Good Eats

La Dolce Vita

article by Alastair Gregor

• It’s time to start the New Year off right by achieving your goals of getting healthy and losing weight. Firstly let’s start with a couple of cleanses. The first is to remove all temptations, clean out your cupboards, freezer and fridge of all that is sugary, tempting and unhealthy.

The second is personal, to cleanse your liver which is responsible for over 500 jobs, from balancing hormones and processing of every drop of blood in your body, to all the foods you eat. Cleansing the liver is like cleaning out your drain, unplugging your pipes, and letting the toxins out; everything just flows smoothly again. You will feel cleaner, lighter, happier and healthier. Remember when you start detoxifying you may often feel worse before you feel better as your body is letting go of toxins. It is important during this time to drink plenty of pure water to flush the toxins from your system, and get plenty of rest.

Go to your natural health store and pick up a good liver detox kit; the Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox 12 day Program worked well for me by cleansing the liver, kidneys and lymph system. I liked this especially as it has a food guide in the box which you can take with you while shopping. I followed it with their Cand-Aid Candida cleanse, (sugar detox). I did these two cleanses back to back and lost 21 lbs in 27 days and felt great.

Remember to be patient with yourself; it takes time for healing, for inflammation to go down, to feel better. Stick with it. January is not the time for spontaneity; it is the time for planning. Planning your meals and preparing them ahead of time. Telling those around you what you are doing helps, as does being aware of what your eating by reading labels.

Welcome the change, don’t take days off, don’t reward yourself with old habits. Carry healthy snacks with you, and if you slip up, forgive yourself and get back up. Stick with it. Keep drinking water, hydrate your joints, your eyes and your body. Before long your skin will look better and your sleeping, thinking, digestion and physical agility will improve. Remember size is no obstacle to desire, you can do anything you want. Envision your life as you would like it to be. You may find it difficult at first, but you will find it’s easier to get back on track by clearly defining your lifestyle goals, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. This is your journey, don’t let anyone else side track you.

In the process of doing the cleanse you may wish to consider going strictly organic, eating only chemical-free whole foods and taking your diet entirely gluten-free. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease has been tied to over 190 auto-immune disorders. If you have problems and your doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong then pay attention at this time of cleansing. You may notice many of your symptoms clear up and you feel better than you have in years. However, if you go gluten-free and do not heal, then it may be necessary to further investigate your diet to address the root causes rather than the symptoms.

Eating sprouted grains, seeds and legumes is super healthy. Germination breaks down the harsh protective coatings of the seed, greatly increasing enzyme content which aids in digestion and nutrient absorption levels. Try sprouting; soak overnight in pure water with a capful of raw apple cider vinegar to speed up nature’s sprouting process. Add to salads, share, enjoy.

Educate yourself, research, exercise, play, experiment, and enjoy your journey to good health!

To advertise your restaurant, food product or service in our Good Eats section, please contact food writer Chef Alastair Gregor at Alastair’s life-long passion for food was inherited from his grandmother.

Proposed Port Hardy/Bella Coola ferry service closure threatens tourism

An open letter

• The talks on the possible Port Hardy/Bella Coola ferry closure are disturbing to us, to say the least. We are heavily invested in tourism here in the Chilcotin and we are continuing to invest in BC’s largest industry. You are probably well aware of the migration of people towards the north. What is not so obvious is the total by-pass of the Chilcotin by this economic thrust.

Eagle Lake in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region of BC
Eagle Lake in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region of BC

A shortage of continuing industry has been depopulating the Chilcotin – a fact that is weighing on the locals and a fact we are trying to counteract vehemently. Tourism here feeds on breathtaking – as well as subtle – scenery and in combination with the ‘western image’ of ranching sells well.

In contrast to tourism and ranching, and its annually renewable resource of grass, the other resource-based booms created by large-scale logging and mining can be impressive but always only in the short-run; neither are appealing to the modern world traveller and never do they leave behind continuum.

The comprehensive round trip from the Island to the west coast or from metropolitan Vancouver on through an enticing countryside to Bella Coola, with an anticipated visit to charming Victoria, is a most inviting way to leave behind domestic, foreign and mostly private wealth and includes a lot of people living on reservations. Fact is the population on the reservations is the only one growing in the Chilcotin. These people’s need to integrate into economic development, social wellbeing and stability is no less than all other Chilcotin residents’ needs and the single biggest boost towards this development was the introduction of the ferry service in question now.

