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The Source (Jen Lailey) Nov 2005
Now that Hallowee’n is over, many of us are wondering what to do with all these pumpkins. How about eating them? Of course, if they have been carved up or held a burning candle, they may not be an ideal food source but I know there are lots of pumpkins out there on steps, in gardens and at the farmer’s market that could still add some amazing colour, flavour, texture and nutrition to your breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.

But before I get to cooking suggestions, I’d like to tell you a bit more about this cucurbit. That’s right, cucurbit. This is the name of the plant family that includes pumpkins, squash, zucchini, cucumber and melons. Growing melons without a greenhouse in our climate is unrealistic, however, Thunder Bay is a wonderful place to grow the others. Kevin Belluz, whose family has been growing pumpkins in this area for many years, says that in order to be successful, you need to select varieties that require a short growing season and to use as many techniques as possible to enhance the heat we do get. These tricks can include starting from transplants instead of seeds, growing on plastic mulch early in the season (actually at Belluz they plant seeds directly through clear plastic in order to speed germination by raising soil temperatures) and using a sheltered, south facing growing spot. He also says that avoiding over fertilizing is also important in ensuring that plants ripen before first frost.

Besides being fun to grow, pumpkins and squash are a lot of fun to cook with. Even a small “pie” pumpkin provides a lot of pumpkin meat which can be used in soups, pancakes, breads, muffins, cakes, custards, puddings, cookies and last but definitely not least, pies. I have included a couple of recipes here but there are many amazing recipes on the internet, in cookbooks at the library or in magazines. Remember that pumpkins and squash can be used interchangeably in most recipes. You can also try pumpkin puree (see the recipe page) as a substitute for mashed bananas or applesauce in a favourite recipe. Don’t forget to save some seeds from a local pumpkin or squash for planting next spring.

The Source (Jen Lailey) Spring 2006
I find it very exciting to think that the 2006 season of the Thunder Bay Country Market is about to begin. Along with the longer days, green grass peeking through, migrating birds and wet children’s clothing, the fact that the market is soon to begin must surely mean that spring is here.

The market experience means that once again I can buy food that satisfies not only my palate but my conscience. I like to think that by choosing to shop there, I am contributing in however small a way to maintaining a food system that is seriously threatened. The globalization of our food system has left farmers across Canada in crisis. How sad it would be for us in Thunder Bay to lose the cultural richness and connection to our place if our farming community were to fail completely. How sad too, for the farmers.

So, I face spring and the market season with enthusiasm and a sense of purposeful rejuvenation. I miss being in an environment that is dedicated to fresh, flavourful food in a way that supports our community and our land. I miss being able to talk with the very people who grow, raise and make their products.

It has been a long, dark winter without cinnamon buns from the Sunflower Cottage Café and Northern Unique catering (I can’t decide whose I like best), Bogdala’s keilbassa, Thunder Oak Cheese, Both Hands Bread, Teresa’s joyful greeting at the door beside her bountiful herbs and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, Mama Lou’s sausages, local honey, pork, lamb, rabbit, wild boar, smoked fish, goose, duck, Jamaican roti, Thai spring rolls, German Tortes and DeBruin’s tomatoes, greens and herbs. And I haven’t even mentioned the succession of seasonal, field grown fruit and vegetables that mark the passage of the late spring, summer and fall months.

I hope that the market grows ever more popular. Perhaps with enough support there could be market days year round, as in some European countries, even ones with similar climates.

If you are interested in joining in this experience, here is some information you will need. The first market day is April 15th, the next is the 22nd. Then, due to schedule conflicts at the CLE, there is no market until May 13th which will be the official grand opening of the regular market season. A Market Celebration Day is being planned for May 27th at which there will be live music, cooking demonstrations, face painting, draw prizes and more.

A Wednesday market is planned again for this summer. It will be held at Marina Park during the Summer in the Parks concert season. Also, a market day at Lakehead University is being planned for September.

And may I say that it pays to go early as some products are known to disappear by 10 or 11 am. I also recommend going with an empty bag and an open mind. Let yourself be inspired by what you see, smell and taste. Don’t be afraid to try something out of the ordinary like sunchokes or dried elk meat. But most of all, get to know some of the people there; they are local treasures.
Finally, of interest, the executive of the market has been doing some visioning with community input and has begun a strategic planning process to address the issues involved with a growing and expanding market. I look forward to seeing just how they plan to make this adventure even better.

The Source (Kim McGibbon) June 10, 05
Well the sun is shining and there are finally leaves on the trees – so if you are like me your thoughts are turning towards your garden. When planning your garden this year the Food Action Network and Regional Food Distribution Association want to encourage you to plant an extra row – as a part of the Plant a Row – Grow a Row program.

Plant a Row · Grow a Row helps to feed those who are hungry as well as feed the soul of our communities and neighbourhoods. Plant a Row · Grow a Row encourages gardeners to plant, grow and harvest an extra row of vegetables for local food banks and soup kitchens.

Whether your vegetable garden is large or small, why not grow a little extra and donate it. If you and your family are going to a pick your own farm, why not pick an extra basket to donate?
Health Canada recommends eating 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruits everyday. For people living on low-incomes and relying on emergency food programs such as food banks access to fresh foods is very limited.

A recent study completed in Thunder Bay that spoke to users of community-based food assistance found that all emergency food users needed more food than they received. As well, much of the research on emergency food hampers or meals find that they lack fresh fruits and vegetables. Since hampers are filled with non-perishable food items they often rely heavily on rice, pasta, and other grains.

The evidence is strong that eating more vegetables and fruits can help reduce the risk of various cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure and may even help to prevent overweight and obesity. What better reason then to improve the health of our community than to provide fresh produce to those who have a hard time accessing it.

Which crops are the best for you to plant? All produce is needed but some are easier to transport and store. Why not try planting root vegetables like carrots, parsnips or potatoes. Other produce that can be easily handled include broccoli, cabbage, peas, beans, and summer squash.

Don’t forget if you have apple or pear trees with fruit you will not be using that too would be a welcome donation. If you have trouble picking them the Food Action Network gleaning program may be able to help call 625-5956 and we will see if we can get volunteer pickers to come.

The grow a row program is happening across the country. To find out more about what other communities are doing see their website If you would like to get more involved locally please contact me at the number listed below. And finally, in the future we would like to keep track of the donations by having all the food dropped off at the RFDA warehouse so we can weigh the total food donated. At the end of the gardens season other groups across the country phone in their numbers to let them know the total poundage donations for inclusion in the national figures.
To find out drop off locations see the brochure listing RFDA members on our website or call 625-5956 to have one mailed to you. tbdhu

The Source (Janice Piper) January 06
Salmon is a source of high quality protein and rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends eating fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel 2 –3 times per week as a good way to increase omega-3 fats in your diet to prevent heart disease. However, when health conscious consumers hear media reports about farmed salmon containing more contaminants than wild salmon they are not sure if it is safe to eat. The answer is complex and it depends on whom you ask.

It seems that the concentrated feed of farmed salmon contains more contaminants than the feed of wild salmon.. As well, farmed salmon are generally bigger and contain more fat than wild salmon. Contaminants such as PCB’s are stored in fat and remain there for an extended period of time. They are man-made industrial chemicals in widespread use, for example in electrical transformers, for machinery lubrication, and flame retardants. They have become more strictly regulated as their harmful effects have become evident. There are trace amounts of PCB’s in many of the foods we eat such as beef, milk, chicken and pork. To put things in perspective, most average Canadians consume more PCB’s each year drinking milk or eating meat than eating farmed salmon. At the same time, health experts maintain that the benefits of eating farmed salmon from a human health viewpoint still outweigh the risks.

A 2004 study that analyzed farmed and wild salmon from seven countries found higher rates (about 10 X) of contaminants (including PCB’s, toxaphene, dioxins and dieldrin) in the farmed fish. The study recommended that meals of farmed salmon be restricted generally to less than once per month to reduce cancer risk. The levels of contaminants in salmon from both the East and West coasts of Canada in this study were below the Health Canada standards but above the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) standards. It is important to note that the USEPA standards are 40 times stricter than the Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) standards. For example, in the case of PCB’s, Health Canada uses the U. S. FDA guideline set in 1994, of 2 parts per million (ppm) while the USEPA standard set in 2000 is only 0.024 – 0.048 ppm. While some groups criticized the study for using the stringent EPA guidelines, some scientists have called for the U.S. Government to update current standards to be in line with the EPA standards.

Most of the fresh salmon available at the fish counter is labeled Atlantic Salmon and is farmed. Most canned salmon is Pacific Salmon, which is mostly wild. Frozen wild salmon is also often available locally. It is not a labeling requirement to distinguish between wild or farmed salmon in Canada.

Local anglers can also catch wild Chinook Salmon in Lake Superior or in the rivers that flow into it. Fish from Lake Superior are regularly tested for a variety of contaminants. Refer to the Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish 2005-2006 for eating advisories for salmon caught locally. Get your copy of the Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish 2005-2006 at or contact the Ontario Ministry of the Environment at 1-800-820-2716.

Fish, including salmon, can be a healthy food choice that promotes heart health. To minimize your risk of exposure to contaminants:

• Choose canned Pacific Salmon (most is wild) or other forms of wild salmon when possible.
• Trim visible fat, discard belly flesh and remove skin from fatty fish such as salmon before cooking.
• Bake, broil or roast fish and drain off extra fat after cooking.
• Enjoy eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fish as well as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, dried peas, beans and lentils, low fat dairy and meat choices. Vegetables, fruits and grains contain fewer contaminants than meat, milk products and fish.

Questions have also arisen around the impact of salmon farms on the environment, but that is a subject for another day.

The Source (Bob Ewing)
Recently, I was having lunch in a local restaurant when I overhead two other diners talking about organic food. One of the two said that she does not like the word organic and will not buy it because it reminded the diner of dirt and this person had no desire to eat dirt.

I was somewhat taken aback. Usually, the conversations that I have are all supportive of organic food and organic products. The main concern is the lack of locally grown or made organic items. This aversion was new and gave me pause. I believe that small scale, locally owned, organic, primary and value-added, food production can help build a strong local economy.
It is time to clear up any confusion about what organic is and what it is not.

The Canadian Organic Growers (COG) defines organic agriculture as:

Organic agriculture is a holistic production system designed to optimize productivity and encourage diversity in the agro ecosystem including soil microorganisms, plants and animals. The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.

COG also defines what organic agriculture is not. Organic agriculture does not allow the use of:

• Synthetic pesticides, including fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides and wood preservatives
• Synthetic fertilizers
• Materials and products produced from genetic engineering
• Sewage sludge
• Synthetic growth regulators (hormones)
• Synthetic veterinary drugs, including antibiotics and parasiticides
• Irradiation
• Synthetic product-processing substances, aids and ingredients, and additions to food including sulphates, nitrates and nitrites
• Equipment, packaging materials and storage containers, or bins that contain a synthetic fungicide, preservative or fumigant.

It is important to be clear about what the term organic really means. As the fastest growing sector of the agricultural industry among others, many people are eager to get in on the game. Recently, I noted that chemical products made from "organic" chemicals were being strategically labelled as organic. One needs to remember that organic in this sense is just a way to describe any molecule that contains a carbon atom. For example, if you see something like a housecleaner labelled as organic, it would be important to find out whether that means organic chemicals or organically grown ingredients.

So we now know that organic food is produced by growers who use renewable resources and practice conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional/synthetic pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

The same restrictions on wool production would apply. The sheep are not given any antibiotics or growth hormones. I add that the livestocks’ food needs to be organic as well. This way the animal receives no artificial inputs which results in healthy and safe outputs, i.e. supper or a sweater.

If you are a grower and are looking for a method to feed your soil, organically, then a compost or compost tea is what you need. You can brew your own compost tea. Compost tea is a compost extract brewed with a microbial food source — molasses, kelp, rock dust, humic-fulvic acids. All are natural occurring substances and not-human made. The compost-tea brewing technique, an aerobic process, extracts and grows populations of beneficial microorganisms.

If you are buying a sweater or some carrots, and want organic, look for the certified label. This guarantees that no or very little synthetic or harmful substances were used in the production process. Products produced using organic methods do not harm the top soil that we all rely on for our food. Organic means that the product was created with the future in mind, with a respect for clean air, fresh water, and healthy people and all the other beings who help us get our meals.

the Source (Claire Belluz) July, 05
It’s great to live in Thunder Bay during strawberry season. Thunder Bay-ites can look forward to some of the best tasting berries in North America. The secret? Our Northern climate. Our slow ripening process (due to our moderate weather) produces an unbeatable sweetness we like to call our “unique northern flavour”. There’s no comparison in taste between local strawberries and imported berries.

Pick-your-own strawberries first started in the area in the mid-1970’s. At that time, cars would line up to the end of country roads, and some people slept overnight in their cars! Thankfully, today, pick-your-own acreage has increased, and customers can take a relaxing, short drive in the country to enjoy a great day of picking. If you can’t pick your own or just don’t have the time, some growers offer Fresh Picked Strawberries at in-town locations or on their farms. Local berry farms employ over 100 people during the summer most of whom are students. Buying local produce is not only a good environmental choice, but it helps our student work force as well.

The health benefits of eating local strawberries are substantial. In addition to many vitamins and minerals, strawberries contain a natural substance (ellagic acid) that research has shown may help prevent certain types of cancer. A one-cup serving of strawberries provides a high source of fibre and a good source of the anti-oxidant, vitamin C.

Your Essential Strawberry Picking Guide:

Strawberry season is early this year. Most Thunder Bay strawberry seasons start the first or second week of July. This year, the season started on June 27th, and it will run close to 4 weeks.

Pick strawberries that are bright red, fully ripe and free of blemishes. Strawberries DO NOT ripen after picking. Snap off at the stem and leave the cap or “hull” attached.

At home, immediately place berries in a shallow, well-ventilated container in your fridge. Store uncovered or loosely covered. Strawberries usually last about 3-4 days in the fridge. Rinse gently, just before serving, with the hull still on to prevent water from absorbing into the fruit.

To freeze, berries can be placed on flat trays in a single layer. When frozen, place in freezer bags, seal, label and date. You can also slice and freeze strawberries adding sugar if you prefer. We recommend about 1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of sliced berries.

Making jam is also a great way to enjoy a taste of summer during the winter. Don’t be intimidated - “Jamming” is not as complicated as it seems. A Jam Making Guide and Strawberry Recipes are available at

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 baked pie shell
halved or quartered fresh, local strawberries
ľ cup white sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 ˝ cups cold water
3 oz. pkg strawberry jello

Fill pie shell with strawberries. Heat cornstarch, sugar and water until clear. Add Jello powder. Pour immediately over strawberries and chill until set.

The Source (Jen Lailey) March 25, 06
It being the season of film festivals and awards, I thought it might be interesting to write about “food films”. You may be able to recall some of your own favourites such as Supersize Me, Chocolate or Big Night. But did you know we have some amazing food film-making right in our backyard? We have used a lot of space discussing local food production in this column during the past year. Well there is also local food film production.

Thunder Bay is home to some of the most recognized film makers in Canada. In fact, Kelly Saxberg’s recent film, Letters from Karelia, won the 2006 Blizzard awards for best documentary and best director of a documentary. The Blizzard Awards are given by the Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association. Since the MMPIA is one of the two largest film associations in Canada that focus on a homegrown film industry, this is quite an achievement. Letters from Karelia is about the letters written by Aete Pitkanen, first from Soviet Karelia, then later from a Finnish prisoner of war camp during the second world war. This film will be screened as part of the Bay Street Film Festival September 15, 16 and 17th, 2006.

Kelly’s partner, Ron Harpelle, produced and co-directed, with Kelly, a film called Banana Split. This film also won several awards, one of the most prestigious being an award of excellence from the Canadian International Development Agency. The banana is the cheapest fruit you can buy in Canada at any time of the year and Canadians eat approximately 3 billion bananas a year. In Canadian supermarkets, bananas account for over 10% of total sales in the produce section and 1% of total sales. All this despite the fact that the nearest plantation is 5000 kilometres away and the banana is the most perishable fruit on our store shelves.

Banana Split takes the viewer on a journey that begins with the hustle and bustle of a fruit market in Thunder Bay, Ontario and ends up with an examination of the daily challenges of life in Honduras. Filmed in Canada, the United States, Honduras and France, Banana Split explores the North/South split between Canadian consumers and the people whose lives revolve around the "curvaceous fruit from the herbaceous plant."
Bananas relate to many issues that have been explored in this column since its start one year ago; food transportation and greenhouse gas emissions, worker exploitation, pesticide use, and the vulnerability of our food system. Interestingly, Ron, along with Bruce Muirhead, Tom Dunk and others, are hosting a conference March 24th and 25th at the Port Arthur Hotel. The conference, which is open to the public, is entitiled Old Economy Regions in the New Economy: A North/South Dialogue on social, cultural and economic issues. It will feature speakers from around the world discussing social, environmental, economic and cultural issues that relate to the struggles of various regions as they move from a resource or agricultural export economy, the “old economy”, to, ideally, participation in a new economy that could help to address regional inequities and sustainable development.
One of the speakers will be discussing the development of a, “better banana”, a disease resistant strain of banana that could eliminate the use of pesticides in banana production. Other speakers will be discussing the role of Fair Trade products in sustainable agricultural development. Along with these food related issues, perhaps there will be some lessons about how Thunder Bay can survive the transition from the resource based economy, mainly pulp and paper, to the new economy. For more information on this conference visit

But back to food and films….Kelly and Ron are now working on a series entitled Perogy Nation. The series features Ivanka, or Joaane Waytowich, going into immigrant family’s homes as they make their culture’s “perogy”. For example, one of the shows will have Ivanka learning to make samosas with the family that runs Broadway Variety. Other shows in the series will explore the Italian ravioli, the Chinese dumpling and of course the Eastern European perogy. Ron and Kelly are hoping to sell the series to a network so that we may see it on our TV one day soon.

In the meantime, if you would like to see some of these films or others (Rosies of the North, Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel Pioneer, etc) made by these local talents, they are available at your local library. Some of their films are also available through the National Film Board. For more information about these films and their makers, visit

The Source (Gwen O'Reilly) March 10, 06
Imagine planting your whole garden, or maybe the field that feeds your family, and having nothing come up. Imagine yourself as a farmer, used to feeding yourself and others, and suddenly being told by a giant multinational corporation what kind of food you could grow, and how much it would cost you. This is the dilemma facing many farmers – especially those who farm on a small scale or organically, peasant farmers in southern countries and Indigenous people the world over.

Multinational chemical companies, such as Monsanto, Delta & Pine Land, DuPont, and others, who now own most of the world’s agricultural seed production operations, are developing a wide variety of genetically modified plant material. This food experiment is destined for our tables. “Terminator technology” is a genetic modification of food crop plants so that they will produce only one generation of plants – any seeds produced by the first generation of plants will be sterile, and won’t grow again. But why interrupt Nature’s perfect cycle, you ask? The answer: for profit. These companies hold patents – a legal license – for all the genetically modified seeds they produce. The best way to control the distribution of their patented seeds is to force farmers to buy them directly from the company every year.

Unfortunately, the implications of this technology are not just increased costs and decreased self reliance for farmers. Over a billion small and subsistence farmers in the developing world rely on seeds they have saved themselves for generations to feed their communities. These are often varieties of crop plants that are perfectly adapted to grow in the environmental conditions of the place they evolved. If people are forced or coerced by a corporation or their government to grow patented seed, and stop growing the original heritage seed, that ancient genetic lineage may be lost in only a few seasons. If that happens, Agrochemical corporations will be assured a steady market for their seed because farmers will have to depend on an outside source. Food is a big part of culture, and heritage varieties are those that have stood the test of time and climate, allowing people to survive. Genetically modified seeds come with no such guarantee. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that genetically modified food has harmful effects on animals that consume it.

So many people across the world protested the use of this technology, that the United Nations, in their Convention on Biological Diversity in 2000, recommended that governments not field-test or commercialize these varieties. The Agrochemical corporations have been lobbying hard to have this moratorium ended. Both the government of Brazil and India have passed a law banning Terminator technology. Canada needs a ban too! But most importantly, there is a United Nations meeting (Convention on Biological Diversity) at the end of March, 2006 in Brazil. Governments from all over the world will have an opportunity to end the use of terminator seeds permanently. Concerned consumers, small and organic farmers, peasant farmers, environmentalists, Indigenous people, and rural women and communities all over the world are telling their government to ban the Terminator. You should too! Contact the Canadian Federal Minister of Agriculture and tell him what you think, or see (1-613-241-2267) for more information. Or, you can pick up a protest post card to mail at this years Seedy Saturday:

If you’re interested in non-genetically modified seeds with a local pedigree, join the 2B Seed Savers at the Thunder Bay’s second Annual Seedy Saturday, where you can exchange (or just plain scoop) vegetable, flower and herb seeds for free, check out booths on related organizations and catch a demonstration on soil mixes and seed starting. Waverly Library Auditorium, Red River Road, March 11, 1 to 4 pm.

The Source (Matt Roy) Aug 5, 05
Buying locally produced food is an important way for each of us to support our community and be more environmentally friendly. It is sometimes more difficult to access locally produced food than it is to purchase food from abroad however as demand for locally grown food increases so will access to these foods. Here are a number of reasons to purchase your food locally.

1. It’s environmentally friendly and helps to lower gas prices
Food purchased abroad sometimes travels halfway around the world consuming valuable natural resources. Produce purchased in Thunder Bay travels a shorter distance which reduces the amount of air pollution produced by vehicles transporting food from far away places. In addition as we reduce the demand on fossil fuels we stabilize oil markets making fuel more affordable for our transportation and heating needs.

2. Support your local economy
Buying locally supports the Thunder Bay economy. Our money continues to circulate in the city rather than in foreign markets. Local farmers hire local people who participate in and build our economy.

3. Help the community
Local farmers support local initiatives such as gleaning which allows people with barriers to food to access fresh produce at no charge. These initiatives help keep our communities healthy.
4. Bring the Kids
Going out to pick on a local farm allows for bonding time with friends and family. Children are given a better understanding of where their food comes from and provides the opportunity to visit animals and spend time outside.

5. “Meat” the community
Markets are a wonderful place to meet new people, try new foods and get top quality food. As well, visiting markets and farms builds a relationship between you the consumers and local food producers. You can find out how your food was produced, what chemicals if any were used, as well as, the type and variety of plant or animal you are consuming.

6. Fair Trade
Buying locally is buying fair trade products. Many farms abroad pay their workers extremely poorly, overwork them and have them live and work in deplorable conditions. Even farms in California are known for hiring illegal immigrant workers that have no recourse to the justice system to protect themselves from abuse.

7. Preserve farmland
Farmland will remain part of our environment as long as people can make a living farming. Farms ensure the security of our food supply.

8. Protect genetic diversity
Local farms often grow an array of different types of plant species that protect plant diversity. Genetic diversity allows for a greater variety of plants to meet our future environmental and consumer needs.

9. Local food encourages healthy eating
Purchasing local produce encourages you and your family to eat more healthy food. Fresh foods don’t contain preservatives or ripening treatments and is not processed with large amounts of additives.

10. Fresh local food tastes good!
There are clearly a number of advantages to buying your food from local producers. So don’t hesitate. There is no need to end your quest for fresh nutritious food there. If you don’t have the space or ability to garden on your own, get involved with one of the many community gardens found throughout the city. If you need help finding local producers or want to get involved with a community garden or gleaning contact the Community Nutrition Promoter at 625-8816. There is also the Farm Fresh Products brochure which is available online at

The Source
Beautiful Thunder Bay is teeming with activities and entertainment. And while it’s wonderful to share our growing cultural events and the sumptuous food they bring it’s important to note that many in our community don’t even have dinner.

The consequence is extreme: sleep disturbance, mental illness, exacerbated health conditions; depression, obesity and a shorter life are just a few; but they all cost hateful taxpayers increasing animosity.

I wonder what its like not to understand chronic hunger: chopping vegetables in the bright afternoon sun. My daughter is studying without a hunger headache. In my dream her dinner bears the nutrients for a fit body instead of the pasta she can barely stomach any longer; and I never underestimate what her belly can hold or explain why she can’t share with me.

But I think we’ve had barriers. I’m intelligent, articulate; not unsightly or simple-minded. If I have to force my rights how much do others flounder? What about someone who doesn’t understand self-defeating processes or can’t articulate their needs?

Cultural consensus says if we can’t succeed alone from nothing we don’t deserve participation. We expect people to thrive in social safety networks under worse hardship than when they began.

We need a system that doesn’t destroy those it professes to help. People aren’t swindling their way to Kraft Dinner. Bureaucracy is frustrating at the MTO but it isn’t actually the point and it’s not likely to kill you.

Society disregarding its responsibility wipes of its culture the fundamental humanity we live for and defend.

Welfare accesses bank information once you’re working again and recipients can be made responsible for other people’s debts. Harsh penalties deter violent crime where reform is possible but you can’t behave your way out of hunger.

“...the majority of my work day is spent helping people manage their poverty,” social worker in the mental health field. Should this money not be used toward its elimination?

There’s a drone saying greed is the bottom line and the system won’t change but that’s why women and workers today have rights.
Politicians are only as strong as the belief of their constituencies and their agendas are poised to erode human rights further besides. Recent E.I. changes show how low income earners are the next natural target.

Instead of blaming people we need to recognize that with opportunity, resource, support, education and nutrition people contribute their potential it’s how we’re made. If you’re even getting by this principle is working for you.

Imagine doing without the ingredients that accommodate your lifestyle. Take away tools and education. What about nutrition, resource and support? If these weren’t available would you be hungry? Add a physical illness or depression. Could you be homeless too?

If the Japanese can dominate world industry in 10 year blocks for textiles, steel, auto and electronics we can ensure access to everyone. Don’t tell me it doesn’t work; help me get it done.

People and organizations are working but government won’t move until all its members speak. This movement needs everyone.

There is no reason a child in our city should have a hunger headache when Health Canada says it’s worse for them than SMOKING.

On September 9th & 10th the Thunder Bay Economic Justice Committee is having its annual forum, “Let’s Talk Solutions,” to engage people toward solution-oriented change.

Please call Melanie @ 344-2478 for more information. Our meetings are at CMHA on the last Monday each month.

Let’s walk the human rights we tout worldwide and see our children fed. We need your input, ideas, creativity and the most loving spirit you can afford.

The Source (Marianne Stewart) November 25, 05
As winter approaches many people crave the comforting smells of chili in the crockpot or a Sunday roast in the oven. When planning your weekly menu, or wondering what to serve for dinner tonight - a freezer stocked with premium Thunder Bay Beef gives you a variety of delicious and nutritious mealtime options.

You may not realize premium beef is available locally, or you might believe that exotic sounding imports from Alberta or Uruguay are of better quality. We need to change our way of thinking. Instead of purchasing imported products from large multinationals we need to support sustainable local beef producers. Beef purchased locally is farm fresh, can be cut and wrapped to your specification and has less environmental impacts because of reduced transportation requirements. Local beef producers take pride in their product and carefully manage each aspect of production from field to dinner plate. When you buy meat locally you are able to ask the farmer questions about production methods and quality control measures. You can be assured farmers care about their herd – they wouldn’t be up calving in the middle of the night, haying until after dark, and fixing fences on weekends if they didn’t.

Beef can be either grain finished or grass-fed (and finished) and both types are available in Thunder Bay. Grain finished beef is fed a grain ration prior to market and is the taste most consumers are familiar with, the meat is said to be “sweeter”. Grass-fed beef is kept on pasture and produces a stronger flavour highly prized by some beef connoisseurs. Grass-fed beef has a number of health benefits compared with conventionally raised beef, including lower saturated fat content, reduced cholesterol and double the amount of cancer fighting conjugated linoleic acid. What’s good for your health is also good for the environment, raising cattle on pasture has been shown to be more eco-friendly than raising them in confinement. If you are a staunch certified organic consumer, consider that fresh beef from a local farm may be more environmentally sustainable than organic beef shipped from another province. Whenever you buy beef from a Thunder Bay farmer you are contributing to our local economy and food system and those same dollars may come back through the door of your small business.

Most producers sell beef from the “farm gate” and have meat available in the late fall, so you can stock your freezer for the winter and then again in the spring for BBQ season. These cattle are generally 12-30 months old and are considered prime beef. In order to be legally sold, the beef must be government inspected, and, therefore, processed at our local abattoir – Thunder Bay Meat Processing. You can buy local beef at the Thunder Bay Country Market, directly from the abattoir or check the Thunder Bay Farm Fresh Products brochure and call a local farmer. Most producers sell their meat by the side, half side or custom freezer pack. Value added products such as hamburger patties, sausages, and jerky are available as well.

Food comes alive when you know its story – where it came from and how it was raised. There are many beef producers in the area that would like your business, find out their story and buy local!

The Source (Gwen O'Reilly) Sept, 05
As the gardening comes to a close many of us are doing our best to bring in our harvest, canning tomatoes and freezing beans. This year why not think about saving seeds for next years planting season.

If you have planted open-pollinated seeds then you are in luck as these are the best kind for saving. Open pollinated seeds are often heritage varieties passed on to you from family or friends. Seeds sold at garden centres are often hybrid varieties, look for the word hybrid or F1 on the package, these seeds are not good for saving.

Looking to learn more about why saving seeds is a good idea – read on!

Our current food supply relies on just 20 genetic varieties of plants for 90 percent of our food. In the last 15 years, more than half the vegetable varieties once available have disappeared from seed catalogs. One hundred years ago there were thousands of varieties of tomatoes available, and now there is only a few hundred. The loss of this unique genetic material is often accompanied by the loss of cultural history and personal stories that go along with these seeds.

Through selection of seeds from the biggest, earliest, sweetest etc. plants in any crop, a gardener can gradually produce a variety specifically adapted to their environment. Older varieties, prized for their flavour, early maturity, special adaptations to certain climates or conditions, or just plain beauty have been abandoned by commercial agriculture and large seed producers. The genetic material and rich history of these plant varieties is being lost because they do not pack well, store for long periods or ripen all at the same time - the traits commercial agriculture values.

When areas of the exact same plant species, with the same genetic makeup, are planted together they are very vulnerable to pests, diseases or any sudden shift in climatic conditions. Most of our food is now grown in these monocultures. The Irish potato famine is one example of the risk facing a food supply. One single form of blight was able to ruin most of the staple food crop of an entire country. Genetic variability, like most forms of diversity, allows a species to survive or adapt to changing conditions.

As you may conclude, saving seeds is more than a pleasant pastime - it is essential to the survival of our food supply. So why not start saving seeds – and help increase biodiversity in your own backyard.

The 2B Seed Savers Group is a small group of seedy people from Thunder Bay and area. We are gardeners in the challenging northern climatic zones of 2B. We are interested in saving seeds, especially heritage seeds and their stories from this area.

Our first and very successful "Seedy Saturday", event was held March 19th, 2005 at the Waverly Library. The event brought people together to exchange seeds and growing information. We hope to hold another similar event next spring.

The 2B Seed Savers hope to create a network of northern seed savers to exchange seeds and plant material from locally adapted and/or heritage varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit. We also want to record the pedigree of those hardy varieties and the stories that go with them. We are building a list of interested seed growers/ traders / or just plain seed curious folks. You can contact us at [email protected] if you want to be on that list, and/or if you want us to send you advance notice of the next Seedy Saturday event.

For more information on seed saving, check out the Seeds of Diversity website

The Source (Jen Lailey) Dec 9, 2005
As food consumers in North America, we are fairly limited in the way we experience beef. Most of us haven’t experienced the wonderful flavour of a thinly sliced flank steak and the melt in your mouth pleasure of braised short ribs. And how many of us would know what to do with beef tongue or marrow bones? Unfortunately, most of us miss out on a lot of the adventure of this amazing animal.

The other result of our narrow minded approach to beef is that we make it difficult for local beef producers to have a real local market. If everyone wants tenderloin and each cow has only two, what do local farmers do with the rest of the animal? It sounds a bit like killing an elephant for its tusks.

However, if you are one of the many people in Northwestern Ontario who would like to buy local meat but don’t quite know how to go about doing so, this article is for you. I hope to walk you through some of the practical things you need to think about before taking the plunge and ordering a side of beef. If you are not ready to make this type of investment, most local producers will sell single roasts or a few pounds of ground beef directly from their freezers.

But for those of you who feel up for the adventure, here are some useful tips.
Given that a side of beef will weigh about 300 pounds, you need to think about storage space. This will require all the space in 2 fridge freezers or most of the space in a smallish chest freezer. This may seem like a lot of meat but even a household with 2 adults in which beef is eaten twice a week will go through this amount in about 1 year.
If you don’t eat beef that often or don’t have the space, you could consider sharing a side with another household. Try to pick another household that has similar cooking preferences as the order can only be customized for the side and not the half side.

Another thing to think about is the season in which you will get the meat. For example, if you are ordering in April, you may want to have relatively more steaks and hamburger meat than roasts and stew meat.

So how does cost come into the picture? Sides of beef are priced per pound and vary greatly between $1.80 and $4.00 per pound. This is why when shopping for beef it helps to know what you are looking for and what questions to ask. The age of the cattle is important since very young beef cattle are more expensive and much older animals are generally lower quality. Also, make sure that the animal you are buying wasn’t actually used as a dairy cow. Dairy cows are bred to be superior for their milk and not their meat. And unless you know how to butcher an animal yourself, be sure that the price includes cut, wrap and freezing.

Another thing to be aware of is the amount of ground beef you will receive with your side. It amounts to a minimum of 100lbs. This comes mainly from the chuck or shoulder area but also from trimmings throughout the animal. This ground beef can be wrapped in 1 pound or larger packages for the freezer. If you prefer, you can order some or all of the ground beef to be made into hamburger patties. Alternatively, the abattoir can have some or all of it sent to European Deli to have made into sausages of your preference. Finally, unless you ask specifically for areas of the animal to be cut into stew meat, you may end up with as little as eight pounds of stew meat. This is why it makes sense to think about how you like to cook.

You may wish to refer to the diagram next to this article as we tour the parts of the beef animal…

Chuck: most of the meat in this area is best used as ground beef or stew beef. However, the meat near the blade is more tender than most chuck and makes an excellent pot roast. So when placing the cutting order, if you like pot roasts, consider asking the butcher to include a couple of blade roasts.

Rib: this is a tender and flavourful area that many know as containing the “prime rib”. You can choose to keep this as a very large rib roast (7 ribs), or order a smaller rib roast and some rib steaks. Either way, this is a part of the animal that requires little effort to be delicious. Be sure to request the short ribs. Cooked slowly in a crock pot or in the oven they are fantastic.

Short Loin: this area includes extremely tender cuts that can be prepared without the aid of moist heat, marinating or long, slow cooking. Cuts include porterhouse steaks, T-bone steaks and tenderloin.

Sirloin: another area that includes tender cuts that be grilled, fried or broiled such as sirloin steaks and sirloin tip roasts.

Flank: definitely an underused, flavourful area of the animal. Flank steak is wonderful grilled then sliced thinly against the grain.

Short Plate: an area with rich beefy flavour but which is best used for stew meat.

Round: large area from the lean hip of the animal that includes the inside, outside and eye of round as well as the rump cuts. Use these cuts as pot roasts or have some of them cut up as stew meat if you prefer stewing to pot roasting.

Shank/Brisket: traditionally used for corned beef, it is best prepared with moist heat. Foreshank and brisket “first cut” are great as stew meat but the brisket front cut makes a tender and succulent pot roast.

Variety Meats: although these cuts aren’t for everyone, tongue, heart, liver, marrow, tripe, kidneys and oxtail are vital parts to many cooking cultures and are often prepared using ingenious and specialized cooking methods.

So I hope this has given you something to chew on as you embark on the journey of learning more about eating beef so that your next “tour of a beef animal” is a tasting tour from your freezer. And don’t forget to use the various resources out there for tips on cooking various cuts. This includes cookbooks, the internet, producers and grandmothers.

For more information on ordering local beef, refer to the Thunder Bay Farm Fresh pamphlet available at Farm Fresh or by contacting the Community Nutrition Promoter at 625-8816. Alternatively, contact [email protected] For more information on buying, cooking and grading of beef refer to

The Source (Kristen Stansell)
Around this time last year, the “Let’s Talk Food Forum” sparked the beginnings of Cattails Community Farm, a project inspired by the need to stabilize Thunder Bay’s food economy. Facing the reality of the effect that rising energy costs will have on food transportation, while simultaneously sharing concern over the use of pesticides and herbicides on the majority of produce available, a small group of nutrition-loving, permaculturing, pesticide-resisting, eco-friendly people come together to help a community become sustainable.

After months of meeting regularly, the group came to a consensus. The mission was “to produce local, healthy and natural food for ourselves and our community and creatively educate ourselves and others about sustainable ways of living in harmony with the earth.” Further, the group decided that the best way to do this would be by forming a Community Shared Agriculture Program or CSA.

In essence, a CSA involves an agreement between the producer and the consumer whereby the consumer pays the producer a set amount of money and, in turn, receives a portion of the goods produced on a weekly basis. This guarantees income for the producer and provides an opportunity for the consumer to become more involved in the growing of their food. Both share in the risk of farming: Feast or famine.

Cattails took a cautious approach to the project, inviting seven shareholders to be a part of this year’s season. The shareholders were delivered a beautiful basket of fresh, organic goods every week, along with a newsletter that included recipes concocted and tested by the Cattails Farm Crew. In addition to receiving the weekly basket, shareholders were encouraged to come out to the farm to participate in the growing fun, with the opportunity to learn about gardening, share tricks of the trade and get to know the people who are putting food in their tummies. This element of “sweat equity” is a large part of existing CSA programs across North America.

Along with the CSA, Cattails offered organic produce at the Country Market, held a plant/yard sale and was present at the Eco-Fair at Chippewa Park and the “Let’s Talk Poverty Forum”. Overall, the response to the project was very positive and market surveys indicate that many people in the Thunder Bay region welcome this addition to the local food economy.

One of the most exciting results of this year’s season was the ripple effect of Cattails that brought together many people from all walks of life that may not have otherwise connected. From rural farriers to urban activists, the project called upon a multitude of talents to attain its goals.

The amount of research and energy that has gone into this project is phenomenal. I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of this initiative and look forward to its continuing evolution in the coming year.

For those of you in the community who share our concerns, the Cattails Crew invites you to become involved in this community initiative, asking for input, volunteers and support. Once the documentation has been poured over, compiled and evaluated, we will be holding an open community meeting to discuss the “what next?” for the Cattails project. Please keep your eyes open and your ideas flowing for the date and time in the bitter cold months of 2006.

On behalf of the Cattails Crew, I would like to send out a huge thank you to all of the shareholders, volunteers, community support and general love for this project. Happy healthy eating!

The Source (Jennifer Lailey) Jan 13, 06
There has been a lot of talk about ‘seasonal eating’ recently both in this column and elsewhere. Of course this is not a new concept but one that many of us are trying to get back to for many reasons, whether they be environmental health, personal health, reconnecting with our roots or our sense of place, or just because it feels right and tastes good.

However, seasonal eating often seems easier and more appealing in the summer when so much local produce is ripe, fresh and readily available.

Some of you may be fortunate enough to have a root cellar full of vegetables you may have even grown yourself or a pantry full of produce you were busy canning in the fall. Maybe you have a freezer stocked with wonderful things like local wild blueberries or herbs. If you are not fortunate enough to have these treats squirreled away, and are left wondering how to cope with the Thunder Bay Farmers Market being on leave for the next three or four months, I hope to be able to give you some ideas that will help make seasonal eating enjoyable at this time of year.

Please keep in mind that as one looks for seasonal, local food now, the definition of local may need to be stretched somewhat. I like to include all of Ontario. This will allow one to have a great selection of produce including root vegetables, cabbage, apples, dried fruit and frozen vegetables. Beware of exotic seduction in the produce department. Once specialty items, out of season fruits and vegetables dominate the produce areas at most supermarkets. They often have the best shelf space and the most attractive presentation and packaging.

Of course it is fun to have the odd exotic fruit for a treat but if you are regularly buying broccoli from China, for example, you may need to rethink how you shop. Produce shipped from abroad may look good and be relatively cheap but the hidden costs are enormous. Pesticide and other chemical use, water usage, excess packaging waste, soil erosion, unfair wages for workers and the amount of greenhouse gas spewed from transportation of all this food are just some of the costs that aren’t displayed in the produce aisle.

To bring the point home about greenhouse gas emissions, I’ll paraphrase a recent study. Transporting a given amount of carrots from California to Toronto contributed 840 g of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere compared with 15 g for carrots grown near Toronto.

It is also frightening to think about all the links in the chain that need to be in place to get food from far off lands to our tables. I would feel much more secure knowing that we have a vital, local food system and I want to support this as much as I can.

So what do you do with all these seasonal items when you get them home? Here are a few very simple, delicious ideas to help get you thinking about how to use seasonal produce during the next few long winter months.

MASH…try mashing a combination of boiled root vegetables. You can put some grated cheese (local of course) and/or butter in to add flavour and richness. My favourite combinations are carrots with rutabaga or parsnips and potato with celery root. Steamed cauliflower is also delicious mashed with old cheddar.

GRATE…grate some purple or green cabbage, carrots and onions and add Asian flavours like a little sesame oil, grated ginger, soy sauce with a little honey or sugar, rice or other vinegar and a neutral oil like vegetable or sunflower. Or add a little vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar and possibly mayonnaise to make a more traditional slaw. Use grated carrot or apple to bake a cake, muffins or loaf.

SAUTÉ…sauté some sliced onion in a little butter or olive oil, then add shredded cabbage and a little vinegar, salt and pepper and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.

ROAST…toss root vegetables with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven next to some meat or on their own. This takes about 45 minutes if you have roughly 2- inch chunks of vegetables at a fairly high heat, like 400F. Adjust cooking times to suit the chunk size and oven temperature. Once they can be pierced with a fork and look a little golden or brown, they are ready.

BAKE…use frozen Ontario berries or rhubarb to make a pie, muffins or coffee cake. Baking with applesauce and dried fruits is also a great way to stay seasonal. It is also the time to bake with the grated zucchini you have stored in your freezer if you were lucky enough to remember to grate those huge things your neighbours gave you in August.

SLICE…slice peeled potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery root or other root vegetables and layer in a baking dish. Chop some onions and/or garlic, add to a little milk then pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle with old Gouda and bake at 350F for about one hour for a delicious gratin.

PUREE…puree frozen Ontario fruit with milk, honey and yogurt. I sometimes add wheat germ to make a quick, healthy, tasty breakfast or snack.

OPEN…open those jars of chutneys, pickles and jams for a wonderful taste of the warmer seasons.

The Source (Jennifer Lailey) Jan 02, 06
As the holidays draw near and the weather outside becomes more frightful, many of us look forward to spending time in the kitchen. For those of us with children in the home, this presents many opportunities and challenges. As a mother of a 2 and 5 year old, I often struggle with how to make this time together in the kitchen work. It isn’t always easy but I really think it is important. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to let me explore the kitchen from a very young age. As a result, I love cooking and wish to pass my culinary passion on to others. I hope that I can present some ideas that may make cooking with your children not just bearable but rewarding.

I think the first and most important part of any cooking that includes children, is to know what your expectations are. Looking at the following types of approaches may help to explain this. Sometimes, a very special thing happens in my house. We have some time in which there are no real plans, nowhere to be, no reason to rush, and we think it may be a great time to do some serious cooking together. And if we are really lucky, we have a wonderful time.

There are other times when I will be baking something or making dinner and a little voice says “Can I help mommy?” and a child is given a task like taking peas out of a pod, making salad dressing or rolling dough for pizza. At times, my little souschefs participate for the whole meal preparation and even set the table. At other times, they eat a few handfuls of dough and get bored or distracted. In many ways, this spontaneous kind of interaction is the most important type. The child is interested and is taking the initiative to be involved; try not to pass by the opportunity. Aside from hot pans and sharp knives, kids should be able to help with just about everything.

Finally, there is the kind of cooking for which you do not want the children around at all! It is important to recognize when this is the best approach to take as failing to do so often leads to disaster. If you have had a stressful exhausting day and everyone is hungry and tired, unless you are the kind of parent with lots patience in store, it may be best to just get supper on the table. So as you can see, planning your approach helps set the tone but of course this does not come with guarantees for how things go. However, I like to think there are things you can do to help make family kitchen experiences better.

First things first, decide that there is going to be a mess. A two year old scooping flour out of a bag is likely to spill some. That is okay as this is all about something more important than keeping your kitchen clean. Also, allow the children to take as much creative control as possible. Depending on the age this could mean anything from planning a whole meal to choosing which cookie cutter to use. Be aware that as task oriented adults, we often focus on the results of cooking or baking rather than the process. So often though, when we “take over” our childrens’ experience with the idea of accomplishing something, the creative energy disappears. They also don’t get a chance to feel in charge of things around them. I always try to remember that unless the issue is one of safety, it is not always necessary for the adult to be in charge.

Tasting along the way should definitely be allowed. It can be frustrating when the children want to taste each and every ingredient but it is a wonderful opportunity for taste education. Imagine being four years old and tasting the bitterness of baking powder or the zing of fresh ginger. Of course, if your children are anything like mine, they would probably eat a cup of sugar each so sometimes the “tasting” enthusiasm needs to be redirected. Letting them feel ingredients is also important. Running hands through fluffy flour, sticking fingers into bread dough or feeling the creaminess of butter as it melts on your tongue make the sensation of touch come alive. And children can disappear into smells like freshly ground pepper, coffee, lemon zest or fresh basil leaves. I still remember how wonderful it was when my mother would make bread with my sister and me then flap the cool, fleshy, yeasty dough on our cheeks while we tried to steal bites. In my parents’ house the kitchen was a sensory playground for us, and all these sensations have becoming amazing memories.

Good luck making memories with the children in your life this holiday season.

The Source (Kim McGibbon and Jennifer Lailey) Jun 24, 05
In our hectic North American world, taking time to shop for food, prepare a meal and savour it with company is close to a revolutionary act.

Even in Europe, where many cities are organized around agriculture, this approach to food is threatened. For over 20 years now, Carlo Petrini has led a movement called Slow Food in an effort to protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenization of modern fast food and life. Slow Food was founded in 1986 as a response to the arrival of fast food in Rome.

