Last Monday night was both informational and delicious for many Queen’s students and members of the Kingston community. Why? Because on Monday evening, Food Security was fortunate enough to have Andrea Collins, a Ph.D. candidate in political studies here at Queen’s, join us at The Sleepless Goat to speak about “Gender and the Global Land Grab.” The issue of land grabs is quite important to Food Security because we know that land grabs are a significant cause of food insecurity around the world.
The event was held at The Sleepless Goat, a wonderful café on Princess Street, right here in downtown Kingston. What is so special about The Sleepless Goat? So many things! For one thing, they sell fair trade coffee! Also, they use local and organic food in their meals because they are committed to socially and environmentally sustainable and ethical business practices. Also, there are lots of unique dishes available – for instance, I tried a sweet potato and cheddar quesadilla that was absolutely delicious.
Just in case you have never heard of The Sleepless Goat, here is their website: http://www.thegoat.ca/main.html Be sure to check out their mission statement and view the menu!
Now, onto the truly education part of the evening. We’ve already seen a couple posts about land grabs here on Ethical Eats so I won’t go into a lot of detail about them, but Andrea pointed out some interesting things that I hadn’t previously realized, especially about alternatives to land grabs and raising awareness about them.
For instance, she reminded us that large corporations investing in land can be a positive development for communities if it’s done fairly. Agricultural production on a large scale does have the potential to provide jobs for local residents. Therefore, instead of firms grabbing and taking over land that is being used by local farmers, it would be beneficial if firms hired local farmers to produce the food that they require. This system would allow the local farmers to earn money while continuing to produce the food they and their families need. But in order to encourage corporations to behave in a more ethical way, consumers need to take action.
Andrea mentioned Oxfam’s Behind the Brands initiative (in which Oxfam @ Queen’s took part last semester) as an example of local advocacy to help combat land grabbing. She emphasized the importance of consumers holding the corporations from whom we purchase food and other products responsible for their actions. She reminded us that even if we are still students, it is crucial that we think and learn about where our food comes from, and seek out ways to hold corporations who source products unethically accountable until they agree to make a change.
We are so grateful to Andrea for dedicating her evening to educating us more about land grabs. Hopefully everyone who attended the talk left with a renewed vigour to help put a stop to them!