Service-oriented infrastructure like lodges, restaurants, processing and packing facilities, fuelling stations and stores, have sprung up over recent years, bringing work and financial security to many Chilcotin families and thus establishing a sense of worth and direction. All this happened as a result of the ferry service.

What do you imagine the Chilcotin will be like in another generation with this evolution being shocked to a stop? And you, as the elected leaders of our beloved Province, consider closing a service so very promising and proving to be essential to the betterment of your people?

Finally, we are seeing substantial investments in this area, with not only the “to be exported” dollar as the bottom line but also with a good measure of sustainability and a bit of sorely needed culture, moving away from subsidized welfare towards livelihoods that are worked for and ultimately earned.

I remember well Victoria’s promise to earmark surplus logging revenues from the Chilcotin for the Chilcotin. Alas, these dollars were spent on the magnificent Port Mann Bridge. I am not complaining but reminding and by doing so I hope to touch on human decency and the strong belief in democracy so ingrained in the people of this Province.

– Felix Schellenberg, Redstone, BC,

photo of Eagle Lake © Stefan Pircher

For a prevention propaganda-free year

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

• The people’s briefing note on prescription drugs
Portrait of columnist Alan Cassels
2012 is behind us, thank goodness. And what a year it’s been. I have anointed it “The Year of Prevention Propaganda.” Wikipedia tells us propaganda is “a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument.” The problem is, when it comes to preventing illness, propaganda doesn’t work. It’s like polluted water laden with parasites, bacteria and viruses that can make you very sick.

In 2012, we saw a lot of propaganda designed to influence our attitudes around preventive medicine, much of it awash in language hard to defy because it sounds so authoritative and wholesome. After all, why wouldn’t you want to prevent disease instead of treating it?

Two impressive victories in the prevention propaganda war concerned widely promoted forms of medical screening, which promise to save us from the scourge of cancer. These victories reveal the large gaps between what many specialists say – about getting a mammogram or a PSA test – and the evidence gleaned from high-quality screening research. The year’s biggest triumph came when Danish researcher Peter C. Gøtzsche published an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal noting, “The best method we have to reduce the risk of breast cancer is to stop the screening program.” He threw down the gauntlet by asking readers – mostly Canadian doctors – one simple question: “Which country will be first to stop mammography screening?”

Remember, mammography screening is looking for disease in otherwise healthy women.

Also in 2012, the PSA test – to evaluate a man’s level of ‘prostate specific antigen,’ a potential sign of prostate cancer – was deemed to cause more harm than good when the major independent screening group in the US – the United States Preventive Services Task force (USPSTF) – concluded it shouldn’t be offered to otherwise healthy, asymptomatic men. There is a great danger that men might be harmed through unnecessary treatment, which can often result in incontinence, impotence or both.

Remember, PSA screening is looking for disease in otherwise healthy men.

Essentially, the cleanest, most reliable, research around breast and prostate cancer screening programs showed they are probably harmful for most people being screened. We learned that the tests being promoted often find “pseudodisease” – things in your blood or body that would never have gone on to hurt you. Overly aggressive screening often leads to unnecessary breast and prostate cancer biopsies, surgeries, chemotherapies and drugs.

There is still a lot of enthusiasm for screening and much polluted information around its alleged benefits. Cancer is not unique and whenever anyone is recommending a screening test for things like Alzheimer’s, ADHD, pre-diabetes, osteoporosis and many other conditions, remember that all forms of screening involve harm.

Should we still try to eat well, exercise and reduce stress in our lives? Of course. We know those things provide our best means of staying well. Should we be vigilant about signs of disease? Certainly. If you have any worrisome symptoms whatsoever or think you are at ‘high risk’ due to a unique family history, you should ask your doctor about that risk and what you can do to lower it. If you are feeling perfectly healthy, should you blindly accept the advice that a preventive screening test will “save your life?” Absolutely not.

In 2012, we also saw prevention propaganda emanating from the vaccine world. This propaganda is characterized by oceans of information that appear very authoritative, but is often acutely unhelpful. Preventive propaganda has some characteristic signs: it is information that makes the dangers of the disease seem as horrible as possible. The benefits (of the vaccine) sound too good to be true. The controversies are skirted and harms are either downplayed or dismissed. Once you are aware the information is potentially polluted, you might be less likely to swallow a lot of it.

