Genetically Engineered Foods & Human Health

GMO TourThe Regina stop on this cross-Canada tour is being hosted by Regina Public Interest Research Group. Speaking will be Dr. Thierry Vrain and Tony Mitra.

Vrain is a retired genetic engineer who, according to RPIRG, spent 30-years with Agriculture Canada working as a soil biologist and genetic engineer, and who now speaks against GE technology. Mitra, meanwhile, is a retired marine engineer who now works as a citizen journalist and food security activist in Vancouver.

During their presentation, Vrain and Mitra will discuss concerns about GE foods and provide information on how people can take action to promote bio-diversity and not surrender control of the food supply to corporate interests.

The presentation goes tonight at the Education Auditorium, University of Regina at 7 p.m. More information can be found at the RPIRG website or by calling 306-337-2420. Admission is by donation.

Feast For The Eyes

Bahamas. Bermuda. Cuba. Jamaica. Aruba. Turks & Caicos. Those are just some of the better known islands in the region known as the Caribbean. Oh, to be there for a month or so in the middle of a typical Regina winter, right?

Short of erecting a giant inflatable tent in Les Sherman Park, the Art Gallery of Regina won’t be able to do anything about the weather should it happen to be non-Caribbean-like on Saturday, June 21. But inside the Neil Balkwill Civic Arts Centre, where the AGR is located, a definite island vibe will prevail at its A Taste of the Caribbean fundraiser.

The AGR has a fundraiser like this annually. Spain, New Orleans and New York are some of the previous themed destinations. Food, drink, music, art and dress — it’s all there, with participation by a number of local businesses.

Tickets are $40 advance and $45 at the door, and proceeds go to support the AGR and its programming. They can be obtained by calling 306-522-5940.

March Against Monsanto

The last time I checked the website for this global event which is being held to protest the growing use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and other tools of agribusiness such as pesticides and herbicides that critics say are compromising the safety of our food supply and health of our environment marches were being held in over 400 cities on six continents.

In Regina, the march will happen at the Saskatchewan Legislature at 2 p.m. today. Below is a CNN report from 2013 that provides some background on Monsanto — a corporate giant with operations in 60 some countries in the world — and outlines the primary concern of protesters that greater transparency is needed through measures like labeling of GMOs to allow people to make informed consumer choices at the grocery store.

Downtown Food Beat

Food (Chicken)So, I know the story behind this photo. An inebriated gent was enjoying a meal of roast chicken on the Scarth Street Mall mid-afternoon and wandered off without his “leftovers”. At the time this photo was taken (8 p.m.), the carcass had been sitting out for four hours or so.

As for the photo after the jump…  don’t know what’s up with that. But it’s consistent with a pattern I’m detecting in the downtown. Continue reading “Downtown Food Beat”

Joy Walker

Joy Walker (Art)I saw something when I was out for a walk tonight on 19 block Broad Street that I didn’t know what to make of (photo after the jump), and I also saw something where I did know what was up. That’s it pictured above. It’s an art work that’s been installed at Central Library by Toronto artist Joy Walker as part of the exhibition Who’s Afraid of Purple, Orange, and Green? that opens at the Dunlop Art Gallery on April 25. 

I’ll have more on that exhibition in an April 25 blog post. But the focus is abstract art that’s being done today that adheres to a lot of the aesthetic principles of formalism but doesn’t have the same hang-ups related to the mostly macho males who dominated when the style was en vogue.

Scale, line and colour are some of the modernist principles Walker is playing with. And I gotta say, I like what the Dunlop’s been doing lately with the installation of public art works on the east windows of Central Library. It’s much appreciated by a lot of people, I’m sure. Continue reading “Joy Walker”

Regina Folk Festival Unveils 2014 Line-Up

RFF (serena ryder)Serena Ryder, Sam Roberts Band, Indigo Girls, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Los Lobos, Matt Andersen and Elliott Brood are probably the best-known acts who will be performing at the 2014 Regina Folk Festival which goes Aug. 8-10 in Victoria Park.

But artistic director Sandra Butel expects audiences will find plenty of lesser known acts to marvel at too.

“This year, the majority of headliners we’re not sharing with any other festivals,” she says. “They’re just us. It’s our 45th anniversary, so our goal going in was to have a mix of new and old — look a little back to the past, but also look to the future. And, as always, we try to have artists from different musical styles and cultural backgrounds for people to discover.”

Butel says she derives special pleasure from introducing audiences to unheralded acts. “That’s always exciting for me, the acts people have never heard of before. They might not even be able to pronounce their names. Blitz the Ambassador, for instance, is a hip hop artist from Ghana. Mexican Institute of Sound is from Mexico, obviously. Klo Pelgag is a francophone artist from Quebec. QuiQue Escamilla is originally from Chiapas, so we’ve got a little bit of a Latino thing going on with him, Los Lobos and Mexican Institute of Sound.

