Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Esquimalt needs a living-wage policy

We all know that the cost of living on lower Vancouver Island is high, so high that it often drives young families out of our communities.

Yet how can we have a healthy community if those who grow up here cannot afford to stay in our community and raise a family even when they are working full-time?

How can we justify the fact that many residents go to work every day, work hard, and yet still don't earn enough to provide the basics for their family? More than half the children living in poverty in B.C. now live in families where at least one parent works full-time.

Read more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/business/Esquimalt+needs+living+wage+policy/3463601/story.html#ixzz0yCoRELKq

Rainy Day Comfort Food at Quest Food Exchange

Vancouver has been blessed this summer with long stretches of heat, sun and plenty of outdoor time. It is now August 31, and it appears to be the first full day of rain, cloud, cold, and dreariness that signals the start of fall. What better way is there to combat the outdoors than to stay inside and enjoy a little comfort food?

Clients at Quest have many options open to them in the search for something warm and hearty on a day like today.

For those who are looking for something with little preparation and quickness, I suggest two meal options:
1. Lunch for One: Red Thai Cuisine tofu and rice, microwaveable and only $1.50.

2. Lunch for Two: Butternut Squash Soup with Poppy Seed Buns, easily heated up on the stove or microwave, total cost of $1.55


Interested in doing a little cooking? There is some great selection of veggies right now (especially avocado). How about an easy avocado soup?

Puree two avocados, two cloves of garlic, one small yellow onion, and one or two chile peppers. Add 1 1/2 cups of (plain soy) milk. Season with salt and pepper. Flavour with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently or the milk will burn.

Garnish your soup with some diced tomatoes, chiles, and spicy sausage. Serve.
Total Cost: Less than $1 per serving. Should serve 4.

A Food Found at Quest Food Exchange - Flax Seed Oil

Flax seed oil is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial to almost all of our body’s systems. It also contains Omega 6 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, potassium, fiber, magnesium, protein and zinc. It contains 50% more omega-3 oils than what is in fish oil supplements.

Studies have shown that flax seed oil can help reduce the pain, inflammation and swelling of arthritis. It has many health benefits ranging from accelerating the healing of sprains to lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Lignan is a plant chemical which is believed to protect against tumors and viruses. Flax seed oil is 100 times richer in lignan than most whole grains.

The recommended daily dose for most people is approximately 1,000 mg taken one to three times per day. Flax seed oil can take a bit of time to be absorbed into the body, therefore it may be a few weeks before you see full beneficial effects.

Add flax seed oil to shakes or add balsamic vinegar and use as a salad dressing.

*Consult your physician before adding flaxseed oil to your diet as it may interact with certain medications.

Corinne Stockford, RHN
Realife Nutrition

Monday, August 30, 2010

B.C. program schooling kids with fresh, local fare

B.C.’s Farm to School program is providing fresh, local fare to students while teaching them about where their food comes from – and the kids are eating it up

Given the choice between a salad bar or lunch packed by mom, a surprising number of students at Mountview Elementary go for the lettuce and mustard greens.

At the tiny school in Williams Lake, B.C., 160 out of 200 students line up on Tuesdays and Thursdays to munch on asparagus, broccoli or snap peas and tuck into dishes such as bison-vegetable chili.

Read more at:

Friday, August 27, 2010

For the love of Curry

This week I found some new pre-cooked meals at Quest: Curry tofu with rice and veggies.

These come in three different levels of heat for those who do and do not like spicy food. I tried the mild which was a yellow curry, red is medium and green is hot. This rivals my home made curry sauce in flavor and texture. I was so happy to see that there was no milk, but they used coconut milk. There are hints of lemongrass and a wonderful mix of spices that create curry's boquet...

Also, as this is a meat free dish it appeals to a larger group of customers comming to the stores. These are ideal for theses hot hot days when turning on the stove sends me running for cooler pastures.

Written by Starla, Quest Volunteer and Client

How to shop at Quest / The Benefits of Volunteering

For every four hour shift that a Quest volunteer works, we receive a thirteen dollar food voucher which can be redeemed in the Quest store the day of our shift. While thirteen dollars may not go far in a typical grocery store, it can go a long way at Quest!

One volunteer shift is very helpful for both Quest as a not for profit organization and for volunteers, as individuals as well as for their families.

Here are a couple of examples, of a shopping trip I would make at Quest using my $13 voucher.

