Despite an incredible migraine, I went out last night. Through a series of small beauties, I was invited to the Toronto premiere of FRESH. This documentary is, a la Food Inc, an investigation and exposition of the industrial food economy…only with a more optimistic tone.
Quite literally, I was drawn to near tears – and not because of my pounding brain. The steps that some people are taking to empower each other, to enrich the soil, to nurture and respect the plants and animals we eat as living creatures, is really moving.
Personally, I found Growing Power to be kind of the bees knees of this movement. Growing Power is a US nation-wide non-profit that focuses on the holistic approach to the local food movement: organic principles, local food, an emphasis on microbial soil activity, and accessibility.
Accessibility is the key, as far as I’m concerned.
Growing up, I volunteered with the food banks, I organized clothing and food drives, I was driven by a passion to level the playing field. As I moved into a degree in International Development, that is the flag I held high. As I started working with organic farms, however, I became focused on the environmental impact of chemical fertilizers, GMOs, and the oligarchy of the food cycle.
Last night, I was reminded of why I feel food is so important. Yes, I am a passionate environmentalist, but first and foremost food is integral to life. Without it, we are nothing. Literally. And though I may be blessed with a full backyard of food, still over 1 billion people will go hungry tonight.
I came home, squinting with the pain in my head but with my heart racing. Accessibility. That is what’s missing in this whole local food movement. The sad truth is fast food is cheaper than salads, conventional is cheaper than organic, and while our governments are heavily subsidizing conventional agriculture this will not change.
Another thing that was really amazing about last night was the discussion panel. Four really incredible Torontonians sat up on stage explaining not only merits of the movie but what we can do as individuals to move this forward.
The stage was set by: Debbie Field, of FoodShare; Tammara Soma, of SustainOntario; Chef Brad Long, owner of Veritas; and Chris Wong, of Young Urban Farmers. The panel was moderated by the renowned Wayne Roberts, chair of the Toronto Food Policy Council.
The audience shared their thoughts, questions, and considerations. One fellow mentioned Food Forward, an initiative to put food on the plates of the city council policy table. Another mentioned a conversation he’d had with Galen Weston and accountability.
This event was sponsored by an incredible woman, Allison Savage, who is working hard on Radishes and Rhubarb. Check her out.
FRESH will be playing again this Monday August 30 at the Sorauren Farmer’s Market, 8:30pm. Tickets are a $10 donation to the West End Food Coop, yet another amazing organization.
Things are happening in this city, folks. Not just in my backyard, but in yours as well. Look around, get involved, call a friend and tell them the same.
And also…FoodShare has a job opening that I’m going to apply for. Randomly, if you know someone who works there, put in a good word for me, will you? I would be an AMAZING addition to their team.
Anything and everything is possible.