Food Fights and Diet Wars

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet”- Fran Liebowitz

Nutrition fads declaring the latest weight loss or magic cure-all diet dominate the media. The internet too spreads its share of less than accurate information. It all adds up to dietary confusion.

Most of what we thought we knew about nutritional evils turns out to be wrong. Every five years the United States updates its Dietary Guidelines and recently dropped its recommendation to restrict cholesterol. Scientific evidence shows only a weak link between dietary cholesterol & cholesterol levels in the blood. Eggs and shrimp are now back on the menu.

bigfat  The Big Fat Surprise explores the science behind why butter meat and cheese were once vilified and why they now belong in a healthy diet.



vitamaniaVitamania suggests that vitamin supplements are not the health enhancers we might wish. The reason is synergy,  the way in which substances work together . Vitamin C in a capsule, for example, may not act in the same way as it does when its surrounded by an apple’s other compounds.  Synthetically produced vitamins may actually cause more harm than good.


fedup All studies agree that we’d  benefit from less sugar.  Fed Up is a 2014 documentary that explores the fact that for the first time in history more people die of obesity than starvation. The food industry is at the heart of the problem. The U.S.  government issued regulations to lower the fat content in food.  To make food more palatable the industry added sugar.  Now almost 80% of processed food  has added sugar. As a result obesity, heart disease and diabetes rates are soaring.


What diets should one follow to ensure proper nutrition? Taste Buds Cookbook Club wanted to find out.  Here are some cook books that were awarded the Taste Buds “seal of approval”:

detox3  Beet Avocado and Arugula Salad  from Clean Slate which emphasizes eating clean, whole, unprocessed food as part of a primarily plant based diet .




3 Berry Cobbler from Super Foods is a delicious way to eat a variety of berries. Berries may slow memory decline, reduce heart attack risk and provide anti-aging benefits.

Chicken Soup with Kale  Chicken Soup with Kale from Kale Glorious Kale.  A superfood that  packs a punch kale has high levels of Vitamin A, lutein, calcium and antioxidants including Omega 3 as well as 9 essential amino acids.




White Bean , Kalamata and Basil Hummus from Eat Less Salt by American Heart Association helps you to recognize  ”hidden salt”, include more  low sodium meals and stock your pantry wisely.


captain'scurry   Captain’s Curry from 163 Best Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes which encourages us to eat like our ancient ancestors.  The pros of this diet include  more fiber, protein and omega 3. The danger is the lack of  grains, legumes and dairy.

The Tastebuds concluded that a one size fits all diet probably doesn’t work for most people. Incorporate what makes sense for you and ignore the rest. The current dietary recommendations to control sodium, enjoy low fat dairy and dairy substitutes, choose more nuts, fish, legumes and lentils and eat less meat will help to reduce your risk of disease and even increase  your longevity.

Bon Appetit!


Do websites get retirement parties?


Our old catalogue interface officially retired this month. After 12 long years of use, the time had come for the old cowboy to head off into the sunset – after all, for a website, 12 years is a long, storied life. The old site had been chugging along just fine, but the software it was running off of was retired by the vendor, leaving no room for new growth or changes, and no way to properly incorporate our new and emerging library collections like OverDrive eBooks and hoopla movies.


While we were sad to see it go, the thing that surprised us the most was how may of you, our patrons, were surprised/shocked/annoyed/disappointed to see it go. Clearly, many of you had the same affectionate feelings for our virtual library as we know you have for our physical spaces.

Here’s some of the questions we’ve been hearing from you:

Since when do you have a new catalogue?

Since April of last year! Our new catalogue was officially launched on April 22, 2014, after a soft launch and testing period in the first part of that month. We left the old catalogue running to ease the transition, and many of our patrons continued linking to the original page simply because that was the page they had bookmarked for quick access. We couldn’t keep both sites running forever, though, and chose the one-year anniversary as a reasonable date for the old site’s retirement. The old site is now completely blocked to outside use, so if you click on a saved bookmark and get a “this page can’t be accessed” message, you need to delete the bookmark and replace it with one that points to the new site,

I can’t log in, I’m getting an error message

Problems logging in the first time you try to access your account on the new site? Contact the library, we can fix it right away. An error message popping up the very first time you try to log into your account  means that you had books saved in the “My List” part of your library account that haven’t transitioned smoothly to the new site. To get the problem fixed, send us an email via this form, making sure to include your library card number and PIN (last 4 digits of your phone number) and indicating that you’re stuck with the “First-time catalogue login problem.” We can fix the problem for you in no time flat.

