Giving Back for Random Acts of Kindness Week

At Organic Grocer we’re so pleased to be blessed enough to be giving back often and generously!  During Random Acts of Kindness Week we’re reminded why we do what we do – and we hope we can inspire you to give back kindness wherever and however you can too!

 

When you shop at Organic Grocer you’re doing more than supporting a 25 year old local business owned and operated by Surrey residents – you’re supporting LOCAL & INTERNATIONAL charities that make a real impact.

Every year the owners of Organic Grocer, located in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey BC, donate generously to several local charities that directly impact their community’s most vulnerable residents.  Without these charities the owners believe that Surrey would be a much poorer and meaner place to live.  We hope that you’ll consider supporting them too during Random Acts of Kindness Week – and all throughout the year!

The owners also support international charities that are inspiring significant change around the world and moving industry forward ethically.  Finally, Garth & Deb also encourage their staff to find forward thinking companies that are making a difference through their products and services so that we can feature them in our store!  We hope that you find this article inspiring and that you will feel even better about shopping with Organic Grocer knowing that your hard earned dollars are doing good all around the world.

 

SOME AMAZING LOCAL COMMUNITY CHARITIES:

 

Surrey Women’s Centre 

The Surrey Women’s Centre protects and empowers women and girls.  It is a crisis centre for women and girls escaping domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence.  The Surrey Women’s Centre is the only women’s Centre in Surrey, BC. They are often the first and sometimes the only place women and girls in need call for help.

It is only because of generous daily donations that these women and girls have a safe place to turn.

The Centre is open 24 hours per day. 7 days per week. 365 days per year.

 

Surrey Food Bank 

Hunger affects us all; it knows no age, it knows no race and it knows no season. At the Surrey Food Bank they have created specialised programs to ensure they are providing food assistance to everyone who needs a hand up in our community.  

Hungry clients may visit the Surrey Food Bank and receive a nutritious supply of food every 14 days. The Food Bank’s goal is to provide sufficient food for 3 to 4 days, offering vegetarian and non-vegetarian options based on Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating.   However, the Food Bank is limited in what they can offer as they can only supply what has been donated.

 

 SOURCES BC (at Peace Arch Hospital)

In 1978, Peace Arch Community Services (PACS) was formed to serve the Surrey and White Rock community. Only a few thousand people sought its services and referral information; but as family and social challenges intensified, so did the need for PACS volunteers and professionals to help others overcome adversity and build a better life. In 2008 the organization provided direct service to approximately 12,300 individuals. SOURCES was born in 2010 as other agencies consolidated their services with PACS; these included Gateway Autism Society and Gateway Autism Foundation (2010), Newton Advocacy Group Society (2011), South Fraser Women’s Services Society (2012) and Cornerstone Care Society (2015).

SOURCES now strives to create more vibrant and resilient communities by offering support to children, youth, families, persons with disabilities, seniors, and others who are coping with isolation, addiction, poverty, disability and conflict. We also support our communities through leadership, education and volunteerism.

 

Covenant House 

Covenant House provides love and hope to Vancouver’s street youth. Covenant House helps youth aged 16 to 24 who have fled physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse; those who have been forced from their homes; and those who have aged out of foster care.  Covenant House is a premier provider of shelter as well as other services for homeless youth thanks to the hard work and dedication of their staff and volunteers and generous donor’s support.

 

We at the Organic Grocer believe that once a person’s basic needs for food, shelter, and safety are taken care of a beautiful and healthy environment will enrich their lives.

A healthy and vibrant environment doesn’t just create a better place for our animal friends to live, but also creates a healthy and supportive environment for us humans to thrive in as well.  Keeping that in mind, we support several environmental and agrarian charities across the country every year:

 

SOME AMAZING ENVIRONMENTAL CHARITIES: 

 

Burns Bog Conservation Society

The Burns Bog Conservation Society networks with leading scientists to give and distribute accurate and up-to-date information on peatlands. In 1995 Dr David Bellemy discovered that Burns Bog was regenerating after the peat harvesting. He told the Society “you have proved by accident in Burns Bog the theory that the bog will regenerate within 40 years!”

