After navigating the snowbank narrows of Locke Street North, I finally found the pick-up location indicated on their website; a quiet yoga studio occupied by one teenager and a pile of heavy-duty, green boxes marked: “Singular,” “Regular,” or “Household.” I found one of the regular rations, scratched my name off the list and saved some postage by giving my cheque to the teenager (preoccupied with dead batteries in her iPod). No questions asked.
I eagerly headed home to investigate my loot.
“Hydroponic Boston Lettuce,’ the sticker says, so I plop it into water.
There are a lot of tomatoes. At first I imagine a batch of tomato sauce, my eyes roll reflexively; that can’t be where this adventure will lead!
Mizuna? What is that?
Apples, oranges, brocolli, carrots, onions, potatoes, beets. What’s that smell? Earth. My root vegetables smell like earth. Why does that seem so odd?
Everything put away, I set to work on my week’s menu (I straddle the worlds of mother and professional, a menu is a must). Tomatoes go in chili. Brocolli goes nicely with pasta and cream sauce. Fresh beets… I’ll have to think about that. Potato-spinach casserole. Glazed carrots. A lot of salad! I’ll need some more fruit – the kids ate the fruit ration within two days of purchase, besides bananas don’t grow in Hamilton! All-in-all I’ve done it, I’ve put the horse before the cart.
We are a culture of convenience. At one time, autumn harvest threw every household into a flurry of pickling, preserving, and baking so to ensure a balanced diet throughout the barren months of winter. Technological advances and skill specialization have freed us from the demands of the autumn kitchen and ushered us into a global market of fresh winter produce and factory-processed foods.
‘Foodland Ontario’ signs at the grocery stores are a sure a sign of summer as a northbound V-formation of Canadian Geese! Buying locally grown foods impacts broad-reaching aspects of our lives; from economic development to energy conservation, from food freshness to rural-urban community relationships, and from food security to social control of food production policy.
I expect I lost most readers on those last two points. Let me explain. Global networks of food trade and production require political, environmental, social, and resource stability. Vegetables and fruit grown in my back garden require seeds, compost, sun, and water. Threats of oil scarcity, terrorism, political instability, droughts, and infestations directly threaten our ever-increasingly complex network of food production and trade.
So why am I so excited about my mystery box of produce? Why aren’t I campaigning for individual food production and preservation? I have a job and two kids! We Hamiltonians are, however, surrounded by a healthy community of local, organic growers who are focusing on alternative technological advancements to food processing and packaging. They are mastering food storage and community involvement.
Plan B Organic, Farm Bio, Simpler Thyme Organic, and Thurston Organic Farms all offer local, organic food. Plan B will allocate varying sized portions of produce, without a contract, trusting in the honour system and Canada Post for payments.
There is a catch though: I won’t likely be able to throw together the main dish cooked up during some cooking reality show like ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ on a whim. No, instead I’ll have to cook meals based on the food that is available; I’ll have to put the horse before the cart.
Live within limits without limiting life
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