I never added any books to My List, so why would that be the problem?

You may not even remember adding the books to a “My List”, but there’s probably something there – those lists never expire so a book added back in 2008 may be the culprit.

Is there any way to sort my holds? I can’t see how to do that now.

We’ll admit that this one is a bit harder to pick out than other features.  If you have a long holds list and like to be able to sort through them to see what’s coming or suspend groups of titles when you go on vacation, sorting the list by title or status is a useful option. The sort option is the little circle icon next to each column header; click on that icon to sort A-Z, and click it again to reverse the list. sortmyholds


Why does “My Account” on new site show me my personal information instead of showing my checkouts or holds?

That’s easy – it’s because you haven’t had a chance to go in and set your personal preferences yet. In the third section of the “Personal Information” tab, you get the option of choosing what view you default to when you log in to your account. If you frequently log in to check your holds and see what’s waiting for you on the pickup shelf, you can tell the page to default to “Holds” view. If you’re more often coming to the site to renew your materials, you might want to tell the page to default to “Checkouts” view. It’s up to you!


For more Q & A and helpful tips: 

Mobile Website changed

Another recent website change! This past week we changed our mobile website (the page that you get to when you visit our library home page,, on a smartphone or small tablet) so that it takes you to the web version of our WPL to Go app, instead of to a basic information page. The benefit to this is that it gives you a quick, mobile-friendly catalogue search on your phone, without having to browse the full-sized page on your small screen or installing the WPL to Go app. You’ll also be able to access all of our upcoming event listings, quickly locate the closest library branch, grab an available eBook from OverDrive or eMagazine from Zinio, and more!

To try it out for yourself, just enter in your phone’s browser.



Let them read cake

13698449723_c09dc166fc_zEvery year, the Library Board of the Winnipeg Public Library organizes a fabulous “Books 2 Eat” event. This year’s Books 2 Eat will take place on Saturday, April 25 at the Millennium Library.

For the fifth year, we’ll hold an edible art exhibition and competition. Book and food lovers are invited to create an edible piece of art that has something to do with books. Those are the only rules – how you choose to interpret them is part of the fun! Think S’more and Peace, Alice in Wonderbread, Goodnight Moon Pie… (If you’re looking for more punny inspiration, try this list that starts with Banana Karenina and only gets sillier from there.)

The Challenge

  • Your creation can refer to a title, scene or character, look like a book or book cover, or just have something to do with books. It must be made entirely of edible materials, raw or cooked.
  • Enter in one of 3 categories: Family (adults collaborating with kids under 14); Amateur (14 & over); or Professional/Culinary School Students.
  • All edible entries will be put on display and a prize winner will be chosen by public vote.

How to Enter
Visit the Books 2 Eat website, fill out an online entry form, and email it to The deadline to submit an entry form is coming up on Monday, April 20. Of course, your edible creation doesn’t have to be dropped off at the Library until April 24 or 25.

13698438323_22ae7cab16_zBut there’s lots more to enjoy at Books 2 Eat, even if you aren’t tempted to try your hand at edible art.

Think you can hunt down food-related clues through all four floors of the Millennium Library? Kids and teens can pick up a Smorgasbord Scavenger Hunt sheet at the Children’s Desk and find out! Hand in your answers (right or wrong) by 3 pm and you’ll be entered in a prize draw.

Older foodies can whet their appetite at talks by Rachel Isaak, from Sam’s Place café and used bookstore, and Parlour Coffee’s Nils Vik.

At the end of the day, the winner of the edible art contest will be announced, and light refreshments will be served.

Check out our website for all the details on what’s happening as part of Books 2 Eat. Bon appetit!