When you give to the Burns Bog Conservation Society, you become part of a powerful movement to save one of our country’s most fragile and precious ecosystems – Burns Bog. Thank you for protecting “the lungs of the Lower Mainland.”

 

Did you know that you can Adopt an Animal for your Valentine?

 

Young Agrarians

Young Agrarians (YA) is a network for new and young ecological and organic farmers. Since they started January 2012, the network has grown across Canada from coast to coast because of farmers who have organized events (mixers, farm tours & potlucks, apprentice meet-ups, etc.)  The network is made up of a diverse array of food growers and lovers: rural and urban farmers, market gardeners, seed savers, food activists, bee keepers, community gardeners, food/farmer organizations and more.  All of who are working to steward land and soil, and grow our local food systems.

Young Agrarians recognises Indigenous title to all lands in Canada. They feel it is their responsibility to care for and respect the land that we all live on and depend upon for water, food and shelter. In a time of climate change, we must all do our part to nurture resilient food systems (local, ecological and equitably produced) choosing with our dollars, values and hands to consume and produce foods that are healthy for us and future generations.

 

Canadian Organic Growers 

COG’s mission is to lead local and national communities towards sustainable organic stewardship of land, food and fibre while respecting nature, upholding social justice and protecting natural resources.

Not all COG members run certified organic operations, but they share a vision for a sustainable bioregionally-based organic food system. COG members believe that organic food production is the best choice for the health of consumers and producers, for the protection and enhancement of the environment, and for the sustainability of the food production system. In fact we believe that the survival of our country and even of the planet depends on it!

 

FarmFolk CityFolk 

FarmFolk CityFolk is a not for profit society that works to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. Their projects provide access to & protection of foodlands; support local growers and producers; and engage communities in the celebration of local food.

“Something happens to people who plant seeds–it is impossible to watch a plant grow and flourish without getting a sense of the miracle of all life.”

-Herb Barbolet, Co-founder of FarmFolk CityFolk

 

Certified Organic Association of BC  

COABC’s approach to food production is based on care for the earth. They recognize that as human beings, we are one creature among many which are all inter-related and interdependent. The COABC is part of an organic movement that embraces a wide diversity of activities and enterprises related to the organic production of food and encompass all sizes of operations.

One of the tools the COABC uses is a regulatory framework to permit exports.  Their priority is the establishment and maintenance of local food systems. They accept the principles of organic farming and processing identified by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) and engage in research of appropriate techniques to enable us to put them all into practice.

 

We know that donating directly to charities is meaningful and changes lives daily – but sometimes it’s best to support initiatives that are run by companies and organisations which we trust and which we know will direct funds into the most needy hands and environments.

Because we want our dollars to make a meaningful impact we look for products that we can carry brought to us by companies and organisations doing really meaningful work!  Two such companies come to mind (below), but don’t forget that any of the fair trade products we carry make a difference in the lives of people around the world!  That’s why we strive to carry a fair trade option wherever possible.

 

 

Alaffia Body Care Products

Buy an Alafffia product and contribute to their Empowerment initiatives in Africa with every purchase.  Empowerment Projects are Alaffia’s mission in action, funded by the sales of Alaffia products.  Alaffia invests in their communities because they believe it is their moral responsibility to ensure African resources empower African communities. Their goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality.  Alaffia’s Empowerment Projects include several Education-Based Projects, Maternal Health, FGM Eradication, Eyeglasses and Reforestation. All of Alaffia’s projects empower Togolese communities to provide their skills and knowledge to the rest of the world and to rise out of poverty.

As of 2017 Alfaffia’s Empowerment Initiatives have:
•• DISTRIBUTED 7,482 BIKES ••  •• GIVEN 32,842 CHILDREN SCHOOL SUPPLIES ••  •• BUILT 2,261 SCHOOL BENCHES ••  •• CONSTRUCTED 10 SCHOOLS ••  •• FUNDED 4,463 BIRTHS ••  •• PLANTED 57,575 TREES ••  •• DONATED 24,927 EYEGLASSES ••

Learn more here:  https://alaffia.com/empowerment/

 

Natural Calm Magnesium & Calcium Products

Every purchase of Natural Calm Products supports the Organics 4 Orphans Charity which supports organic gardening, nutritional training, natural medicine and income generation in communities across Africa.