DahkaBraka are a mesmerizing group from Kyiv, which is timely considering what’s going on in Ukraine,” Butel continues. “Saidah Baba Talibah lives in Toronto, her mother is the jazz singer Salome Bey so she’s a real force of nature. And Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens is a gospel group with three back-up singers and a wonderful band led by a blind piano player.”

Of the better known acts at the festival, Butel singled Serena Ryder out for special mention.

“She’s a giant star now. She’s played the festival a couple of times, but she plays arenas now. She’s co-hosting the Juno Awards [with Johnny Reid and Classified] in Winnipeg later this month, and she performed the national anthem at the Grey Cup in Regina last November. We’re very lucky to have her at the festival.”

As for the other headliners, Sam Roberts, Indigo Girls, Joel Plaskett, Los Lobos and Matt Andersen have never played the festival before. From a local perspective, Andino Suns are the most prominent band on the bill, and they’ll be joined by a couple of other Saskatchewan acts after the Sampler showcase is held at Bushwakker on March 22.

“Our goal as a festival is to create a sense of community and promote multicultural understanding,” says Butel. “So we work hard to have a good balance of artists from different backgrounds, gender, even sexual preference perhaps. Music makes people feel good, and there always seems to be a really open attitude at the festival. That’s our hope every year, that we enlarge people’s understanding and tolerance of each other. And when you sit in the park and see everyone with huge grins on their faces, we feel there is a bridge that’s being built between people.”

You can find more information on the festival here. And to close, here’s the video for Plaskett’s song “Fashionable People” off his 2007 album, Ashtray Rock:

Taste Of Cathedral

toc2014sLast Thursday we met with members of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival planning committee to coordinate things for the program guide that we produce for the festival each year.

The 2014 Cathedral Village Arts Festival runs May 19-24. The theme this year is “Fabric of Life”. Before all that happens, though, the CVAF committee is hosting a fundraiser showcasing Cathedral area restaurants and other food and drink-related businesses.

Taste of Cathedral will go on Saturday at the Italian Club starting at 6 p.m. Admission is $20, with taste tickets to sample the different food and drink items available for $1 each.

As you can see from the adjacent poster, in addition to the refreshments, there will also be a silent auction and live music courtesy of Lost Souls. For more information visit the CVAF website.

Robbie Burns Birthday Bash

Robbie BurnsThis annual salute to the famed 18th century Scottish poet (pictured) who is revered in the land of tartan for his writing in the Scots language and who, before his death at age 37 in 1796, apparently ruffled feather by expressing sympathy for the goals of the French Revolution, goes at Bushwakker later today.

Featured will be performances by the Tilted Kilts, Fraser Pipe Band, the Regina Highland Dance Association and playwright Ken Mitchell, along with a trivia contest and one more thing… oh yeah, FREE HAGGIS!

If you arrive after 5 p.m. there’ll be a $5 cover.

Films For Foodies

Oct. 24-27 the RPL Film Theatre is screening a selection of films on the subject of food. The highlight of the four-night program will be a special screening of the documentary Spinning Plates  on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. It’s a film about three different styles of American restaurants ranging from gourmet to meat-and-potatoes, and it will be followed by a reception that will feature food and drink from local restaurants and wineries. Tickets for that evening are $15 and can be obtained by calling 306-777-6014.

On the other three nights two other films will be screened. Tonight and Sunday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 9 p.m. Jiro Dreams of Sushi will run, while tonight and Sunday at 9 p.m. and Friday at 7 p.m. the documentary Mussels in Love about the life cycle of mussels will screen.

To give you a taste, here’s the trailer for Mussels in Love:

Save Your Fork 2: Sedley

Prairie Dog writers Lois-Anna Kaminski and Amber Goodwyn were welcomed into the bosom of Sedley’s Gym Hall.

It’s fowl supper season! I’m a bit slow off the hop on this, as the season has been upon us for some time already – but I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late to get in on some fowl supper goodness. Last night, for example, I had the pleasure of enjoying Sedley’s supper, and it was a good one; featuring mashed potatoes, carrots, turnip (a must!), stuffing, coleslaw, turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce. Sedley gets bonus points for having cabbage rolls, which is not something on offer at all fowl/fall suppers. There was also an array of pies to choose from including apple, pumpkin, Saskatoon berry, and rhubarb. I’m pretty sure I also spied raisin, but it was just a little too far out of reach, so I got what I thought was Saskatoon berry but turned out to be cherry. Don’t mind if I do!

