Reflections on Our 100 Friends4Trees4Life Blogs

Photo Credit Jim

Since the autumn of 2019 we, Catherine and Lucia, have chosen to blog, in an informed and hopeful way, about global warming issues, and climate action to make a difference. We simply felt there were so few articles in the news on this topic, and at that time, there was still debate in the public about if global warming was real. In our inaugural blog we reported the findings of a large number of scientists whose research demonstrated that global warming is real. We also chose to put focus on trees (as reflected in our name) because trees are so valuable to our planet and to life on our planet, and planting trees is an easy and positive way we can have a significant effect on the climate change emergency.

Over these two years of blogging much has changed. The talk of global warming is now everywhere in the news we find, in political promises, on the radio in the songs being written and interviews shared, in podcasts and documentaries, in books and protests, and unfortunately, alive in the increasingly frequent and intense storms, fires and floods around us. More and more people are not in doubt of global warming and we are thrilled that leaders around the world are heeding the evidence and words of the scientists.

We plan to continue our blog, as we feel there is still urgency for greater action, as many pledges have been set by countries around the world for the future, for 2030 and for 2050, but more action is needed today, and our own country of Canada needs to be more accountable for implementing its commitments. Much innovation and research is going into making cleaner energy and energy efficiencies, so overall, and compared to two years ago, we, Catherine and Lucia, feel encouraged. At the same time, we worry that leaders are too slow in setting concrete plans, so we want to keep up the conversation. And we also want to share ideas, respectfully, to impact individuals, you, me and each and every one of us, so we may make informed action on our own behaviour in whatever ways are personally meaningful and appropriate.

With this, our 100th post for our Friends4Trees4Life Blog, we celebrate 100 things we have learned from our research that have touched us, by spotlighting one item from each of our 100 posts to-date.

We are proud of this blog that began in our early fledgling efforts with the affectionate nickname of “Baby Blog” but now we feel is evolving to become “Blissful Blog” to us. We have learned so much and enjoyed immensely writing this together and sharing with you, our Readers. We appreciate that you have been reading our blogs, giving your comments, sending us tips and ideas, and we especially want to thank our volunteer guest bloggers, photographers and artists for sharing your insights, time and talents.

So now, here is one take away nugget from each one of our 100 blogs to-date, starting and working forward from that momentous (to us) first post on October 20, 2019:

