing our lives better to the times that the Sun is available.

Now that you have this elusive extra hour in your life there are a few things that you must accomplish. This is the time of year to think about your smoke alarms and to check their batteries. It is important to have a working smoke detector on every floor and in every room used for sleeping. For more information about smoke alarms please read this Health Canada page.  While you are carting around the ladder, why not exchange your regular bulbs with energy efficient CLFs bulbs? Each one will save you $40.00 over the course of it's lifetime!

  

So, Canada, fall back one hour this Sunday morning, check your smoke alarms and change your bulbs and when all is said and done, you'll be safer, energy efficient and without that one gained hour! Who's taken the map to Venus?

Do you have routines for when it's time to set the clocks back one hour?

::Images courtesy of Flickr.

23
Oct
2009
05:21:48

October is Breast Cancer Month

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Canadians making waves

Each year, thousands of Canadians are touched by breast cancer. It not only impacts the individuals living with the disease, but their families, friends and loved ones as well.  

These words are quoted from the member profile of Buy Canadian First member Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It is hard not to be affected by breast cancer in one way or another and even men are not immune to this.

Blueline will contribute a minimum of $75,000 from the sale of Pink Ribbon Planners and Notebooks to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
 

What is Breast Cancer?
If cancer is first found in the breast it is called breast cancer. There are various types of breast cancer and the region runs from the breast to the collarbone and from the armpit to the breast bone.

Cancer is a disease that strikes at a cellular level. Our bodies are made of up of cells that each contain our DNA which stores genetic information and the function of the cell. The DNA usually controls the function, growth and reproduction of a cell unless it is changed. Then the cells begin to grow in an uncontrolled manner. This cell growth becomes a lump and has two outcomes: They are benign (non-cancerous) and not life threatening,  or they begin to invade neighboring healthy cells and are thus called malignant. This condition is cancer. The process known as metastasis is when cancerous cells break free and spread to other parts of the body creating new malignant cell growths.

Canadian Tire will donate $ 1.00 from every Debbie Travis can of paint (1 gal.) purchased to The CURE Foundation for Breast Cancer. 
 

Be Breast Aware
The breasts change through life and being breast aware means that you are aware of how your breasts normally look and feel. This way if something does seem different you will (hopefully) notice them early.  Keep in mind that a change to the breast does not mean breast cancer, it could be a benign condition the key is to know what to look for and to discover malignant growth early. All women  of any age need to be aware. Become Breast Aware with these 5 simple steps.

Oasis Nutrisource supports breast cancer research, you contribute to this cause every time you drink our juices. 

 

All the Ways to Help.
Donating to the Canadian Breast Cancer foundation can be done as a single, monthly or tribute donation online, by email,  over the phone, fax or post.You could give through a personal giving or get your company involved. You could also donate to one of the many run participants of the CIBC run for the cure.

The Green Beaver Company's "For my sister" deodorant is a limited edition all natural deodorant (aluminum free), created to help support Michèlle and other breast cancer sufferers. Profits go directly to research at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research and McGill University. 

 

Participate in either the CIBC Run for the Cure or Fore the Cure but you can always create a fabulous event of your own.

Scotch-Brite® is happy to contribute 26¢ per product sold to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

 

Become a Volunteer! "Volunteer support is invaluable, and the Foundation would not be able to achieve its goals without their dedicated contribution." Find your local office, BC/Yukon region, Prairies/NWT, Ontario region, Atlantic Region.

Country Harvest whole grain breads and bagels will donate ten cents from every product sold during the month of October to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for a total donation of up to $50,000.

 

Cook for the Cure! The next time you host a dinner party turn it into a cook for the cure party. Regisiter your soiree, luncheon, bruch, wings and dip hockey night with cook for the cure and KitchenAid will donate $50.00 as well the the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! Easy as apple pie.

Proceeds of sales to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation  

 

Shop for the Cure. Just go shopping. It's that easy. In this post, I'm featuring 8 Pink Ribboned products whose makers donate proceeds to breast cancer reseach that happen to be made-in-Canada but there are so many other products and services to choose from. Check out the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundations partners and see for yourself!

10% of the sales from our "2009 Jumbo Pillow Drive", we are committing to contributing a minimum of $50,000 to the Foundation, with a goal of reaching $100,000.

