August 31, 2015
By Christine Hills
The first day of the three-day PWRDF Sharing Bread – Calgary food security workshop was much more than a learning experience. It was delicious; surprising; moving; discouraging; full of hope.
Rod Olson, the Refugee Coordinator for the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada and SPIN-farmer (spin=small plot intensive farming of city dwellers’ yards), set the perfect tone. He affirmed that we are a forgiven and redeemed people who have been given the responsibility to do our best to heal and care for this earth and all that it includes. The good news is that there has been some progress toward meeting the first UN Millennium Goal: eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. The bad news is that while the number of hungry people has been reduced by more than half, this statistic measures only those people who have been hungry for 12 consecutive months.
Today we were confronted over and over with the personal, communal and environmental benefits of buying local food – all “real food” because it was grown by area farmers who know their land, gardens and animals personally. I was confronted by the documentary “Fresh” (www.freshthemovie.com) advocating for healthier, more sustainable food. It shows massive monocultures of chickens, grains, cows. These industries use huge amounts of non-renewable energy, antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides. They produce cheap food as well as polluted land, air and water. This is a big business whose bottom line is profit. The documentary also showed an alternative, farmers on smaller pieces of land who rotate crops, feed cows as the herbivores they were created to be, uses cow dung to fertilize the land and to help feed the chickens and turkeys.
And of course we ate delicious local food from Sundre, High River, Brooks, and Taber, prepared by Rita and Jerremie Clyde, members of the Sharing Bread planning team who are also active with YYC Growers and Distributors, a not-for-profit strategic alliance of urban/SPIN farmers and entrepreneurs involved in food growing (http://www.yycgrowers.com).