  • Scientists agree the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated
  • Trees matter in so many ways such as to capture carbon, cool the planet, clean water, and for air quality, biodiversity, our health, and climate regulation
  • In 2019 Victoria BC joined the “United Nations Trees in City Challenge” to plant 5000 trees by 2020 (thank you blogger Wanda)
  • Tree planting alone will not solve the global warming and climate change emergency, but it is still one of the most impactful positive actions that an individual, organization and government may take
  • Consider gifting trees through “Tree Canada” or “One Tree Planted”
  • Since 1994 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has brought 197 countries together to meet annually at (COP) Conference of Parties to take stock of progress on action to combat climate change and stabilize green house gas emissions (GHG)
  • Even 5 minutes around trees (tree bathing/shinrin yoku) can improve health, boost immune systems and energy, lower blood pressure and stress, improve mood, focus and sleep, and accelerate recovery from illness
  • When shopping for ourselves and others consider vintage items, consumable items and carbon negative items like a Merino wool sweater, or gifting an experience; these all lessen your carbon footprint
  • There’s an app for that – we can track our “carbon footprint” with one of the many apps on the market and consider ways we might want to adopt to reduce our carbon footprint
  • Consider how what we eat, where food comes from and how it is processed and packaged, the impact of food waste for others, our pocket books and the planet, and how improvements and our choices in each of these areas may make a significant difference in addressing climate change
  • Canadian Tree Planting Drones can plant ten times faster at 20% of the cost of traditional methods
  • Trees can be planted as memorials to help remember or pay tribute to those we have lost in our lives
  • The TuBiShevat Festival in February is an annual ecological Jewish Holiday of Trees focusing on what can be done for the environment, celebrating nature, and promoting tree planting while sharing the fruits of the tree (with thanks to guest blogger, Eileen)
  • Thank you to blogger Randy who tells us in great detail the process of choosing and installing solar panels and explained how solar Panel installation on one’s home is an investment in the environment; the system gives you data on how much CO2 you saved from putting in the air.
  • Canada has a goal of having 100% electric vehicles (EV) by 2035, (updated from 2040 when the blog was written) and some provinces offer $$ incentives to purchase an EV
  • Earth Day’s 50th anniversary was in 2020 and this global collaboration event to protect and restore our planet includes a billion people in 193 countries
  • Fun facts about trees in Canada featuring: White Pine, Birch, Oak, and Giant Sequoias in Yosemite. Did you know the Eastern White Pine is the Provincial Tree of Ontario known as the “tree of peace” and can live 400 years?
  • Food waste is significant, as 60% of all food produced is being lost and wasted annually (!) and contributing sizeably to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions/global warming problem
  • We featured mangrove forests and boreal forests-up to 37% of emission reductions needed by 2030 can come from conservation, restoration and management of forests
  • 30% of birds have disappeared in the USA and Canada since 1970 or 2.9 billion birds
  • We featured photos of birds to emit positive energy from nature during our first COVID-19 lockdown; here are some owls-hopefully they can lend more wisdom for we humans
  • We shared photos of gentle early spring blooms from Victoria taken by reader Wanda to lift spirits
  • Learning how to choose the best tree for your desired outcome with planting tips and guidelines
  • More tree suggestions for different needs: privacy, flowering, fruit, bird attraction, ornamental accent trees, and/or trees for small spaces
  • Celebrating Earth Day with children’s artwork (thank you guest artists!) and learning its 50-year history
  • Learning about composting and why soil carbon matters for climate action. This process can divert up to 30% of household waste going into the landfill, avoiding for release of harmful greenhouse gases
  • COVID 19 benefits for the environment were observed with the first lockdown since people were forced to be working from home, buying local, home gardening, enjoying walks in nature, and decreasing flights yielding reduced carbon emissions and best of all, the skies became bluer and the air cleaner
  • In gardening therapy, we explored tips for vegetable gardening from experts in topics including: seeding, soil preparation, hardening indoor plants, caring for your plants, and using magic marigolds
  • More gardening tips were explored like: when to plant based on soil temperature, types of seeds and seed tape, benefits of raised beds, community gardens in a pandemic, and harvesting tips
  • Favourite fruit trees and information and advice on: choosing trees, pollination, pruning, zone hardiness, harvesting and winter protection
  • Endemic plants of Canada in nature and which trees are best for reducing air pollution
  • The wonders of the Amazon Rain Forest with it’s 40,000 plant species as the lungs of the world
  • We featured an extensive list of tree-connected careers and tree organizations
  • A Greener Canada featured what is currently being done in Canada to reduce carbon emissions in 2020 including the carbon levy, phasing out of coal, clean up of orphan wells, research on carbon capture, wind energy development, solar energy development, making bioenergy, plan for retrofitting buildings
