Ethical Eats

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”What do you want your food system to look like?”

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On Wednesday night I attended an exciting and interesting discussion on local food in Kingston. As readers of the LOFT Food Guide, I hope you enjoy my report of this inspiring event. At least 200 community members were in attendance, ranging from new born babies and their parents to the old and gnarled, and including a handful of students like me. We met in the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library. Local wine was sampled, and attendees mingled about, munching on tiny quiches, cheese, and chocolate meringues from Epicurious Catering.

As I took my seat, the man next to me eyed my snacks. I told him where he could find them, and when he returned he introduced himself. Turns out he used to work for Dupont (now Invista), the chemical plant in Kingston, but that he’d been looking into working on the new ‘ecological community farm’ that is Salt of the Earth. I shook hands with another man who introduced himself as Ian, the head chef of Chez Piggy. It’s one of Kingston’s most highly esteemed restaurants and a proud supporter of local farmers.

The discussion, hosted by Charles Summer and Morgan Alger of Salt of the Earth, began with the farmers answering questions about their position at the forefront of the local food movement. How they got started, what their greatest accomplishments and challenges were, what kept them joyful, and where they saw themselves in the next five years. We heard from Wendy Banks of Wendy’s Mobile Market, Justin Hillborn of Fat of the Land Farm, Charlie Forman of Forman Farms, and Ian Stutt of Patchwork Gardens.

It was truly inspiring to hear the passion that these people have for good and ecological food production. Wendy has been helping farmers in the region for almost a decade by making their products more accessible through her delivery service. Justin and his wife Andrea pasture-raise beef, pork, and poultry on their farm between Kingston and Napanee. Charlie is an agricultural legend: he has 2400 planted acres and is thinking about expanding. He’s grown crops, including non-GMO soybeans and corn, for nearly his entire life. Ian and his partners at Patchwork Gardens grown certified organic vegetables. 

When the discussion turned towards how to create a good and healthy local food system, I was inspired by the support that Kingston  has for organic and locally produced foods. One woman, in response to the comment that consumers have to be prepared to spend more, said that since she’s saved money since her family started receiving all her produce from a Community Supported Agriculture bin delivery system. ”The packaged crap doesn’t end up in our cart anymore!” Many restaurants in Kingston buy a substantial amount of their ingredients from farms in the area. Places like Chez Piggy, Harper’s Burgers, and the Kingston Brewing Co., as well as the rest on this list http://tourism.kingstoncanada.com/en/kingstonfood/localfoodrestaurants.asp.

The questions, comments, and applause were still flying as I slipped out after two hours. If I learned anything from Wednesday night’s event, it’s that Kingston is a great place to be. My desire to support the farmers and food producers of the area is stronger than ever after having seen the face of local food. Farming isn’t an easy life,but these people are so passionate about what they do.

Building a good local food system is the goal of many, and here are some of the conclusions that arose that evening:

  • Kids need to be targeted, because if they get hooked on the taste and excitement of good food, parents will follow. Focusing on lunch programs in schools as well as school gardens are two things that Wendy is involved in.
  • One of ways to convince others of the necessity and goodness of local food is to feed them. Invite someone over and cook them dinner. Serve them Justin’s grass-fed beef, and Ian’s vegetables, and watch them start to understand what all the fuss is about.
  • We have to accept the seasonality and imperfection of food, as well as the true cost. Strawberries just don’t grow in the middle of winter! Eating local isn’t necessarily a more expensive choice, but we can’t expect constant availability or to expect the same prices. 

 Learn more!

