Monday, 15 October 2007

Blogging for the Environment - Blog Action Day

I'm not one for joining too many group blog activities, but when I noticed on Blogger Buzz that Monday was to be a Blog Action Day on the environment, I thought I would give it a go, particularly since I've been thinking I should write something about my reasons for eating seasonal, local food as much as I do, if only to clarify my own thinking.

I started this blog just because it seemed to be a good time to do so, not because I had suddenly discovered the joys of eating locally. I've made eating local food a priority from the time I first left home, closer to 30 years ago than I care to think about. Perhaps that's why I focused on Ontario food, rather than limiting myself to the currently fashionable 100 mile radius, and why I am aiming for 80% Ontario food rather than 100%. It's what I have found to be - to use another current buzzword - sustainable.

Thirty years ago, my reasons for buying local food were more economical and political than environmental, although that was certainly a factor. Even then I was appalled by the unrestrained sprawl that was overtaking southern Ontario.*

A great deal of debate is going on at the moment about carbon footprints and whether local food necessarily has a better carbon footprint than imported food. The answer seems to be that although it often does, it is by no means guaranteed. But it seems to me that while this is an important question, it leaves out some very major issues, which to me boil down to a question of control. If we are ever going to have any kind of balance between agricultural and (sub)-urban Ontario; if we are to have any kind of say in what kind of inputs are used in the agriculture that produces the food we eat and which have enormous effects on the environment and our own health, if we are to have any hope that the workers who grow our food have protection under the law, if we are to even have any idea what the issues that affect our food are, we have no choice but to eat locally produced food. Not that it's exactly a hardship, and one of my main aims with this blog is to show that.

On a more spiritual and philosophical note, I regard eating local food as part of an attempt to live where I am. That may even be the unofficial motto of this blog: Live where you are. Living where you are calls upon the traditions of Buddhist mindfulness, of Quaker simplicity, of the universal need for connectedness to your community. Living where you are lets you look into the faces of the farmers, the land and even the food that sustains you. It's important.

* Nowadays, I become suicidally depressed when I drive down the QEW and see what has happened to the Niagara peninsula - and what's about to happen to the 401 between Toronto and Kitchener, and I harbour secret fantasies of running away to Saskatchewan. But there's no escape, really, is there?

1 comment:

Al said...

Your post resonates emotionally with my own experience. Each time I drive out of Toronto it takes longer to leave behind the bleak brick suburban environment that every day stretches further into our rich and irreplaceable farmland. You've clearly stated the key to our sane survival, live where you and stay connected with your community.