Some Benefits and Drawbacks for Local Food – A reaction Part II

In the article I mentioned yesterday, it covers some benefits, but also discusses some problems with the local food systems in place.

To start off, here are the good things the author mentions:

  1. Environmental benefits through more sustainable production systems reduce transport externalities – in this case, they eliminate food kilometers or food miles in the process of eliminating the greenhouse gases produced when transporting goods.
  2. Economic benefits though greater incomes for farmers and more financial contributions to local economies – Farmers are able to cut out the intermediary and sell directly to the consumers, receiving a majority of the profit.
  3. Social benefits through greater trust and connectedness between and within consumers and producer groups – people are more likely to eat well when they make conscious decisions about food.

The author also touches on some issues that need to be fixed before local food can be in any policy.

  • Problems with diseconomies of scale – how can local farmers compete with multinational cash crops?
  • Problems with personal work benefits and aspirations – when people are attracted to greater incomes it is hard for people to stay in their local business.
  • Problems with upstream and downstream jobs – how many jobs will be lost in the supply chain?
  • Problems with energy efficiency – how can small food businesses be encouraged to be energy efficient?
  • Problems with pathogenic bacteria – can localized food business protect from bacteria? What if it wipes out a crop?
  • Problems with policies – in what way can policies be adopted to help local food systems?

What do you think of these problems? Can they be fixed? Tweet me @OliviaRutt or leave a comment

Some Benefits and Drawbacks of Local Food: A reaction Part I

So, I found this article that really laid out the good and bad of local food. This article was written in the UK for the University of Essex, although it makes mention to North America. For me, this article was written to urbanites, or rural people that don’t own enough land to farm.

It goes into detail about the options for localizing food and the relationship between farmers and consumers.

Of its nine choices for people to get local food, I realized there were those options in my area!

Community Supported Agriculture – consumers pay growers for a share of the total farm produce, and growers provide a weekly share of food of a guaranteed quality and quantity. The Ignatius Jesuit Centre is a community shared farm outside of Guelph, Ontario. One of its main ideas centres around a community farm and selling shares for its crop yield.

Box Schemes – emphasise that payment is not just for the food, but for support of the farm as a whole. They are able to give jobs to more people.

Farmer’s Groups – these farms are used in a way that everyone contributes their knowledge to one farm.

Consumer Groups and Cooperatives – consumer groups are an important way to get good food to urban groups with no direct access to farms and the countryside.

Farmer’s Markets – sell produce directly to a consumer; also include farm shops and pink-your-own enterprises. Brantford has a wonderful farmer’s market right in the heart of the city.

Community Gardens – home gardens and allotments have long been important for home food production. They provide food for poorer urban groups and other important products such as wood, flowers, and herb. Brantford also has a community garden, where you can buy plots to plant for harvest or plant flowers. They also have a shed where any leftover food goes, and you can purchase it.

Clear Labeling – this option is to answer the question: can the food on the shelves be trusted? With clear labeling, or local food can solve this.

Food Webs and Local Shops – where have all the mom and pop shops gone? When shops move out of towns and villages, something important is lost. Mom and pop shops had people more conscientious about what they were eating.

Slow Food system – is all about slowing down the pace in communities. It started in Italy over concerns about fast food. They seek to protect local production from being driven into extinction by global brands. To do this they increase pedestrian zones, reduce traffic, encourage restaurants to offer local products, directly support local farmers, increase green spaces in cities, and conserve local aesthetic traditions.

In Part II I discuss the problems that this article has come up with dealing with local food.

How have you used the local food systems in your area? Tweet me @OliviaRutt or leave a comment.

Out Of the Garden: BBQ Potatoes

BBQ Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple in the Canadian diet. That is not necessarily a good thing, as starch is just another form of sugar. So instead of making French Fries, mashed potatoes, or double baked potatoes, make this really amazing and yummy side dish.

All you need is:

  • 1 Yukon gold potato per guest. Use Yukon golds because the skin is very thin and is usually eaten. If you don’t have those in your garden, that is okay.
  • Garlic olive oil
  • Lots of thyme (we use fresh from our herb garden)
  • And salt and pepper

All you need to do is:

  1. Put the potatoes in the microwave – 5-6 minute per 3 potatoes
  2. Cut them in half brush with garlic olive oil on the cut side
  3. Add salt and pepper and lots of thyme
  4. Place face down on BBQ
  5. Until cooked and cut side is toasted

Enjoy the yummy potato recipe, It’s my favourite!

