Cook. Savor. Then pass it on!

In case you missed it, we are in the midst of a food revolution.

Thanks to their tireless crusading, chef Jamie Oliver and journalist Michael Pollanamong others, are nudging food back to where it belongs: on our plates.

Slowly – and hopefully surely – the industrialized world is waking up to the aftermath of what Pollan describes as the “collapse of cooking”.

To wit:

  • Supermarkets lined with low-cost “edible food-like substances” i.e. artificial products designed to simulate real food that are high on dubious “nutrient” claims, but lacking in substance. e.g. 99% fat free yogurt that has more sugar per ounce than Coca Cola.
  • Agricultural policies that heavily subsidize corn and soy, the source of most junk food
  • food system that runs counter to human health needs promoting heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer
  • A complete disconnect between humans and the food they eat

And now for the good news: the reformation of food has begun!

What's your Ikigai?

The word “retire” is foreign to the Okinawan vocabulary.

Instead, the residents of this Japanese community hold their Ikigai - reason for getting up each morning - sacred. Whether its growing food or taking care of their children, this notion of a purposeful life seamlessly energizes their often centenarian lives.

Ikigai is one of the many common lifestyle factors identified by National Geographic writer and researcher Dan Buettner, in Blue Zones: areas of the world where folks reach the age of 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the U.S. while living healthier lives, with a fraction of the rates of heart disease and cancer.

Death to SMART goals

My condolences to the inventor of SMART goals. You know the one who recommended we rally around projects that are Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic and Time based?


I can hear all you inspired changemakers shudder in unison.

If human beings only set sight on what they thought was achievable, we’d probably still be huddled around each other (cause even the concept of a fire would have been unrealistic) in a dark cave somewhere, trying to agree upon the words of kumbaya.

It is precisely the act of being completely unreasonable that makes inspired change possible.

No woman no cry

Maternal health is not a topic I spend much time thinking about, yet I found myself completely captivated at the recent Canadian public premiere of No Woman No Cry, a documentary film by Christy Turlington Burns.

Hosted by the team at Grand Challenges Canada with Christy in attendance, the film provided some fascinating insights into both the evolution of Burns from supermodel to activist, and the state of pregnant women worldwide.

Following the experiences of four pregnant women in four different corners of the world (Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh and the U.S.), the film immediately draws you in and keeps you firmly engaged thanks to content that is extremely visceral and authentic.

Rediscovering wonder at TED 2011

My dream of attending the TED Conference came virtually true today.

Thanks to the TEDxToronto team and the generosity of the Center for Social Innovation (CSI), Day 2 of the ongoing TED 2011 conference was made freely accessible to a handful of TED enthusiasts via live webcast.

We cozied up at the CSI digs in downtown Toronto and immersed ourselves into the wondrous world of game-changing innovators and thought leaders gathered presently in Long Beach California. There is something truly magical about the synergies of being part of a live event, and it was a thrill to witness both the poise and gaffs of the speakers in real time.

For me, there were two highlights from today’s sessions:

First, the fact that TED curator Chris Anderson  experimented with guest curation, inviting none other than Bill Gates to choose & moderate the four speakers that made up the “Knowledge Revolution” section. Gates did a tremendous job and his enthusiasm was clearly evident and infectious.

Self-breathing pig lungs and a soprano

Toronto continues to surprise me. I’m constantly reminded of what an amazing hub of innovation and research it is – from environmental, technology and social entrepreneurs to trailblazers in medicine, we’ve got them all!

Organ transplantation has become an increasingly important area of intrigue for me in recent years, and so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the miraculous exploits of the Lung Transplantation team at the Toronto General Hospital, led by thoracic surgeon Dr. Shav Keshavjee.

Building on a rich tradition of hosptial firsts (first single and double lung transplants and first artifical lung), Keshavjee is currently tackling the mind-boggling problem of decay in lungs harvested from donors before they reach the recipient. He has developed a successful Lung Perfusion system that enables preservation of the organs for up to six hours outside the donor body.

But he hasn’t stopped there.

Earth Day Reflections

Did you know that nearly 2.4 million lbs of plastic enter our oceans every minute?

In honor of Earth Day, I’m posting some videos from two of my favorite websites to help you take a moment and reflect on the state of the planet.

Inspired by oceanographer Charles Moore’s discovery of the Pacific Garbage Patch, artist Chris Jordan’s talk at Poptech! 2009 brings the horrific reality of this statistic to light in his characteristically poignant and devastatingly brilliant photographs.

TEDaholics rock Toronto!

Idea sharing from leading edge thinkers & doers in Toronto? Check.

Peak neuronal activity & surge in inspiration? Check.

ODing on the best chocolate in town & amazing after-party? Check.

Bonding with like-minded TED addicts & forging amazing connections? Invaluable!

As one of the select 100 attendees, I’m still riding the high from the first ever TEDxToronto event, held on Sep 10, 2009 at the Theatre Passe Muraille. It was a privilege and delight!

The masterminds behind the show, Paul Crowe and Tyler Turnbull (with the help of an awesome organizing committee) pulled off what we’re all hoping is an annual celebration of ideas and ode to the TED Conference.

For those who might be new to it, TED talks provide a platform for the greatest visionaries and thinkers across disciplines to come together and share brilliant insights that are literally shaping our collective futures. Driving this amazing gathering is the belief that “there is no greater force for changing the world than a powerful idea”.

 The theme for TEDxToronto “What’s Next?” elicited a whole spectrum of responses as diverse as the speaker list.