 

These strong and beautiful Canadian women are survivors of breast cancer and are living proof that the future for a cancer free Canada.

How do you support breast cancer research and why is it so very, very important to you?

Image sources: Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BuyCanadianFirst.ca

21
Oct
2009
05:21:48

Tackling aromatic encounters — The bath and beyond

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel

 

Your dog was skunked? No problem! Read our recent post entitled Tackling Aromatic Encounters - Preparation for information on how to make a home remedy to combat this problem, roll up your sleeves and get ready for the fun part! Oh and don’t forget those all important items of lavender, hops and herbs.

The bath and beyond
After mixing up the ingredients previously recommended (recap: Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and dishwashing liquid)

 

pour the solution over your dog, often using sponges will help in the process, and massage well into the fur. Make sure none of the bath water gets into your dog's eyes or face as it is a very strong irritant. Gently wash the face by using a paper towel and soft strokes, ensuring to keep it out of the eyes and mouth. Also Hydrogen Peroxide should not be digested internally, so no drinking out of the tub! Leave the solution on the dog's fur for about five minutes and then rinse well. Pour the water out and make a new solution and repeat the entire process.

 

Optional: Many people use vinegar for the first rinse, then clear water, then do the second washing and then they repeat again. If you are using white vinegar, it is best to dilute it with water to minimize skin irritation. Apple cider vinegar is a good alternate solution as it has some medicinal properties and helps the fur.

If your dog was sprayed directly in the face, make a thorough inspection of the eyes, call your veterinarian if at all possible, and rinse her eyes with a natural saline eye drops or artificial tears. You may want to use some drops for yourself to ease the effect on your eyes from the strong skunk vapours. The spray from the skunk is extremely irritating and can also cause some nausea.

Dry the dog off with some eco-friendly paper towels and old towels (it is best to not to use your best bath towels for this). Dispose of any items which are unsalvageable in bio-degradable bags.

After you get the smell out, it is a good idea to use natural Oatmeal and Aloe shampoo to revitalize the skin and fur. Your dog's fur may bleach from the solution and may shed more for about a month until it recovers, however, the wonderful aroma should be eliminated. Any lingering scent may come from the dog’s face but it will dissipate.

Lavender, Hops and Herbs

 

Now you are probably wondering where the lavender, hops and herbs come in? After such a wonderful ordeal, you will no doubt need to calm your nerves. Lavender oil is a great essential oil which calms the skin and nerves, for men, women and dogs. You can mix some up in water or try member's Tuscan Farm Gardens product Lavender Body Spray and spray it on the dog's bed and on yourself. Even better, use the spray for the dog and take a bath using their  Lavender Milk Bath, so you can relax and regain a sense of well-being while allowing the sodium bicarbonate to soothe your skin.

 

The solution is strong and although you should be wearing gloves, some solution may make it's way into your gloves and could roughen up your hands. If so, don't worry. You can get the care you need, all the while also supporting made-in-Canada brands: Buy Canadian First has members who manufacture and sell some pretty great hand and body lotions: Upper Canada Soap has an amazing hand care collection called All About Hands. Through our retailer Well.ca, try Ella's Botanicals Yummy Almond Hand and Body Lotion. You can also check out Canus Goat's Milk product Canus Goat's Milk Moisturizing Lotion with Shea Butter or Mont-Echo Naturels, Inc. product purSea Hand Lotion.

 

Afterwards, have a fine relaxing herbal tea, such as member Nature Bella's product Algonquin peace tea by Mother Earth herbal teas.

If you feel you need something stronger, hops is also a great herb for relaxation (seriously). You can buy some in bulk at your local health food store. Or perhaps a nice bottle of beer from one of our local microbreweries may fair you well. A Boréale perhaps? The Quebec-owned microbrewery, Les Brasseurs du Nord, have six ale-type beers with a lot of character to help you chill. Or maybe a choice selection from la microbrasserie Unibroue, such as a Maudite or Fin du Monde, since no doubt you thought it was the end of the world until you were completely free of that smell!

Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Oakley Originals, Flickr Creative Commons, Selma Broeder, BuyCanadianFirst.ca, Nature-Bella.com

18
Oct
2009
05:21:48

Tackling aromatic encounters - Preparation

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel

 

Even with the best intentions of preventing such an encounter, unexpected things can unfortunately happen — especially when you own a curious pooch — and your greatest fears may be realized:

You or your dog, or worse, both of you met a skunk!

Don’t panic. Just remember to be prepared and to know of a simple home remedy for that lovely aroma these creatures leave behind on our dogs and ourselves.

To recover, you will need the following:

  • Dishwashing Liquid: Buy Canadian First member Attitude has amazing environmentally-friendly, biodegradable and non toxic dishwashing liquids, available in Grapefruit & Bergamot or Ylang Ylang & Lime. Any citric dishwashing will do, just make sure there is no tea tree oil in the product you choose as tea tree oil can be toxic to pets.

 

Other useful items:

 

The procedure
Step one - Preparation

First do not let the dog, or anyone who was sprayed, in the house or car. Then mix the following concoction together:

1 litre Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution
50 ml (1/4 cup) sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
5 ml (1 tsp) dishwashing liquid

But wait! What about the tomato juice, you ask? The best thing to do with tomato juice when it comes to skunks, is to pour it in a glass and drink it, or even better, get some Canadian invented Clamato Juice and Canadian vodka, like Polar Ice and mix yourself a Bloody Caesar, and take a sip. It may help in bracing yourself for the next step ;)

 

It is best to wear old clothes, rubber boots and especially rubber gloves so that you do not get the smell on your hands. If you should already have some from catching your dog, you can either put some toothpaste on your hands and rinse or wash them in the solution you just mixed together, then dry them with some eco-friendly paper towels, roll up your sleeves and put on your gloves.

Ready? Okay, now remember this important concoction and stay tuned, as in the next segment I will give tips on how to survive the actual bath!

Image sources: Flickr Creative Commons, Oakley Originals, Attitude, labonneattitude.com, BuyCanadianFirst.ca, Flickr Creative Commons, Kristen Taylor

04
Oct
2009
05:21:48

Encountering wildlife: Striped skunk

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel

 

One of the marvels of living in Canada, and occasionally its challenge, is how we live side by side with our wild neighbours. Our vast land from coast-to-coast-to-coast is the habitat for a wide diversity of flora and fauna. Summertime to early Autumn in Canada is often filled with many joyous and memorable adventures, however, probably its least appealing attribute is that it is also a great time to encounter a skunk.

 

Striped Skunks are found across the country and are well known by all Canadians, urban and rural alike, whether we live in the Maritimes to British Columbia or even Nunavut. There may be some of us who have never actually seen a live skunk, but it is doubtful anyone does not know the distinct scent that can travel up to a kilometre in the wind from its source.

In general, skunks are not aggressive creatures and would rather avoid people than confront them, something which can be used to our advantage.

Prevention is always the best method of avoiding the skunk's wonderful perfume. Lights and sounds can temporarily discourage them from moving in, however, they are rather persistent creatures and, thus, permanent measurements are required to keep them out. Always ensure you have no skunks in the areas you are sealing before you permanently close the opening.

As with any wild animal prevention, it is always advisable to make your home and land less appealing to them:

( ) Limit "ready made" dens by blocking openings with wood and metal screens, burying the screens at least 15-20 cm into the ground to discourage digging
( ) Keep your yard uncluttered
( ) Opt for secure garbage and compost bin that have tight lids
( ) Make pet food, water dishes and food scraps unavailable at night

If an unwanted visitor has entered any part of your home or sheds, leave the doors as wide open as possible to allow them easy access to exits. Give them wide berth, and do not try to chase them out or startle them and keep your pets away as well as you may end up being sprayed.

To properly skunk-proof your living area, besides the raw materials of lumber and metal screens, you may also require the following items:

 

( ) A pair of good work gloves (Try these Canadian Deer Grain Work Gloves from Buy Canadian First member Sterling Gloves Company Ltd.)
( ) A measuring tape and metal cutters
( ) A saw (also available from Buy Canadian First member Trail Blazer Products)
( ) Nails or Screws
( ) Hammer or Screwdriver (perhaps a Canadian invented Robertson screwdriver?)

