Sustainability by the Glass: When reds and whites are green

Sustainability by the Glass: When reds and whites are green

For this Earth Issue of the Harvest Journal, we’re exploring how the often water- and soil-intensive practices involved in grape and wine production are being transformed by industry-wide adoption of sustainable practices, with the charge being led by California wineries and vineyards.

We’re also celebrating a delightful partnership with California Wines Canada, so read on for details about a great offer for LCBO wine buyers that gives back to Second Harvest and includes an exclusive invitation to a live online wine-tasting, as well as complimentary master classes about California wines and so much more.

Wine Wanderlust: California Supports Second Harvest

For Ontario wine-lovers, the spotlight is on California with more than 24 California wines featured in LCBO stores and online for Wine Wanderlust: California, taking place until May 22. 

There’s even a special online event that’s sippable, stylish, and supports Second Harvest! The LCBO is offering a California Wine Box of six curated wines for $110.75 that comes with a seven-piece set with everything you need for a backyard picnic — a wine opener, two stainless steel knives, and forks with polished wood handles, a wood cutting board and a durable canvas tote. Just add your favourite fixings for al fresco dining! Plus, with every box purchased, California Wines Canada will make a $5 donation to Second Harvest. Click here to buy the wine box and learn more.

Your California Wine Box purchase comes with an invitation to a unique virtual tasting on May 13 at 7:00pm EST! This live YouTube event will be hosted by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson and features special guests Winemaster Randy Ullom of Jackson Family Estates and Glenn Andrade, SVP Winemaking at Trinchero Family Wines.

Watch a video about Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing.

Sustainability by the Grape and by the Glass

By using a holistic approach, California’s vintners are dedicated to keeping both the earth and the people on it safe and secure for many years to come. A prodigious amount of planning, commitment and respect go into maintaining a holistic eco-system of sustainability. 

Launched in 2010, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing provides third-party verification that a winery and/or vineyard is adopting and implementing sustainable practices. All certified wineries and vineyards must meet defined prerequisite practices that address key sustainability areas such as soil health, water and energy, and habitat. In 2020, over 80 percent of California vineyards were certified sustainable, encompassing 171 wineries and 2,247 vineyards. Eighty percent of the wines produced in California now come from a Certified Sustainable winery.

Sustainability in the twenty-first century winery or vineyard means incorporating modern innovations like solar power, drip irrigation and alternative fuels. Cutting-edge viniculture also includes partnering with nature like controlling pests by replacing traps and bait with owl boxes to naturally control voles, gophers and moles which can devastate young vines. Adding housing for bluebirds and bats combats sharpshooter insects which spread disease and can kill grapevines quickly.

Sustainability in winemaking is inextricably tied to soil health, and another example of using natural innovation is to plant leguminous cover crops specifically planted to fix nitrogen in the soil, and Brassica-family cover crops like mustard to combat nematodes, a soil-borne pest. Tilling cover crops and composting grape pomace (skins and seeds) also adds organic matter, the “green manure” that improves soil composition as it decomposes. 

Responsible and sustainable use of water is another major concern: when not sustainably managed, one bottle of wine can use 10 litres of water in its production. Practices to reduce dependency on water include ponds for water collection, aeration and filtering, used for vineyard irrigation and bin washing; ultra-violet light tank cleaning that uses zero water; and “dry farming” which allows nature to provide water and the root system of the vine to dig deeper to find moisture.  

Wine Institute is an association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.

Virtual Master Classes

During the month of April, California Wines is planning four complimentary Virtual Master Classes so interested wine lovers can learn more about wines from the Golden State. Vintners will be joining renowned wine educator and Jancis Robinson contributor Elaine Chukan Brown and Andrea Robinson MS. These webinars are complimentary.

Wednesday, April 7: 2:00pm-4:00pm EST: California Then and Now
Tuesday, April 13: 2:00pm-3:30pm EST: Classic California Chardonnay
Tuesday, April 20: 2:00pm-3:30pm EST: Regional Expressions of California Pinot Noir
Tuesday, April 27: 2:00pm-3:30pm EST: Napa Valley’s King Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

Click here for more information and to register. 


Tempest in a Green Bin: The Food Waste Revolution

Tempest in a Green Bin: The Food Waste Revolution

Last month’s Report on Business Magazine reported that the giant asset management firm BlackRock would be using climate change as a defining feature in investing its $9 trillion dollars of assets, and that investment funds using ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles grew from one third to two-thirds of the global market. But is this just the latest investment trend or a genuine change in priorities?

With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing more people into food insecurity, and food waste contributing to greenhouse gases and climate change, our choices as donors, investors and consumers have never been as urgent as they are today. 

That’s why you won’t want to miss “Tempest in a Green Bin: The Food Waste Revolution” – a vital and timely discussion about driving social and environmental change, savvy strategies for ESG-focused investors, and how to spark a food waste revolution wherever you are.

