07 December, 2009

there's that food thing again (now extra preachy!)

i love to eat. i love to cook. lately, i even love to bake. and now that i've moved to god's country (vancouver island, to the uninitiated), i am falling in love with fresh regional produce.

even before i moved here, being far too lazy to drive to the giant supermarket, i began shopping for most of my edibles at the old scona farmers' market. there i discovered that apples can be good (who knew?), that tomatoes can have flavour (quelle surprise!), that there are more than two kinds of beans in the world, and that fresh and tasty beats cheap and plastic hands down. well, i sort of already knew all that, but had forgotten living in exile up north, in oil country.

living on the island is glorious when it comes to food. we have a cheesery nearby, several farm stands that keep us in inexpensive and amazing apples, a local red fife flour that is spectacularly delicious, and shrimp that were caught right here, in the local ocean - imagine that.

all this makes me all the more heartbroken when i see beautiful arable land go under the developer's knife. sure, everyone wants a piece of this. everyone wants to live here. but do they really require a large lot that will most likely feature a "landscaped" lawn and some bonsai evergreens?

as we drive around the island, we are struck repeatedly by how ridiculous it all is. people fall in love with the untrammeled beauty of the island. they move here. and then they make it look like every other boring subdivision in north america. rip up the trees, turf out the farmers, put in a lawn, plonk in a bunch of identical detached split levels with garages in the front, and away you go. which begs the question - why in the hell did they move here in the first place? ah, the year round golfing, riiight.

because i am canadian, and i believe that the government should be on top of this kind of stuff, i am endlessly frustrated, not to mention shocked, that arable land is of so little value. as the price of oil goes up (and i wholeheartedly pray that it continues to do so), we will be less and less able to import our flavourless produce from china, chile and california. would it not make sense to legislate to keep the best of the land not for retired professionals with a hefty nest egg, but for those people who can make sure that we will be fed?

and don't get me started on our obsession with cheapness. now i'm as stingy as the next guy, and most likely far more so, but when it comes to food, i believe we should pay the asking price. i want the orchard down the street to make enough of a profit so that they continue to produce those amazingly juicy ambrosias. i would rather pay them than the supermarket that imports it all from god knows where. i'd rather pay the butcher whose meat does not come from a factory farm. i'd rather buy my eggs from the little farm up the road. i want to support the people who will make sure i am fed when the price of gas makes december pineapples a thing of the past. and honestly, here on the island, it is affordable. the local apples are cheaper than the supermarket imports. the eggs - ditto. sure, you might pay a little more for a local artisanal bread or flour, but how much do you really need? and instead of feeding the gaping maw of a corporate monster, you are supporting your neighbours.

so if you're reading this and thinking, boy, look at the mouth on that one, i am considering putting my money right in it. i'm thinking of going back to school to learn about food security issues, better urban planning (nanaimo's green spaces? pathetic!), sustainability etc. i am considering going a little more granola still. what do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YES, YES! I think this is something you could sink your teeth into, so to speak. We've talked about this and you know that I would love to see your clever writing and supreme intellect go to a good cause. I'm not saying that entertaining me is not a worthy cause, cuz it is. You can do both.