This past week has been an emotionally intense one for many of us as protests continue to highlight the systemic racism in our communities, and those protests against police violence are met with violence in return. As an organization dedicated to Good Food for All, we at Fresh Roots have been working individually and collectively to find ways to show solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized people, and to continue our ongoing work toward building a just food system. If you haven’t see it, please read our message to our community.

And through that, our work continues, of growing food, feeding families, and teaching kids and youth about the food and ecological systems we are all part of. Before joining Fresh Roots, I spent five years as a marine educator, helping kids and adults learn about the importance of our oceans, and our Salish Sea in particular, so I was excited to create this week’s Fresh Five in honor of World Ocean’s Day on Monday, June 8th.

But I also can’t ignore the vitally important conversation we’re having about racism. Environmental problems disproportionately affect marginalized communities, and racism makes it harder for some of wisest voices for conservation to be heard. We cannot truly help our oceans without also fighting racism. So this week’s Fresh Five looks at many of those ways people and oceans are connected, and some of the ways racism has made it harder for oceans, and the people who depend on them, to thrive.

How to Talk About Racism with Kids

Before we jump into the ocean, I wanted to share some resources for parents who might be struggling with how to talk about racism and the anti-racism protest movement with their kids. The first link is a written guide that provides a framework for having these conversations. And the second is a link to the Sesame Street/CNN Town Hall aimed at kids and parents.

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism


Oceans and People

Last weekend, I took a beach vacation to the other end of town. It was a perfect chance to see some of the many ways people connect to the ocean. There were kids playing in the sand, kayakers, people in sailboats, and even some brave swimmers using the ocean for recreation and exercise. There were also container ships and what looked like a gravel barge being pulled by a tug boat, sowing the commercial importance of waterways in our global society. And on the beach were many small clam and mussel shells and seaweed, hinting at the food the ocean provides. And, of course, many gulls, geese, and herons connecting land and water ecosystems.

This interactive story from Ocean Wise, part of the elementary Ocean Literacy course, is a great place to dive into how oceans and people are connected. Ocean Wise has lots of other fantastic resources to learn more about our oceans, too!

Ocean Literacy: Oceans and People


Sustainable Fishing

Fresh Roots was fortunate to be part of something very exciting last week. Our LunchLAB: Chefs for Families program in partnership with Growing Chefs! was gifted 100lbs of the first catch of BC spot prawns from Organic Ocean. BC spot prawns are a delicacy and only available for a few weeks a year. Why the short time frame? It’s because BC spot prawns are an example of a sustainable fishery. That means the seafood is caught in a way that doesn’t harm the ecosystem and leaves enough of the seafood in the ocean for future years.

Sustainable fishing is important for people because somewhere between 1 and 3 billion people around the world rely on seafood for their primary source of protein. Seafood is also a traditional and culturally important food for many Indigenous peoples around the world, including in BC. Indigenous people eat 15 times more seafood than non-Indigenous people globally, according to a 2016 study from UBC. That means that preserving and protecting seafood stocks for future generations is not just an environmental issue, it’s a justice issue, too.

This classic sustainable fishing simulation from the California Academy of Sciences is easily modified for a family game night – just use fewer food items or have a longer “fishing season”. Feel free to substitute any small food item for the crackers and popcorn. I’ve always played it with M&Ms!

Sustainable Fishing Game

Clam Gardening

Photo: Mary Morris, SFU. CC-BY 2.0

While today our oceans are faced with over fishing, that hasn’t always been the case. For thousands of years, Hul’q’umi’num and WSÁNEĆ peoples of the Gulf Islands tended clam gardens as a form of sustainable aquaculture. Clams and their bivalve cousins mussels and oysters are some of the hardest working creatures in the sea. As filter feeders, they absorb toxins as they gather plankton, cleaning the water around them! Traditional clam gardens may be up to four times as productive as untended clam beds, which allow them to provide a continuous source of food for people while actively improving water quality. This is just one example of Indigenous knowledge of how to live in mutually beneficial relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants.  Listening to and learning from Indigenous and other marginalized communities is needed to care for our oceans. We need everyone’s knowledge and ideas to solve the problems we face today.

Check out this web page from Parks Canada to learn more about clam gardens and their project to connect ecological and cultural knowledge. Be sure to watch the video!

Clam Gardens – Learning Together

Nori Wraps

For our recipe this week, I brought in one of our new Experiential Learning team members, Marije! She’ll be working with me this summer to run Camp Fresh Roots, and you’ll be seeing more of her on the blog over the next few weeks as well.  Here’s what she had to say about seaweed!

“Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up next to the ocean, but I used to imagine seaweed as one thing: long, green and wavy. But there are so many different kinds; seaweeds of all shapes, sizes and colours! British Columbia has an incredible amount of seaweed biodiversity; there are over 530 varieties right here on the shores of Vancouver! (Bates 2004). A member of the algae family, seaweed is classified into three groups: green, red, or brown.

“Seaweeds of the Pacific Northwest is a guide to identifying 25 common seaweeds that we can find right where we live. Some are edible, some are beautiful, all play important roles in Pacific Ocean ecosystems. Next time you’re at the beach, try finding as many different seaweeds as you can. See if you can classify it by looking at its colour: is it a Chlorophyta (green), Rhodophyta (red), or Phaeophyta (brown)?

“Seaweed isn’t really a “weed”, a better word might be sea-vegetable. Seaweed (or sea-vegetable; start the movement!) is super nutritious, full of vitamins, minerals and iron. Nori is an edible seaweed that is part of the Rhodophyta (red) family. After it is harvested, it is shredded, pressed and dried into thin sheets, similar to how paper is made. Here is a recipe using nori sheets as the base ingredient; you can use any combo of your favourite veggies and/or protein for the filling for these rolls!”

Nori Rolls Recipe Card

May we all be inspired by these waves of justice to do the work to care for the Earth and each other.


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