It Runs in the Family

Big feet…musical talent…dimples…these are all things you might inherit from your parents.  But what if your parents are authors of a classic children’s book series?  Until recently, I didn’t realize just how many series actually run in the family.

Take the Eastman family, for instance.  P.D. Eastman was a protégé of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) — in fact, Eastman and Geisel were army buddies, having been assigned to the Signal Corps Film Unit together.  Eastman went on to write many books for children in his own distinct style, under the Dr. Seuss brand of Random House, including a series of books about two loveable canines: Fred and Ted.

You know how it goes.  Fred is a big dog.  Ted is a small dog. Fred likes the color green, prefers spinach over beets, and tends to do things the hard way. Ted likes the color red, prefers beets over spinach, and tends to do things the easy way.  A classic case of “opposites attract.”

Eastman’s son, Peter,  took the helm as dad got older, and he has since written several more Fred and Ted stories…not to mention, he’s also become an award-winning television director and animator. 

bigdog              fredandted

Peggy Parish was known best for the children’s book series and fictional character Amelia Bedelia.  Amelia was, of course, extremely literal-minded, and as a household servant and cook, she got herself into all kinds of conundrums that left readers in stitches.  Simple instructions to “run over the tablecloth with an iron,” or to “serve coffee with porridge” were taken all too literally with hilarious results.

The series was continued after her sudden death from an aneurysm by her nephew Herman Parish.   Herman says, “Peggy still received fan mail from children. They wondered when the next Amelia Bedelia book would be out. Then other children’s authors wrote and volunteered to continue the series.  I felt uneasy about Amelia Bedelia leaving our family. As I was in the fourth grade when she first appeared, I had literally grown up with her. So I decided to try to write a new Amelia Bedelia adventure.”

amelia             unleashed

Stanley and Janice Berenstain started out their careers as a magazine cartoonist team. They published in The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers Magazine, McCall’s, Good Housekeeping and many more focusing on humor about children and families.  Since both of their sons were big Dr. Seuss fans, Stan and Jan decided to try their hands at creating a children’s book, themselves — The Big Honey Hunt, published in 1962 with Dr. Seuss (aka Ted Seuss Geisel) as editor and publisher. Over two hundred Berenstain Bears books followed over the next forty three years until Stan’s death in 2005.

Son Mike had become a children’s book illustrator and author in the 1970s and joined with his parents in the 1980s on magazine work, moving to illustrating and co-writing Berenstain Bears books by 1992.  After a long illness, Stan passed away in November 2005, at the age of eighty-two.  Jan died in February 2012, at the age of eighty-eight.  Mike continues to write and illustrate Berenstain Bears books on all sorts of subjects–everything from going for a ride on the train to the golden rule.

honeyhunt              graduation

The Babar books began as a bedtime story Cécile de Brunhoff invented for their children when they were four and five years old.  The boys liked the story of the little elephant who left the jungle for a city resembling Paris so much that they took it to their father, Jean de Brunhoff  who was a painter, and asked him to illustrate it.  He turned it into a picture book, with text, which was published by a family-run publishing house.  After the first book Histoire de Babar (The Story of Babar), six more titles followed before Jean de Brunhoff died of tuberculosis at the age of 37.

Soon after the end of World War II, Jean’s son Laurent, who had followed in his father’s footsteps as a painter, began work on a Babar book of his own. He trained himself to draw elephants in strict accord with the style of his father, and consequently, many people did not notice any difference in authorship. Laurent has always been careful to emphasize that Babar was his father’s creation (and to some extent his mother’s) and that he continued the series largely as a way of keeping his father and his own childhood alive.

babar               games

So if all you got from your parents was a peanut allergy and a knack for rolling your tongue, you might want to think about writing that children’s book you’ve always wanted to write.  You never know what kind of legacy it will bestow upon your own children!


po e tree

2146221973_ca0a73d7e4_zPoetry:  many people cringe at the word. It brings up grade school memories of obtuse arrangements of the English language and the mandatory memorization of their meter.

So let me start with a story instead. Once upon a time I took a creative writing course in poetry. It was in university. It was for credit. And when the instructor, an established poet, walked in and jovially stated that he didn’t like 90% of the poetry out there, my stomach sank uncomfortably deep. I swallowed hard and looked around the classroom: of the ten of us, did this mean that only one would receive a passing grade?