Salt of the Earth Farm- http://saltofkingston.com/ 

Ian Stutt and Patchwork Gardens- http://www.patchworkgardens.ca/

Justin Hillborn and Fat of the Land Farm- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fat-of-the-Land-Farm/809417689086906 or fatofthelandfarm@gmail.com

Wendy and Wendy’s Mobile Market- http://www.wendysmobilemarket.com/

Charlie Forman and Forman Farms http://formanfarms.ca/

Kingston Farmer’s Market- http://www.kingstonpublicmarket.ca/

Community Supported Agriculture through Root Radical Rowns- http://www.rootradicalrows.com/ 

Epicurious Catering- http://food.epicuriouscatering.ca/ 

 

 

Jonathan Foley: The other inconvenient truth

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Have you ever heard of ‘terraculture’? It means farming for the whole planet, which is something we as a global population must do if we are to continue feeding ourselves in the face of climate change. Terraculture is food production that combines the best practices of conventional agriculture with organic agriculture to be both productive and sustainable. Only agriculture that cares for ecosystem health will in the long term be able to care for human health as well.


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The Educated Omnivore

Food. It’s kind of a big deal. It shapes entire cultures, has to power to change the way we feel about ourselves, and has a major impact on both the economy and the environment. We are driven to make the best choices we can when it comes to food, and this leads a lot of people to vegetarianism. Eating this way is often lighter on the planet and better for you than conventional diets, so I’m all for it. But the purpose of my post is to mention an alternative that is equally positive and dare I say, more exciting- educated omnivorism. 

Being an educated omnivore involves knowing about where your food comes from and making choices based on your  values- a lot like vegetarianism, but more open minded.. This savvy breed of eater tends to consume a balanced diet, with as much local, organic, fair trade, or otherwise good produce and products as they can obtain. When it comes to eating meat, as with all other foods, they make sure that it is produced in ways that align with their values. Here are some examples of meat an educated omnivore might choose:

  • Grass fed beef from a local rancher (meeting the cow optional)
  • Trout caught by a friend when they went on a fishing trip
  • Christmas turkeys raised in your backyard
  • Pole and Line tuna (caught without drag nets)
  • Pork from farms that use permaculture methods (see first link below)

I know an educated omnivore that only eats an animal when she or someone in her family has killed it. This is her own way of making the best choices for herself and the environment, without limiting herself to a vegetarian diet. 100 Mile House, B.C., the magical land that I hail from, is an impractical place to be a vegetarian, because there is local beef raised on every corner! Educated vegetarianism is also important, as there are many social and environmental issues with with modern agriculture.. Soy, for example, is one of the most destructively produced crops in the world today. No matter what your diet is, there is still choices to be made.

Educated omnivorism is something that everyone should take to heart. All it takes is some interest and a dash of effort  to find out how the food you are eating affects the world around you, Making better choices when it comes to food is more than just eating less meat.

 

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On eating meat the right way:

 

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/can-animals-save-us/joel-salatin-how-to-eat-meat-and-respect-it-too 

 

An interesting discussion on meat vs. no meat:

 

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/can-animals-save-us/just-the-facts-should-we-eat-animals

 

 


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Growing a Better Future

GROW is Oxfam’s food security campaign launched in 2011. Oxfam’s sustainable solutions include…

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This means sharing how we consume food and how corporations and institutional structures function. We can make a difference by using environmental resources more delicately, addressing climate change, and helping farmers adapt to rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Let’s change what and how we consume.

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This means utilizing women farmers in developing countries giving them equal access to land, seeds, equipment, credit, and training. We can make a difference by helping women farmers in developing countries gain equal access to land, seeds, tools, and credit that would help them grow more food and eat better. Let’s change how food is produced.

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This means that the distribution of food needs to more balanced. We can make a difference by asking our governments to change policies that undermine people’s right to food. Let’s change policies and ensure the right to food is met.

What we want to see:
investment in small-scale agriculture that recognizes women having a critical role…this does not mean large corporate farms should not exist,  but they currently get most of the investment and support — resolving the food crisis will take a variety of approaches in which small-scale agriculture (which feeds 1/3 of the planet) can do
moratorium on land-grabs in developing countries
– responsible government regulation
– stop climate change

What you can do:
– buy food produced fairly and sustainably
– demand accountability from companies
– get governments to include support for sustainable agriculture and women farmers in the aid budget
– press the government to stop subsidizing food for fuel
– reduce greenhouse gases

 – Angela