2 lbs tomatoes
1 lb yellow beans
4 baby cucumbers
1 watermelon
Tortilla chips
Salsa (907 g)
Loaf of bread
Peanut butter
Yves Veggie Ground Round
Cuisine To Go (Thai curry tofu, rice, and vegetable prepared meal)
One liter Organic milk
1 box double chocolate chip cookies
Total cost = $12.88

1 lb (bone in) chicken
1 box Shake and Bake
1 lb yellow beans
1 lb squash
1 head of Romaine lettuce
2 cucumbers
Loaf of bread
2 liters Organic milk
1 box Creamy Chicken soup (1 liter)
1 box Seashell Treasures chocolates
2 boxes double chocolate chip cookies
Total cost = $12.92

Written by Hannah, a Quest Volunteer

Monday, August 23, 2010


I used to go camping a lot, but camping costs money and i haven’t had enough to spare for a few years to go anywhere. This year things are a little different and i’ve made plans to go camping this week. I still don’t have a lot of money so i tried to get all the food for as little as possible. As a Quest volunteer, I have been using my the vouchers I receive in compensation for my shifts, to buy stuff that would pack well.

The goal is to get the most nutrition and taste while carrying as little as I possibly can. It also needs to be easy to cook, filling and full of taste!

Most of my food came from Quest:
chips, marshmallows, tomato paste,spices, tea, true lemon, hot chocolate,
peanut butter, taco seasoning packet, almond milk, hummus, flatbread crackers, chocolate chips, bumblebars, spicy nuts, almond milk, and dried apples.

I plan to cook using two methods. I don’t have a “proper” camp stove, and by that I mean a gas powered device like a coleman (they make me nervous anyway). Instead I went supercheap and old school. I built a hobo stove and buddy burner using a giant can (from peaches i bought at quest a few months ago) and some smaller tuna cans. I used an old huge candle to fill the cans.

I’ll take photos of it and will let you know how it all worked out. Well I’m off and home to do a final pack. See ya in a couple of weeks.

Written by Draya, Quest Volunteer and Client

Volunteer Opportunity - Sept 4, 5 & 6

No plans for the long weekend? Looking for something interesting to do in Vancouver?

Quest needs you to volunteer with our Walmart Fundraiser in North Vancouver at Grandview. If you are an avid barbeque chef, this is the volunteer opportunity of a lifetime.

With a shift from 10am to 4pm, you can volunteer on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or the whole weekend!

To sign up, please contact Kyle Burgess at 604-602-0186 ext 109, or kburgess@questoutreach.org.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food waste easy on religous holidays - in all faiths - but here is an example

The true spirit and essence of Ramadhan nowadays seems to have been buried under the mountain of food found wasted in the garbage bins outside local restaurants each night after sungkai (breaking of fast).

What should be remembered as a month for practising self-discipline and self-control has turned out to be about fasting and being rewarded with bountiful sungkai meals.

Indeed, much emphasis is put on providing ostentatious displays of food in celebration of this holy month. But it seems many people disregard the impact of wasted food.

Read more at:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More than 30 percent of children skip breakfast before school

Butter some toast, pour some cereal or pop an Eggo in the toaster; anything to ensure children don’t leave home on an empty belly.

According to a new study, nearly a third of 10- to 16-year-olds regularly go without breakfast before school, drastically raising their chances of becoming inactive, unfit and obese.

Read more at:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat an Apple (Doctor’s Orders)

The farm stand is becoming the new apothecary, dispensing apples — not to mention artichokes, asparagus and arugula — to fill a novel kind of prescription.

Doctors at three health centers in Massachusetts have begun advising patients to eat “prescription produce” from local farmers’ markets, in an effort to fight obesity in children of low-income families. Now they will give coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to promote healthy meals.

Read more at:

All Things Food / Making Memories

Last week while I was volunteering at Quest I had the opportunity to be working in the store.

I rarely have a chance to watch the customers as they shop, as my work keeps me in the office.

Watching the steady ebb and flow of customers I noticed a trend with our shoppers that bring in their kids; without fail every child was involved in the shopping process. One mum showed her little boy how to chose the best mango, another child perused the fresh food choosing her favorites to take home. I heard mums and dads happily include goodies in their purchases that all kids love, sweets and fun finger foods. Not worrying so much about the cost of each item.

Seeing this fills me with joy, bringing back the memories of my own childhood, trailing behind my mum as a little girl, testing the firmness and smell of many wonderful foods. I guess you could say that was the beginning of my love affair with all things food.

I am so very thankful for those memories and my mum giving me the skills that I needed in my adult life.