  • We featured various books over the two years including “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Wohlleben, with thanks to our Readers for putting many tree-themed books and articles on our radar
  • The temperate rain forests of BC have the largest carbon storage capacity per hectare on earth
  • We shared inspiring quotes, podcasts and music, and listed the top five (5) nations with the most forest coverage
  • Learning more about carbon capture innovations and rewilding the planet
  • Building retrofits and innovations: steps being taken to prepare for the minor, major or deep retrofits needed in Canada
  • Canadian Arboretums and Botanical Gardens were described. This summer Lucia and Catherine organized a plan and enjoyed a stroll through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Arboretum in Toronto, and Lucia also visited the Butchart Gardens in Victoria with friends Kathy, Janet and Wanda
  • Thank you to guest blogger Shanthi who wrote about growing flowers for cutting-where to plant them, choosing what to grow, harvesting and arranging
  • Re-do of community gardens and Community Supported Agriculture (vegetable box programs)
  • Thank you to blogger Brian for writing about how becoming a bee keeper will help pollinators thrive as one third of our food supply depends on the role bees play
  • The One Trillion Tree Initiative for Ecosystem Restoration as organized by the United Nations in 2020
  • Journalist Liane Faulder shares the reason for her attachment to certain special trees in her life
  • Plant Behaviour: delving into the secret lives of plants and how they communicate
  • National Tree Day Sept. 25, 2020 is a global day for climate action and celebration of all tree benefits
  • Climate Action Momentum is Building at the federal level with new pledges and timelines
  • The Delicate Ecosystem of Jasper National Park and action to protect it. Jasper National Park is divided into three life zones – montane, subalpine, alpine – which are broad landscape units with characteristic species, communities and physical environments.
  • We are cautiously optimistic in sharing evidence that, at long last, momentum is building, internationally and globally, for climate action and system change (including, e.g., 180 countries agreeing to the U.N. goal to reduce harmful ocean plastics worldwide, and, China’s new resolve (among a small but growing number of countries) to become carbon net zero by 2060
  • At age 93, David Attenborough continues to inspire with a call to action by offering his personal witness statement and story of global decline in his single lifetime, messaging concern, optimism and the long view. He inspires hope by reminding us that “Nature is our biggest ally and our greatest inspiration. We are urged to embrace it, support it, and care for it. Plant a tree and enjoy the benefits.”
  • Some of the numbers we have learned and reflect on in one-year of blogging, include – In 2020, Canada and China are among (just) 30 countries committing to being carbon net neutral; there are 3 trillion trees in total on the planet and capacity for 1 trillion more; Earth Day 2020 set a tree planting goal of 7.8 billion trees, one for every human alive
  • Tree planting continues to be the fastest and most cost effective way to sequester carbon and one of the most impactful actions for individuals, organizations and governments to take
  • Ocean Voyages Institute is a U.N. Climate Hero for its volunteer efforts toward the goal of cleaning up one million pounds of plastic, by to-date removing 103 tons (206,000 lbs.) in 48 days from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (located between California and Hawaii)
  • Ocean ecosystems cover 70 percent of the planet and are deserving of more respect. They feed us, provide the oxygen we breathe, and protect us from ourselves – were it not for the oceans (absorbing more than 90% of the warming created by humans since 1970), climate change would have already made the earth uninhabitable (yikes, and thank you Mother Nature!)
  • Thanks to Reader Nora for letting us know that Toronto is designated a Tree City of the World by the Arbor Day Foundation, for its leadership in urban and community forestry
  • Cities are packing a punch: Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are among a group of 120+ cities worldwide that are championing and delivering on stepped up climate action plans as members of the international C40 Cities group. This is important and impactful since we are learning that “cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions.”
  • Individuals planting trees are making an inspiring difference: Profiling famed photographer Sebastiano Salgado and his wife Lelia, who began efforts in 1994 to re-establish a once-healthy ecosystem by planting two million trees to create a now forest in the Minas Gervas region of Brazil (thanks to Reader Leslie). One Tree Planted, together with local farmers in India, planted over one million fruit trees even during the pandemic, to combat both hunger and climate change
  • We share photos and ideas aimed at creating new outdoor opportunities to lift holiday spirits while still in the pandemic. Lucia’s new favourite saying is “There is no bad weather, just bad gear!” You go, girl!
  • Our Joyful Joyful blog shared Nature’s gifts of joy for the holidays, and our gratitude and joy as our hearts are warmed by Readers letting us know that our blog has inspired you to give the gift of trees this holiday
