Aquilegia formosa

what I’ve been up to January 23, 2010

…because I haven’t been blogging. 🙂

I’ve been working away diligently at being a mom and at being an awesome social worker.

I’ve been reading lots of blogs about yummy, frugal, local meals:

I’ve been thinking and researching local food (on the ‘net) and the academic literature around this whole food movement. I picked up a few books from my university’s library. They are:

  • The Slow Food Story by Geoff Andrews, 2008.
  • French Beans and Food Scares: Culture and Commerce in an Anxious Age by Susanne Freidberg, 2004.
  • Outgrowing the Earth: the Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures by Lester R. Brown, 2004.
  • Diet for a Dead Planet: How the Food Industry is Killing Us by Christopher D. Cook, 2004.

I didn’t have much time at the library, so I just grabbed according to publication date and then interest in the title or back jacket blurb. I don’t know that I’m going to read them all – I really don’t have a lot of time, I have papers to write on a few different subjects. Diet for a Dead Planet sounds a little grim for me , but the back jacket quotes Frances Moore Lappe (author of Diet for a Small Planet, a cookbook I remember fondly from my childhood) about how the book can “motivate change before it’s too late… we don’t have to be victims.” So I read self-empowerment in that, a bottom-up, grassroots approach to changing food production. Outgrowing the Earth seems like it will be similar, but with a global warming, population surging, environmental science approach, rather than a political, economic, health care approach to the topic. I’m not too into grim, scary, however. I don’t need all the evidence recounted to me, I find it overwhelming and depressing. I’d rather skip right to the ‘what to do’ chapters.

The Slow Food Story seems interesting so far; I’ve read half of the chapter on the history of the movement, in Italy in the 70’s as an offshoot of leftist political action. I like that premise – that the pleasure taken in eating well can be a political action. That by making ethical food choices, I am making a political statement. That is empowering to me because I feel like I have no political clout in this country, even though I exercise my democratic right to vote. My vote counts for squat because of the party system. By participating in the politics of food production, I’m participating in direct democracy. This might be the book to focus on for this semester.

I also read a few great blog posts about packaged foods, quitting grocery shopping, and the ethics of raising chickens and buying seeds. These posts have got me thinking so much, I’m planning separate blog posts about each topic. I am fascinated by ethics. I’ve taken a couple of courses at my university on ethics, “morality and politics” and “ethics and public policy.” (The prof who taught those is currently teaching “environmental ethics” which I would have loved to take, if it hadn’t conflicted with a course required for my degree.) I think this journey I’ve begun is heavily related to doing what I think is right, moral, ethical. I think we have a responsibility, a duty of care, to one another and to this planet. If we are doing things that are killing plants, animals, ecosystems, entire human cultures, we are doing things that are wrong.

But are we doing harm intentionally? And do we see the harm we’re doing? Are we responsible for discovering and rectifying the damage? Can we compel others to do the same?

Thinking deep thoughts, that’s what I’ve been up to.

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farmer’s market, fresh greens January 17, 2010

Filed under: Food,Garden,Sustainable — aquilegiaformosa @ 1:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been doing a bit of research on the ol’ ‘net into possible sources of local food. Turns out, this isn’t the best time of year to be diving into this! Of course I already knew this, but I had a bit of hope for something out of season. I’ve discovered a few great links for the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley areas. Firstly, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has a page listing winter markets. According to this, I could hit up the Abbotsford market on Jan 30th and the Mission market on Feb 13th.  Abby’s also got a couple of March dates, and both have some April dates. My school is in Abby, not too far away from this market, but it operates on Sunday, so it may not be worth the trip on it’s own. My dad lives in Mission, so that market could be combined with a visit.

My local farmer’s market, in White Rock, has winter market days April 4th and May 2nd, and is open every week from Father’s Day to Thanksgiving. The 2009 vendor list included Maluma Bison, which is listed as selling sausages and smokies. I’m excited to see what’ll be there this year – maybe some good connections to locally raised meat?!

Other markets that are close to my neighbourhood and the places I often find myself driving are: the Langley market, starting July 8th, running Wednesdays from 3 to 7 pm; the Ladner Village market (with over 140 vendors over 3 city blocks, on June 13th & 27th, July 11th & 25th, Aug 8th & 22nd and Sept 8th, might be worth a visit or two just for the sheer density of vendors, and could be combined with a visit to West Coast Seeds), and the Surrey market in Whalley, running  from June to September on Wednesday afternoons starting at 1pm.

Still, not too much happening in January! However, I’ve still a bit of kale and Swiss chard growing in my back garden, and we had a nice helping of kale sauteed with carrots and yellow peppers with dinner on Thursday night. Also, I’ve started sprouting some seeds in my kitchen. I’ve got onion, alfalfa, sunflower and mung, all from Thompson & Morgan seed co., which I bought last spring from a local nursery. I’ve also got some wheat berries I purchased in the bulk section at Choices ( a local yuppie organic grocery chain), probably conventionally farmed and shipped from who knows how far away – I’m going to try sprouting those ones, too. Once I’ve used up that batch, I’ll see if I can find a more local, ethical, sustainable source for my sprouting seed.

And soon, if this post is any indication, I can begin starting spinach seed indoors to cut and to transplant into the garden under row covers at the beginning of March. I’m getting very excited for the growing season ahead!