Things, they are a changing.
The proposed changes outlined in this article from today’s Calgary Herald gives me hope for a better food production system in Alberta. Slowly but surely it can happen.
The headline in the above article “warns” that it will take time and be costly for farmers to change to more humane ways of raising their animals. But, here’s the thing, if they never start, we’ll never get there. It sounds like the writing is on the wall (or at least a brief memo) for the industrialized food system that treats our food like widgets in a machine. People are finally becoming aware that you can’t crank out pigs, chickens, eggs, cattle, goats, lambs, bison and elk without harming them and without harming the health of our populace. All food takes time, care and attention to produce.
I start my week of grocery shopping at one of our three-year round Farmer’s Markets – Kingsland, Calgary Farmer’s Market and/or Crossroads Market. It’s changed my life. I buy less more often. I plan what we are going to eat for a few days at a time. I find I waste much less this way. When I need a bit of milk or bread in between, I stop at the Calgary Co-op by my son’s school or one of the brilliant independent organic grocers we are blessed to have in Calgary. I cut up my Costco card. I will go to Superstore for paper goods and some bulk things. I respect the quality of some of their products but I don’t buy Galen Weston Jr’s sales pitch about the mothership of Loblaw’s being truly local. I’d love to learn which of my small careful Alberta farming friends they are buying from. The commodity “widget beef” they buy from XL meats does not count.
Do you want to know why this is a priority for me?
It’s because my life changed when I started volunteering for Slow Food International’s Calgary Chapter. I finally realized that farmers who are actually my neighbours are dedicating their lives to growing my food. I visited them at their farms. I saw the work it takes. It blew me away. It still does.
I take people to farms every summer to meet our wonderful growers. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes the farmers cry. Everyone is so amazed about the love and care that goes into growing food. By the time we leave a farm, everyone cares and their buying practices are changed forever just like mine. There’s no going back and I would not have it any other way.
The future of our food lies in the health of our farmers and what grows on their farms. Every time I sit down to eat something my farmer friends have grown for me, I think of all the farmers I know and how hard they work. Believe me when I tell you, I savour my food.