 

Natural Factors and the Plant a Seed and See What Grows Foundation

Every purchase of a Whole Earth & Sea Supplement sends $2 directly to the Plant a Seed and See What Grows Foundation – a local charity that creates a lot of buzz around food and the interconnectedness that unites us all.   We are all interconnected with one another, with our food, with our environment and with our communities. And we are what we eat. And we are stewards of our land. And we are what we contribute to our communities.  At Plant a Seed Foundation, they nurture a sense of interconnectivity with one another, with our food, our land and our communities. They are committed to helping others to:

They further support our local communities by:

We hope that knowing the hard earned dollars you spend at Organic Grocer are making a significant difference every day in both local lives and lives across the globe brings warmth to your heart and a smile to your face. 

Now get out there and make a difference in someone’s life!

Life is Good at the Factors Farm

Located on United Boulevard in Coquitlam BC, Natural Fators Farm is the newest extension of a local natural comapny that has been around since 1950!  Today, Natural Factors is one of the largest manufacturers of nutritional products in North America.  Right from day one, they’ve been fully committed to making products right. They are not a public company with shareholders to impress. Instead, they care about impressing their customers.  Here’s what they’ve got to say about the new movement in natural supplementation:

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Working Hard

Local, whole, and good for you: get to know your supplements

We’ve been getting to know our food a bit better in recent years. Not in in an up-close-and-personal kind of way – we don’t need our chicken to have a name and hobbies (though a chicken who could juggle might make for an interesting marketing campaign). No, we want to know that our food was grown in a way that’s good for us, for farmers, and for the environment. We want to know our kale was tended by people who care about the earth, and not just the bottom line. We want to know that the nutrients in our strawberries fulfill the promise of their ruby red colour. And what about the nutrients we take in the form of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements?

Well, yes, we want to get to know those, too.

After all, whole foods aren’t just a trend at the dinner table. Today’s nutritional supplements are capturing the benefits of whole foods – such as Natural Factors’ Whole Earth & Sea line, with offerings from multivitamins to bone-health formulas, and more. Like that heirloom tomato from your local farmers’ market, whole food-based supplements bring you the best of what nature has to offer, plus all the benefits of locally grown, locally produced goods.

 

Whole foods vs. isolated nutrients

The best way to get nutrients is from whole foods. Plants provide a broad spectrum of nutrients, from vitamins and minerals to enzymes and phytonutrients, and the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Research suggests that nutrients from whole, raw foods are team players; in other words, a valuable synergy allows key vitamins and minerals to work more effectively together, and makes them more bioavailable, so your body can absorb them easily.

Arguably, this means we would fill our plates with an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies three times a day, every day. And if you’ve figured out how to come up with fresh, home-cooked meals while juggling work, kids, exercise, and if you’re lucky, a social life, call us. No, really – you’ve stumbled upon the secret of life, and we want in. For the rest of us, whole food supplements like Whole Earth & Sea can take the pressure off a little.

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Organic Echinachea

It’s all about soil

Organic farmers often joke that they grow healthy soil – veggies are just a happy side effect. Like all good jokes, there’s truth in it. After decades of mismanaged soil thanks to the advent of chemical agriculture, certified organic farmers are experiencing a renaissance. Healthy organic soil contains all the vital nutrients that plants need to thrive, and foods grown organically have been shown to contain higher levels of key antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.

Growing organic herbs, fruits, and veggies for whole food supplements makes perfect sense, according to Jan Slama, Research Scientist for Natural Factors in Kelowna, BC: “The purpose is to control the quality of our products from the ground up.” Jan is speaking of Factors Farms, a certified organic farm in BC’s fertile Okanagan Valley where many of the ingredients for Whole Earth & Sea are sourced.

