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When it comes to failure in government, perhaps the easiest metric is poverty. When it comes to extreme failure, just think of failure and put it in a more remote location, or check for people scavenging a dump for food.

Is being hungry in Toronto a better place than Canada's arctic?

Recent news regarding people scavenging arctic dumps for food demonstrates our failure to understand and manage the challenges others have in remote locations. Places where there aren't a million people to ask for help, or visit a food bank, or get affordable products.

Upon first inspection, seems any arctic dump may just provide better results than our current leadership in Ottawa. Seems some MP's are more interested in reading the newspaper than leading.

Perhaps the only thing more futile than a Harper Government addressing such issues is expecting any successful plan to come from the same dysfunctional government. As such, we must learn to be creative and adapt to take care of business. Every idea helps!

I share with you an idea that arctic folks may employ to help feed people with organic and fresh food. It is a solution that can help provide what is healthy and simple for the arctic community, now. Food prices in Canada's north reflect the time and energy to get the product there, and also operate a profitable business selling products the community needs. $25 cheese, $30 coffee, $15 milk adds up quickly. If we do the math, we see that the free market can't deliver the cheapest or the best product.

When we look at what actions one can do, now, we have to keep the solution simple, meaning low capital equipment costs. What is capital equipment cost? The cost of investment required to produce a product. Also, the more simple the solution, the more people that can do it.

Since we are talking about the cost of food, what if northern communities and individuals, could farm their own food? There is no farming in winter, but, there can be! No, no heated and lighted greenhouses growing 2 tomatoes plants in -70C. When we look at traditional farming, we see the problems quickly. There is not enough sunlight for farming. There is no soil for planting. Food takes time to grow and some need pollinators. How much is fertilizer at the store? More than the $25 cheese? These traditional farming approaches are high in capital equipment costs.

When we think of extreme locations to live, space gives us a few clues; less is more. Sending anything into space is very expensive. The capital equipment cost is very high, rockets and special equipment aren't cheap, so, travelling lightly and doing more with less is a constant struggle. Just think, with a smart design strategy, perhaps three experiments can travel to the ISS, instead of just two.

During one of my random life experiments, I survived on growing my own sprouts. Yes, I'm radical. I had watched a documentary on growing sprouts and the medical doctor was explaining the nutritious properties of young plant sprouts. During the first days of a plant sprouts, each species can contain a different spectrum of nutrients not found in the adult, or mature, plant or vegetable. Sprouts can contain rare enzymes, proteins and vitamins. Enough so, they said a person could survive on them, so I tried it. Well, I'm alive to talk about it, so I think it works!

It's called a living diet, because sprouts are alive when you eat them, and until Canada passes law protecting all living things, it's healthy and pretty cheap. I used a about ten different sprout types; several bean types, onion, wheat grass, broccoli*, alfalfa and radish. For two months, the seeds cost me around $40, and I had extra broccoli* seeds left over.

The beauty of sprouts is they don't need soil, or sunlight. They can be better grown at chilly temperatures, above freezing. I grew them in my fridge to reduce bacterial growth. Sprouts only need a little water and some recycled containers to live in. Some sprouts are ready to eat in only 2-3 days. Of course, you should wash them before you eat, but I ate them raw. I was living dangerously! Of course it is always smart to test a few sprouts first and see if you live. Good luck!

In my extreme case, I feel confident that with a basic setup, one adult can survive on $300** of sprout seeds per year, or $25**/month. With bulk community purchasing, perhaps my $300** of seeds won't cost $1,000,000 in the arctic.

In realistic terms, and joking aside, sprouts could add some healthy new elements to an arctic diet. There is no reason why young children cannot farm this food after being taught. I grew my first bean seed when I was 4 years old. Now, I wonder why the next lesson was not eating that same bean sprout?

Happy sprouting and bon appetit!

P.S. - Wheat grass sprouts taste like watermelon during a short phase of their sprouting. Blew my mind! Very tasty in a salad.

P.S.S. - Wash your sprouts well. If you have weakened health, or are feeding to young children, consider a salt/sugar bath to soak in, thus helping reduce bacteria. Yes, rinse after. Some physicians say that we don't consume enough “dirty” food. I agree, but, be careful.

P.S.S.S – You don't have to be in the arctic to enjoy sprouts. Make sure when ordering bulk seed that you choose organic or chemically untreated seeds.

* - Yuck, but I ate them. Visit the Wikipedia Broccoli Sprouts page!

** - “Toronto dollars”