Sunday, October 12, 2014
We are lucky enough to live in a time where food is plentiful. Not all of that food is good food - much is highly processed, travels vast distances, and is grown in unsustainable ways. But the realization that these types of food impact our health, our communities and our planet means there is a growing movement to local food production.
My Thanksgiving dinner consists of a free-range chicken we raised, the stuffing is from sourdough bread that I make added to onions from my garden, celery seed from my own celery, and amazing carrots from a co-workers property up the road. Our mashed potatoes are Vancouver Island. The pumpkin pie cooling on the counter is made with last year's cooked pumpkin frozen in containers, eggs from my hens and the crust has lard that I rendered from fat acquired for free off craigslist. The spices, the milk, the butter, are not terribly local (well the milk is Island grown) but I feel that at least I am as local as I can be and am working towards growing more of our own.
I admit though that we are privileged. Not everyone has the desire, land, financial or physical ability or knowledge to try to grow their own. But there are stores that focus on local. Campbell River has the Willow Point Market and Discovery Foods -- both commercial store fronts that highlight local, regional and provincial produce. Small local shops that live where they work, where the profits are not funneled off to Toronto, Arkansas or other remote corporate centre.
The thing I hear the most is that local is so much more expensive. And in some ways that is true. But with the ever increasing California drought the days of cheap produce from that state are limited. Water is being diverted from farms to cities, small towns are drying up to the point where there isn't even water to flush toilets and drinking water is trucked in by the bottleful. Change to our food system is coming whether we acknowledge it or not and things are going to get more expensive.
One way I have noticed that big box stores are trying to lull us into a false sense of security is by changing their pricing system -- instead of prices per pound or kilo, we are now seeing price per each. Why look - that steak is only $5 - what a deal. When in reality if we did the math we could see that the price has gone up per pound or kilo. Most people just don't do the conversion.
So today, I am giving thanks to my local food producers. To Tom up the street for this multi-coloured, juicy carrots, to the Eiglers who grew our last year's turkey, to the Nagels who sent me the hatching eggs for this year's chicken and the seed for next year's garlic. To the farmers who weekend after weekend spend their time at farmer's markets. To people like the Jagers who operate Discovery Foods, a grocery store that seeks out the most local food it can, and to Willow Point Market for bringing in orchard crate after orchard crate of Okanagan apples. To the pumpkin growers, the onion growers, the potato growers that make today's dinner possible.
And to the people who wonder where on earth they will get the time to figure this out.....just breathe. Make one small change. Buy BC potatoes instead of US. Look on Craig's list, Used wherever, or Kijiji to see who is selling/giving away local food. Go to a farmer's market. Learn to grow, bake, cook, can, ferment, salt, pickle, or smoke foods. Scope out wild fruit trees, mushrooms, weeds that can be eaten. Most of all - THINK about your food. Be conscious and thoughtful about what you buy and where it comes from. There is always a way.
Most of off, be grateful. We have not had mass food security since the Great Depression and have gotten used to freely available, cheap food. This has not been the experience for many populations in the world. We are very blessed.