Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Take the time to read labels

It all started with a jar of pickles!!

Yesterday, a couple of friends in my building sent me a copy of the following article entitled "READ LABELS". 

It spoke about something that has become a problem for me in recent years and so I felt it might be of interest to friends and acquaintances of mine. While I rarely forward items that are being widely circulated to other folks (out of a fear of unknown cookies that might be attached), I really felt that this was an important reminder. Interestingly, I received a number of immediate responses to this article -- all very positive. The following, from a close friend, is typical of the type of responses I received. 

"Hi Sallie: Thanks for this. I already avoid many products but it looks like I should be adding a few more to my list. It's a little more difficult for me to check things but I'll find a way. NOTE: (She only has about 14% vision and is legally blind, but is also a real trooper! S. Thayer).   I have the same concerns with vitamins. And you have to be careful with spices. I saw a documentary on spices explaining how ground plastic, bugs and all sorts of nasty stuff has been found in them depending on where they're from. Even if products come from the US or Canada but are packed in China, for example, they're most likely contaminated and should be avoided.  Again thanks." 

 However, I did receive one negative response which read, in part, as follows: 

"... .  I did not like the article ... . It sounds very un-scholarly, like someone on a rant.  I would be inclined not to believe some of the more gross sections.  Some economists promote a return to regional economies, but most don’t because it can lead to increased inequalities between self-sufficient nations and those that are not. It’s a complex issue, increased these days by the knowledge that transporting anything usually adds to pollution.  [Friends] who try to shop locally..., for food, at the market, have told me they cannot afford local prices." 

I felt the need to respond to this somewhat critical email and so wrote the following: 

"While it is unfortunate when people have to pay the real costs of food production, just as when they have to pay the real costs of clothes production (the Goodwill store doesn't stock what they need, for example), I, personally, feel that we must become less willing to always go for what is cheap.  I know how difficult it is for many people –- for example, a number of the ladies of my acquaintance who live in buildings with rent subsidies, only pay about $100 a month or less in rent because that is 30% of their total monthly income!  We try to help each other out as much as we can, but poverty stalks so many older folks, especially women as their incomes were so low during their working life or else they stayed home with children as a single mom and they are now left with nothing but the Old Age and the supplement.  However, if we don’t face up to paying the real costs of items, I am afraid we will have more and more situations like the Bangladeshi clothing factory and all sorts of other places of production where the workers are basically modern days slaves. Even in China this is so often the case – they work for so little with no other recourse just so that we can have cheap products on our grocery store shelves. This is a real dilemma for all people, but especially those of religious faith, it seems to me.   I struggle with it every time I need something from the store and have to ask myself the question:  do I put my conscience aside and get something cheaper that I can more easily afford? --  something that is quite possibly made by some person who is forced to work for pennies a day in unsafe working conditions -- or do I purchase something locally produced for which the people growing and preparing it are being paid a living wage. This is truly not an easy issue for any of us.  These are just some of my thoughts as I continue with my own personal struggle in these areas." 

At any rate, here is the article that started this conversation. I hope it proves helpful to you as well. 


This is of some importance for all of us, I think . . . . 

A couple of weeks ago I bought bread & butter pickles at Safeway.... they were disgusting, soft & mushy..... they were made in India . I checked a jar of the Safeway brand relish (I bought it because I wanted a tall jar), ... made in India ! What the heck, don't we have cucumbers in Canada?  Presidents Choice also carry pickles "made in India".   

Anyway, I returned the pickles to Safeway, no problem there, explaining the situation, the customer service person said, "What?" -- checked the label and said, "I would never dream they were made in India and I am not a pickle person although I just bought a jar to take to a function but I will bring them back tomorrow." 

I told her I would be phoning head office to tell them that Safeway Canada products should be made in Canada not India . Next day I phoned the Canada Safeway head office customer service.  I had a nice, long and very funny chat with the rep.  After telling my story, she asked, "Why are pickles made in India , what type of pickles were they...?" [Bread & Butter]. She said, "I just bought a jar last night being true to my Safeway brand.... but I never read the label." 

She could not believe that the pickles were made in India and said that she will return them.  In awe she said, "we have tons of cucumbers in Canada ." 

 She said she was writing up two reports, one to Corporate and one to buyers with my concerns.  We both had a good laugh when I said, "... well there is some good in this -- I will be reading my Safeway labels and not assuming because it says Safeway Canada that it is Canadian produce." 

I told her I will not be buying any products like this. She was really funny, then she said, "What about the relish?" I said it was comparable with other no name products and I only bought it because I wanted a tall jar to put my Bick's relish in, but I will not be buying it again because it is made in India.  She then said, "I am going to write that one up as well... I just cannot believe it!  Now you're telling me Bick's is not made in Canada ..... anyone got a canner?!!!" 

Time for a revolt!   Interesting and scary food info here. Look even more carefully at labels now. Did you know, Green Giant frozen vegetables are from China and so are most of Europe 's Best?! Arctic Gardens is OK.  Never buy the grocery store garlic unless it is clearly marked "from USA " or Canada, the other stuff is from Asian countries and, so I have been told, is grown in people poop (even worse than chicken poop).  Buy only local honey, much honey is shipped in in huge containers from China and re-packed here.  If the country of origin is not clearly marked, Beware... if unsure, ask an employee.  Watch out also for packages which state "prepared for", "packed by" or "imported by".   

