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Archive for March, 2014

The Unappetizing Truth about Food Waste

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

As the days grow longer and the sun warms our spirits, we cross the threshold into that season when Mother Nature begins to show off her bounty in full glory.

As Canadians who have endured a wickedly cold winter, we need to honour that bounty and one sure-fire way to do so is to minimize the amount of food waste we generate.

We might be inclined to point fingers at food manufacturers or restaurants or grocery stores, those big food consumers, but the truth is that 51 per cent of the estimated $27-billion of wasted food in Canada comes from the leftovers we toss in the trash at home.



Each Canadian family throws out more than $1,000 per year in kitchen waste. To go one further, once the scraps hit the landfill site they become a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

A sad yet alarming fact according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is that one-third of food produced to feed people is lost as it moves from field to plate. According to the World Bank, the value of the food waste in Canada is greater than the combined Gross Domestic Product of the 32 poorest countries in the world.
When we discard food we are wasting more than just food. Think about all the resources that go into growing, shipping and producing. Think about all the water that is wasted in the process – that’s all down the drain, too.

But there are things you can do to lessen your food loss and help the environment. Start by taking the produce you buy out of its plastic bag. Might sounds counter-intuitive but airtight wrapping only suffocates your fruits and veggies and speeds up spoilage.
Wait before washing your produce. Moisture promotes the growth of mould and decay so wash just before you plan to eat it.

Don’t hull strawberries or discard fruit stems. This will keep the produce whole as long as possible. Once living cells are broken bacteria starts growing and that’s something you want to avoid.
Plan out your shopping, menus and meals. A lot of times we buy on impulse or out of habit and that doesn’t always serve us well. Will you use up two heads of cauliflower before they start turning black? When you do buy make a point of eating the most perishable items first.

Don’t get roped in to buying a flat of blueberries or two litres of yogurt because the price is right. Unless you’ve got specific plans for those items, some or all may go to waste.

Best-before dates aren’t always carved in stone. Eggs, yogurt and some meats are fine past their dates. Do a sniff test to be sure and if still in doubt throw it out. Time deadlines on more finicky foods such as sushi, cold cuts and soft cheeses are important to follow, though. And bear in mind, that use-by dates don’t usually indicate the safety of the product often refer to how long a food product is able to retain its freshness, taste or nutritional value.

Use up bits and pieces of food items. Find ways to incorporate wilted produce into soup, stew or a casserole. Use blackened bananas to make banana bread. Old bread can be ground into bread crumbs or baked and then cut up into croutons.

Most of us have been guilty of having eyes bigger than our stomachs at one time or another. Maybe it’s time we become more mindful of what we consume, from our in-store purchases to restaurant meals and take-out to the food waste we heap in our garbage and compost bins. And don’t forget to observe Earth Day April 22. Celebrate it with food. Just don’t buy more than you need.

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provide a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.

Meet Martyn Balsky: A Conscientious, Cool-headed Realtor

Monday, March 10th, 2014



Ask Martyn Balsky why he’s working in real estate and he’ll tell you it’s because he enjoys helping people.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll learn that all his experience have led to this career, beginning in his early days at a family business that manufactured menswear to working as a commercial real estate agent and recently in the remediation business.

In one form or another – from residential and commercial real estate to land development and remediation related to brownfields — he’s been putting together deals, scoping out sites and trying to find value for his clients.

The difference between what he’s done and what he’s doing is that now his energies are directed at finding the right fit for clients within an increasingly feverish real estate market.

“To be good at real estate you need to be a bartender, a wet nurse, a psychiatrist,” says the 51-year-old married father who is one of Freeman Real Estate’s newest agents. “You need to listen really well and to read between the lines as to what people really want. Sometimes clients can’t articulate their wants and needs. Our job is to ferret it out through profound questioning. You have to be able to articulate what most people can’t visualize.”