At Factors Farms, Spring is in the air, and seeds are being sown for another season of locally grown herbs and supplements. 25 years of organic, non-GMO farming experience have taught the farmers here just what it means to grow high-quality ingredients. Soon, the fields will be bursting with colourful echinacea, vibrant greens, and sweet, antioxidant-rich berries. Fertilized only with compost and nitrogen-rich sea plants and meticulously cared for by hand, the plants are harvested at their peak and, just down the road, they’re raw processed to preserve those delicate antioxidants.

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 The Feilds

Local does it better

Those fields of green could be grown almost anywhere on the planet, but for Jan and the team at Natural Factors, growing at home is important. Sure, you can find Natural Factors and Whole Earth & Sea across North America, but they act more like your friendly neighbour than anything else.

And that’s important to Jan, who says “Canadians want local, organic herbals that they can trust.” For many of us, that means food and supplements grown right here in our own backyard, with all the benefits that come with buying locally grown, locally produced goods: a boost for the local economy, local jobs, sustainability, and healthier communities.

If you’ve made room on your plate for local whole foods, be sure to make room in your medicine cabinet too.
After all, life’s a healthy feast – enjoy it whole!

SHOUT OUT TO DAVE!

Dave Chhoker is a customer of ours who blows our mind with the humanitarian work he does!  He’s quietly doing so much good  – we thought everyone should know about it!  So we asked our Leslie 2 to interview Dave and write us a quick article about what he does and why he does it.

We hope that this will bring some interesting farming alternatives to your attention, and that you’ll be inspired by a single person making a world of difference in many people’s lives.

Way to go Dave!

Dave Chhoker uses new/ancient farming techniques to improve farming in India

“It’s called Rishi Krishi,” Surrey’s Dave Chhoker says of an irrigation system that originated in ancient India from one of the four parts of the Veda—ancient scripture that deals with agriculture—once farmed by sages and saints. According to Chhoker, farmers would scrape the soil from under a Banyan tree—an extremely large and holy tree.  “There are these hanging roots ,” Chhoker says, describing how they drip hormones and enzymes into the soil creating a substance known as Angara or holy ash.

It takes 15 kilograms of Angara to be sprinkled upon one acre of field, which is then flooded with water to irrigate it. “It works like a yogurt culture,” Chhoker explains, “starting the growth of micro-organisms in the soil. The healthier the micro-organisms, the healthier the crop.”

Chhoker himself has six acres in India and uses his farm as a tool to teach other farmers how to go back to the ancient and self-sustaining methods of farming, using his own successes as an example. Rishi Krishi is just one of them. Another is what is known as the Sulab system which takes human waste and through the use of two separate pits (customized to fit the size of the farm and family) allows one pit to fill with excreta and other human waste while the other filled pit is sealed with cement slabs and allowed to compost or “percolate” for two full years.

The pathogens are eaten up by bacteria in the soil, leaving behind “a nice smelling manure.”  A manure loaded with natural nutrients. “It is very successful, very cheap, very practical.”

A nectar comprised of honey, ghee, cow dung and water is used while the crops are growing which enhances the growth of micro-organisms in the soil. Whatever is put in the ground provides the activation. It is, Chhokar states, a self-sustaining system. “You are not dependent on anyone.”

Chhokar describes modern India as having turned away from these ancient forms of farming in favour of chemicals and genetically modified seeds (GMO). He laments the plight of modern farmers who have been “victimized” by the lure of an easy crop with little to no weeding, only to lose everything to drought. The farmers—now in debt to the chemical companies—must sell whatever crops survived to the pay the bills. Any GMO crops that are kept to feed their families are engineered to be sterile so the farmers have no choice but to buy more of this seed for next year’s crop. When the farmers can no longer pay the chemical and GMO seed corporations, they lose their farms.

“The dependence on chemical agriculture in India is creating a lot of farmers and their families to commit suicide, jumping into their wells,” Chhokar says, adding that most farms have been in the family for generations and it is an “honour” issue, a “losing face,” when the farms are lost.

“It is a huge problem in India.”

by Leslie MacFarlane
Leslie 2  (L2 for short!) is a writer and she also provides exceptional customer care at the back end of the store.  Feel free to ask her for help whenever you see her – she’s happy to help you.

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