Hungry? Why wait?


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Maybe because consumer food prices have increased by 5-10% on average and you live on a shoestring?

The ‘expert’ interviewed in this article is sadly clueless. She says it’s easy to save money when shopping: pay attention to sales and don’t waste food. That’s the kind of advice you give to the 1% (or at least the 5% — the top 1% probably don’t care), not the people at the bottom who can’t afford to eat. These people aren’t throwing out their spinach because it has some yellow dots; they are struggling to afford basics. There’s a difference between wasting your food and not being able to buy yourself food.

A lot of people will put the blame on Big Ag or the supermarkets for this, but let’s break down a grocery store price and give credit where credit is due.

For non-processed foods (fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs) or lightly processed foods (canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, bread), the basic pipeline is:

  1. Farmer produces
    1. Cost to farmer, from smallest to largest expense:
      1. seeds for produce
      2. gas for equipment
      3. 2-8 months of labor and employment of additional labor [if selling large-scale]
      4. upkeep of animals, including rotating purchase of new animals
      5. upkeep of equipment, including buildings
      6. purchase of new equipment, including building upgrades for safety standards and/or other requirements to sell farm products
      7. land tax and mortgage
  2. Handoff to distribution center (or processing center)
    1. Farmer is paid: usually 25% of store price at a maximum
    2. Possible processing
      1. Costs to processor vary by process, but may include (again from smallest to largest):
        1.  washing
        2. packaging
        3. transport
        4. safety standards
        5. labor
        6. equipment
    3. Food is lost here, since processors are discouraged (and sometimes forbidden by law) from accepting ‘imperfect’ produce, such as:
      1. apples that are not shaped like stock photos of apples
      2. eggs that are ‘irregular’ in size (that is, neither large nor extra-large)
      3. carrots that have multiple roots on a single stalk (shaped like a tooth)
      4. … you get the idea
    4. NOTE that this does not include food that SHOULD be excluded from human consumption, such as milk from cows being dosed with antibiotics: that is rightly excluded from processing. Everything under (c) is safe to eat but barred from stores.
  3. Ship to grocery store
    1. Processor gets paid (about 50% of grocery store price)
    2. Costs include (no order, because I’m not familiar enough with groceries to rank them):
      1. labor (unbox and put on shelves; checkout; custudial work in store)
      2. safety standards, insurance, mortgage, utilities — basic business expenses
      3. food that has become unsaleable in-store: for example, those tomatoes you dropped that went splat
  4. Sale
    1.  Grocer gets paid.

In other words, if you buy your dozen eggs for $3, the grocer gets about $1.50, the processor (who cleans, grades, and cartons the eggs) gets about $1, and the farmer gets about $0.50. (Prices may vary depending on location, but this is a general breakdown.)

It’s in this case sort of hard to blame the producers.

Some more likely causes of hunger?

  • Housing prices: too much income goes into mortgage/rent, which doesn’t leave a high enough percentage for food
  • Flatlined economy: as gas prices rise, farmer and processor costs increase, also increasing the price of food. If incomes don’t increase in step, food prices inflate. Once they’re up, they stay up, waiting for inflation to catch up to them — which it hasn’t.
  • Overly stringent safety standards: like everyone else, I believe that a safe food supply is important. However, I also know that catered food plates (especially in non-urban locations) are thrown out with perfectly good food on them, because it is illegal to donate or because food banks won’t accept fresh produce. (Some food banks, like Toronto’s Second Harvest, are really good about this.) I know that “ugly” produce, which sells at the farmer’s market or at pick-your-own, can’t be sold in stores. A basic principle of economics is that decreased supply increases demand (and therefore cost); we should campaign for ugly food!

UPDATE: You can campaign for ugly food here




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I’ve read this study on academics vs. administrators in several places.  The short version is that more than 70% of UK universities have more staff than profs.

No one is highlighting the fact that the  most highly-ranked universities (Oxbridge, UCL) are on the list of lowest faculty/staff ratios.