If you’ve never been to one of these suppers, you really owe it yourself to take one in. It combines two of my favourite things: community engagement and good eatin’, and proceeds go towards the communities in question.

I was at Strasbourg’s two weeks ago, which I wrote about in glowing terms the first time I tasted the pleasures their supper had to offer, last year. Once again, they did not disappoint. Many fowl supper aficionados will tell you that Strasbourg puts on a supper to beat the band.

Feeling left out? Well don’t! There are many more suppers to enjoy in the coming weeks, all within reasonable driving distance from Regina, including Milestone (October 27), Wolsley (also October 27), and Craven (November 3) where the fine folks there are putting on a pit beef supper. I’m intrigued!

So get out there! And don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants!

Six In The Morning: Deactivate America

6-in-the-morning1 IS THIS THING ON? No it’s not. The U.S.  government is still most definitely off. Which means that reports on the economy aren’t being issued, garbage is piling up, air and water quality isn’t being monitored and monuments are closed.  Actually, just go to the BBC’s comprehensive overview of what is and isn’t fucked.  Apparently some Republicans are worried this could hurt their insane little tea party. Little late for that. At least the Republican House leader says he doesn’t plan to let his wingnut caucus default on the country’s debt.

2 COLD AND SNOW Temperatures are dropping and snow-management plans are being discussed.

3 ROB FORD WON’T ANSWER THE QUESTION Is he concerned that his friend and driver was arrested this week on drug charges? Who knows, he won’t answer the question. What a human disaster. UPDATE 3:46 P.M.: Actually, Ford did answer questions about Alessandro Lisi earlier this week. I mean, I don’t know if I’d say he answered them well, but he did answer ’em. Sorry to have missed this earlier. Bad Steve.



6 THERE’S A WICKED AWESOME BULL SNAKE FOR SALE ON KIJIJI Someone buy her for me, please. Actually, I probably have enough snakes. Still. What a beauty.

THE SIMMMMMPSONNNS The annual Treehouse of Horror episode is on this weekend, and the epic opening is online. It’s directed by Guillermo del Toro! He should make a damn Cthulu movie already.

Pick Of The Day: Queen City Ex

The fair kicks off today and runs until Aug. 4. In addition to the midway rides and fair food (most of it on a stick) feature attractions include Shrek Live, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, Giant Flea Circus and Splash ‘n’ Boots. As far as grandstand performers go, here’s a breakdown: tonight it was supposed to be hip hop artist Classified. But that got cancelled late last week so the indie rock band Walk Off The Earth has stepped in to fill the void. Thursday, Three Days Grace will grace the stage. Friday, it’s a blast from the past with Loverboy. Saturday, the plan is to have Simple Plan entertain the throngs. Then to close the week out, it’s country sensation Rodney Atkins.

For a more detailed take on what will be happening visit the QC Ex website. And to close, here’s the video for Simple Plan’s latest single “Summer Paradise”:

Feast For The Eyes

SpainPeriodically, the Art Gallery of Regina holds a fundraiser in which the food, drink, music and art of a particular city or country is celebrated.

Past sources of inspiration for the fundraiser include New Orleans and New York. The gallery is located in the Neil Balkwill Civic Arts Centre at 2420 Elphinstone St., and on June 22 it will be hosting another fundraiser in the series. This time the focus will be on Spain. As far as quality food, drink, music, art and whatnot goes, the country doesn’t exactly have a lot going for it, I know. But hey, it’s for a good cause. So get out there and support the gallery.

Feast For The Eyes goes June 22 from 8-11 p.m. at the gallery. Tickets are $40 advance and $45 at the door. For tickets and and additional information call 306-522-5940.

Best Of Food 2013: A Vote For Potatoes Is A Vote for Breakfast

Best of Food 2013April is the polling month for the epic democratic nonsense that is Prairie Dog’s annual Best Of Food reader’s poll! Pick up a copy of the latest ‘Dog for a list of the categories, or just head here to vote for your favourite restaurants, meals, bars and pubs, and food people right now! The more votes we get, the more fun and meaningful the results will be.

I’m so excited about Best Of Food 2013 that I’m going to showcase one category every day until voting ends next week. Today’s spotlight: Best Hash Browns.

I love hash browns! These fried breakfast friends are so delicious! True hash browns are a fried-up pile of shredded (hashed) potatoes but the term also applies to fried chunky potatoes, fried cubed potatoes, deep-friend potato patties and pre-formed fried heart attack nuggets. They’re salted, seasoned and often have fired fried onions mixed in. Yum! Hooray for hash browns!

What restaurant served Regina’s best hash browns over the last 12 months? What place has the hash browns you’d want to feed your sexy, potato-loving  breakfast date? Let everyone know by voting in Best Of Food 2013!

