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The Year in Review

Well here it is, August 10th already.  That means I have been doing this ‘eat local’ project for just over a year now, with August 01, 2007 being my official start date.  Wow, how time flies!

So what have I learned though this project?  Well, to begin, that I’m in this for life now.  There’s just no way I can look at the stuff being sold in supermarkets anymore and see it as ‘food.’  I still go into Loblaws or A&P from time to time to get a few items, such as meat for the dogs or biodegradable cleaning products.  But otherwise I don’t buy anything from them anymore.  

I have, however, become quite lax about eating non-local food while out with friends.  I have been traveling quite a bit, and socializing a fair amount as well.  As much as our culture doesn’t consciously revolve around food, it definitely revolves around eating.  As such, I have been eating what has been available or what is offered, and that is nearly 100% industrial food.  I’m not happy about this, but I’m not sure what to do about it.  People get offended if you don’t eat what they offer you, and it’s not exactly polite to show up for dinner sporting a bag lunch from home.    

This year has developed in me an acute awareness of the difference between ‘food’ and ‘food products.’  To me it has become so black and white that I have trouble understanding how most people I know can continue to eat what they do.  Junk food I used to enjoy as a treat now doesn’t even taste good anymore, and I feel like I am poisoning my dogs when I feed them factory farmed meat, even if it is local.  This is both a blessing and curse.  A blessing because I think I am eating much, much more healthily than I used to, but a curse because my new eating habits are so restrictive.  Not that I want to change them.  Instead, I want to change the structure of society, and the way people think, so that I can eat well when I leave my home.  That is a big challenge, and one I have no idea how to accomplish, all things considered.

For beyond just trying to find healthy food for myself, I have also spent the year studying the mechanics the politics of the food system.  I really should write more here about what I have come up with.  This blog is a good outlet for me because my friends and family are sick and tired of my constant harping about food I’m sure!  So I really need to write more often.  In a nutshell, challenging the system is a David and Goliath effort.  Or a David and 100 Goliaths.  The global food system is not only extremely solidly entrenched in its current patterns, but it is continuing to grow exponentially in ways that are counterproductive and even irreversable to sustainability.  Take, for example, the case of Niagara.  While the Ontario government gives lip service to supporting local agriculture, it is paying farmers $4000 per acre to bulldoze down their perfectly healthy fruit orchards and plant corn for bidiesel, or vineyards to supply the big wine companies instead.  

Heartbreaking.   

So what can we do? I really don’t know.  Despite eating local being all the rage this past year, I look around and see most people still eating industrial food-like products instead of real food.  Just yesterday I was down at the Covent Garden market just to see what people were selling (our CSA has provided us with so much food that I don’t need to buy anything at market, except peaches).  The produce they had on display was unbelievable!  I mean, really gorgeous, healthy, colourful and bursing with life.  Way, way, way nicer looking than what can be found in the grocery story, and cheaper (most of the time) as well.  So why are more people not shopping there?  The market was very quiet, and when I drove to Western Fair market, I discovered it half vacated with many of the vendors I have been buying from all winter, now gone.  It’s so discouraging.  I can only imagine how the people who work so hard to bring this food to market must feel. 

On the bright side, I have a number of friends who are very much on board with local eating, and several of the Orchard Hill crew that signed up with me are interested in joining a newly founded winter CSA as well.  I do my best to focus on that, and on other small victories.  But most of all, I try to focus on what I can do myself.  And that means figuring out a way to eat locally when I leave my house.  

Any ideas?

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2 Responses

  1. Maybe call some independent cafes or restaurants and see if they use local food; then suggest going there with your friends. Or have a potluck in the park instead. We have some restaurants in our area that try to source locally as much as possible but of course it’s not 100%.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions! I do know of a few places that use local food and frequent them as often as I can. But I love the idea of a potluck in the park! My fellow CSA members and I are having a potluck at one of the homes next week, but the park picnic idea is great. I’ll definitely give that a try!Ù

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