Food Prices

Where does the money you spend on food go?

Although this is US dollars and US spending, Canadians should still think about their food dollars. In Canada, especially in the northern regions, food can be much more expensive because of transportation costs.

If those who could bought local, the food dollar would be going directly to the farmer.

What do you think? Is this an accurate way to depict where the money goes? Tweet me @OliviaRutt or leave me a comment.

Click the image for larger image

The 411 on GMOs

Okay, so talking about food, GMOs are bound to enter the conversation. Honestly, After reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, I am terrified of any genetically engineered anything even medicine! But, since we live in the real world, not her very scary realistic future world, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about GMOs.

What are GMOs?

GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms and can mean anything whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering. When talking about food, this can mean a type of food organism that has been altered to produce longer yields, drought resistance, more nutrients, or resistance to diseases.

Who uses GM foods?

In Canada, according to Greenpeace, seventy per cent of processed foods in grocery stores contain or may contain GE ingredients.

Why there is resistance to it?

GMOs and their techniques are still highly experimental and fail to take into account the incredibly delicate and complex relationship of genes to organisms and organisms to the environment, says Greenpeace

Why are they good? According to Non-GMO Project:

  • Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
  • Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
  • Are strictly regulated for safety
  • Increase crop yields
  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
  • Bring economic benefits
  • Benefit the environment
  • Can help solve problems caused by climate change
  • Reduce energy use
  • Will help feed the world

Why are they bad? According to Non-GMO Project:

  • Genetically Engineered crops can have loss of biodiversity.
  • Potentially harmful effects of GE organisms may only be discovered when it is too late
  • Corporations are producing sterile terminator seeds
  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods,
  • and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

It is a complicated ethical question. So are you GMO foodies, or are you opposed?

Tweet me your thoughts @OliviaRutt or comment below!

If you want to learn more about Greenpeace’s GMO campaign go HERE

If you want to learn about Non-GMO Project go HERE

And you can download the Canadian GMO fact sheet from them HERE

Out of the Garden: Brussels Sprouts

Okay, so my last post inspired me to write about different but yummy recipes on food we can grow right here in Southern Ontario!

Lets start with the B- word: Brussels Sprouts. EWW! ya, that is what I though too, until my wonderful Grandmother made this recipe! Ontario is great for growing Brussels sprouts, we have the best climate for it next to, well, Brussels. So in case you think, hey, Brussels sprouts aren’t that gross and have a great amount growing in your garden, here is an amazing recipe from my very own grandmother. I can’t get enough of it, and I hate Brussels Sprouts.

All you need is:

  • 10-20 Brussels sprouts
  • Sprinkle of Olive oil and Butter
  • 2 pinches garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar

All you need to do is:

  1. Shred the Brussels sprouts very thin
  2. Heat pan sprinkle olive oil and butter
  3. Add galic salt and sugar and mix together
  4. Add in Brussels sprouts and mix well
  5. Stir it continuously
  6. Cook until tender

Now enjoy a really tasty simple recipe straight from YOUR garden!

Infographic: Your own garden!

This was pretty amazing. If those of us that have the luxury of having an acre or so of land could build a decent hobby farm, we could really be self-sustainable.

However, this all depends on what your family likes to eat. Ours doesn’t eat a lot of wheat, so we would buy flour. My mom would be driven insane by chickens, but my dog would love them.

Our neighbours have a rather small garden that consists of cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and other yummy veggies. It is only about 4-6 square metres. Not big, but we get so much tomatoes and other goodies that we can them. That’s only us! They share with other neighbours too! So having your own is definitely doable!

We also have a herb garden that tastes so yummy in recipes!

For those who don’t have space, maybe a single tomato plant, and a small herb garden would work?

Here is the infographic, click it to see a bigger version.

If you have space what would you include in your garden? Tweet me @OliviaRutt

Globalization vs. Local Food

Check out this argument made by two Globe and Mail writers back in 2010.

The article may be dated, but the information is not. Both parties raise good points for their side of the see-saw.

Globalization: local food is a dated concept, what happens when there are bad crop years, we need to feed 7 billion people, local food is less efficient at producing food, addition of variety with food from around the world, and it is a solution to feeding the world’s starving.

Local Food: industrial food system is unsustainable, why do we outsource products we grow in Canada, tastier and more nutritious, a sense of control of what you put in your body, and loss of genetic diversity due to globalization.

So what do you think?

Globalization or Local Food?

comment or tweet me @OliviaRutt