 

( ) A shovel or gardening tools (try Trail Blazer Garden Tools)
( ) A new garbage can with lid & bags
( ) A compost with secure lid (you can check out the Envirocycle Composter by Envirolet compost bin which is manufactured and assembled in Canada and has a latching lid)


Now you should be equipped to properly deter and prevent skunks from becoming tenants — Happy skunk proofing!

Source: Flickr Creative Commons Kevin Collins, BuyCanadianFirst.ca, Envirolet

24
Sep
2009
05:21:48

Dog Days of September

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel

 

Ah! Fall has arrived at last! A season when dog owners, and all Canadians across the country, can still rush to get outdoors without multiple layers of clothes and coats, or fear of sinking belly deep in snow ... Just yet. The joys of hiking in the wilderness, exploring the countryside and enjoying nature at its best with your canine friend is sure to put smiles on every face. Dog lovers across the country will attest that there is nothing quite like it.

 

Preparing for an outing is important, even if you don't have far to go. Five kilometres from home is still a fair hike if you find yourself in need of something which is laying on your kitchen table.

Some basics for a pleasant trek in the country with your pup:

 

( ) A Hat. Personally I love my "Handcrafted in Canada with Care" Tilley hat for sun protection, however, you can find others. Perhaps a made in Canada Blurr Flora Cap or a MEC Rover Hat from Mountain Equipment Co-op is more to your liking?

( ) Bio bags. Try eco-friendly bags such as those from Sacsmunger, Epi-global or Natursac.

( ) Rubber boots. I use the traditional Canadian Marshland Red Sole Rubber Boots from Canadian Tire, but you can also try these Waterproof Rainboots available from Buy Canadian First member Rallye Footwear Inc.

 

( ) Quality sunglasses

( ) Water. If you haven't done so already, get a refillable aluminium water bottle, like Otterbottles. Otterbottles are not Made in Canada (nobody seems to make aluminium or steel bottles in Canada) but they are a great Canadian company - They even received a thumbs up from David Suzuki!

( ) Waist / Backpack

( ) Basic first-aid items

( ) Sun screen

( ) Lip balm. Try Buy Canadian First member's products like the Clear Lip Saver by Aroma Crystal Therapy, Tuscan Farm Gardens Organic Lavender Honey Lip Balm, or Pursea Lip Balm.

 

( ) Natural bug repellant. I make my own but try the Natural Insect Repellent by Glengarry Gardens for yourself and maybe the Tuscan Farm Gardens Lavender Body Spray for your dog.

 

( ) Natural doggy treats (not essential but always appreciated)

( ) Leather leash and collar. I really like this leather dog lead and leather dog collar from Buy Canadian First member Roots.

Roots Dog lead

 

Roots Dog Leather collar

 

And don't forget your camera! Even during short walks just this past week, I was able to sight a red-winged blackbird flying over the crop fields, a deer feeding in the early morning sunlight and a rainbow arching across the sky. You just never know what is in store for you, even in your own backyard.

Explore, discover and enjoy!

A camera is also handy to capture any antics your dog may decide to throw your way. Dogs In Canada magazine often has a photo contest and, who knows, you may just get that winning image!

 

Being prepared makes all adventures more enjoyable and that includes learning about your area and what natural wonders you can find. Summer to early autumn, as even urban lovers know, is a time when wildlife is in abundance. An encounter we all dread is one with our friendly neighbourhood striped skunk. You can't get more natural than a skunk, however, there are some things in nature we may like to live without.

 Image sources: Flickr Creative Commons, Jesse Yardley (Fotographix.ca), BuyCanadianFirst.ca

20
Aug
2009
05:21:48

Back to School - The Made-in-Canada Way!

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

The summer is coming to an end and all those days filled with free time spent at camp, summer jobs, or just lolly gagging in the sunshine are soon over, kiddo! The count down has begun just about 3 weeks left! As a kid, I spent the better part of my summers either at the lake with my grandparents or the farm with my aunt and uncle, so going back to school was always exciting. Going shopping for new clothes, sporting a cool new bag and seeing all my friends were the highlights of a new school year. I think that still applies today, so here is your back to school shopping guide, the made-in-Canada way. Before you read on make sure you check out our founder, Isabelle Remy, and her back to school spot on Canada AM.