  • Ontario’s Project Neutral inspires with practical ideas and a Carbon Calculator for how we can make a difference to “create a beautiful future powered by clean energy and a new generation of climate optimists” (e.g., install LED lightbulbs, lower the water heater temperature, walk and bike when you can). “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
  • “Climate Emergency” is the Oxford Word of the Year 2019, and 33 countries, including Canada, most European countries, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, South Korea, Bangladesh and Maldives had declared a climate emergency as of December 2020. Oxford definition: “A situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible damage resulting from it.”
  • Illustrating letter, as concerned citizens, written to Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, urging our government to deliver on its promises to create real accountability, measurability and transparency for Canadian climate action
  • We shared calming images during challenging times of the Canadian wilderness taken by Toronto photographer MaryAnn Griffin
  • Edmonton Public Library has had Home Energy toolkits available since 2016, and Lucia and Allan were excited to use the toolkit to learn how to make their home more energy efficient, including by insulating the hot water pipes and ordering an efficient dual flush toilet
  • We profiled three topics from CBC’s weekly What on Earth newsletter: flexitarianism, broader implications of trading water futures, and Indigenous Peoples and Seventh Generation Philosophy
  • We profiled Ted Talks and Foundational Qs and As (e.g., What is net zero?) on the urgency and building momentum for climate action
  • Trudeau and Biden pledge to work together on six priorities for climate change, including a focus on accelerating climate ambitions. A report outlines how Canada is in an advantageous position to reach its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • In anticipation of a new season, we profiled past gardening guest blogs by Wanda, Shanthi, Audrey, Leslie and Ross, as well as, shared a video made by videographer Shanthi to showcase the plants in her developing Moon Garden (thank you to all)
  • Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNR) – what are they and how might they help Canada reach its goal to become carbon net neutral by 2050?
  • Two automakers, Ford Motor Company, and GM, commit to achieving carbon neutrality globally in productivity and operations by 2050 (Ford) and by 2040 (GM), in line with the Paris Climate Agreement
  • How best to transition to a clean energy economy and low carbon future? Conference Board of Canada provides scope and insight: “Energy is more than developing energy products like oil, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, biofuel, hydrogen, wood, coal and geothermal. Energy is also about users. Transportation, housing, businesses, affordability, urban and rural centres, and financial markets all contribute to consumption. Combined, producers and consumers make up Canada’s energy system, and it is undergoing a dramatic evolution, often in a discordant way.”
  • Blog posts featuring gardening tips, successes and inspiration continue to resonate with our Readers
  • Relevant as ever, research and medical practices on the powerful antidote that time in nature offers in helping deal with pandemic stress. We learn about Dr. Qing Li, world expert in forest medicine. His 2018 book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, claims to offer “(t)he definitive guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.”
  • Getting ready for Earth Day 2021 by profiling the five pillars of: Restore Our Earth; The Canopy Project; Food and the Environment; The Great Global Cleanup; Climate Literacy; and, Global Earth Challenge
  • We dedicate Earth Day 2021’s blog post to children everywhere, gratefully welcoming back our talented guest artists (ages 4 to 12 years), Charlie, Hannah, Connor, Emily, Claire, Brady, Elizabeth and Karis
  • Twice in April 2021 Canada increases its level of commitment to fight climate change, pledging now to the new ambitious goal to slash emissions by 40-45% of the 2005 baseline level by 2030
  • We learn in greater detail about Canada’s climate change challenges (e.g., breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector and effects of Canada’s changing climate) and our climate action plan
  • Exciting innovation and leading-edge technology in the food sector via vertical hydroponics is producing fresh, safe, pesticide-free, sustainable, local, traceable and package-free produce, and making for less food waste
  • 1000 of the world’s rivers are the source of 80% of the global ocean plastic pollution in the world, and rather than being daunted, Boyan Slat, CEO of The Ocean Cleanup is actually quite optimistic that this is a solvable problem
  • Featuring flowering trees across Canada and early signs of spring to lift spirits and renew hope
  • In May 2021, Canada launched the portal for its new Canada Greener Homes Grant. The goal is to help make Canadian homes more energy-efficient, contributing to Canada’s climate action. “Buildings, including our homes, account for 18% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Three solar panel innovations – Building-Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV); Floating solar panels; Peel and stick solar panels – plus practical considerations for going solar shared by guest blogger, Edmund
  • Tree-inspired poetry by Mary Oliver and various tree-themed quotes offered as ‘soul food’ plus what is regenerative agriculture and why it matters to reducing carbon emissions
  • Lucia shares her volunteer experience with Edmonton’s Roots for Trees, a volunteer tree planting program aimed at planting 45,000 trees each year
