I hope this note finds you well. We've had a change in weather here, with rain and cooler temperatures setting in ... a reminder that autumn really is going to happen.
Lately, I've done a lot of reading about climate change and the serious changes to water tables, agriculture and people that will result. It is a burden to realize the truth of the reports from IPCC and the United Nations, and crazy-making to read some of the climate change denial propaganda that's around.
This evening, however, instead of my too-often down feeling, I found myself bopping around the kitchen to the music on CBC radio. I was stirring a pot, cooking tapioca pudding of all things, and browsing the Simply in Season cookbook to give myself something to do while stirring. (2005 from Mennonite Central Committee).
The full title of the book is Simply in Season: recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More with Less (an earlier cookbook which I treasure). I'd never gone through a full chapter all at once and read all the anecdotes and ideas tucked in alongside the excellent international, seasonal recipes.
Simply in Season is a radical book. It is a food, agriculture and food sovereignty course, written in short anecdotes, recollections and factual comments. It is family, community, and good-heartedness addressing serious issues of hunger and economic inequality. And you take in ideas one at a time as you cook or browse. Mandala books probably carries this recipe book or could order it for you (190 Central Ave, London / 519-432-9488 / www.mandalabookshop.com )
Cathleen Hockman-Wert, one of Simply in Season's authors says:
Browse any supermarket aisle and it'll appear that you have no lack of choices: the number of different brands may even seem overwhelming. What you don't see is that most of these brands are owned by just a few transnational corporations, such as Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills and Philip Morris.
You can picture our agricultural economy as an hourglass. At the top are farmers and at the bottom are consumers; food flows from one to the other through a few corporations in the middle. Those businesses hold enormous power. The farmers have limited options in terms of selling their products, so the corporations set the prices the farmers receive. The corporations also set the prices paid by consumers, and research indicates that market concentration results in higher prices.
Here's a simple side step around this conundrum. Buy food - whole, unprocessed food - directly from farmers.
A quotation from Melanie Boldt of Pine View Farms all-natural poultry farm speaks to the squeeze a typical American or Canadian farmer faces:
When people choose to buy the cheapest food they can find ... that choice has an impact right back to the farmer. People say they don't want genetically modified food or pesticides, but the farmer has to use those tools when forced to survive on razor thin margins.
Nettie Wiebe, Via Campesina representative, Delisle, Saskatchewan, said:
I have worked with rural leaders from many parts of the world. When we compare experiences, it is clear that agriculture everywhere is being reordered through trade agreements and financial instruments. Peasants in poorer countries are under pressure to use their best land for raising specialty crops for export. Others are simply displaced as their local markets for staple foods are taken over by cheaper imports from industrialized countries. This destroys traditional food cultures and undermines the autonomy and food security of peoples.
Genuine food security requires food sovereignty. The Via Campesina is leading the global struggle for food sovereignty because we recognize that food security can only be achieved if food production is broadly based, environmentally sustainable, and locally controlled. This means that peasants must have access to land, seed and water and that the rights of people to produce their own food must be protected.
Food sovereignty treats food as the basis of life and culture, not just another commodity.
Jennifer Shrock says:
If I had to put what I believe about food and the environment into two words of advice, I would say this: Celebrate hope.
If you can find a farm, a market, a store where you can see that love for the earth and for future generations is a priority, sell all that you have and buy their food. If you can find friendly faces in your local food system who are willing to go beyond public relations and discuss tough questions, hug them! If you can smell the Spirit of God on their sweet potatoes, buy 20 pounds! Eat these potatoes with gusto, thanking God that someone, somewhere has a vision.
Celebrate hope everyone! Very best regards,