Elementary school children need oodles of things for school, in fact the list can be daunting in both cost and patience, especially when teachers request a certain brand and colour of an item. Childhood is an adventure of fun and learning. Small responsibilities in a world of imagination, playtime and laughter.

 

The high schooler is an independent beast that is neither child nor adult but a little of both. Image is key as they invent and re-invent themselves. Looking great at school is just as important as getting the grades (even though you may not agree with their style) so finding the right mix between the current styles and individual preference sounds tough but if you know the kid, it's as easy as slamming a door.

Green Beaver's Blemish Mousse

 

The college student is forging forward with their aspirations and dreams, spending more time studying, working and partying, than sleeping. Besides a mattress filled with cold hard cash, our college student could use some great essentials as well as some wonderful functional luxuries. 

 Long Twilight Mittens in Charcoal Grey by Arly of Montreal
 

Happy shopping everyone and remember to Buy Canadian First when shopping for your back to school supplies.

04
Aug
2009
05:21:48

Bug Off!! A guide to fighting mosquitoes naturally

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Just think about everything you put on your skin daily: deodorant, soap, cream, sunscreen, bug spray and hand sanitizer are but a few. The average woman will absorb nearly 2.3 Kg (5 lbs.) of cosmetics and other beauty products each year by using nearly 20 different products. The risks associated can be minor skin irritations to a more serious illness like cancer. It is said all these products are safe but it is argued that is only individually are these chemicals safe, when they are combined, their properties change and they could become harmful. The best plan of action is to become an informed consumer.

The most common active ingredient in insect repellent is DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) and is very effective to prevent mosquito and tick bites. DEET comes in various concentrations from 100% to 10% and the concentration tend to govern how long the chemical will work (100% = 12 hours) and must be washed off your skin after use. In studies DEET has shown to be effective and safe when used as directed but there are several cases of people experiencing harmful and deadly outcomes from DEET use. DEET has been proven to cause skin irritations and in severe cases seizures, brain damage and even death. Clearly, one has to weigh the risks of toxicity and the risk of diseases like the West Nile Virus or Lyme disease, right? Well maybe not.

Mosquito bites are a nuisance but also potentially deadly as all around the world they spread illnesses such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, and Encephalitis. In Canada, West Nile Fever whose symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash. Severe symptoms can include neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, vision loss and paralysis. These systems can last weeks or a life time. Those who are bitten by an infected mosquito, only 20% will show the symptoms after 14 days. Infants, the elderly and individuals with auto-immune illnesses are especially at risk. Here are some steps to help reduce your risk of mosquito and other bug bites.

 

  • Remove all standing water from your yard. It is likely that your back yard is breeding these pests, things like flower pots, old tires, pet water dishes, bird baths, patio chairs and any other place where water can pool is a possible nest for mosquito larvae. 
  • Bt israelensis (Bt-i)  (Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis) is a biological pesticide designed to only kill mosquito, black fly and fungus gnat larvae. Can be used nearly anywhere there is standing water. This can be safely placed in birdbaths, rain barrels, rain gutters and anywhere you have accumulated water.
  • Wear loose light coloured clothing.
  • Invite bats to live in your yard as they will eat thousands of mosquitoes every night buy a bat house or create another opportunity to turn off the TV and build a bat house with your family.
  • Keep pots of basil and rosemary growing near your doors to discourage mosquitoes from hanging around.
  • Stay indoors during prime feeding times.
  • Investigate the natural wonders of Neem Oil, a wonderplant that has healing properties and also acts as a natural insecticide read more at Woodland Natural Remedies.

Make your own natural mosquito repellents

Making your own repellent is easy and requires just a few ingredients: Some essential oils and a carrier oil or alcohol.

  • Essential Oils: 10-25 drops total.
Any of these essential oils are effective mosquito repellents. You can choose one or create a mixture of three: Basil, eucalyptus, cloves, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm (citronella), feverfew, cinnamon, lavender, castor, pine, fir, spruce, cedar and cypress.
  • Carrier oil or alcohol: 29.5 ml (2 TBSP)

Choose one of these are effective carriers: Olive oil, sunflower oil, cooking oil, witch hazel, water, vodka

Apply the solution avoiding your eyes and other sensitive areas, reapply after an hour, swimming or exercise. When not in use, store away from direct light in a dark coloured bottle.

