I’ve always had a love for food.
I was raised 3 miles in bush land , where for many years we had no hydro and were quite self sufficient. Growing up , I was taught numerous skills required to live a life off the land. We grew gardens, preserved, foraged for food, raised livestock and learned to hunt and fish. We also learned to knit, sew and play musical instruments. Looking back it was a life very much connected to the land.
It wasn’t until I married Farm Boy that my passion for food grew. While this love of food and cooking grew stronger, so did my awareness of how its production changed over the years, and not for the better.. We have a current global system that is environmentally damaging and creating food that is void of nutrients.
Let’s step back to WW2 when a majority of the problems began. Technological advances such as gasoline and electric powered machinery and the widespread use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers meant production was higher than ever. This spike in production brought the price of products down. In our case, southern Ontario, with land and climate that was extremely suitable to growing was producing an explosion of cheap food that small farmers could not compete with. This created a domino effect that would reduce communities across Ontario. Small farmers could no longer make a living, let alone compete with farms that were ever increasing in size. So, farms closed up shop, the youth moved to the city for work, schools closed their doors, the local grocery store and Post Office shut down.
We are currently supporting a food system that is creating environmental damage. Our want for global food is encouraging rain forests to be cut down for avocados and palm oil products. We are mono-cropping to levels that require extensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Chemical runoff is creating dead zones where rivers meet oceans. Our food is being transported thousands of miles before it makes it to our plate.
Our health care system is being taxed. Children are increasingly being diagnosed with diabetes. Cancers and a variety off other illnesses are being linked to the use of chemicals on our food.
We have a serious lack of trust in what we eat. Who hasn’t stood in front of the egg department and been overwhelmed by labels. Organic, Free Run, Omega 3, Free Range etc. We hear of continual food recalls for contamination.
Then we have our youth who must leave to find work.
Now for the good news!
I would like to propose that we can build a food system , not just in Ontario, but right here in this community!
One hundred years ago we had a system in place and we can do it again. We have the ability to feed our community. We can produce food that will be fresh and nutrient dense. A food system where we can lower our dependence on oil and create health independence. We have an abundance of land that has growing and pasturing capability. There has also been a surge of younger people interested in farming who can bring forth new ideas but also work with our seasoned farmers who have obtained years of knowledge working the land. An increased local food movement will bring jobs and allow our youth to work here. If we can all work together , our land , our people and our community could become healthier.
A local food system should be as important to us as our Community Centres, our yearly vacations, our cars and houses. . It should definitely be more important than who is wearing what at the Oscars. What we choose to eat today creates the landscape our children will inherit tomorrow.
The one thing people must do is eat. We do this 3 times per day. We have the power to vote 3 times per day with our fork. If we spent $20 per week on local food in a community the size of the District of Parry Sound(approximately 43,000) we could generate an annual income of $44,720,000.00. Money that stays in the community, not going to a corporation run by a few.
How can this happen?
Grow your own garden
Have a backyard flock of hens
Raise a pig
Make your own Maple Syrup
If you don’t want to do this , then develop a relationship with your farmer. Become an informed consumer and ask us questions. We want to share what we do with you. Building trust in this relationship is very important. It makes us as farmers accountable and teaches the consumer far more than what they read on a label. Does this sound like extra work? OF course it is! However we have a responsibility to the children, to our community and to our land!