Vaccines are a huge and growing industry. Recent vaccine marketing reports say the global vaccine market is currently worth about $34 billion per year and will rise to over $40 billion in the next few years.

We also saw advertisements asking older people to get vaccinated for shingles, a painful and sometimes debilitating viral disease. While shingles can make you very miserable, complications from it are fairly rare and the vaccine is barely effective (five in 1,000 might benefit annually). And yet there are reports of people getting the shot and still getting shingles, as well as reports of people being injured by the vaccine.

Remember, these are otherwise healthy, older people.

In 2012, we saw waves of professional endorsements of the HPV vaccine from those who say girls need it to avoid the virus associated with the development of cervical cancer. One website supported by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada ( tells us “Vaccines have been developed to prevent you from contracting the HPV virus and could dramatically help reduce the incidence of HPV-related complications such as genital and anal warts and cervical cancer.”

A search of the site delivers little more than dramatically murky propaganda with no reference to the many unanswered questions about the effectiveness and safety of the two HPV vaccines. It also doesn’t say that there hasn’t been one trial that showed any difference in cervical cancer rates due to the vaccine and that many groups are demanding better research around the vaccine’s safety. According to the National Vaccine Information Center (, in the US, as of August 2012, “There have been a total of 26,304 reports made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS)” associated with HPV vaccines, including 118 deaths.

Remember, these are healthy, young girls being asked to take this vaccine.

In 2012, we saw public health authorities praising the value of the annual flu shot and in some instances implementing flu polices in very heavy-handed ways. Admittedly, this vaccine is designed to prevent infection by a very slippery, constantly changing virus; the flu itself is mostly bothersome and rarely fatal.

When the authorities fail to come clean about the uncertainty or safety of a vaccine, it smells an awful lot like propaganda. In 2012, the American actor Andy Griffith died. While that might not be important to you, he is probably the most famous person to have ever come down with Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), which he suffered in the 1980s and was left paralyzed for many months. In the last three years, there has been an increase in the number of reports of GBS in people who had taken the H1N1 “swine flu” vaccine and the 2010/11 seasonal flu shot containing the pandemic H1N1 strains. The rates of GBS in current flu vaccines are said to be “extremely rare.” We hope so.

Remember, these are otherwise healthy people of all ages.

I leave you with this last word on prevention propaganda: it might not make you sick, but it is the very opposite of proper, informed consent. Propaganda is like polluted water and citizens who want to make informed decisions about their own preventive healthcare need access to clean, clear facts as urgently as we need clean, clear water to live.

Let’s make a pledge in 2013: let’s pledge to resist the pervasive pull of preventive propaganda. Let’s avoid information that is polluted. Do you still want to be “proactive” about your health? Then remember that any ‘preventive’ treatment offered to already healthy people must come with crystal-clear information that provides unequivocal evidence of effectiveness and safety.

Let’s brand 2013 as the year of living cleanly, without preventive propaganda.

Alan Cassels is the author of Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease. Follow him on Twitter @AKECassels or

The Centre: awakening to our life’s purpose

An Invitation to Consider Living in an Intentional Community
in Squamish, British Columbia

by Clasina Van Bemmel

• Plans with architects and city planners in the District of Squamish are underway to create a non-denominational spiritual community for adults. Are you interested in a life of simplicity, spiritual practice, contemplation and service? Do you value being part of a community which welcomes all spiritual teachings that bring peace, love and compassion to the earth? Would you like to live in an apartment you own within a building housing other like-minded women and men like yourself?

The intention is for The Centre to be a warm, vibrant and welcoming spiritual space with opportunities for regular meditation, chanting, dancing, yoga, Tai Chi, singing, sharing meals, music from all traditions, and celebrating together in a variety of ways. The potential is enormous and the possibilities are exciting. Shared values include embracing diversity, respect and compassion for all, and finding meaning in life through a unity of purpose and a commitment to service. This shared community welcomes those who follow all spiritual paths and the teachings of all spiritual teachers, writers and poets including Rumi, Eckhart Tolle, Amma, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Hafiz, the Dalai Lama, Louise Hay, Joanna Macy, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and many others. We are seeking interest from adults who want to live and work together in an intentional community to focus on their spiritual growth, selfless service in our own community and the community at large.