Natural Insect Repellent by Buy Canadian First Member Glengarry Gardens, a natural blend of essential oils in soybean oil, great for the whole family.

 

Druide's Citronella line are all natural products free of colourants, nuts or nut oils and petroleum by-products. The entire line is available through our member Well's website

 

All Things Jill's Bug Joose is another effective natural repellent that contains no chemicals, making it safe for the environment. Get some though our member Organically Hatched.

 

How do you combat the onslaught of these pesky critters? Share your tips and tricks with us and have a itch-free remainder of summer. 

24
Jul
2009
05:21:48

Go Loco for Local - Alberta, NWT & Nunavut local food guide

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Eating and drinking Canadian

It seems like the prairies are in a cold snap. It's almost August and people are clad in flannel pjs, hooded sweaters and socks. I mean seriously! It is July and frankly I am a little irked that I cannot complain about the scorching heat and the relentless humidity. Incidentally, I also miss the seasonal air conditioning battles with my husband. So far, this has been the coldest July on record but Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips says that July is not over and things should heat up soon, but of course, we all know the weather is a fickle beast. Fortunately even in this less than ideal weather, we are still harvesting crops of local potatoes and berries. Alberta is familiar with severe weather and this year is no exception  but it's great to know that despite this, Albertans can still buy local.

Alberta
Alberta has a vast selection of foods ranging from bison, beef, lamb, duck, fruit, berries, vegetables, eggs, milk, sugar beets and more. These products are available in organic and free-range too. Here are some buy-local and other interesting links for Alberta:

Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Agriculture in the NWT is a new venture of sorts for the area. There are several projects and programs like the small scale food program, designed to explore the possibilities in "farming the Canadian north". To date, there are poultry farms as well as farmers with irrigated fields but most of the agriculture is conducted along the river systems, where the soil is much richer.

Traditionally, the Inuit of Nunavut are a nomadic people who followed the animals. Times have changed and sedentary lifestyles are more common place for Inuit communities. The permafrost of northern Canada is not generally good for agriculture but in the summer, the tundra is alive with over 200 species of small flowering plants like the fireweed, which is rich in vitamin A and C. Used for tea and medicine. Other local foods include arctic char, turbot, seal, caribou, bannock and muktuk (whale blubber).

 
It's possible that as our climate continues to change and our northern landscapes continue to prematurely thaw that farming and agriculture becomes more viable with the advent of longer growing seasons and warmer soils (do you think that this is the good thing about climate change? Let us know below)

I looked but could not seem to locate any farmers markets in the territories, so I ask Canada to help: If you know of any farmers markets in the NWT or Nunavut, let us know by leaving a comment below!

Yesterday, we harvested the first cucumbers from our garden, it was very exciting. And they were promptly consumed by my toddler. Our apples are also ripening on the tree and soon we will be transforming apples into pie filling and applesauce. I am happy to see that all that work we did as a family is finally paying off and what my garden doesn't grow, my local market will have, even in these lacklustre temperatures.


Image sources: Flickr: Jordan Pattern, MartinCathrae

17
Jul
2009
05:21:48

Camping in Canada's Parks

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Coast to coast tourism

Camping and visiting in Canada's parks is truly a treasure for Canadians. When I was a girl my grandparents would take me camping to Nutimik Lake during the summer months. I associate Canada parks with childhood memories like running barefoot through clover, making sand castle kingdoms for my leopard frog friends and learning about the stars from my grandfather. So precious are these memories to me now as my grandparents have long since passed. Our National Parks are found in every province and territory they are for us to enjoy and protect.

Preparing for a camping trip is generally easy and as long as you remember everything you won't be found spending too much money at the lakeside's overpriced corner store. Another saving money tidbit is all parks have a fee freeze! From now until April 1 2011 the general public will be paying the 2008 fees and for Manitobans, all provincial parks will be free until April 30th 2011.

With this great news let's prepare for our trip. It's always good to know the climate you are camping in and what kind of potential natural hazards could affect your stay and be prepared for them (of course not all camping trips are littered with doom, nearly all are enjoyable family vacations! teehee). Find out what activities and events are going on in your province, book a reservation in selected parks or use the handy travel planner.