In Ontario, the country of origin has to be clearly shown on the item in the store; not sure about other provinces.  I go to the local farmers' markets in season and keep a wary eye open the rest of the year.  Please read this very carefully, and read to the very bottom. It's of some importance for all of us.  

How is it possible to ship food from China cheaper -- than having it produced in Canada or at least the U. S.?  For example, the "Our Family" brand of the MANDARIN ORANGES says right on the can "FROM CHINA" .... so for a few cents more buy the LIBERTY GOLD BRAND from California.  Beware:  Costco sells canned peaches and pears in plastic jars that come from China. All "HIGH LINER" and most other fish products come from CHINA or INDONESIA . The package may say:  "PACIFIC SALMON" on the front, but look for the small print.  Most of these products come from fish farms in the Orient and there are no regulations there on what is fed to these fish.

Recently the Montreal Gazette had an article which quoted the Canadian Gov't about how Chinese feed the fish... they suspend chickens in wire crates over the fish ponds and the fish feed on chicken excrement. The Canadian Government recommended and stressed NOT to buy any type of fish imported from China.  If you search the internet and learn what the Chinese feed their fish you'll be alarmed, e.g. growth hormones, expired antibiotics from humans... Never buy any type of fish or shellfish that comes from these countries: Vietnam, China, etc. ....  Check this out yourself.  

BICK'S Pickles have recently ceased operations in CANADA -- look and see where they are coming from now.  Stienfeld's Pickles are made in India -- just as bad!!!  But many No Name pickles are made in Canada.   Another example is canned mushrooms.  No-Name brand comes from Indonesia.   Next to them on the shelf were President Choice brand... Product of Canada!!  Also check those little fruit cups we give to our children.  They used to be made here in Canada in the Niagara region, until about 2 years ago..... They are now packaged in China!  Remember, the Chinese export inferior and even toxic products, dangerous toys and goods to be sold in North American markets.  And even though our federal government seem to want to expand the market with China; yet 70% of North Americans believe that the trading privileges afforded to the Chinese should be suspended!! Well, duh. 

Why do you need the government to suspend trading privileges? Simply do it yourself ... Try buying only items from CANADA and the USA.  Look on the bottom of every product you buy, and if it says 'Made in China ' or 'PRC' (which now includes Hong Kong ), simply choose another product, or none at all.  You will be amazed at how dependent you are on Chinese products and you will be equally amazed at what you can do without. Who needs plastic eggs, for example, to celebrate Easter?  If you must have eggs, use real ones and benefit some North American farmer.  Easter is just one example; the point is not waiting for the government to act...  Just go ahead and assume control on your own. 

Canadian Thermos bottles were made here for many years. Thermos sold out in the 1990's and now the bottles, those that keep our food warm or cold are made in CHINA.  We lost, among other things, about 200 jobs!  But THINK ABOUT THIS:  If 200 million North Americans refuse to buy just $20 each of Chinese goods, that's a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favour... fast!! The downside? Some Canadian/American businesses will feel a temporary pinch from having foreign stockpiles of inventory. However, just one month of trading losses, will hit the Chinese for 8% of their North American exports.  Then they will at least have to ask themselves if the benefits of their arrogance and lawlessness were worth it. 

START NOW and don't stop. Send this to everybody you know. Let's unite and show them that we are intelligent Canadians /Americans and nobody should take us for granted.  If we can't live without cheap Chinese goods for one month out of our lives... we deserve what we get!

Monday, 22 July 2013

TorontotheBetter supports Toronto March for Global Peace and Unity on September 21, 2013 starting 12 noon at Nathan Phillips Square

This recently received from friend and ally: Tiffany. Please help her with the March if you can. 
This is a grassroots effort to organize a peaceful world march for peace &
unity on the international day of peace September 21, 2013. This is a
family event. ALL ARE WELCOME. :)

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on
21 September. This day is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace,
both within and among all nations and peoples.

This movement has emerged out of a sense of responsibility we all share;
to try to leave the world in a better condition. We are not attempting to
end war, poverty or oppression in one day. We are not trying to dismantle
any corporation, government, or regime. We are simply exposing this common
ground to the world.

We have the capacity within us to unite for peace as a collective.
We will join together to clearly and publicly illustrate that we can, we
must, and we will set aside our differences and stand together, united in
peace, to provide a voice for all life on this planet.

The march is a platform to discuss peaceful visions of the future, and to
move forward on these visions.

Our mission - To clearly demonstrate to the leaders of this world and the
world itself, that in this new age of information any attempts to divide
us with fear, religious, and national boundaries can no longer hide the
fact that despite our differences, we all still share a universal common
ground. We now fully understand that we are more than capable of
coexisting on this planet without any need for war in resolving perceived
issues across artificial 'man-made' boundaries.

Event Time Schedule:
12:00pm - Meet and Greet
1:00-1:30pm - Mediation
2pm- March
After March -
Face painting, music and dance, gratitude open mic, philosophers circle,
empowerment circle, other activities
Park Location - TBA Soon
March Route - Starting at Nathan Phillips Square
Date: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Start Time: 12:00pm