The Toronto native is skilled at reading people thanks in part to a vast and varied educational background that started with a philosophy degree from the University of Toronto, followed by a business degree program in management and administration (CIM), and a diploma in construction engineering.

What clients can expect with Balsky is a cool head, experience and a deep understanding of the dynamics of the real estate marketplace.

“I’m brutally honest if someone asks me for their opinion,” he says. “I will tell them what I think regardless of how gung-ho they might be. I think candour and truthfulness and integrity are values my clients appreciate and eventually warm to. This business is often fuelled by a lot of emotion and not a lot of reality. You need to have a clear head and a clear mind.”

Because his name and reputation are of paramount importance, Balsky rolls in a way that might be considered different than his colleagues. He worries that people are over leveraging themselves by buying houses that are over inflated. “People are buying on fairy dust they are so over leveraged.” If there is a significant correction it will be because those buyers who chose to purchase with mostly borrowed funds, could pull the market downwards.

A vocal critic of multiple offers for his clients, Balsky is the first to tell clients to steer clear whenever possible and have a maximum in mind that they are willing to pay regardless of the amount of offers.

“I always tell my clients it’s not preferable to engage in bidding-war scenarios,” he says. “It’s too emotionally charged and precarious and I think at the end of the day people may be over paying. I’m in this for the long run and I don’t want my clients to get burned.”

Here’s to a Mild and Eventful March

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Here’s to a Mild and Eventful March

Snow Spring Toronto March 23rd

We can only pray that March will go out like a lamb so in the meantime let’s consider fun distractions to take our mind off the impossibly cold and icy Toronto weather.

International Home and Garden Show – On from March 6 to 9 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this event will get you ready for spring and summer with expert advice on gardening and home renos from more than 400 exhibitors.

The line-up of musicians set to perform in the city this month is impressive with Billy Joel at the Air Canada Centre on March 9, and Canada’s Arcade Fire at ACC on March 13. New Zealand singing
sensation Lorde will belt it out at the Sound Academy on March 15, while oldies fans can groove to Randy Bachman on March 15 at Massey Hall. For those with more classical tastes take in Swan Lake at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Art from March 8–16. Or legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman and renowned tenor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot at Roy Thomson Hall on March 31. If pop is where it’s at try Miley Cyrus, at the ACC March 31.

If laughter is more your medicine, try the ninth annual Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. With over 40 scheduled performances, this live and scripted comedy show features yuks from Canadian and American comics including the troupe from CBC’s The Irrelevant Show, which tapes two new episodes. The festival
runs from March 6 to 16.

Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival offers all ages demonstrations, wagon rides and delicious pancakes with maple syrup. On until April 6, head out to the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan for a taste of Canada’s best sweet stuff.

Family-friendly entertainment abounds at this time of year. Check out Where the Wild Things Are or Disney on Ice at the Rogers Centre. Learn all about anatomy thanks to Sesame Street’s The Body, an interactive exhibit taking place at the Ontario Science Centre until May 5. Take in a good clean classic film such as E.T. or The Black Stallion at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, where matinees play throughout March break.

Toronto Comicon is a great way to meet your celebrity faves? Running from March 7—9 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the event features autograph sessions, Q&As, workshops and a large retail area selling comic books and costumes. Celebrity guests include Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito otherwise known as Gus Fring and Sean Astin and Billy Boyd of Lord of the Rings.

For those of you who love winter sports there are plenty of activities to keep you moderately warm. Try skating at an outdoor rink or hitting the hills to go tobogganing and skiing. The High Park Ski Club has snowshoeing day trips for beginners and experts. The club also offers snowshoeing by moonlight on Tuesday nights.

Toronto Fashion Week takes place from March 17 to 21 at David Pecaut Square where you can check out the latest and greatest in Canadian fashion. Ooh and aah as designers show off their 2014 collections.

Remember you can always warm yourself with a steamy sweet cup of hot chocolate at one of the city’s many coffee bars or bake shops.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.