Archive for the ‘Food and health’ Category

One more annoying B.C. HST example and you gotta love the Green Tax.

July 7, 2010

In my posting about the B.C. HST which came into effect on July 1st, I neglected to mention the most egregious attack on my personal lifestyle. A large cappuccino at Tim Horton’s went from $1.92 to $2.05. This could add up to a lot of money over my remaining years.

This is almost as bad as the Green Tax on gasoline that the provincial government stuck us with back in 2008. (Well in time I’ll probably get used to the extra $0.13 on my cappuccino but the gasoline tax I won’t forget or forgive as it rises to an additional $0.07 per gallon by 2012).

Actually, on July 1st we also got a $0.0112 rise in gas a BC pumps. We are now paying an additional $0.0445 for gas in this province thanks to the Campbell government’s green tax initiative. The gift that keeps on giving.

Just another government tax grab as far as I’m concerned.

(I was going to post this under ‘humour’ as well, but then I got into the gasoline tax business and found that my amusement factor had zeroed out).


West Kelowna fine dining

August 29, 2009

Today was our anniversary so we celebrated by going out for supper at Georgio’s Bistro in West Kelowna.

We had never been there for supper but have had lunch there on a number of occasions, where we always have one of their Greek omelettes, which are fabulous. However tonight was the full meal deal.

We had heard that their scallops were absolutely the best, so we ordered them and the prime rib as the second dish. Two excellent choices. The scallops were beyond excellent and the prime rib was as good as it gets. It was an amazing meal.

Great appetizers as well. My wife really likes calamari but I find that too often they are rather rubbery. Not tonight. If I could be guaranteed calamari that good every time I ordered it, I would be a convert.

Georgio’s is a small family run restaurant and in my opinion simply as good as it gets. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience it comes highly recommended.

The high price of flatulance

December 7, 2008

This proposal is so stupid that one would expect that it must be coming from Britain. But no, it is emanating from the U.S. federal government, or more specifically their Environmental Protection Agency.

In a bizarre proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA is suggesting a tax on cows and pigs and other agricultural animals that belch and flatulate and thus add to greenhouse gas emissions.

It would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.

The executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Ken Hamilton, estimated the fee would cost owners of a modest-sized cattle ranch $30,000 to $40,000 a year. He said he has talked to a number of livestock owners about the proposals, and “all have said if the fees were carried out, it would bankrupt them.”

Sparks said Wednesday he’s worried the fee could be extended to chickens and other farm animals and cause more meat to be imported.

It is difficult for me to read the EPA proposal without thinking that there must be an agent provocateur for the animal-rights movement within the EPA.

Whether they have their fingers in the mix or not, the AR people are certainly in favour of the proposal.

“It makes perfect sense if you are looking for ways to cut down on meat consumption and recoup environmental losses,” said Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman in Washington for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“We certainly support making factory farms pay their fair share,” he said.

It would no doubt advance the AR agenda against meat by driving up the cost of meat to the consumer.

It is hard to believe that a proposal like this could ever be written into law. But sillier things have been pushed forward by bureaucracies and have found their way into legislation. The danger is that it is so silly, should it somehow proceed, the public (other than those directly affected) won’t pay any attention  to the threat, thinking that no one would be stupid enough to pass it into legislation.

That has been proven on numerous occasions to be a fallacy.

Whether or not the EPA has “taken a position” on this proposal , it needs to be killed. Not just filed away for another day, but removed from their computers, hard copies shredded, and the person(s) who came up with the idea reverted back to fetching coffee for the rational policy makers.

No humour allowed in Canadian politics

September 25, 2008

The Canadian election appears to be proceeding as expected. Negative ads prevail and the media is more interested in verbal gaffes than issues. All par for the course.

Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz makes a politically incorrect joke on a supposedly private conference call and one of his bureaucrats rats him out to the media.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was forced to apologize yesterday for “tasteless and completely inappropriate” jokes on an Aug. 30 government conference call during the listeriosis crisis.

“This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts,” Ritz quipped after fretting about the political dangers of the crisis.

And when told during the conference call about a new death in Prince Edward Island, Ritz remarked: “Please tell me it’s Wayne Easter.”

Easter, the Liberal MP for the P.E.I. riding of Malpeque, is his party’s critic shadowing Ritz’s Agriculture Department.

The Canadian Press reported the comments last night, citing sources who took notes during the call.

Actually, I thought the comments were pretty funny, being a fan of black humour and all. But the media then escalated the whole issue by calling people who had experienced death in their families from the listeriosis outbreak to inform them of Ritz’ comment and to get their reaction; which is pretty tasteless in its own right.