My friend dropped out of the class. She was a songwriter, a lyricist, and much more terrified of the class than me. I stuck with it though.  I was curious.  My instructor was humble and this intrigued me. He told us that this was his first time teaching a university course, and sometimes I got the feeling that he was more terrified of his students than we were of him.

As the course went on, I was exposed to more and more poetry and I made more of an effort to understand the poetry I consumed. What choice did I have? How could I write poetry if I didn’t understand poetry? Most of the poetry was take it or leave it, but every once in a while there was a gem. A poem that made me say:  “Wow, I like this!” and the crazy thing was, sometimes that was followed by “I’m not even sure if I understand this.” My instructor’s words took on new meaning:  It’s not that 90% of the poetry out there is garbage (although garbage poetry exists). Only about 10% of the poetry out there is going to intrigue any given reader.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite poets. They may not speak to you the way they speak to me, so if not, I encourage you to go out and find a new favourite poet.


There is a school of thought in poetry that when composing a poem one should always keep in mind how a poem will sound out loud. This is because poetry is the oldest genre, one that predates writing. In a time when it wasn’t possible to record a poem on paper, many of poetry’s conventions, such as rhyme, meter, etc. were meant to ensure poems could be easily committed to memory.

bpNichol deliberately eschews this school of thought. I first encountered bpNichol flipping through 20th Century Poetry & PoeticsI had no choice but to stop at his poem Blues, in an anthology of poetry it was most immediately like no other. While it certainly uses letters and words, it is nearly impossible to describe using letters and words. Blues, like many of bpNichol’s other works is a painting done with characters instead of a brush. For an introduction to bpNichol I recommend An H in the Heart which is a compilation of his work selected by George Bowering and Michael Ondaatje.

Bill Bissett

scarsI, perhaps like many of you, first met Bill Bissett on the bus. Not literally, but as a part of the Poetry in Transit series that appeared amongst the advertisements on city busses in 2013-2014. The featured poem, it usd 2 b, reads like the text of a modern teenager. But if you look at his bibliography, Bill Bissett has been omitting vowels since 1966.

There is a tendency to think of 733+ speak as lazy and/or obnoxious, but Bill Bissett’s poems help to make a case that writing in such a style can be used in a very deliberate fashion. It usd 2 b can be found in Bill Bissett’s book scars on th seehors.

Marlene Nourbese Philip

I encountered Marlene Nourbese Philip’s work while taking a course on diasporic Canadian literature. Her book She Tries Her Tongue Her Silence Softly Breaks is a collection of poems that addresses the challenges of finding a voice as an immigrant, a woman, and a Canadian. In her poem Discourse on the Logic of Language I was immediately fascinated by the way she uses a ‘/’ to conserve space and combine the words ‘languish’ and ‘anguish’ into ‘l/anguish.’ Philip is another example of a poet who manipulates the way characters are printed on the page to enhance the meaning of her poems.

John Weier

John WViolenMakereier taught me that when writing good poetry, you only get one shot at love. Love is to poetry as avoidance is to the plague:  cliché. So write your love poem, because every poet must write at least one.

There are so many poems about love that the word love is a cliché. If you want to write poetry, go ahead and write your one love poem. Then go and write all the rest of your poems and see what else the world has to offer. After that, check out Weier’s book, Violinmaker’s Lament and count how many times he uses the word love.

Poetry at the Library

April is poetry month! I didn’t want to mention it until now, because I didn’t want you to think that I was writing about poetry just because it was poetry month. If you’re interested in learning more about poetry, check out the following events at the library:

Hidden Poetry at Osborne Library
Saturday, April 25: 2-4pm
Hidden poetry is a fun, easy way to create your own poetry.  You simply black out words on an existing page of text, and what remains is your poem!  You can also use our button maker to make your poetry portable!

Speaking Crow: poetry open mic at Millennium Library
First Tuesday of every month
Share your own poetry with others, or just sit down, relax, and hear what other local poets have to say.  Speaking Crow is Winnipeg’s longest running Poetry Open Mic.