  • Profiling some Canadian change agents and leaders helping us forward to our goal to become net zero in carbon emissions by 2050
  • Bill C-12 The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act passes in July 2021, setting national targets for “the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions based on the best scientific information available and to promote transparency and accountability in relation to achieving those targets, in support of achieving net-zero emissions in Canada by 2050 and Canada’s international commitments in respect of mitigating climate change.”
  • How are richer nations helping vulnerable countries to invest in renewable energy, leap frog polluting technologies as their economies develop, protect from climate change, and tackle climate-induced disasters?
  • Win-win good news: COVID-19 relief fund is used for an ambitious coastal clean up to remove 400 tonnes of plastic waste along 1200 km of BC coastline while employing workers and vessels from the tourism sector hard hit by pandemic lockdowns
  • “The future is smoky”: forest fires, fire weather and climate change-induced disasters are here to stay in Canada, sadly; wisdom to be learned from Indigenous people and traditional fire management practices in B.C. First Nations communities
  • Sharing a summer photo gallery to celebrate and inspire caring for and enjoyment of, Canada’s great diversity of wildlife, with thanks to guest photographers Allan, MaryAnn Griffin and Jim MacQuarrie
  • We feel fortunate to live in this country and appreciate that most fellow Canadians take climate change seriously. Heading into the federal election 2021, all but one major party included platform commitments in areas such as: emissions targets; carbon tax; modelling and analysis to track progress on targets; plans to transition to a low-carbon economy and more (e.g., electric vehicles, green retrofits)
  • “The world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24 – the largest generation of youth in history…Young people are not only victims of climate change. They are also valuable contributors to climate action.” (U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres)
  • “As adults, we owe it to the youth and those not yet born to do everything in our power to ensure they have a livable future, with clean air, drinkable water, healthy food, biodiverse life and a stable climate.” (
  • We learned that Canada is home to the world’s longest trail network – the Trans Canada Trail. This cross-Canada connected system of greenways, waterways and roadways extends over 28,000 kilometres, stretching east-west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and north to the Arctic Ocean. Amazing, and what a national treasure! Happily, Lucia is able to access it regularly and within walking distance
  • We spotlight three funding programs and some of the inspiring clean innovations they sponsor to help solve for the transition to a net zero world: MaRS Climate Impact Conference; Earthshot Prize Award (Prince William); and, the U.K.’s Faraday Battery Challenge. Funded innovators include: Costa Rica’s citizen project to restore natural ecosystems; the city of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs; green hydrogen technology to transform how buildings and homes are powered; 17 innovation projects to advance the U.K.’s next generation batteries for electric vehicles
  • COP26 meeting of world leaders in Glasgow offers hope. In recent years there has been a shift from international disagreement (and in some cases outright climate change denial) to today’s consensus view that the threat of climate change is real and consequential and there is heightened urgency for the world to act. Progress, with yet many challenges ahead to secure the goal of global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees rise in global warming within reach…
  • BBC’s environment correspondent, Helen Briggs offers a glimpse into our possible futures in 10-15 years, arising from decisions taken at COP26 – a switch to electric vehicles; a switch away from coal energy (40 countries pledging) to renewable sources (e.g., wind and solar energy) and possibly nuclear energy; solar panels and heat pumps becoming standard fare in home building; price premiums on carbon; more expensive food; more space for Nature’s role in fighting climate change
  • “We may also witness a shift in our thinking…Delivering a just, net-zero transition should ultimately result in happier, healthier lifestyles.” (Dr. Stephanie Sodero, University of Manchester)
  • Key outcomes of COP26 include: pledge to end deforestation by 2030 (137 countries); global coal to clean power transition pledge (46 countries); green investing pledge; pledge to stop public financing of coal/gas/oil (30 countries, including Canada); global methane reduction pledge (108 countries); Canada pledges to limit biodiversity loss; call for global carbon tax (championed by Canada); commitment to zero-emission cars and trucks (15 countries, including Canada); climate finance delivery plan
  • Finding and celebrating simple pleasures and joys in Nature in continuing unsettled times and a second pandemic holiday season
  • We share our second annual New Year’s reflections and re-commit to shifting our mindsets, choices and lifestyles in our ongoing personal quest to be positive contributors to achieving the global transition to a cleaner, greener, sustainable, healthier, happier net-zero future
  • We share mindful reflections and inspiring innovations in food rescue interventions (there’s an App for that!) and profile the overlooked bivalve (oysters, mussels, clams, scallops) – a remarkable food with high potential to clean our waters, nourish a billion people, while being carbon negative. Who knew?!