Evatt Merchant, a lawyer with the Regina firm that’s handling listeriosis-related class-action lawsuits in six provinces, called Ritz’s comments “totally inappropriate and incredibly insensitive,” especially given that families are still grieving the loss of loved ones.

“Now, you have comments that have been made that revictimize the families, in terms of giving them the impression that their own government doesn’t appreciate just how devastating a tragedy this is,” Merchant said from his firm’s Calgary office.

But who in fact actually revictimized those families? Ritz, who made a flippant remark in a private conversation or the bureaucrat who leaked that conversation and the media who imposed on the privacy of those families to get a story?

Of the course the usual suspects called for Ritz’ resignation.

Both Easter and NDP Leader Jack Layton called for the minister’s resignation last night.

“I’ve already called for Mr. Ritz’s resignation over his handling of the listeriosis outbreak and his failure to tell the truth to Canadians about the government’s role in it,” Easter said. “I could never imagine he would show this kind of insensitivity. This is just one more reason he needs to be dismissed.”

Layton denounced Ritz’s remarks on the conference call as “utterly unacceptable.”

As did Stephane Dion.

In truth, the whole episode tells me more about the mentality of the federal bureaucracy than it does about Ritz.

And the media thinks that the Prime Minister is paranoid about the bureaucracy he inherited from the Chretien Liberal government. You think?

The campaign to ban bottled water

August 27, 2008

Bottled water has apparently become the new evil; for different reasons, depending on what groups or individuals are on the attack.

According to the United Church, it is a moral issue.

The United Church does not see the issue in merely pragmatic terms. ‘Water in Focus’ was a special Lent 2006 initiative of the UCC which involved a broader view of creation. Biblical reflections on Genesis helped launch the mission theme for the coming year: ‘Living in right relationship with creation.’

“This emphasis stems from a long history of concern for God’s creation,” said David Hallman, program coordinator for UCC’s Energy & Environment department.

“We as humans have a responsibility to care for that creation. I realize that some question: ‘What does bottled water have to do with the gospel?’ I respond that UCC has a wide range of issues it is concerned with, to do with wellbeing of life. We do have a strong belief in the importance of faith in peoples lives.”

Asked if focusing on the purchasing of bottled water as “wrong” would encourage UCC people to be judgmental of others who do purchase it, Hallman responded: “The focus is to encourage the 3,600 or so UCC congregations in Canada. We need to begin with our own people; but yes, there is an evangelical call to encourage others to be respectful of God’s creation.”

For environmentalists the issue is similar although couched in more practical terms.

Environmentalists are calling for a boycott of bottled water in an effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels, protect the environment and protect local drinking supplies.

Campaign leader Food and Water Watch says bottled water dangerously “undermines confidence” in public tap-water supplies. “The more those who can afford bottled water depend on bottled water, the harder it is for communities to muster political and financial support for urgent upgrades to public water systems that most people depend on to provide safe, affordable water,” the group said on its website.

Activists are urging members of the public to sign a pledge to end daily bottled-water consumption and to refill bottles with tap water rather than buy new ones.

The pledge is part of several environmental groups’ efforts to halt the “commodification” of the nation’s water supply through an increase in bottled-water production and private management of local systems.

The city of London, Ontario has already banned the sale of bottled water on city-owned premises.

City councillors in London, Ont., have voted to ban the sale of bottled water on city premises despite protests from the beverage industry.

The 15-3 vote late Monday came after heated debate in the municipality on the role of bottled water at city facilities such as city-owned buildings, arenas and community centres. Municipal officials have maintained that tap water costs about an eighth of a cent per litre while bottled water can range anywhere from 30 cents to $4 a bottle.

Other cities, such as Ottawa and Toronto are debating the issue as well. Bottled water has already been banned in some schools around the country and others are debating the issue.

Other than the fact that the religious tones of the war against bottled water, coming both from the Church and environmental communities, make me uncomfortable, I can see the legitimacy of some of the arguments. The number of empty plastic bottles being discarded has to be astronomical. And even in localities that have a strong recycling program, it must put pressure on the system.

And granted, some of the product marketing has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, with some brands becoming more expensive than a bottle of good wine. But then again, if you want to blow your money on fancy water bottles that’s your prerogative.

The use of bottled water has become popular, not because people think their local water supply is unsafe, but because it fits with their life style. They drink bottled water is because it is convenient and because it is convenient, they end up drinking at lot more water and a reduced amount of the less-healthy substitutes. And that can’t be all bad.