On The Same Page at
Cover image for North End love songsOn The Same Page is Winnipeg’s largest book club. The selection for 2014-2015 is Katherena Vermette’s Governor General’s Literary Award winning book of poetry:  North End Love SongsJoin Katherena Vermette and other members of the Indigenous Writers’ Collective for a live reading on Tuesday, May 28th at 7:00 pm at the McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave.


Twenty New Star Wars Novels? Yes Please!

Star Wars Logo

Like any good nerd, I’m practically buzzing as I scour the internet for any new tidbits about the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, that hits theaters this December 18th. I’ll take anything to whet my appetite for all things long ago, from a galaxy far, far away. Fan theories about the plot of the new movie, production stills, concept art; heck, I even read this really in depth discussion about the new lightsaber design from the teaser trailer!

The most exciting news has to be the recently announced twenty books that will bridge the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This announcement comes hot on the heels of the controversial decision by Disney Studios and Lucasfilms to discard the dozens of novels in the “Expanded Universe”.

The Expanded Universe novels covered the aftermath of Return of the Jedi and the subsequent 40 years. Director J.J Abrams and his team of writers have decided to tell a different story, essentially making the Expanded Universe novels non-canonical in the Star Wars Universe.

Needless to say I’d felt a little cheated when I’d heard this news. All those storylines, all those characters I’d loved reading about, all those evil villains were no longer relevant! However, all that means is that these 20 new titles will bring a whole plethora of new characters and stories into the universe that I, and so many other nerds, love!

Publishers have conceded that not all 20 titles will be full novels; some will be graphic novels, some will be short stories, and there is no confirmation on when the first title with hit the shelves. One thing you can be sure of, WPL will have it on the shelves as soon as possible!

Luke Skywalker

May the Force be with you.


Stop Buying Stuff!

“We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change. We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper. What we’re really talking about, if we’re honest with ourselves, is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet.” Rebecca Tarbotton, Executive Director of the Rainforest Action Network from 1973-2012.

It’s Spring – the time of year when I get the urge to purge. I go through every closet and make keep, toss, and donate piles and wonder how I accumulated so much stuff. neverstoptothinkThere are 2 schools of thought on this subject. One is the “more is more” espoused in Never Stop to Think… Do I Have a Place for This? by Mary Randolph Carter, a self-confessed magpie. But the junk she picks up at flea markets and antique shops and artfully arranges is so darn charming.

stylesimplicityHome décor eye candy is cleverly displayed in Style and Simplicity which argues that there is a place for carefully curated ephemera to help us  “live each moment as beautifully as we possibly can.”

prettythingsAt the other end is of the spectrum is A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, a graphic memoir by Sarah Lazarovich. She  illustrates and catalogues items that she coveted but refused to buy based on the shopper’s philosophy, “Buy clothes. Not too many. Mostly quality.”, as well as a “Buyerarchy of Needs”.

life-changingTime magazine recently examined “The Joy of Less” and claims that 75% of garages in America are so full that homeowners can’t park their cars inside. A whole subculture of experts have mushroomed around this acquisitiveness – self storage rental, downsizing and organizing consultants, and junk removal companies. A wildly successful book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up responds to this urge to purge. According to Time her name has now “become a verb: To Kondo your sock drawer.”

thischangeseverythingThese thoughts  intrigue me especially after reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, an investigation into the climate change crisis precipitated by capitalism. Klein urges us to “consume less – right away” and  look at “changing how much energy we actually use: how often we drive, how often we fly, whether our food has to be flown to get to us, whether the goods we buy are built to last, how large our homes are.”

what'smineisyoursThe time has come to investigate new approaches to acquisition such as co-ops and the share economy as exemplified in What’s Mine is Yours. The new minimalism is explored in Everything that Remains.

Is there a happy medium between austere minimalism and overconsumption? Start by considering small steps to limit purchases. Why not have a swap party as a way to socialize with friends, make a change, and save the planet? Everything from clothing to toy and book swaps will help you feel lighter and end up with something new to you for zero dollars. And don’t forget – your local library is the best place to borrow rather than buy resources such as  books, magazines, DVDs, and videogames.