The inference no one’s making: these old grande dames of the university scene still have a collegial governance structure in which professors, rather than staff, (a) make the most important decisions, and (b) do the majority of ‘soft’ work (such as advising).

Why does this matter? Well, the benefits to having professionals advise on curricular choices seems fairly obvious — especially when the alternative is a recent (or not-so-recent) graduate with no more qualifications than a degree in some subject. I would also argue that while staff are needed to handle some issues (for example, mental and physical health should not be entrusted to untrained academics!), other tasks that are often delegated to staff could easily be performed by professors and/or advanced students: writing or math tutoring, for example.

While the follow-up piece rightly points out that professors and staff don’t hate each other, the fact remains that universities need to choose their investments. Staff, especially staff who don’t have terminal degrees, will never be able to expand to research. Professors can easily contract to take on staff duties. And, in the increasingly publish-or-perish atmosphere of the REF, maybe it would be better for UK university heads to take a long, slow breath: not everyone can be a research powerhouse! Instead, try to maximize your faculty in different ways by actually rewarding research, teaching, AND service.

Wisconsin governor calls building wall at Canadian border legitimate issue

When Canadians cross the border, they apologize.

Global News

WATCH ABOVE: In a Meet The Press interview on NBC, Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that building a wall along Canada-U.S. border merits further review.

WASHINGTON – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is putting a new twist on the topic of securing the border, a staple among the GOP candidates running for president, by pointing north.

Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country’s norther border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review.

WATCH: Kenney comments on Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s assertion that there should be a wall at the Canadian-U.S. border.
[tp_video id=2193572]

READ MORE: Number of Americans travelling to Canada reaches 7-year high

Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether…

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Conservatives bring in former soldiers for extra security on Harper’s campaign

Oh no, someone harmless might show up to an event and get more attention than the PM with his 5-question rule? GOOD GOD! We can’t allow THAT! Minions, call in the army STAT!

Global News

OTTAWA – The Conservatives are using former members of the Canadian military to act as security guards at their election campaign events, in addition to the RCMP officers who are assigned to the prime minister’s personal detail.

The former Canadian Armed Forces soldiers, who are travelling with members of the media on the Conservative campaign bus, wear suits and earpieces much like the Mounties assigned to protect Stephen Harper.

One member of the private security team, a former sniper, escorted a man out of a Harper event with the help of RCMP officers Thursday in Markham, Ont., when he tried to line up behind journalists to ask the prime minister a question.

The man was later allowed to re-enter the room a short time later.

READ MORE: New poll shows a tight race across Canada 

Harper continues to be protected by his personal detail during the campaign – an RCMP…

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Why millennials are ditching university, and what it means for the workplace


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Hmmm, an executive recruiter writes a fake-trend story about the “many” students who “lack” education and yet are applying to jobs at 18 and how you should give them a chance.
Sorry, Mandy, the numbers are against you: kids today are more likely to have a degree than you, your friends, and probably your children and coworkers. I know it hurts to feel inferior, but don’t worry — we’ve watered down the educational system enough that 300 BA holders will still be content to watch TV and fart their entire lives.

Financial Post

You may have noticed a trend among some of the millennial resumés your organization has received in recent years. The CVs of your younger applicants may lack many (or any) traditional post-secondary academic credentials.

That’s because many millennials are saying ‘No thanks’ to the standard university (and in some cases, even college) educations that were once a prerequisite for acquiring any career-focused position. Of course, traditional degrees are still a must-have for professional designations and are still seen as a key discussion starting point for many employers. But in the creative and technology fields in particular, times are changing.

Many creative and tech-focused professionals are noting that a growing cohort of millennials are focused on obtaining real, paid employment after high school. Spending years at university studying to earn a degree in a theoretical subject — then searching for a career in which to apply that knowledge — is quickly…

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A 1,000-point Dow drop, US$50B wiped from GE’s value: How an hour of panic unfolded as markets opened


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Looks like SOMEONE forgot a zero … and then the high frequency trading algorithms took over.

Anyone remember Office Space?

Financial Post

More than US$50 billion of market value was erased from the world’s 10th biggest company. A gauge of market stress got too jammed up to function.