(And if you don’t give a hoot about hash browns you should still vote, because s0meone’s going to win $500 in gift certificates to some of Regina’s best restaurants. It might as well be you!)

The Fruit Hunters

No pick of the day today. Instead, here’s a heads up about a documentary by Montreal director Yung Chang that should “a peel” to anyone who likes bananas, mangos, figs and all the other types of fruit, both familiar and exotic, that are out there.

Inspired by a book by fellow Montrealer Adam Leith, The Fruit Hunters explores the world of people who are passion(ate about) fruit.

The Fruit Hunters screens at the RPL March 28 and 30 at 7 p.m., and March 29 and 31 at 9 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

Food for Thought

While I was chowing down on breakfast this morning (a half-and-half bowl of Cheerios and Raisin Bran with 2% milk, a piece of 100 % whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a watered down glass of orange juice) I heard an interview on CBC Radio’s The Current that Anna Maria Tremonti did with American author Michael Moss, who recently published a book titled Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

During my repast, I didn’t at any point pick up a salt shaker or sugar spoon. Got to eat healthy, right? But if you were to actually measure the amount of sugar and salt I’d ingested… even though my food choices were relatively healthy compared to most items on the processed food continuum, you’d be surprised.

Here’s a link to Tremonti’s interview with Moss. What it boils down to is that for all sorts of reasons, from shelf-life to taste, texture and marketability, the giant food companies that control huge chunks of the global food supply routinely add significant amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat to their products.

People don’t do themselves any favours with some of their food and beverage choices, obviously. But even if you try to eat and drink healthy you end up consuming more of the above substances than you need for good nutrition. Others factors, especially our sedentary lifestyle, factor into it. But poor diet is a major contributor to a host of health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia that are reaching epidemic proportions in our society.

The impact it’s having on health care costs is huge. With an aging population, some of that increase is inevitable. But this year the provincial allocation for health is probably going to reach $5 billion. And in a roughly $11 billion budget that’s a shitload pile of money. And Moss argues in his book that we have to find ways to get food processors to improve the health quality of their products by reducing the salt, sugar and saturated fat content.

To close, here’s a video by Rollin’ Wild that’s attracted a fair bit of attention on YouTube lately titled What If Wild Animals Ate Fast Food:

Another Sloppy Verbjob

From “The Puzzling Goat: “Regina’s beloved bovid bistro is, well, I’m not sure”  in the Dec. 27 Prairie Dog: 

The steak was overcooked and not particularly tasty, the mashed potatoes were plentiful but bland, and the wild mushroom mix was disconcertingly citrusy and sharp. Maybe some people like acidic mushrooms but it seemed like a wildly misjudged combination.

From “Not Kidding Around: Serious foodie eats and savoury Caesars at Fainting Goat” in the Dec. 21 Verb:

“I started with the beautifully presented cedar planked fire prawns. The fat, juicy white prawns were served shell-on and butterflied on a charred and still-smoking cedar plank. This visually stimulating appetizer was seasoned with herbes de Provence, a fragrant blend that typically includes basil, thyme and maybe just a hint of lavender.”

Okay then.

So I’d chalk this up to an honest  difference of experience — our critic, Aidan Morgan, did say the Goat is inconsistent and he intends to return in a few months to see what’s up — but Verb reviews are always positive. Always. One might, therefore, be tempted to suggest that Verb’s writers ply their trade for their advertisers and potential advertisers, not for their readers.

Their restaurant column in particular is consistently written like an advertorial. Which would be fine, if it WAS a clearly-marked, paid advertorial. It wasn’t (clearly marked, anyway), which means Verb’s restaurant writers are spin doctors.

Sorry, I’m repeating myself. Long-time Dog Blog readers already know I am not a fan of advertorials posing as articles.

Another Verb gripe: I’m still wondering how Verb managed to get a review of The Hobbit, which opened on Thursday, Dec. 13, into a paper that was distributed Friday, Dec. 14. There were no advance  screenings in Saskatchewan. In fact, even the advance screening in major market Vancouver- – which our accredited critic attended — was last-minute: Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Verb’s critic is based in Saskatoon. The paper wouldn’t publish movie reviews written by someone who hadn’t seen the movie, would they?

Merry Christmas And A Happy Turkey Coma

I’m on a couch, full of bird and pretty much incapacitated. It’s lovely. I hope you’re all similarly, happily wrecked.

Let’s wrap this gorgeous day up with a Christmas song. I’m posting this from my cell and I can’t embed the video for whatever arbitrary iPhone reason but nevertheless, here’s a link to an ol’ Dog Blog holiday favourite.