Farmers Feed Cities – and the Revolution

Collectively written by Brett Pendleton and Nelson Phillips.

Imagine this: a future where all produce is grown by a single multi-billion dollar, vertically integrated international corporation that puts profit and monopolization over safety, transparency and overall quality. It sounds like something you would read in an Orwell or Huxley novel, but it could be our future if we don’t tread carefully.

Local. organic striploin steaks fajitas. Charred over apple, cedar and maple wood.
Local, organic “Wu-Tang” steak fajitas. Charred over apple, cedar and maple wood.

Three years ago, KFC released the Double-Down chicken “sandwich” comprised of two deep fried, genetically modified chicken breasts, encasing artificial bacon and processed cheddar cheese. I’ve never eaten one – due to an honest fear that I have no idea what’s actually in that sandwich. There’s an urban myth out there suggesting that Cheez-Whiz is one chemical variation away from being plastic…  Imagine: children playing at a public playground, cruising down a glorious yellow swirly slide made out of hardened Cheez-Whiz extract. And the “Grapple”, an experiment concocted in a laboratory, the result of blending apples and grapes. In the last few generations, the identity of food has changed so much, that I’m willing to bet people living around the turn of the century would be collectively different than we are, on a cellular level – because you are what you eat; and apparently, that makes us genetically modified playground equipment, born from test tubes.

When people start to take matters into their own hands, growing their own produce, raising their own chickens in backyards, etc – some municipalities banned the practice, due to zoning restrictions and liability concerns. In July of 2012, a couple in Drummondville, QC began growing zucchinis, tomatoes, onions and brussel-sprouts on the front lawn of their property, and were told by the town that lawns must be comprised of 30% grass; and a fine, anywhere from $100 – $300 per day would follow if they didn’t remove their garden. The organic foodie population is made to appear like a niche market full of picky eaters and tree-huggers by the media, and grocery stores charge double, sometimes triple the amount for foods with a quarter of the ingredients. People like the couple in Drummondville only want to eat ingredients they know are sustainable and safe to consume – what’s so wrong about that? Adam Smith, the famous economist and one of the innovators of Capitalism, said the invisible hand would always lead to each consumer being able to choose freely what to buy and each producer being able to choose freely what to sell and how to produce it. Thus, the market would naturally determine a product, distribution systems, and prices that are beneficial to the community. However, this usually means getting the most bang for your buck as the consumer, and spending very little on operating costs as a producer, so you can provide more for less. But what if the invisible hand has led us astray?

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Local corn from Lee Boys highway stand in Shallow Lake, ON
Local corn from Lee Boys highway stand in Shallow Lake, ON
No docks required in Hope Bay.
No docks required in Hope Bay.

The Georgian Bay region of Ontario is no stranger to sustainable farming practices and organic production. Grey, Bruce and Simcoe counties have a rich and wholesome history in agriculture. It seems it’s exactly what this expanse of land was made for. The people of this area have adapted to become agents of this style of living. Though small farms are declining at an alarming rate all over the country, this area is a shining example of how small, organic, locally grown operations can still exist and even thrive. It should give us hope for the future; in the sense our children’s produce won’t be genetically modified or pumped full of chemicals – if we support these kinds of operations. Farmers Markets have become a staple attraction of the area, pushing fresh, local ingredients onto the tables of locals and tourists alike – and it’s because of the culture that places like Markets exude on us. It’s the buzz of community, the bartering, the early morning lifestyle, and if you’re lucky – the sound of saxophone playing buskers, swooning patrons outside with jazz-folk (I’m talking to you, Neil Morley). Meeting the farmers, growers, bakers and artisans that hand-pick and bottle-feed the vegetables and meats you consume with their bare hands; this culture is the backbone of human survival, and it’s not a niche market at all – it’s a global tradition. It’s how it used to be, and where it needs to return. Markets that contribute to sustainable, healthy and active lifestyles are single-handedly responsible for the food revolution – Markets turn food into cuisine, and cuisine into unique human culture.

Local lamb 2

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine claims that eating genetically modified food shows many detriments to human health, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Again, this isn’t a concern if you know where your food comes from and can speak face to face with the grower.

We feel the same way.
We feel the same way.

It’s with this Market-inspired culture in mind, that we’re proud to announce the Mountain Life Market Revolution. A challenge to one and all, encompassing all of the social, agricultural and economic benefits of small scale, local farming. The trick to this culinary think tank isn’t just in the food, or the recipe, or even the region; it requires that you physically meet the individuals involved in growing, raising and cultivating the ingredients you use. The ML Market Revolution puts a human face to the food you put on your table. Suit it to your own taste – dress it up or down – it’s about showcasing the culinary culture of where you’re from and furthering the food revolution by supporting your local economy, your neighbours and your community – wherever you happen to call home.

Email your ML Market Revolution recipes, complete with the names of the fine local establishments that helped produce your culinary masterpiece to [email protected] – we’ll put together a follow-up post including some reader inspired delights and bare the fruits of your labour for the world to see. Exercise your right to eat real, whole foods, because it’s plain ol’ good for you. Enough of this processed, pre-packaged so-called convenient method of feeding we’re becoming so used to. Just some food for thought.

Eat well, Comrades.