Thank you for reading our Blog and travelling alongside with us in our learning journey – we look forward to continuing the connection and conversation together, with any luck, for the next 100 posts! 🙂

Common Loon Photo Credit Lucia

Food for Thought and Hope

Becoming Mindful of How our Food Arrived at Our Table

Sharon Salzberg, a leading expert in mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation, observes that on “physiological and psychological levels, connecting with others improves our health and state of being. We are better able to let go of stress, to feel supported, and to find a sense of wholeness even as we move through our busy lives.”

She offers simple ways to find a sense of connection and community in everyday life, regardless of whether or not one is in a group of people – needed evermore now we think in these stressful times of wave after wave of pandemic lockdowns and social isolation, including for some due to illness and/or quarantine.

We begin this blog post aimed at enhancing our understanding about the potential roles that food – the global food industry through to our personal food habits and choices – may serve in positively impacting climate change, with a mindfulness suggestion from Salzberg that is relevant to the topic:

“Before eating a meal, take a few breaths and reflect on the extended community that was involved in bringing the food to your table. There were the farmers who grew the food and the farm owners who employed those workers. There were the people who transported it and stored it. There were those who sold it to the grocery store. The list goes on.”   (Sharon Salzberg. Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. New York: Flatiron Books: 2017. p. 264.)

In two earlier posts, we profiled what we were learning about the food waste and climate change connection (March 2020) –, and, the nature and impact of regenerative agriculture practices in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions (June 2021) –

A compelling and motivating take-away from the March 2020 post for us is the impact available to individuals for climate action through our efforts to re-direct food from becoming waste, including by composting to keep it out of landfill as garbage, thus avoiding for harmful methane emissions.

The notion of ‘food capture’ and the inverted triangle of giving priority to re-directing food before it becomes waste, to: a) feeding people, b) feeding animals, c) converting to energy, d) composting, and avoiding e) sending it as garbage to landfill, helped us in our thinking about food and climate change, and how our personal choices and actions might make a difference.

Food Rescue Apps

Recently, we learned from this CP24 article about new innovative efforts at re-directing food to feed more people, using food rescue Apps such as “Too Good To Go,” “Flashfood,” “Feedback,” and “Olio”. According to the article, the Too Good To Go App was founded in Copenhagen in 2016 and has recently come to Toronto, with Eataly and Pusateris among its participating restaurants and grocery stores ( 

“ ‘Signing up for Too Good To Go was a no-brainer’, said chief operating officer James Canedo.”

“ ‘As chefs, you never want to see food wasted. It’s almost sacred for us,’ he said.”

“ ‘So many people out there don’t have the same privileges, so for food to be wasted, that is something we’re trying to prevent.’ ”  (

Saving food, feeding more people and helping to save the planet – hmmm, some “food for thought” on potential change.

Opportunity to Calculate Environmental Footprint of Food You Eat

This link to BBC’s Foodprint Calculator helps  us further our understanding  and explorations of the complex topic of the global food production industry.  If, as the BBC site claims, the food we eat accounts for up to 30% of our household’s greenhouse gas emissions, depending on where we live and what we eat, then it is something worth investigating and thinking more on, we believe.

“Unravelling how the food you eat affects the environment can be tricky, which is why BBC Future has created a Foodprint Calculator to reveal how different choices change the impact you have.”

“…The entire food system – which includes the production, packaging, transportation and disposal of everything we eat – accounts for 21-37% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, our food could account for almost half of all carbon emissions released by human activity unless more steps are taken to reduce its environmental impact.”

“But one of the problems we face as consumers is knowing which foods have the least or greatest effect on our planet’s health. Unlike nutritional information that appear on the labels of most foods we buy, easy to read information about sustainability is largely absent.”

“This is why BBC Future has worked with Verve Search and researchers at the University of Oxford to produce our Foodprint Calculator. It will allow you to input a selection of staple foods, along with the number of times you consume them in a week up to a maximum of seven, to find out what the environmental impact of your chosen diet might be. Crucially you can also choose a selection of alternative foods to see how changing your diet might alter your carbon emissions.”

“You can try the calculator by clicking here.” (

The Simple Food that Fights Climate Change

Among the food and life experiences that Catherine is dearly missing during this pandemic are the pleasures of sharing a bowl of steamed mussels or indulging in celebratory splurges of fresh oysters on the half shell, shared in the company of family and friends.  She looks forward to when the time will come to reconnect with these simple pleasures and will bring new enthusiasm and verve to her first post-pandemic bivalve slurp after reading this BBC piece on ‘the simple shellfish that fights climate change”!

