Monday, May 7, 2007

Food For Thought

Here's an article about the importance of supporting local food production, by Abra Brynne, excerpted from her address to the Kootenay Co-op’s AGM, spring 2007.

"All of us have to wake up from the low-price stupor created by our governments, the Walmarts, Costco’s, and Superstores of this world. We need to realize that if we all want to be eating in 10 or 20 years, we each have to take individual responsibility to aggressively support our local food producers so that we can rebuild a food system that will respond to our needs and not be dictated by events, economies and corporations far distant from us. By supporting the many individuals who produce food in our area, we are building community, helping farmers and food producers stay in business, supporting the local economy and building communal food security that we, our children and our grandchildren will be able to enjoy...

We are in a desperate situation... We all need food every day. More than 98% of North Americans rely on less than 2% of the population (the farmers) and on a steady supply of imports to feed themselves. And we pretend that this is reliable, just, and sustainable. We have been sticking our heads in the sand for too long – this is dangerous and foolhardy. And fundamentally selfish to expect that the rest of the world, mostly peasant farmers driven off their own land, will keep producing our food year round when we have killed off or lost the last of our own farmers... As recently as 5 years ago, between Invermere and Canal Flats, there were 25 farms. There are now only 6 farms – and 17 golf courses ... Even with some thriving local options, we have barely made a dent in import replacement in our region. I am not proposing that we need to be self-sufficient, but we sure have to come up with an alternative to a food system that is dominated and controlled by the likes of Cargill, Monsanto, Sysco and Safeway. They don’t care whether or not our farmers are all driven off the land. They don’t care if we go to bed hungry. They don’t care that the nutritional value of most of the foods they supply is laughable. They care about money and power in their sick food system.

We need a full-scale food revolution and we need it now. Eating is one of the most intimate acts we engage in. What goes into our bodies becomes part of us. We are worth feeding properly and well – socially, environmentally, politically, morally and culturally. All of us deserve to eat well and to know that we will eat well tomorrow. And those who produce or gather our food deserve to be treated fairly, with dignity and with respect. Local food systems support our health, our communities, our cultures, our food security, and, ultimately, our future.

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