According to a CBC story, in 2005 Canadian farmers made their smallest real profits since 2003 as they came off two years or more of drought and mad-cow-related trade restrictions.
After attending the Provincial government's Agricultural Planning Committee public meeting this past Tuesday, this report comes as no surprise to me. It was standing room only and the 2 hours alotted for the meeting was barely enough time to scratch the surface. Considering the changes in regulations, the cuts in government funding and the tape-looped lip service we're getting the from Gordo and his crew, we've got one hell of a fight if we want to maintain a local farm industry.
Looking around the room, I saw the farmers that have provided a majority of my food for these past few years. I was a bit saddened and very frustrated that they had to fight this hard in order to continue providing food for the community. It scares me that my generation may be the last that will have the choice of a locally-grown diet. Considering the rate that farms are closing, the dumping of cheap products from overseas growers, cookie-cutter government policies and the consumer's expectations for cheaper and cheaper food, this is not inconceivable.
We're so enamored with the cult of the global economy that we've forgotten the community economy. There is a small but growing movement that is rising against this. More books about the problems of corporate farms, food conglomerates and the failure of the modern food system to provide a proper diet are showing up on the shelves. From obesity to junk food funding school programs to GMO food technology, modern food issues are showing up in the news. We don't need another freaking government report to tell us what is wrong. We know what is wrong. We've know it for a very long time.
After years of activism, I have come to the conclusion that my role as a consumer is one of the most powerful political tools I have. Forget the placards and the rally cries, I'm done with those for now. I will subvert the system one meal at a time.
Sometimes it actually works ;)
Last night, I had some friends over for dinner. The dinner doubled as a naan and curry cooking lesson for my friend Karin. It was also a much needed boost for me and reminder that my personal 100 Mile Diet campaign is making small ripples beyond my own dinner table.
Unfortunately, there are still those around me that scoff at my 100 mile diet ideas. My only recourse is to only invite dinner guests that respect my ideas or at least don't openly belittle my requests for locally-grown food contributions. Either that or introduce them to my Chinese cleaver. Just kidding. Well kinda...
Luckily, many of my friends have embraced the local food lifestyle and revel in what their local farms have to offer. I certainly don't lack for like-minded guests to invite over for a hearty locally-grown meal and are happy to bring their favorite local cheese and wines to share. A few of us have formed a food buying club. We're splitting a lamb order from a local farmer and an order from Island Bison in Campbell River. Check out the Fall Resource Guide in the Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet Challenge website for farmers and vendors that are selling products through the fall and winter.
I get oodles of emails from Australia to England to California from friends sharing what they're discovering in their local farms. I have a whole posse of budding chef friends in Vancouver who are having weekly 100 mile diet potlucks and have bestowed moi with an open invitation. I'm such a lucky kid!
By sharing and actively supporting each other's 100 mile diet journey, we are consciously making a choice to be the change we want to see in this world. We are all actively choosing to be mindful participants in our community of food.
It's been fun and soulwarming to share this with folks who are as passionate about life, the enviroment and food as I am. I am very blessed.
Thanks to all the farmers on this island for putting in the endless hours, hard work and risking so much so that I can still have the choice to buy locally grown foods.
To everyone is who is also mindfully choosing locally-grown foods and products, thank you for being part of this community of food.