An issue that I haven’t heard raised in this debate is that of “bottled” water supplied for coolers in offices and in the home as well. Although they don’t add to the recycling problem, they are still a “commodification” of the water supply. Or is “commodification” not a problem if the volume is less?

However, what really bothers me is the arrogance of the religious elitists and the environmentalists, along with bureaucrats and elected officials, who think that the solution to everything they may see as a problem is to ban it. This mindset didn’t start with bottled water and it certainly won’t end with it.

In the first half of 2008, Canadian politicians at all levels of government have gone ban-crazy. Herewith a partial list of bans either enacted or announced since January: the use of pesticides, banned by Ontario; clear plastic baby bottles, banned by the federal government; the sale of bottled water, banned by the Waterloo Region District School Board in Ontario; Styrofoam, banned by Turner Valley, Alta.; using cell phones while driving, banned by Nova Scotia and Quebec; smoking in cars with children, banned by Nova Scotia and Ontario; the sight of cigarettes in corner stores, banned by Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

The existence of bans is certainly nothing new. Governments have always been banning things. In fact, the first recorded use of the word came during the Middle Ages in reference to a monarch’s ultimate power — the ability to summon his subjects to war. It later came to mean a wide variety of official proclamations or proscriptions, including expulsions or banishment. Over time, this heavy-handed application of government authority became so commonplace and routine as to be banal. In the ’60s, ban briefly became a campus imperative — as in “Ban the Bomb” — suggesting governments weren’t doing enough.

These days, however, the sheer number of things forbidden, and the surprising lack of scientific or other rational backing for these actions, suggests that politicians are keen to get back to the earlier application of the word. They ban early and they ban often. So how come bombs were never banned in the ’60s while water bottles and foam plates get banned today? Politicians have their reasons.

This article goes on to list a number of these reasons, #4 speaking specifically to the bottled water ban.

Reason 4 Bans provide cover for other ideologies  If there is a ban to watch, it’s the prohibition on bottled water sales. The Waterloo Region School Board got there first, as per reason three. Now university campus activists across the country are gearing up for major campaigns that will see bottled water banned in student buildings and offices. But this is not a crusade based on health issues. It clearly makes no sense to deny students access to a convenient and popular source of water at school, particularly given the state of most public water fountains. Rather, this urge is motivated by local politicians and campus groups who believe it is improper to make a profit selling water. The ban is meant to enforce the leftist belief that water should be free by outlawing its capitalist version.

A good article, worth being read in full.

Let’s ban the banners!

The ban on the commercial slaughter of horses: More unintended consequences

August 15, 2008

All of the concerns of abandoned horses and the other consequences of the US laws to shut down the commercial slaughter of horses seem to be coming to pass.

There is a national epidemic of “surplus” or “unwanted” horses. Domestic horses are being abandoned as never before. Some are being released as “strays” on public lands. Others are being left to starve in pastures denuded of grass. The reasons are various and excruciatingly complex.

There are, to begin with, too many horses in the USA: 9.2 million as recently as 2005, up from 5.3 million in 1999. Indiscriminate breeding leads not just to too many horses, but also to too many with physical or behavioral faults that render them unsuitable for domestic uses.

Then there’s the economy. Horses are not cheap to keep. Factor in training, vet care, tack and feed, and the expense averages $1,800 to $2,400 per animal, per year — and rising, as grain and fuel costs increase. According to the American Horse Council, a third of horse owners have household incomes less than $50,000 a year. When it comes to feeding your horses or putting gas in the car, the choice is simple, if painful.

But the single overriding cause of “surplus” horses is the movement to ban the sale of horses or their meat for human consumption. Activism forced the last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. to close last year. They had hitherto processed about 100,000 horses annually, mostly for meat sales to France and Japan, where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

Not that facts and common sense carry any weight where emotional issues are involved.

The ultimate barbeque

August 3, 2008

You gotta look at Clayton Cramer’s blog to see the ultimate BBQ.

Horses, Food and Moral Superiority

April 3, 2008

There have been some impassioned comments after my blog on the closing of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. The general tone was that the arguments for stopping the killing of horses for food were not emotional but then the arguments used pushed most of those buttons.

Admittedly, a great deal of horse ownership these days is for social purposes and the animals are more like pets to many people and not really working animals. For those people, the thought of selling their pet to a slaughterhouse when it becomes injured or too old to function properly is an anathema. If they don’t have the facilities to simply put it out to pasture and let it die of old age, they will go to a veterinarian and pay whatever the going rate is to euthanize the animal and then dispose of the body somewhere (Where do you dispose of a euthanized horse?)

But the horse is still dead. Even though you held its hoof while the needle was being inserted, it is still dead.