Written by Starla, a Quest Volunteer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food Fail

This one just blows my mind...

Marks & Spencer requires its sandwich supplier, Hain Celestial Group, to discard four slices from each loaf: the crust and the first slice at either end -> check out the pic at

And the result at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How do artificial sell-by dates and subsidized cheap food alter food waste?

"The world's food systems are in crisis. Droughts and flooding have compromised crop production across the globe and over one billion people are hungry. But here in America, our overstocked supermarket shelves continue to propagate the illusion of plenty and, in the past decade, our rate of food waste has more than doubled."

Read more at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/10/hunger-food-waste-farming

Last year Quest rescued just over $5 million worth of food in the lower mainland that would have otherwise gone to waste. This was all done by a staff of 24, 3 trucks, and a dedicated group of volunteers. With a population of 2 million people in Metro Vancouver, it's fair to assume we are only scratching the surface of recoverable food.

The local food movement has sparked a resurgence in home preserving

Demand for workshops in home preserving is surging in Metro Vancouver, forcing trainers to turn from teaching people how to can at home to teaching new trainers to go out into the community for them.

When Fresh Choice Kitchens realized it could not keep up with requests for canning workshops, they changed their strategy, according to organizer Diane Collis. Fresh Choice, formerly known as the Community Kitchen Project, a partner organization of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, last year held two daylong sessions to provide canning skills to 16 new trainers.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Draya's Quest Food Find: Hummus

Sometimes I have very little appetite and yet I’m hungry and know I need to eat. That is when I need someting that is super easy and packed with protein and fibre. Hummus is perfect at these times.

It is a dip or spread popular in the Middle East made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.

“Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C, and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6.[22] The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas. Depending on the recipe, hummus carries varying amounts of monounsaturated fat.[23] Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets and like other combinations of grains and pulses, when eaten with bread it serves as a complete protein.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummus

It is super easy to make if you have a blender or hand blender. Cleanup is the hardest part. Just mix the ingredients using enough olive oil to come to the top and as much lemon juice as you like ( I use True Lemon packets that I got at Quest instead of juice) and blend until the consistency is wht you like. I’ve made it chunky and as smooth as i could get it.

You can also buy cans of pureed chickpeas for cheap in stores and then all you have to do is mix in the lemon, oil, tahini, and garlic. It is also easy to find ready made.

Another great thing about it is that it freezes and defrosts well, without any effect on the taste or texture.

As a dip hummus is great with pita bread (toasted, fried, or regular), corn chips (like the ones at quest), with veggies (especially carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower). I recently bought some baby cukes from a local shop for 2$ to eat with hummus (from Quest) that I had in the freezer. nom nom nom.

I have also used it instead of mayonnaise as a spread or mixed with tuna in a sandwich. It is also a nutty high protein addition to salad -as part of the dressing mixed with citrusy fruit juice -and something sweet like currants or raisins.

Added to chicken stock it makes a great base for soup. Curry with cauliflower and chicken is one combination I’ve done this with. I like using leftover shawarma chicken for supersatisfying taste.

Great, now i’m hungry. It’s time to see what is in the store at Quest today.
WoW! lots of really fresh and healthy produce... and supplements... and cakes....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Food Policy Heresy: The Poors Can Too Eat Well!

Not only is it possible to eat well without spending a lot, it’s better for you—and the planet!

All you people currently subsisting on thrice-daily Extra Value Meals? No more excuses! Everyone can afford to eat the Slow Food way! (Some businesses in low-income neighborhoods provide more access to liquor than to fresh, local food, but that’s a different issue.) And once you trim the most costly items from your bill—usually animal products or prepared foods—you inadvertently follow Micheal Pollan’s famous seven-word prescription for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” So, if the Great Recession has decimated your earning power, rejoice. This is a golden opportunity for an eating habits makeover.

Read more at: http://publicradiokitchen.org/2010/07/13/slow-food-heathy-recipes-budget/

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taking Stock of Poverty in Southern BC

Megan Yarema is the Vancouver-based program manager for Canada Without Poverty, a not-for-profit charitable organization that promotes social security and fair wages for all Canadians.

Earlier this summer Yarema joined Rob Rainer, CEO of Canada Without Poverty, on a trip across southern British Columbia in an attempt to get a bead on the challenges faced by poverty organizations in that piece of the province. Along the way they met with groups in Kelowna, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Victoria and Nelson.

Read more at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/07/21/PovertyInBC/