Vote NDP if you care about Food.
Food Quality, Food Security..
Doesn’t anyone care?
I can't help but notice that Jack is the only one to have mentioned farming, specifically the disappearing small family farm. In addressing ways to help young farmers get started, I got the impression he had a notion about this country's food issues. His party has also brought up environmental issues more than the others, and this is integral to our food chain. Ok, so Duceppe visited a family farm too this week (eight days later), so vote Bloc second.
For access to good food and a sustainable future, we need to farm locally, and for that, we need available land, good soil, healthy bees, a diversity of seeds, fair prices, and a government that favours local communities and small producers over the industrial system and foreign interests.
As it is, our dependence on petrol soaked industrial food has resulted in an unsustainable system that has degraded food quality, the environment and farm communities, making it next to impossible for our best farmers to survive.
Altogether, our food system needs attention and no one seems to care, certainly because most voters and politicians are city dwellers, disconnected from the source of their food. Taking the abundance for granted, unaware that everything good is in jeopardy. Not enough people have spoken with a farmer recently, read enough Michael Pollan or picked up Sarah Elton’s all Canadian Locavore I guess, to notice how AFU our food chain is.
But imagine not being able to choose what you eat! All GMO, only packaged in China, or by Kraft. Not ever knowing the difference between something picked by hand, carefully made and tended to by someone you can meet.. Not having access to peak of the season strawberries or corn, not having control over our food supply when it counts. Maybe then, people would revolt. But, that’s where we are headed.
While there is a promising mini-wave toward organic and local with farmer’s markets, CSA’s, supported by a blossoming group of patriotic/ethically minded/hedonistic gourmands , and chefs embracing terroir cuisine, small farms are still closing. Talented, passionate producers are struggling. Urban development is swallowing up farmland. Bottom line - Most people still shop at the superstores, addicted to cheap imports. Look how hard it is to find local garlic for god’s sake. Garlic grows well here; it’s just that no one can make a living doing it. Our short growing season, and relatively high labour costs don’t help. Same for so many other things. At Les Jardins Sauvages, we do mushrooms and we would have to take a 100% loss to compete with imports when it comes to dried, sometimes even fresh. But it's not the same thing.
More than that, it is the effect of big corporations and mass production dominating our food source landscape that is more troubling, not only diminishing flavour and personality, but making it impossible for the guy next door. The kind of enterprise you would ideally rather buy from because you would know what he's doing and he would have to answer for it if he's doing something wrong - well, he can't compete. All the laws and systems are made for big players - the economy over food quality. Perhaps that explains the government favouring big corp and sterile food.. With their trade policies, economy markers, fears of litigation, the easier the better.. Economies of scale might make sense for some things, but not when it comes to food.
Despite all this, in Quebec, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of most of the country in terms of fostering a modern culinary heritage that speaks of place; we have our ‘terroir’, our celebrity chefs, our cheese, farm fresh vegetables, Montreal melons and maple syrup, foie gras, lamb and venison, alongside the traditional dishes to proudly riff on like tourtiere, ragout de pattes, poutine and so much more. Every restaurant and boutique trumpets ‘Cuisine or Produits de Terroir’. There are many extraordinary producers with an army of fans beyond chefs. Strangely enough, though, most still fight to make ends meet. In reality, most restaurateurs don’t fully walk the walk, still relying on big suppliers and a lot of industrial meat and imported veg; this is not advertised on their menus. They would need to charge more and customers aren’t willing to pay more. The small producers remain marginalized despite all this amazing ‘terroir’ cuisine. Home cooks aren’t worrying about them either, reheating processed food, grilling a Costco steak, seeing 3$/lb pork at the supermarket and thinking this is normal..
Until it all blows up in our faces.. When gas costs so much that industrial food is no longer so cheap, and there are enough intoxications or food scares to drive people to naturally raised animals, organic veg and food from traceable sources close to home, then everyone will want the local stuff. But then, there might not be enough farmers with good land, seeds and know-how to provide.
We need to encourage local food producers, and government policy should favour them over big agri-business by forcing the greedy giants to internalize the environmental costs. Imports should be regulated at least as rigorously as locally made products. I don’t think free trade is all that good for our food. We should be paying more for our food, only for better food. Farmers should be able to live a decent life, they should be valued. Why should a trained, knowledgeable, hardworking pillar of society make less than a cashier? It makes no sense. Really, why is an actor, hockey player, doorman or secretary so much better than a farmer?
I would have liked a Mme.Payé moment to ask the candidates about agriculture/food policy. Not much is as important as our food; we eat daily; our health and joy, our general well being depends on it. I don’t believe in ‘the economy’ at all costs. We need not be dependent on the economy if we can feed ourselves. We have to think long term.