You are invited to picture this: a beautiful, new modern, four-story, environmentally friendly and sustainable building with a centre courtyard and a rooftop garden, containing the following:

  • 40 individually owned apartments (either 600 or 900sq. ft.) available at market value
  • Multipurpose hall for spiritual services, weddings, retreats, meditation, lectures, concerts
  • Public restaurant with open kitchen – bakery, bookstore and art gallery
  • Resident vegetarian kitchen for preparation of communal meals
  • Multipurpose meeting rooms and classrooms
  • Studios for holistic healing practitioners
  • Large yoga and Tai Chi studio
  • Retreat centre with 36 individual small guest rooms
  • Hot-tub

The geographic location of The Centre is in a beautiful setting and steeped in sacred energy. Squamish is a growing municipality of 17,000 people situated where the Pacific Ocean meets the majestic mountains between the city of Vancouver and the Whistler/Blackcomb ski resort area. Squamish means “Mother of Wind” in the Coast Salish language. The location of The Centre is one block walking distance from the ocean, a bird sanctuary, a marina, and with access to countless local outdoor recreational activities and many nearby services and amenities. It is a very good fit for an intentional spiritual community.

It is anticipated that a branch of the Centre for Spiritual Living will be one of the tenants at The Centre, using the large multipurpose space on the ground floor for Sunday morning services and regular activities. The CSL mission is to: celebrate spirit, transform lives and create community, with core values of: community, integrity, love, spiritual growth and spiritual practice. ( Both residents and the public will be invited to participate in any of the programs offered by the Centre for Spiritual Living.

Are you curious? Interested? A soul-seeker? Wanting to deepen your spiritual practices in a like-minded community? Looking for a change in your life? This is an opportunity for a thoughtful and engaged group of people to create something unique and life affirming. We would love to hear from you.

Expressions of interest in residence or participation in “The Centre” in other capacities can be directed to:

Leadership on climate needed

Portrait of David Suzuki


• The race to become leader of the world’s most powerful democracy often seemed disconnected from reality. During debates, the two main candidates stooped to insults, half-truths and outright lies. The overall campaign included appallingly ignorant statements about women.

But the most bewildering disconnect was over the greatest threat the world faces: global warming. Republican candidate Mitt Romney only mentioned it mockingly and President Barack Obama brought it up in passing toward the end of the campaign and in one line during his acceptance speech… Obama has had more to say since being elected to his second term. “I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behaviour and carbon emissions and as a consequence I think we have an obligation to future generations to do something about it,” he told reporters at a post-election news conference.

He went on to list his accomplishments on climate during his first term: better fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, increased clean-energy production and investment in “breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.” But those were inadequate, given the scope of the problem. He should have done more. As investment strategist Jeremy Grantham recently wrote in Nature, “President Barack Obama missed the chance of a lifetime to get a climate bill passed…”

Part of the problem is the increasingly dysfunctional nature of a polarized and paralyzed US political system, including a Congress dominated by anti-environmental, anti-tax and often anti-government Republicans. Many of us – not just Americans – hope the president will show stronger leadership this time around. Unfortunately, his news conference statement sent mixed messages. Although he acknowledged that more should be done and promised to have “a wide-ranging conversation…” about reducing carbon, he also said, “If the message somehow is that we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anyone’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that.”

He went on to acknowledge the costs of climate-related natural disasters and mentioned the danger of climate change as “something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.” In trying to say the right thing without alienating the fossil fuel industry and other moneyed interests, he came across as confused. Even though it will be expensive and painful not to act, he’s not prepared to take the necessary steps if it will impede jobs and growth. But climate change is already costing the US and the rest of the world – in money, human health and lives.

Because our leaders – in Canada and the US – have too long listened to fossil fuel interests and their denier minions rather than scientists, it will be more difficult than it might have been to reduce carbon emissions to the extent necessary to prevent runaway global warming (if it’s not too late already) and it may require more sacrifice than it would have, had we acted sooner. But there are many ways to protect the health of the planet and the future of humanity without destroying economies.

If America wants to retain its position as a global power, its president must listen to the people and show strong leadership at this turning point in human history.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation communications manager Ian Hanington. Learn more at

Climate change on-screen


Greenland Ice
From Chasing Ice: Greenland Ice Sheet, July 2009. Photo by James Balog, © 2009.

• Recently, I’ve been filming University of Victoria climate scientist Dr. Andrew Weaver, who is campaigning as the BC Green Party candidate for the Oak Bay Gordon Head riding in Victoria in the May provincial elections. As I research the project, I’ve been looking back at how climate change has been covered on-screen in the past.