So what is the argument?

That the animal needs to be shown respect? Fine and good, but do you legislate that?

Some people eat horse meat and others obviously find just the thought of that to be wrong. But even if you personally don’t believe that horses should be used as food does that give you the moral right to pass laws that effectively stop those people from eating horse meat?

Let’s face it. Whether you slice it or grind it, fry it or BBQ it, meat is meat. Whether it comes from a cow, or a pig or a chicken or a dog or a horse it logically makes no difference.

As a friend of mine pointed out, Arabs and Jews don’t eat pork and the Chinese love it. Hindus don’t eat cows. Some cultures eat dogs. Is any one morally superior because of their diet?

OK, I know that vegans think they are, but that’s just their opinion.

We always need another law

March 10, 2008

When there is a real or perceived problem that becomes a public issue a politicians first instinct, so it seems, is to pass a law. Sometimes a law is necessary, makes sense and is enforceable and other times it just makes you wonder if the legislators have even read or possibly thought through what they are voting on.

What got me thinking of this is British Columbia’s new smoking laws, which come into effect on March 31st. Specifically the section making it illegal to smoke outdoors within 3 metres of “a door, window or air intake”.

Now I make no brief for smokers in general. I was ecstatic when smoking was banned in restaurants and in the workplace. But what happened when the bans took place was the obvious. Smokers moved outside to light up.

In some cases if the weather was inclement they stood in bus stop shelters to feed their habit, to the annoyance of non-smokers also using the shelters while waiting for their transportation. So the law had to be expanded to make it illegal to smoke in bus stop shelters. A new law because of the effects of the old law.

But mostly the smokers left their workplace and stood just outside to smoke and this annoyed the people who had to walk past them and inhale the smoke while going into the building. So the government passed the 3 metre law as noted above. The law purportedly being to stop the outside smoke from being sucked back inside, but which inconveniences the smokers just a little bit more by making them go a bit further from their workplace in order to light up.

Which made me think: Who is going to enforce this “3 metre” prohibition? Do the police have a new responsibility? Will they need to carry measuring tapes to decide whether the law has been broken?

So I went to the Ministry of Health website.

In looking at the Ministry’s website it becomes very apparent that the ongoing legislation is not merely meant to protect non-smokers, but is actually a social engineering project. In fact, the site flat-out states that:

Our goals are to prevent youth and young adults from starting to use tobacco, to encourage and assist tobacco users to quit or reduce their use of tobacco products, focusing on the three groups with the highest rates of tobacco use, and to protect British Columbians, especially infants and children, from exposure to second-hand smoke.

The Tobacco Control Program develops legislation, programs and resources to; prevent tobacco use, help people quit smoking and protect British Columbian’s from exposure to second hand smoke.

So the laws are not just meant to protect ‘me’ from ‘them’ but to protect ‘them’ from ‘themselves’. But in order to do this I see that we now have not only Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinators spread around the province, but we also have Tobacco Enforcement Officers.

I have no idea what the job specs are for any of these people, but hopefully the new Tobacco Police (?) won’t be issued tasers so they can take down smokers becoming unruly within the 3 metre limit.

A smoker will also need to know what the definition of a ‘window’ is. The law doesn’t appear to differentiate between a window that is, or can be, opened, or a sealed or display window. I guess that will be the job of the Tobacco Enforcement Officers to make that interpretation.

It just seems to me that there should be a rule that in order to pass a new law the government needs to get rid of one old law. At least in that way it would be a zero sum game.

Britain: The land of the free?

February 17, 2008

The stories that I read coming out of Britain either make me very happy that I don’t live there or very afraid that they may be the forerunner of our future.

They have now proposed that smokers should have to buy a licence to buy tobacco at a cost of 10 pounds. The idea of the licence is to make it more inconvenient to buy tobacco the intent being to encourage more people to quit the habit.

Professor Le Grand, a former adviser to ex-PM Tony Blair, said cash raised by the proposed scheme would go to the NHS.

He said it was the inconvenience of getting a permit – as much as the cost – that would deter people from persisting with the smoking habit.

“You’ve got to get a form, a complex form – the government’s good at complex forms; you have got to get a photograph.

“It’s a little bit of a problem to actually do it, so you have got to make a conscious decision every year to opt in to being a smoker.”

It would seem to me that to make it work they would also have to make it illegal for anyone with a licence to buy tobacco and give or re-sell it to an unlicensed person. More laws, a whole new lot of criminals, more penalties and more really useful work for the police.

The British government might be well advised to heed Ronald Reagan’s words:

“Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves”.