The way we look at it, how we value it, how we consume it, and how we waste it has changed. Choice, convenience and accessibility – an assault on the senses – getting further disconnected and detached from where our food is coming from. As we walk into a grocery store, the multinational companies are making the purchasing decisions for us. We have every right not to trust where our food is coming from. So, it’s my job with The Paisley Notebook to plant a seed, get people thinking and comfortable enough to ask lots of questions.
With the commercialization of our food system, there’s this sameness in what we are eating. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world anymore, close your eyes and you’re lost – we’ve not only lost our sense of place but a taste of place.
That’s where Slow Food comes in – it’s all about ‘Good’, ‘Clean’ and ‘Fair’ food for everyone – it’s a pledge for a better future by going back to basics. Tied into that are things like food security, holding onto and preserving our food culture and identity, and being mindful about the biodiversity of the soils, eco-system and the land. All that helps to tell our story.
I thought I’d share some insight into my Slow Food thinking, breaking it down briefly section-by-section:
Food that is real, delicious and high quality is what you’re looking for here. From its flavour and smell to the intention behind it without genetically modifying it in any way. When you think about heritage grains or veggies, they may be harder to grow, but they are tastier, better for you and better for the planet. Getting deeper, learning from indigenous peoples from around the world, respecting the land, and asking lots of questions about where your food is coming from.
The goal is for food production to be done in a clean way that’s healthy for the environment and you, rather than harming it. So, that’s everything from farming without herbicides/pesticides (like RoundUp), choices for eco-friendly packaging, and how animals are humanely raised and treated without growth hormones or antibiotics until one bad day.
I think it’s important to point out how our food system is unfortunately linked to the pharmaceutical industry and that’s a bad thing. Firstly, Monsanto produces RoundUp, which kills everything in sight with a single application (except for their GMO seeds, of course), causes cancer and messes with the microbiology of the soils. Not only that but they exploit farmers, especially in the developing world, by promising bigger yields if they use their seeds – yep, all kinds of messed up.
Oh, fairness. This part of the manifesto is about fair working conditions and pay for small-scale producers, liveable wages for staff, and accessible prices for you as a consumer.
Supporting local means our purchasing dollars stay in our local community, which helps our economy, too. But even that has become complicated because of the monopolization and commercialization of our food system and the people behind controlling things like fishing quotas for instance. Check this out: 85% of Canadian seafood is exported, whereas 93% of what is available is imported – meaning we ship out the good stuff for an inflated price and we consume lesser quality fish from someplace else.
Again, it’s really important to ask questions every step of the way and buy from trusted local farmers or producers direct-from-the-source. Fortunately for us, we live in a country that is not only super edible but I think we have everything we need in our Canadian backyard. From heritage grains and wheat, pulses and legumes, wild or humanely raised meats and ocean-friendly seafood to organic fruits and vegetables, oils, hops, and even rice, we have it all.
In conclusion, sustainability and Slow Food is a lot more complicated than it seems. For people to value something, you need to see it, play with it, and experience it as the seasons change to connect the dots for yourself. And that’s when the magic begins. It’s my job to just plant a seed and then the rest is up to you.
Vote with your fork.
Photo Credit: Jessica Zais Photography