Food; Waste Not, Eat Local, Be Pragmatic

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

I love farmers and farmers markets, I come alive in these spaces. I glow from the inside out. Talking to farmers about their products brings me joy and new knowledge. Smelling the freshness of the earth; farmers and their products smell of wholesome fruit and vegetables, and earthy things likes fresh cut grass, and the smell after a good rainfall, and that special warm smell of lovely sunny days.

At the Kitsilano Farmers Market, there is one booth belonging to a family of farmers, the Dad farmer is the one I find fascinating, he reminds me of strong ancient rope that withstood the march of time. A greying, sun tanned man, him of the ropes of greying dreadlocks, and tough sinewy bare feet. When he stands amongst the vegetables trimmings on the dirt, I cannot decipher his feet from the ground, it is as though he has sprung whole from the soil. No God breathed life into him, nature bore him, and nature grew him, and now he cares for nature and gives back a thousand fold.

And sadly, we are the wasters  of so many natural gifts.

Wasted food leads back to so much waste. When we discard food, we are wasting water, land, electricity and fuel, and labour. We are wasting our hard earned dollars. We are also essentially taking food away from those in need.

Let’s take stock of our food waste, what are we putting in the trash every day and is there a trend?

Throwing out leftovers? Learn to cook just enough for the meal, or freeze half of it immediately.

Throwing out lettuces and other vegetables? Make a broth this time, and try to reduce waste next time you visit the store.

Spending too much money at the grocery store? Plan ahead by writing a market list.

Buying too much prepared foods? Eat a meal before grocery shopping, which saves your money and your health. When we are hungry in a grocery store, we end up with all kinds of ” we would never buy this, ever!”

Use Amazon Alexa for every question like,how do I store cut avocados. How do I freeze broths, the questions are endless and the solutions infinite.

Getting serious about supporting our local farmers – and farmers markets – and joining up for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes is a great start. I think even Whole Foods could benefit from this plan, where they support CSAs and have them deliver pre-ordered boxes to the store for consumers to pick up. I would love to buy a special seasonal box of locally-produced produce from Whole Foods.

Yes, if Whole Foods have a CSA partnership, I would absolutely join up. Here is the scenario…I order my CSA box from XYZ on the Whole Foods site. Then, Whole food sources some recipes and additional products needed to use up that box for the week, and they add those to the CSA box. Finally, I pick up my pre-ordered box from Whole Foods knowing fully well that the produce are, amongst other requirements… natural, ethical, and has travelled very little.

I firmly believe we should not be consuming imported fruits and vegetables in the Spring, Summer and Autumn, when these are the seasons of plenty right here in British Columbia. In the winter, we can survive canned foods from local producers.

Tip: Most of your local farmers are actually preserving surplus summer bounty, and we can purchase them off season. Like all kinds of fruits and berries that are frozen and canned. Same goes for vegetables and seafood, and of course frozen beef too.

And finally, my beef about food being used as weapons against non-believers. Meat and dairy, farmed seafood, they all have a bad reputation in this new vegetarian trend. Unfortunately, too many trends tend to ignore cultures, history, health and reality. We have to recognize that it’s a specific way of producing food that has cost; it’s not eating meat itself.

I myself come from a place where we ate seafood and vegetables Monday to Friday, because it was economical for a single mom to feed her family on clean natural sustainable products, than it was to feed us imported foods and expensive meats.

Our meals were always fragrant with local herbs, in dishes like stir fried long beans and fresh shrimps with lots of thyme. Then there were rice dishes bursting with spinach, pumpkin, beans and basil. Fried fish was a treat saved for when oils were on sale, when we did have fried fish it was divine, seasoned with a herbed marinade and lightly floured before deep frying, this was served with a fragrant dal, fluffy steamed rice and garden salads, or simply with bread and butter and a dash of hot pepper sauce.

But we loved meat too. Back then, all the meat we consumed came from small farmers, there were no such thing as industrial farms in our tiny South American country.

I looked forward to those weekends. Saturdays, we usually had Beef Cookup, a gorgeous one-pot dish that is literally heaven on a plate. And on Sundays we either had Chicken Curry, or Chicken Stew and Dumplings. On this day we also had half the congregation – usually the seniors without families – that our mom inevitably gather up after mass to bring home to share our lunch.

It is because of that diet of a good mix of all types of food that we are all quite healthy today, with our good teeth and bones, especially. Even today, we will always return to food for our medicine, our bodies will tell us when we need more greens, or if we need beef broth, or more water, or a bitter vegetables to “clean out the tummy, or balance the sugars“. We learnt to listen to the needs of our bodies, and that started from a young age when we were taught life lessons by our elders. Today, in this digital world, people are self taught and only “learn” what they want to be told, meanwhile jumping from trend to trend because they are so lost in so much knowledge and yet no knowledge. Like being an all-out vegan or vegetarian influenced by nothing but social media trends.

Choosing to buy from local farms and local butchers, trusting our local grocery stores to tell us the truth, shopping at our farmers’ markets, learning from our parents and grandparents. All of these will help us understand how important it is to be involved in the future of our food.

Canada’s Food security is cradled in our helping hands. Please let us intercept a huge problem before it is too late.

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