Moving chronologically, first is Soylent Green (1973). It would be another 15 years before NASA climate scientist James Hansen would give his seminal testimony to Congress, but there was that icon of greenie leftism, Charlton Heston, sweating on a bike-powered generator to keep the apartment lights on as he cursed the “Greenhouse Effect.” As detective Heston tracks down the source of a miracle “green” food, we see a futuristic urban dystopia teeming with street people and littered with seventies gas-guzzlers. It’s a wonderfully dated sci-fi.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) is the climate change movie the deniers love to hate. Yet for all the (mostly unfounded) criticisms of selective use of data, Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary remains a historical landmark, a film whose message we should all be conversant with. With glaciers and ice caps receding at an accelerating rate, the film’s prediction for an ice free Arctic by 2050 looks positively conservative. Extreme weather events are more common. The documentary gave us 10 years before we reached the tipping point. It’s looking a mite close for comfort.

Picking up from An Inconvenient Truth, Everything’s Cool (2007) looks at how climate deniers, with fossil fuel lobby funding, have suppressed scientific evidence and created confusion among the public. It uses humour and poppy editing style to illustrate the difficulties faced by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and climatologist for the Weather Channel, among others, in getting the message out. Considering the recent US presidential election campaign passed with a deafening silence surrounding climate change, the issues vexing campaigners almost a decade ago (the storyline turns on Hurricane Katrina in 2005) are still sadly relevant.

Released before the climate summit in Copenhagen, Home (2009) is a beautifully shot and quietly moving poem on humanity’s impact on the planet. Glenn Close’s narrative takes a little time to work its spell, particularly given its sombre, elegiac tone, but with its swooping helicopter footage, it provides a much more evocative explanation of our place in the carbon cycle than any PowerPoint presentation could. The film is free on YouTube. Go to the 59:14 for the section linking the tarsands with climate and melting of the polar ice caps.

No round-up of climate change films would be complete without mention of James Hansen’s recent Ted talk from earlier this year “Why I Must Speak out About Climate Change.” In the 20-minute talk (free online), the former NASA scientist explains why he is being carted off by the police at climate protests when he should be enjoying his sunset years in quiet retirement, and how we can avoid a 5-metre sea level rise this century.

Also look out for screenings this year of Chasing Ice (2012), portraying photographer James Balog’s heroic endeavours to capture the rapid retreat of glaciers and polar ice caps on film; Revolution (2012), Sharkwater director Rob Stewart’s rallying call to tackle climate change and the catastrophic consequences of ocean acidification caused by increased CO2; and The Message (2013) Naomi Klein’s post-Sandy documentary, which will apparently feature the “Do The Math” campaign headed by’s Bill McGibben.

Robert Alstead writes at

Talk with integrity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Be impeccable with your word
– Miguel Ruiz

The only way we can share ourselves with another or demonstrate who we are is through communication. It is the way we get to know others and the way they come to know us. We feel we have good communication with another when we understand each other. We feel close when we sense another person “gets” us.

In order for this to happen, there must be some measure of good will between the parties. There must be the intent that we care enough to take the time to truly hear what the other is saying. We must believe that what they have to say is just as important as what we have to say. This results in a sense of collaboration and support. We feel friendly. Communication, when used in this way, brings people or groups together, builds bridges and moves things forward.

Communication can also be used in ways that create roadblocks, destroy bridges and keep things stuck. Worse still, it can be used as a weapon. This negative form of communication happens when ego is driving the process, which becomes about overpowering, winning, manipulating or controlling. There is no genuine interest in really understanding the other’s point of view; rather, it is about proving the rightness of one’s own position.

Naturally, this creates distance, distrust, frustration and, ultimately, conflict. The way we communicate with others gives them a sense of how much we value or care about them and says a lot about the kind of person we are. The issue in question may ultimately be resolved, but the image we have created of ourselves remains in the other persons’ mind.

Poor communication may be characterized by lack of self-awareness, needing to be right or trying to win, defensiveness vs. addressing another’s concerns, over-generalizing with “you always” or “you never” statements, blaming, attacking, mind reading, psychoanalyzing, not listening and stonewalling by refusing to talk.

Positive communication involves listening carefully and trying to understand the other’s point of view, using “I” messages rather than starting sentences with “you,” looking for compromise, being patient, responding to criticism with empathy and acknowledging the pain or discomfort being expressed, owning what is ours and taking responsibility for our own mistakes or part in the problem.