Who knew that the overlooked bivalve holds the potential to play a starring role in cleaning up our waters and nourishing a billion people, while being carbon negative?!

According to the BBC, “…Bivalves have the remarkable potential to provide people with food that is not only environmentally sustainable but also nutrient dense,” says David Willer, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge in the UK.”

“..The animals that are the source of this food require no feeding, need no antibiotics or agrochemicals to farm. And they actively sequester carbon. They can even protect fragile ecosystems by cleaning the water they live in. Welcome to the remarkable and unglamorous world of the bivalve.” (consisting of mussels, clams, oysters and scallops)

“With a higher protein content than many meats and plant crops, and high levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, like iron, zinc and magnesium, this specific group of shellfish has the potential to ameliorate many global food issues. This is particularly relevant to child malnutrition, as many of these nutrients are especially crucial to growth, and the planet stands to gain from their increased consumption too. Bivalves can be both wild-harvested and actively farmed offshore and in coastal areas, with a fraction of the environmental impact of more traditional animal proteins.”

“We know that meat and fish have a greater environmental impact than plant-based foods,” says Willer. “But the environmental footprint of bivalve aquaculture is even lower than many arable crops in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, land and freshwater use.” Given that animal protein production is so often cited as a significant carbon culprit down both to the carbon footprint of feed and fertiliser production, and the methane emissions of the animals themselves, this is forcing a shift in the landscape of environmentally friendly eating decisions.

Of course, as with many (most?) areas of food production, there are complexities in such bivalve acquaculture to be mindful of, including the need to pay attention to potential risks of the nutrient environment the bivalves are grown in.  “Because they are filter feeders, whatever is in the water – good or bad – ends up inside them, which is a problem due to the relatively unusual way in which we eat this food.”  Still, caveats and all, definitely “food for thought” we find, and possibly “food for a future healthier planet and population”.  To learn more –

Follow the Food

James Wong reflects on his experiences working on the BBC’s Follow the Food episodes during a pandemic, in this piece titled “The Reasons to be Hopeful – How Food Can Save the Planet” (

The Follow the Food documentaries “examine where our food comes from and how this might change in the near future with new technologies and innovative ways of farming.”

As he concludes, he went into the series with no preconceptions and left “feeling optimistic that science will find solutions” – a positive note we would like to share and end on, via this last example he presents of innovation in creative problem solving to fight climate change.

Wong offers, “…We think we need to overhaul our diet – but we don’t. We need to think creatively.”

“And what if we could make cows green too? Cow methane is not a problem with the animal, but the microbes in its stomach. You can suppress this microbial activity by adding small quantities of charcoal or seaweed to the cow’s diet – which has no impact at all on our health or the health of the animal.”

“Food” for thought and hope, we find, and offer the ideas and information in this blog post in hopes they may provide a source of optimism for our Readers too.

Perspectives on Change

Closing perspectives on making change, from mindfulness author Sharon Salzberg which give the last thoughts, and connect us back to, our beloved trees.

“I was startled to discover that a single redwood tree, after it falls, contributes to the ecosystem for three hundred to four hundred years, five times longer than it was alive. Its trunk, limbs, and roots become food for other species in the forest. The stump of the fallen tree raises a new seedling above the forest floor to receive sunlight so it can grow. Eventually, the roots of the new tree grow around the stump to reach the ground.”

“Using nature as an example, picture the impact of an activist extending for three or four hundred years after their lifetime. I think of the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on theologian and educator Dr. Howard Thurman, promoting the power of non-violent resistance when he visited him in India. Dr. Thurman served as a spiritual advisor to many towering figures in the U.S. civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a driving inspiration for me and for countless people of this time – and I’m sure into the future.”

“In the meditation tradition, we call this profound connection to those who came before us and helped mold us lineage. A sense of lineage is another way we let go of self-preoccupation and realize we are part of a larger fabric of life. It is a way to find the energy to affect the world while also recognizing we are not in control. This brings us to much greater balance.” (Sharon Salzberg. Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World. New York: Flatiron Books: 2020. p. 215)