Join host and Food Network celebrity chef Bob Blumer on Tuesday, April 13 at noon EST when he’ll be joined by experts in global philanthropy, ESG investing and food recovery for an hour of high-impact, world-changing conversation. Click here to see the full lineup of guests and to register. Registration is free but spaces are limited so register today.

Become a Food Defender! No-Waste Eating

Become a Food Defender! No-Waste Eating

In celebration of Earth Month 2021, Second Harvest continues to offer our free e-learning offerings with Food Defenders, our first-ever, two-day, culinary learning series. This series features special guests who have mastered the fine art of using their food to its greatest potential—from nose to tail and root to shoot. We’ll also share recipes for you to download, our Waste Wise Guide, and more!  Click here to register on Eventbrite and join us on one or both days.

Wednesday, April 28 from 6pm to 7pm

Let’s Get Scrappy!

Composting is great but using every part of your ingredients—from nose to tail and root to shoot—is even better! Join Food Network celebrity chef, author, and Second Harvest Ambassador, Bob Blumer, for a home-cooking demo direct from his kitchen in Los Angeles. Bob’s specialty is making mouth-watering meals from using parts of food we wouldn’t normally eat and using up those scraps we would normally throw out. You won’t want to miss this!

Thursday, April 29 from 6pm to 7pm

Waste Wise Legacy

Can leftover rice, wilting herbs, and other back-of-the-fridge forgotten finds become unforgettably yummy dishes like Panta phat and Pav bhaji? Absolutely! Join Almas and Nita, two talented South Asian home chefs, who will each prepare two recipes that taste great and reduce our food waste at home. As a bonus, all four recipes will be shared with anyone who attends this awesome webinar.

Pro tip: Invite friends to register, grab a drink and some snacks, and make it a fun (virtual) group activity! You can share the registration link: 

Food Defenders is sponsored by CI Financial.

See you there!

36 Years of Awesome Volunteers!

36 Years of Awesome Volunteers!

After 36 years of welcoming volunteers, we paused our in-person volunteering for the majority of 2020 to keep everyone safe, though we had some opportunities for virtual and socially distanced helpers. For those of you who were able to help us in 2020, thank you!  You supported us in new and different ways and did an amazing job.

From packing food kits for the Feeding Our Future kids program, raising funds to keep our holiday Turkey Drive running, to volunteering virtually from home, Second Harvest relies on the people power of 2,000 volunteers on average every year. 

Volunteer applications have increased by over 200% during the pandemic, all from people who are willing to support Second Harvest even during these uncertain times. That’s an incredible show of generosity! We cannot wait to welcome these new and returning volunteers back to our organization and we are excited to expand our volunteer reach across Canada very soon.

One corporate partner leading the way is CIBC, who are providing both financial and employee support to our volunteer program.

“CIBC is proud to support Second Harvest and its ambition to ensure families across Canada have access to healthy meals. Giving and volunteering are shared passions at our bank, and Second Harvest’s important work inspires many of our team members to volunteer each year. On behalf of CIBC, I am pleased to share that our bank will continue to support these efforts and the causes that matter to our team.”

Andrew Greenlaw, Vice-President, Community and Client Relationships, CIBC

If your company is interested in volunteering with Second Harvest, please reach out to Ashley Ferguson, Volunteer Relations Manager at

Want to get involved?  Apply to be a volunteer by visiting our website and completing the application form.  We will keep you informed on when our volunteer programs will be back in action!

From all of us at Second Harvest, our heartfelt thanks to our incredible community of volunteers past and present – and future!

Fill it. Scan it. Give it. Meet Your Everyday Tote Bag.

Fill it. Scan it. Give it. Meet Your Everyday Tote Bag.

Made from 20 recycled plastic bottles, the Everyday Tote Bag was designed by Fill It Forward to help eliminate our dependency on single-use plastic bags. The bucket-style opening, versatile design and rugged durability (it can hold up to 50 pounds) have you covered for a wide range of uses – and reuses – throughout the day. That sounds like a great idea, right?

Here’s the even niftier tech twist: the Everyday Tote Bag comes with a Bag Tag that connects to the Fill it Forward app to track your community’s collective impact. Simply wrap the tag on the handle of your tote bag; download the free Fill it Forward app and scan the tag every time you reuse the bag. Both the tote bag and bag tags are machine washable, and with each scan, Fill It Forward will donate two cents to Second Harvest. 

Fill It Forward was recently named one of nine winners out of over 450 international entries in the Beyond the Bag Challenge from Closed Loop Partners, a New York-based investment firm focused on building the circular economy. They’ll share in $1 million in prize money and will be eligible for additional financial support to support testing, piloting, and scaling efforts.

Fill it Forward app users help fund giving projects that provide access to nutritious food, clean water, hygiene, sanitation, and education. You can learn more about how Fill It Forward products support these initiatives by clicking here and you can order a bag of your own here.