Monday, October 17, 2011

Another Bulk Food Option

You may or may not have seen the video taken by a passer-by's cell phone of rats (and not just one, but many!) scrambling all over the produce and packaged foods of Kitsilano Natural Foods, a store I touted earlier as being the best choice for bulk foods.

Needless to say, I've changed my mind. Although the story maintains that rodents are everywhere, likely in every store to at least some extent, the video shows quite a lot of rats in my mind - too many to be the "unpreventable few"!

I stopped in at Save On Foods, which isn't my favourite store (mostly for the reason that they've been caught labelling foreign/imported goods as 'local' erroneously, or maybe even accidentally-on-purpose - story here on, and loaded up on bulk foods in Aisle 2. It wasn't exactly cheap, seeing as I bought tart dried cherries, walnuts, dried blueberries ($17 worth! Yikes!) and $7 worth of chickpeas (wanted to see if it is cheaper to soak dried ones overnight than to buy cans - less sodium at the very least, I suppose).

And again I'm reminded of the plastic bag problem (and also again reminded of Kootsacs!), though I've found so many ways to reuse the bags (doubled-up or more for use as freezer bags; rinsed and reused for bulk purchases; used in place of cling wrap to cover bowls in the fridge, etc.).

Anyway, buying in bulk is often cheaper (but not always - always check up on it! Bagged pasta, rice, dried mangoes especially are often cheaper pre-packaged!), and it certainly means less waste if you're reusing those plastic baggies. It's obscene how much packaging some foods have!

So Save On Foods is probably the next best for bulk in the West side (they have an organic section as well), but at a big chain like this it always pays to do your homework! Don't forget also that if you're in the Cambie and Broadway area, there's another No Frills store just east on Broadway at Yukon or so, which does indeed have very competitive prices on staples like rice and beans!

Please do comment if you've found another great bulk option in Kits or nearby! I love rats as pets, but there's something positively repulsive about that many wild urban rats swarming food at Kitsilano Natural Foods. I suppose rat feces are natural, but it's just not comforting enough for me to want to shop there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Innocent Coffee - Worth a Walk

Of course I forgot my camera today*. A gorgeous, sunny autumn day and I forgot to bring it along with me (I was rather in a hurry, seeing as it was the middle of a weekday!).
*updated photos added above!

At any rate, I finally stopped in at Innocent Coffee (I'll upload a proper photo soon when next I pass by, camera in tow) and ordered a muscovado latte and a thyme & orange zest shortbread.

WOW. That was a very, very delicious stopover! Highly recommended on your way to or from Granville Island. It's an adorable, bright, open space with limited but quaint seating and the most incredible doodles in their pen and paper guest book (open for you to contribute to as well, if the mood strikes you!).

From their website:

There's a major downside to Innocent Coffee, however - due to health regulations (because of their limited space), they don't have reusable cutlery and cups. So do bring your reusable mug with you!

Make sure you try something with that delicious, raw brown sugar muscovado syrup and have a biscuit - you won't be disappointed (and the prices are well within the reasonable range, too!).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clothing: Once Again Consignment & Evil "Eco" Soap

Angel has been running Once Again Consignment on 1st avenue near Cypress (just down from Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.) for 20 years. 20 years! And I just discovered it last week!

Her store is tucked away between dental whitening studios, anti-aging spas and salons in the lovely row-houses along that stretch of West 1st between Burrard and Cypress, and it isn't easy to spot (Angel - you need a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk or something!).

Her small store is packed full of choice brands (in fact, her store has the most 'designer' items that I've seen in any other consignment shop, rivalling even the Turnabout at South Granville (near 16th) that supposedly specializes in designer labels), and the prices are well within reason. I bought a Teenflo blouse for $25 and a Calvin Klein sweater for $30, both of which are in immaculate condition. I tried on a gorgeous little Diane von Furstenberg jacket, but it was a size too small for me.

Anyway, swing by Once Again on West 1st and have a gander. When I was just leaving with my purchases, a very wealthy lady came in with arm loads of clothing - I had just enough self-respect to not pirouette and hover like a vulture over these fresh kills (though part of me regrets that decision!).


On a different note, still clothing related - the UBC bookstore is giving out free samples (yeay! Free samples!) of laundry detergent with any clothing purchase (including UBC sleepwear, which is really the only time I feel comfortable wearing clothes with bold writing across the chest!).

"BerryPlus" markets itself as an eco-option. I beg you to resist marketing temptation and look with me at all the packaging required to contain a supposedly environmentally-friendly alternative.....

Wasteful packaging. I'll have to reuse that little chain.
Those vials ARE NOT RECYCLABLE. Watch for them washing up on shorelines for the next 100 years...

Firstly, the package doesn't say it's made of previously recycled plastic, which tells me it's newly made atmospheric poison. True, it's polypropylene, #5, which means you can recycle it (maybe - it's never a guarantee). But the little plastic vials, which are really just 1.5mL Eppendorf tubes that labs use, are destined to end up cluttering the landfills - they're NOT recyclable!

Secondly, it's a plant-derived detergent. BIG DEAL! There are literally dozens of choices of plant-derived surfactants in the laundry detergent aisle to choose from (and even more at Whole Foods!), and each of these come in jugs. BerryPlus maintains that lugging around a jug is inconvenient - they ask "why not just take a few little disposable plastic vials with you to the laundry instead?!"

What a crock of bull!
Planet-healing?! With disposable lab waste vials?! LIES!
A "microdose" is often enough, no matter what soap you use. Using less is always smart.

It doesn't take a degree in science to realise that a jug of detergent means less plastic waste overall than individually packaged 'doses' of laundry soap. You also still have to lug down your dirty clothes and hamper, so what's a jug of soap on top of that? The logic here is weak - it's just a slimy marketing ploy at the expense of our earth.

Please don't buy into this nonsense - if BerryPlus starts making a jug of laundry detergent that's wholly recyclable, and the price is right, I'll give it a try. But say no to this 'trendy eco-ism' marketing - let's show that "college students" (made in the USA, can you tell?) are clever enough to think critically and realise that this isn't an environmentally-friendly alternative but a cheap gimmick!

Fall Walkabouts

The cool air and partly sunny skies make for excellent walking weather, something that won't last long!

Here are some sights I saw on some of my latest walks + some transit where required. Hope these inspire you to take a walk today, before the cold rains set in for good!

Clark Drive
Where SPEC was....
Street View - controversial, but so useful!
Stop x 2 and Smell the Flowers
Where SPEC is moving to!
What a hole. (Get it?! Lumen!)
Pretty today, pile of rubble tomorrow! Built from unreinforced brick masonry in the 1930's (and earlier), this hospital is going to crumble in even a moderate earthquake. WE NEED A NEW HOSPITAL!!!

And the digital point-and-shoot that covers all my blog photography - the little green Samsung: