Locavores

From the last ish of the Mud Creek News:

COMMUNITY FARM
By letter dated June 10, 2009 the Community Farm asked the Town to contribute $6000.00 toward the farm manager’s salary.  The Community Farm made a presentation to Council on Oct. 10th which was very well received.  As to CF’s request for money, they were told  make the request during the next year’s budget process which has only now just begun. (Somehow $3000.00 was found for Acadia U pool improvements and $20,000.00 for a new projector at the Al Whittle mid-fiscal year.)  The Community Farm now does not have the funds to hire even one coordinator.  Last year there were three.    A fundraising event will be held at the Al Whittle Theatre on Feb. 13th.
The push comes from that eat local food fad.
“Eat local” is the latest intellectual fad on the Left Coast. These “locavores,” as adherents like to call themselves, want you to eat only food grown near where you live — say, within 100 miles of your home. The goal, in theory, is to foster “sustainable agriculture,” to lower the carbon footprint of your food (which generally travels thousands of miles from farm to kitchen table), and consequently get that warm-and-fuzzy back-to-the-earth type feeling.
How familiar does that sound? But it’s so very California.
This little detail is significant because California is just about the only state in the entire union that has the climate and the soil to grow such a wide variety of produce that it could even theoretically support its current population with “locally grown” food.
Like our (often inappropriate) architecture [Acadia’s Science Bldg?]  it seems we are importing California style to Nova Scotia.Talk about invasive alien species!
One of the original and still most famous champions of the local food movement is Alice Waters, owner of Berkeley’s legendary Chez Panisse restaurant and pioneer of “California cuisine.” But she’s more than just that: In recent years she’s transformed herself into an educational reformer, promoting her ideas about sustainability through something called the “Edible Schoolyard Project,” which basically boils down to the introduction of gardening as a core curriculum in American public schools.
Sound familiar? The idea has been scathingly debunked [in an article entitled Cultivating Failure] but we suspect the critique is falling on deaf ears.
And elitist? You bet. This comment is no less true in Wolfville than in Berkely.
And that, actually, is the flaw in the whole “sustainable food” movement. For various economic reasons, organic food, sustainable food and even locally grown food is almost always more expensive than food produced in massive bulk by large agribusiness concerns. As a result, only the wealthy and the dilettantes can afford to dally with the pricey hobby of eating locally. The average person — and especially poor people and disadvantaged minorities — can’t afford the $5/pound organic vegetables sold by local farms.
But reality is so ugly isn’t it. Fantasy is so much nicer. The ideologues hope that getting in touch with the land, with hard work and fresh air, students will suddenly be transformed into vegetable loving, organic, Green giants  … well, this kind of re-education in the countryside didn’t work for Mao either did it?
Students were streaming away from the campus, and it seemed like every single one of them had fled the Edible Schoolyard and went directly to the nearby corner stores and bakeries where they had bought and were now eagerly scarfing decidedly non-organic and non-local food — like ice cream bars … contrary to what the administrators had hoped for and predicted, not a single student was hanging out in the garden once classes were over. Those who wanted after-school physical activity instead were all down on the playground training to be on the basketball team. …
They’ll still prefer doritos. But they eat better in the cafeteria, at least? No, think again.
The project’s administrators originally imagined that the garden would supply food to the school cafeteria, but due to safety regulations and other bureaucratic problems, they must now concede that “produce grown in the garden is not used for school lunch.” But even without the regulations getting in the way, the garden still does not produce enough food to feed the entire school for even one day out of the whole year, much less on a continuous basis. The kids who work in the garden only ever eat the food they grow in what seems like carefully stage-managed symbolic meals every now and then around harvest time.

Such is our prediction for the Community Farm whether or not they wangle funding for a co-ordinator. It didn’t even work for Michelle Obama.

If you can’t pull off the fantasy for a single propaganda meal, how can you possibly sustain the dream of kids growing their own food all year long?

Apart from the naivete of the whole project, why the town should subsidise Acadia’s food costs and support hobby [inexperienced] farmers who will compete with real [experienced, yet struggling] local farmers is beyond us. But then why we as taxpayers should be forced to contribute to any number of ill-conceived projects [as well as the Hospice or Habitat for Humanity or Al Whittle Theatre] is also beyond us. Tax money should go towards those things which benefit the whole community and for which there is historic consensus – streets, lighting, schools, recreation facilities, and basic services like policing, waste management, and snow plowing. [If town staff, or councillors or the mayor find that boring, they should go work somewhere else.] With frugal tax management we would all have many more discretionary dollars in our pocket to give to our favorite causes – which can be any fad/charity/activity we care to support.
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7 responses to “Locavores

  1. If they were feeding one and one other, it might work for more people, but it is difficult when you go to the community garden and expect to harvest a nice vegetable to find someone else has been there first and taken what you have so carefully nurtured. Nobody wants to sit there all night with a bow and arrow, protecting their squash. People will steal and throw things. They are not stealing vegetables to feed their families.

  2. A very good point, Betty.

    What is amusing [and also galling] to us is that it seems these people have no understanding of the work involved in truly eating locally. We don’t think they’d like it. Do they remember when there wasn’t the “back up” of a global food distribution system? Do they know what a root cellar is? Do they know how carrots or apples taste in Feb or March after 3 or 4 months of storage [if they survived that long]? Do they remember how much canning, and bottling and salting was necessary to have any kind of diversity in a meal?
    Of course one will buy “fresh” when it is reasonable but there is no reason to make it into a cult. And if they wish to try it on their own dime, or sign up for PBS’s Pioneer Life, fine. We just resent being forced to subsidize it, or having someone foist this myth on our children..

  3. I don’t know much about the CF so I checked their website. Apparently they produced 1500 lb of produce last year. They had 40 volunteers to help with the work.

    Let’s see… that’s $6000 to grow 1500 lb. So that’s $4 for each lb of produce. At harvest time, you get a much better deal from our local commercial growers — without raising a sweat!

    Look, I’ve got nothing against a bunch of people getting together for a feel-good exercise. It’s just that I sort of resent it when Mr Stead takes my money to finance someone else’s feel-good thingy. The rotten sod never does anything to make me feel good!

    Dear Mr Stead, let me keep my money and I’ll pick up a few cobs of corn from Mr Stirling.

  4. I love bananas, oranges, avacados. I will not stop eating them. This is just another exercise in the left wing, wing nuts to make themselves feel good. They can grow their veggie in the three pools on Main St. Wonder what Mr. Stead eats?

  5. Trying to grow our own food is a completely wacko idea. What are these hippy dippy fools going to come up with next?
    Who would want to eat some of the food they consume that was grown within walking distance when we can all just continue to eat pesticide infused vegetables shipped from China. There is an endless amount of oil out there to continue this life style and I have yet to see any signs of global issues when burning lots of fossil fuels.
    I agree, we should not consider supporting any new idea which might increase our own self sufficiency. That kind of crap was only needed hundreds of years ago. We can confidently rely on oil powered distribution systems forever.
    The real question is when can we come up with a food pill that contains oil based genetically modified vitamins, enzymes and other nutrients all in one daily capsule? This kind of research is where I want my tax dollars spent!
    Farming is an out dated concept which should never be talked about or practiced by anyone locally. Our soils may be rich in capacity, but growing food should be done in countries as far away from us as possible for no logical reasoning at all. I know lots about agriculture so you should trust what I’m saying. Also I read an article online one time that said this single community garden somewhere in the states didn’t work out as well as planned. Therefore every community farming effort is hopelessly doomed and has no chance of success.

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