Petrini and others, were so concerned about the impact of fast food on traditional food culture that they coined the phrase “slow food” to illustrate the difference. Slow Food has since grown into an international movement with close to 80,000 members in over 70 countries.

Slow Food is a volunteer-based movement whose goal is to promote the concept of slow as it applies to the production of our food, our way of living and our enjoyment of pleasure. Slow Food Superior was established in October 2004 as a chapter of this movement.

For many slow food members, the most convincing reason to be involved with slow food is our children. Their health and happiness depend on us preserving what is left of traditional food culture and how we maintain the connection between field and table. These connections can often be maintained by simple, small steps.

Visiting the farmers’ market and exploring the local bounty, making the choice to buy locally produced food, making a simple dish for a meal rather than having fast food or prepared food, or even asking your grandmother for a favourite recipe help to keep alive a sense of where food comes from. For those of us involved in slow food, we delight in the difference in taste, the connections we make in our communities by way of food, and the pleasure we get from taking the time to enjoy food with those we love.
At the end of a delicious meal, it also feels better knowing that not only does food taste better, it is less environmentally destructive if produced by small scale, local, and ideally, organic producers.

So aside from looking at our own choices around food, how do we act on these Slow Food ideas? We have meetings that bring together people for potluck dinners. Members are people who love food yet have a sense of or wish to know more about where their food comes from.

We also have events that bring together local producers, consumers and chefs. We write columns for local newspapers and have been on local radio in an effort to educate ourselves and the public on food related issues. We are putting together a cookbook with information on how and why to eat seasonally in Northwestern Ontario where we have many unique gastronomical opportunities due to our climactic and cultural settings. We hold events such as our upcoming preserving workshop in which we will come together in a kitchen setting to share produce and traditional food preserving skills. In the future, we wish to become involved with school aged children to foster their connection with food production and preparation by way of school gardens, taste education and hands on cooking experiences.
Finally, we are part of a broader national and international movement with similar goals and a tremendous amount of vision and public support.

The Source (Jennifer Lailey) May 30, 05
Most of us don’t think too much about where the food we eat comes from as we groggily pop our bread into the toaster and turn on the coffeemaker. In fact, the food you are about to eat may have traveled thousands of kilometers before making the journey into your mouth. Let’s just say this morning you had two pieces of Wonder Bread with a little bit of strawberry jam, an apple and don’t forget the coffee with milk. Where did all of that food come from?

In North America, it is estimated that food travels an average of 2,000 km from the farm to the store.

How fresh and healthy is it when it arrives on your table? What impact does this journey have on our environment? How secure is our food supply? How many days of food do you have on hand? How many days will the supermarket supply last if for some reason food can’t get to our grocery stores?

Can you picture the competition for that last can of beans as supplies dwindle?

These questions go to the heart of the food security issue. Food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle (Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security 1998). We are all at risk for food insecurity —poor food choices that create health problems, difficulties finding food we like at prices we can afford, and potential disruptions to our food supply all play a role.

The issue of food security affects us all. We would be kidding ourselves to think it is only an issue for the poor. Ironically, one could argue that the poor would be most resilient to food insecurity because of their familiarity with it.
All this begs the question how do we get our breakfast? When going to purchase food next time spend a few moments thinking about where it came from and try to make informed choices. For your morning coffee try fair-trade coffee, bread made by a local bakery, your own homemade jam, Parmalat milk (from local dairy farmers), and purchase Ontario grown apples. Then sit down and enjoy breakfast with your family.

Some people feel the answer to food security lies in cheaper food. However, “cheap food� isn’t really all that cheap. In 2003, it was found that in Britain, taxpayers spent about $5 billion repairing the damage “cheap food� does to the environment and human health.

If we purchased more local food, production would increase and more jobs could be created.

Then people who are living in poverty could find jobs to allow them to purchase their own food. We can work together to increase our food security by growing food in the backyard or a community garden, or by Growing-A-Row and giving it to a food bank.

A group of “foodies� from two local groups have joined together to bring you this column “Something to Chew On�.

The first group is the Food Action Network, which formed in 1996 with a mission of ensuring all people have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their needs and to attain a healthy life.

The second group is Slow Food Superior an enthusiastic group whose purpose is to draw attention to sustainable agriculture, traditional preparations and the health and happiness that comes from eating food from the farm instead of the factory.

Keep an eye out for upcoming articles on a variety of topics including farmers’ markets, “what is slow food anyway�, the realities of living with food shortages, “why organic�, eating seasonally in Thunder Bay, foraged food, community supported agriculture, the politics of food and more.

The Source (Jennifer Lailey) May 13, 05
Are you or your family looking for an interesting, social and delicious thing to do this Saturday?

You may want to check out our local Farmers Market. The Thunder Bay Country Market will open for it’s eighth season on Saturday May 14 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Dorothy Dove building of the C.L.E. grounds.

In the tradition of farmer’s markets, the TBCM hosts a wide variety of locally producing vendors and runs May through December each year.The TBCM has been growing each year, and more and more folks have discovered the benefits of including a stop at the Market as part of their Saturday activities.

At the TBCM you will find local produce like beautiful fresh herbs, tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce which at this time of year is grown in local greenhouses. As spring and summer progress, these items among many others like potatoes, corn, squash, strawberries, blueberries, peas are available in abundance as they come into season. Locally made and sought after Thunder Oak cheese is on hand to purchase and to sample. Fair trade organic and locally roasted coffee, honey that may have been made by bees that visit your garden, and a wide variety of jams, jellies, relishes and other preserves are available.

Many people in Thunder Bay aren’t aware of the wide variety of premium meat that we produce here. Producers of lamb, wild boar, beef and rabbit are all represented at the TBCM.

Locally made bacon, sausages and smoked meat are also for sale. Locally grown organic herbal teas and remedies can be found.

Of course, if you are looking for an interesting lunch, you may find the perfect thing at the Thai, Jamaican or Chinese food stall.

You may find a great dessert, some fantastic organic brick oven bread for the week or some gluten-free baking items at other vendors.

Once you have explored the food, you may want to visit some of the arts and crafts on display including woodworking, jewelry, quilts and knitting.
So if you, or your family are looking for a way to experience some flavourful, fresh, local food, the Farmer’s Market is place to find it. It is also a great place to meet the people who produce that food. They may be able to tell you a lot about what it is like to be a producer and even more about what goes into their products.

They may even invite you to visit their farm. Imagine having some of your food come from your own neighbourhood rather than 2,400 kms away, which is how far the average food item travels before it reaches your plate.
Imagine supporting your own local economy rather than a mega food corporation.

Imagine fostering an interesting, sustainable and deeply nourishing food culture right here in our city. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. So, stop by the TBCM after gymnastics, before a birthday party or just as an outing in itself.

You and your community will be better off for it.

Slow Food Superior, 2006

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