There is one key point we should be aware of when we enter our parks; our environmental footprint. It is very easy to change the delicate balance of nature, these changes can happens quickly or slowly, but there is no excuse for not being aware and taking measures to be responsible for our own actions.

Never transport firewood from your home to your campsite; it is prudent always get local firewood as it runs the risk of relocating a new insect or other organism into the existing ecosystem. This could have lasting and devastating effects.

It is always best to bring camping dishes rather than disposable dishes to reduce our trash but the right dish soap is important as well. Pick something that is free of dyes, petroleum based solvents and that is biodegradable in a short time, like this dishwashing liquid from Bio-Vert.

Be sure to read any news bulletins posted at the entrace of the park and keep to designated camping areas to not disturb plant and animal life. You can learn more about the Parks natural heritage here

The greatest camping list ever, well maybe not quite, but this check list is a great start to make sure you cover the basics (let me know what you would add to it in the comments below) and I also provide some great Made in Canada options in case you are refreshing some of your camping supplies and gear!

Shelter and bedding

( ) Tent
( ) Ground cloth/tarp  
( ) Shade tarp/poles/rope/stakes  
( ) Air pump  
( ) Air mattress/sleeping pad/cot/tarp  
( ) Sleeping bag/sheets/blankets
( ) Pillows (you HAVE to try Align-Right's camping pillow!)

Cooking

( ) Pots and frying pans with lids/dutch oven
( ) Potholders/oven mitts
( ) Utensils and cutlery-spatula/knife/spoon/tongs/forks/skewers
( ) Mixing bowl/measuring cups/cutting board (check out Eraware's incredible aray of products here)
( ) Reusable bottle/coffee pot
( ) Charcoal/firewood
( ) Fire starters/newspaper
( ) Plates/bowls/mugs/cups 
( ) Can opener/bottle opener/potato peeler
( ) Campfire grill/BBQ grill
( ) Stove with fuel/propane
( ) Big refillable water jug
( ) Coolers/ice/ice packs (check out the great selection from our member Cryopak)
( ) Heavy-duty aluminum foil
( ) Zipper sealed bags
( ) Paper towels (100% recycled paper towels from our member Cascades)
( ) Dish pan/dish soap/dish rags/towels/scrub pad
( ) Trash bags (try these biodegradable bags by Munger, available at your local supermarket)
( ) All your favourite camping foods, including cooking oil, condiments herbs and spices

Other essentials


( ) Sunscreen/lip balm 
( ) Flashlight/batteries
( ) Matches/lighter
( ) Pocket knife
( ) Axe/hammer
( ) Bug repellant (try members Gengarry Garden's Natural Bug Balm or All Things Jill's Big Joose)
( ) Rope
( ) Bungi cords/straps
( ) Hand wipes
( ) First aid kit
( ) Camera/battery/film/video
( ) Cards/games/toys/golf/books/magazines/notepad/pen/music instruments/bicycles/etc (Get one of these super cute note books for the kids from members Ecojot )
( ) Maps/directions/reservations info./confirmation/park map/ guidebooks/ trail maps
( ) Folding chairs
( ) Umbrella/Rain gear
( ) Sunglasses/hat
( ) Radio
( ) Fishing gear/license/bait

 

Handy Supply Box
Things you may need handy

( ) Extra stakes
( ) Repair kit for air mattress/tent
( ) Extra Batteries/bulbs/matches/lighters
( ) Duct tape/electrical tape
( ) Candles
( ) Misc. tools
( ) Small sewing kit
( ) Work gloves

 

Extras

( ) Mat for tent entrance
( ) Dust pan/brush
( ) Lantern with fuel/mantles
( ) Compass/GPS
( ) Binoculars
( ) Whistle (check out Fox40's array of Safety Whistles here)
( ) Water filters/purification/treatment
( ) Lantern pole or hanger
( ) Hammock (Kingcord Hammocks have some great ones)
( ) Travel alarm clock

Have a safe and wonderful camping season! Send us your favourite recipes, camping locations and eco camping tips! We love hearing from you.


GelaSkins - Protection with Style. Not Bulk.
GelaSkins - Protection with Style. Not Bulk.