[np_storybar title=”Wall Street, TSX resume slide as global stock rout leaves sea of red” link=””]

Following a midday rally, North American stocks are fading again after a massive morning plunge pushed Canadian stocks to the lowest levels since 2013, with the Dow falling more that 1,000 points

Read more

The largest technology stocks recorded a correction — in the space of a few seconds.

Such was the drama at the open of trading in the American equity market Monday, when waves of global selling battered stocks with almost unprecedented force. At its worst, about US$1.2 trillion of market value had been erased from U.S. shares before prices leveled off and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded almost 1,000 points.

At one point the…

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A new study calls into question the need for mastectomies for some women with pre-breast cancer

Global News

TORONTO – A study lead by Toronto researchers has found little difference in death rates among women with the most common type of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), who underwent a mastectomy versus less invasive treatments: either a lumpectomy, or lumpectomy with radiation.

The study of 100-thousand American women was led by Dr. Steven Narod, with Women’s College Research Institute.

“We found all three treatments were about the same in terms of cure rates.  If the goal was simply to extend life expectancy and prevent cancer death, then I would agree a mastectomy is an overly aggressive treatment,” said Dr. Narod.

While the study found mastectomies didn’t change death rates, they did reduce the likely hood of a reoccurrence.

READ MORE: ‘Stage 0’ breast cancer increases death risk slightly

“We know the development of invasive cancer is very traumatic and also requires treatment, further surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or…

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Zucchini overload: Use it in sweet, savoury dishes

Now wouldn’t it be nice if all of those extra zucchinis made their way to food banks?

Global News

LONDON, Ont. – If you don’t know someone who’s trying to give away zucchini right now, you probably don’t know anyone who is growing it.

This summer squash grows easily and in great abundance, and if it’s not picked when it’s relatively small — 15 to 20 centimetres (six to eight inches) — an individual zucchini can grow as big as your arm. And the thing is, the big ones are just as edible as the little ones, although they may be a little more fibrous.

Fortunately, there is almost no end to the culinary uses of zucchini.

READ MORE: 10 fresh ideas for cooking with zucchini

“It grows so prolifically that when people had a lot of it, they got very inventive with what they would do with it,” says Yvonne Tremblay, a freelance recipe developer, food stylist and cookbook author from Mississauga, Ont.

She always cooks zucchini and…

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Kellogg to Cut Artificial Ingredients in Cereals

Get ready for more salt and sugar! Because they’re natural and therefore CAN’T be bad for you… right????


Kellogg, the largest breakfast cereal maker in the world, said Tuesday that it will no longer use artificial flavors and colors in its cereals and snack bars by the end of 2018.

The 109-year-old company behind Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies says that currently 75 percent of its North American cereals do not use artificial colors and that more than half do not use artificial flavors, Reuters reports.

Kellogg is the latest cereal company to curb artificial ingredients on account of health concerns and a growing preference in the U.S. for less-processed cereal options. In June, Cheerios maker General Mills said by next year it plans to make 90 percent of its cereals without artificial colors or flavors, up from roughly 60 percent currently.


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‘Roving rabbis’ spread across Montana on kosher mission

Just one word: why???

Global News

HELENA, Mont. – Two young Orthodox rabbis have traded their studies in Brooklyn for the back roads of Montana, where they are teaching the far-flung faithful how to keep kosher in Big Sky Country.

Eli Chaikin, 23, and Dovid Lepkivker, 25, call themselves the roving rabbis. Their mission is to reach as many of the state’s approximately 3,000 Jews as they can in a month.

Their message is a gentle one — more of a nudge than a push — in what are at best loosely organized Jewish communities where relatively few people strictly follow the dietary laws.

READ MORE: Keeping kosher 101

“Any step you take is a positive step,” Chaikin said. “It’s not all or nothing.”

Chaikin and Lepkivker are affiliated with Chabad-Lubavich movement. Chabad’s Bozeman-based rabbi, Chaim Bruk, said he invited them to help him honour the 40th anniversary of a worldwide campaign to promote observance of…

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