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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Some thoughts on Food

I want to try to find food sources within a couple of hundred kilometers of where I live. I want to know that the farmers and other producers of food can make a good living from their labours. In the larger picture, I want the entire nation to have food security. Food security is defined in so many ways. It can be defined by what we have stored in reserve in case of disaster or emergency. It can be defined in terms of how the food is produced and what inputs were used. What I want is food security in a local community sense. However, I do know that I live in the middle of a large land mass and some items are not too local in the middle of winter. I want to support local farmers. I want to support local fishers. I want to support local producers of naturally raised meats. I also want to support fishers of our coasts so I will purchase from my ethical, local supplier, coastal seafood from British Columbia and from the Atlantic Provinces. When I buy local grains, I don’t want to ship them in from B.C. when they are grown near me to begin with. That’s just silly. There are producers of cheeses, poultry products, and numerous other products from Quebec are producers that I would be happy to support.

In an immediate sense, local food tastes better. Not as a virtuous taste but in the sense that a tomato grown on the vine and picked just prior to my purchase will taste better than a tomato grown far away with loads of chemicals and bioengineering, picked green and gassed to look ripe just prior to my purchase. Spinach tastes fresh and green and not like cardboard. Beautiful, perfect strawberries are grown all around where I live but I won’t ever see them in the large grocery stores.

How do we connect with our local producers? How do we connect with the producers throughout Canada? Go to the market. Talk with the producers. Ask from where products come. Demand local products. Join a Community Supported Agriculture project and take risk with the farmers as well as enjoying the bounty. When I spend a dollar on a product directly from the farmer, he or she gets that dollar. When I spend a dollar at a big box, some farmer from somewhere else gets a few pennies. Become involved in Community Gardens. Don’t eat instant “food”. Care about the producers of eggs, milk, cheese, grains for breads, meats, etc. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. Go to the Farmer’s Market on the weekend mornings. Go to the places that actually bake bread. In my neighbourhood, there are 7 bakeries within a 20 minute walk. When I buy my produce from a local wholesaler such as F.O.O.D. I am confident that she knows the producers and has established and maintained an equitable working relationship.

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