Interestingly, we learn to follow rules in other areas of life: not cutting ahead of others in lineups, not taking things that do not belong to us, etc. However, when it comes to communicating in difficult situations and especially with those closest to us, if there were referees, there would be red flags all over the field!

It is much easier to communicate nicely when all is well. It is when we are in conflict that we most need to draw on our very best communication skills. When we are upset, we need to get ego in check and not allow it to use words to further its own self-interested ends. We need to rise into our highest selves and choose to be the one to remain in integrity, regardless of what the other is doing. This is one of the most loving things you can do – to hold that space of integrity even when someone else cannot.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit See display ad this issue.

Realize your potential

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

portait of Carolyn Herriot
As a seed is capable of becoming a tree, all human beings are also capable of realizing their own full potential. In order for the seed to become a tree, it must be planted in the soil, underground, in the dark and almost forgotten. In relationship with the earth, the seed surrenders its separateness, its identity, its individuality and its ego. In fact, the seed allows itself to become one with the earth. Only then its hidden energy bursts open and we see green shoots emerging like a miracle. – Satish Kumar, from Thousand Branches, Million Plums

To a gardener who grows trees from seed, these words resonate deeply with me at the dawning of 2013. Satish Kumar’s words so eloquently describe the shift we must make to avert our current planetary crises. We simply need to surrender our separateness in relation with the earth.

Today, our high speed, highly industrialized and technical world constantly distracts us, as witnessed by the sweeping addiction to constantly being “connected.” All this noise distracts us from taking time to be quiet and still. But it is only when we take this time that we can really think clearly about what’s going on.

Today’s political inertia in facing the inherent problems that accompany glacial meltdown and climate change absolutely scares me. Where’s the appropriate leadership we need? Business as usual simply won’t solve any of these problems and the longer we procrastinate, the worse it’s going to get! So will we see the miraculous unfolding of the seed of human potential? I’d like to believe we wouldn’t wait until we are staring disaster in the face.

I thought it strange when I heard elders say after World War Two, “They were the best days of our lives.” Surely, they could not have been referring to all the death, chaos and destruction? I think that when they heard the rallying cry to come together for victory, they surrendered their individuality and egos to the common cause. As a result of making the shift from “me” to “we,” they were able to practise the simple principles of living in harmony – cooperation, collaboration and community – what I call the 3 Cs. I imagine creating fellowship and camaraderie feels really good and this was what they were referring to as “the best days of their lives.”

So here’s my rallying cry to come together to strengthen our resilience to the unknown effects of climate change. Here are six steps you can take if you truly want to stay connected without an app!

1) Join the common cause and commit your actions to fighting climate change. 2) Reshape the existing paradigm of ‘it’s all about money’ to ‘it’s all about quality of life.’ 3) Create a vision for the world you want to see. 4) Find your voice and step into your power to unfold the seed of your human potential. 5) Practise cooperation and collaboration and engage in community. 6) Plant a “Garden of Eating” and go back to earth and surrender your separateness.

Simple practice: Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.

Here’s my prayer for 2013: May we be like the seed becoming a tree, allowing our hidden energy to burst open to “see green shoots emerging like a miracle.” Happy New Year!

Carolyn Herriot is author of The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-round Guide to Growing Organic Food and The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for Delicious Homegrown Food (Harbour Publishing).

STAR WISE: January 2013

by Mac McLaughlin

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra
Scorpio | Sagitarius | Capricorn | Aquarius | Pisces

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new is a mantra we’re all familiar with. Now, we are determined to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, which, of course, are generally totally forgotten by early February. Things may be a little different this year, though. The Sun and Pluto conjoin on December 30, 2012, just on the heels of a full Moon to boot. Your vow of commitment and determination to stick to the plan stands a better chance of becoming a reality if we use this planetary aspect as our fulcrum and pole in order to attain our goals. Our emotions are heightened at full Moon time and it probably isn’t the best time to make a vow or promise that we may not be able to keep.