In fact, we don’t even have to think too hard – just tuning into our taste buds, stomach, heart and common sense after a clear look at the status quo, there is no doubt that big change is necessary. We can preserve the last of the little guys doing something good and bolster the young innovators with ideas about urban farming and greenhouses. We should be encouraging the few daring enough to go back to the land while everyone swarms to the city expecting to get fed without a second thought. We have all it takes to build a solid and tasty Canadian foodshed, but we need the average person and politician to give a shit, or we’ll be sorry.
I want a government that will make progress more likely. In the mean time, and most importantly, it is about all of us choosing good food and supporting our local producers, shunning the industrial system, day to day. Even if it means withholding on that latest Ipad or pair of stylish shoes.
I say vote NDP. Or Bloc. But more than anything, I want you to vote with your dollar every time you buy food. Go to the market. At the market, favour the farmers over the dealers. If you don’t live close to a market, subscribe to a CSA. If you don’t know a farmer or producer, make a point of meeting one. Date one if possible. It will change you. Get gardening or at least cooking from scratch.. Hang out with people who do. Think about your food and where it comes from, and fully appreciate it. Be willing to pay more for good food that is carefully made in terms of quality, with respect to the environment because it is real food that tastes good! If you go to the supermarket, read labels, ask questions. Buy local! Eat with a conscience; choose a restaurant that has a conscience when you eat out. Revive old traditions and have fun at the table. It's easy and delicious to embrace slowfood - what is fresh, local, fair and organic (in spirit anyway) is what tastes best, what feels right. If we all did this, the right people and businesses would thrive, we wouldn’t even need government. Unfortunately we do.
Simply put, the Green Party of Canada plans to create thousands of jobs through investment in renewable energy, expanding passenger rail and modernizing freight, along with retrofitting thousands of buildings to high standards for energy efficiency.
As for economic stimulus, their platform proposes to expand access to employment insurance for those who paid into it, while protecting the pensions of retired Canadians. As well, under the leadership of Elizabeth May, the Greens want to reduce unemployment insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions for businesses.
I know the GreenParty is a good choice; I voted Green last time. But I guess I'm too eager for change, the NDP really has a chance, and I like Jack.
Really, it comes down to 'Anything but Harper!'
Of course, I understand worries about increasing taxes and gripes about poor management of our money. Even if I am as left as they get, I cringe at how much the government takes from a single girl like me and a small business like ours. It is so frustrating how inefficient a machine the government is - we could never get away with it in our line of work. Yet, I remain an idealist and I'm quite sure the NDP would spend our money better than the Conservatives. Although torn on the subject, I think I worry more about everything being privatized - there aren't enough ethical businessmen in this world.
It is insane and not good for anyone long term that big business/corps have so much power globally and in our current system. I say tax the shit out of them, not the average person or small business. At least chop their subsidies. Carbon tax yes. Make it harder for all to pollute and exploit and destroy for a buck. The fabric of our local communities, our land, our innovators, artists and artisans, all the best things about life are threatened by this. It isn't by bringing in big ass foreign companies who don't give a damn about us for a few jobs that you secure a healthy economy or sustainable future. In a proper climate that favours small business with personality and conscience, we can create more, better paid jobs, and a better quality of life all round. If people bought their food from a farmer, got their stereo repaired at the corner shop or got their shoes from a local shoemaker who could mend them when need be, instead of going out and buying cheap stereos and shoes from China every year, there could be plenty of jobs and less junk dumped.
As it is, the laws favour agri-business; with all their demands in paperwork, fees, equipment and labelling and etc - I need to make millions of jars of anything to justify it which we can't and don't want to do. Same with a farmer with a few heads of venison, lamb or pintade; there are no more small abbatoirs to accomodate them without complicated scheduling and excessive cost. All to mitigate handmade anything and diversity. It's been proven that this is the best way in cultivation and the only way with organics. Monocultures and assembly lines are 'productive', economic, but no good. The superstores aren't willing to go with a local small producer, it's too complicated. Equally, when it comes to so many other things - textiles, wool, candles, furniture made by talented people next door, all disappearing. Then that guy has to go out west to find work in the sketchy oil fields - c'mon, it is AFU. Maybe I'm dreaming about the good old days, but things do have to change, even if it is slowly. If everyone is scared about their pocketbooks all the time, we will never get anywhere. Perhaps we need to give up a few stupid luxuries like cheap TVs, SUV's, processed food and be forced to consider the value of things. We will end up richer if we have access to quality fresh food, if we have neighbours who can provide most of everything else, as long as we have a family doctor and bank that is controlled.
Even with a stellar performance, the NDP would be stifled, forced to move center; they are likely not ready anyhow. A coalition obviously, inevitably represents this vast, divided country the best, but will certainly be frustratingly inefficient again. What can you do, that's democracy. We shouldn't forget that we are lucky in the big picture.
Now that it seems unlikely that Harper will get a majority, I think any scenario, however imperfect, will be better than the status quo. And although I still don't have a family doctor, I care more about food, local farmers and small businesses like ours surviving.