Neptune will visit Pisces for over a decade. It’s a very interesting combination as Neptune is strongly affiliated with Pisces. Neptune represents our connection to the astral world and if this planet is prominent in our birth charts, we will be inclined to work along Neptunian lines. Neptune and Pisces are all about spirituality, devotion, compassion, illusion, film, music, acting and art. Positive Neptune types are inclined to work with the sick and disadvantaged in the world. When Neptune is weak or challenged in a birth chart, we find our con man, drug addict, fake evangelist and other wolves in sheep’s clothing. The oceans and seas are Neptune / Pisces ruled as are all liquids such as oil. I pray it never happens because just one massive oil spill on the coast will change our lives for decades, if not longer. We live in the wild west and it’s probably going to get a lot wilder before any true or lasting peace comes our way. Let’s make peace wherever and however we can. The planet needs a healing.

It is our individual and collective duty to extend love and help to all souls on our precious planet. We must count our sameness and commonalities and shame on the bunch of us if we don’t. The cosmic intent of this Neptune /Pisces energy is to divert us away from the glitter, glitz and gold and to turn us towards higher aspirations such as service, love and devotion. Those born at this time will exhibit an unusual spiritual or psychic quality. Visionaries are needed and they will manifest at this time. We have two ways to go. We can move further into the tangled web of karmic indebtedness or we can learn to love one another and forgive each other. We are one people on one planet and we must learn to get along together.

(March 21 – April 19)
Your solar tenth house is strongly activated throughout January amping up your professional status. Move towards your goals. Your world is changing and you are changing as never before. Fate and destiny lead the way. You’re on a learning curve and what you learn these days will serve you well, far into the future. Stay original.


(April 20 – May 21)
Journeys, short and long, may take place this month. You may stay home and still cover a lot of distance internally. You may be longing for changes on a deep spiritual level. Watch what you’re doing on January 7 and 8, as there is potential for mishaps to take place. Patience and kindness work wonders.


(May 22 – June 20)
The last half of January will be a big improvement compared with the first half of the month. If you have anything of importance to handle or if there is something special you would like to achieve, make your moves on January 21 and 22 for the best possible results.


CANCER (June 21 – July
The Cancer full Moon on December 28, 2012, had Pluto connected to it and it may have brought important changes in your life. The new Moon on January 11 in your opposite sign Capricorn may prompt you to make certain changes in your relationships. Those that support or oppose show up now. Prepare for a brighter future.


LEO (July
23 – August 22)
You must set a workable pace, as the tempo is sure to speed up as this month moves along. Mars and Saturn lock horns as they both either square or oppose Leo. Most of this intensity will be experienced on January 7and 8. The whole month will have a certain edge of excitement to it.


VIRGO (August 23 – September
Your solar fifth house is strongly activated throughout January. The fifth house topics are children, romance, entertainment, investments and gambling. One or more of these topics should be activated now. Jupiter sits at the top of your solar chart enhancing professional and career interests. Your prospects for advancement are strong. Promotional strategies play out well.


(September 23 – October 22)
Matters related to home, family and real estate take up your time in the first few weeks of January. It would be a good time to conduct any type of research on the family tree. Heady topics such as law, philosophy, spirituality and politics will be on the menu. Travel plans are in the works.


(October 23 – November 21)
Saturn slows down in January, becoming retrograde mid-February in your sign. Most people do not like the heavy influences of Saturn while others thrive and even excel under this planet’s guidance. Striving for a degree, studying hard while others are partying and generally sacrificing and living carefully is what this Saturn transit is all about.


(November 22 – December 21)
Jupiter is a planet associated with abundance and good luck. There’s another side to Jupiter when it is not well situated in a birth chart that can indicate waste and carelessness. Jupiter becomes stationary in your opposite sign Gemini at the end of the month. This is an important time of decisions regarding relationships.


(December 22 – January 19)
The late December 2012 full Moon may have provided you with a glimpse into the hidden works of a situation. It is not a light, airy-fairy time period. The Capricorn new Moon on January 11 bodes very well and will bring on a new phase of internal transformation, growth and development in your life.


(January 20 – February 19)
Dynamic and feisty Mars moves through Aquarius this month bringing enthusiasm and action your way. Mars tangles with Saturn as they square off January 6 to 8. Difficult circumstances may develop and tempers could flare as frustrations boil over. My hint is to stay chill and if given lemons, make lemonade.


(February 20 – March 20)
It’s a blessing in this lifetime to experience Neptune’s visit to Pisces. Magical, mystical, mysterious scenarios come and go like clouds. Dive into the pool of dreams and diversions, adventure and excitement. You may feel strongly motivated to serve, help and heal wherever you can. Artists and musicians will probably receive inspiration from on high.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years.
Email or call 604-731-1109.