“For the food we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.”
Once again Meatless Monday and Thanksgiving collide. The modern-day cornucopia of treats and sanctioned gluttony are in stark contrast to the world of Montgomery’s Inn where I took a wood fired oven workshop this weekend.
In the late 1800s and beyond, people ate seasonally. All scraps of food were used and nothing was wasted. If food went bad, the spoiled part was cut off and the remainder eaten. Vinegar was mixed with leftover bits of vegetables and used to mask the ‘off’ taste of meat. Relish condiments were born. Beer was also mixed with water as the water in those days was ‘suspect’. This I learned from the tour guide at the Inn where the workshop was held.
Today there are a gamut of diet related illnesses ranging from obesity to malnutrition. Some places have abundant food supplies but much food waste while other areas struggle with food availability and affordability. The one common thread in food security today is…the meat industry.
Large plots of land are being used to grow mono crops (eg soy, corn) that provide animal feed for the current industrial agriculture system. A growing global population who demands more meat and larger portions of it are credited for driving this industry. With concern over health and a sustainable food system that doesn’t rely on chemicals and technology, Meatless Monday and vegetarianism have never been more popular!
Celebrate Thanksgiving and honour this time of year by eating a moderate amount of seasonal produce and canning and/or freezing the rest for winter. And if you have a hankering for a more traditional meal on this holiday, I highly recommend Gardein’s ‘stuffed turk’y’.
There are two servings per package along with two generously filled packets of gravy. Steam some organic russet potatoes and mash with some vegan mayonnaise, nutritional yeast, mustard, vegan spread and rice milk. Throw in a side of greens and some roast carrots and brussel sprouts et voila, instant meatless ‘turkey’ meal. Sodium content is 21% (not ideal but not too outrageous for an indulgent meal) with a 23g protein count per serving. For a light dessert, try hot chocolate made with pumpkin pie spices and vegan pumpkin flavoured marshmallows if you can find them.
Save the bees!
Morgan Freeman converts his ranch to bee haven
Without bees, we would be without many of the foods we take for granted ie fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs. These foods have become staples in our diet and we are used to them always being available.
Besides a dearth of bees, other threats to our food security are: affordability, accessibility, and politics.
While there are government subsidies for unhealthy foods, healthy foods such as produce or organic items are out of reach for many people on tight budgets and limited job security.
In an interesting twist on politics and food security, the city of Toronto is taking initiatives in being a bee-friendly city.
Besides becoming a bee-keeper, lobbying for an affordable and accessible food supply and voting for government officials committed to making this happen, fostering a bee-friendly environment will help to ensure food security of the foods pollinated by bees.
I’ve been watching Food Chain Mondays on TVO (after I finish my Meatless Monday post of course). TVO is a tv channel, extension of the Ontario public education system and registered charity.
There are lots of interesting, informative and sometimes entertaining programs featured in the Food Chain series that discuss and explore various issues related to food and food security. Many of the documentaries televised can be viewed free of charge on their website. (Follow link above.)
Here is my top 5 list of food security issues I am most passionate about.
- Save the bees! – Bees pollinate a significant portion of our food supply. The disappearance of honey bees and colony collapse disorder is credited to the use of a class of insecticide (neonicotinoids). Only some nations have banned these agri-chemicals.
- Child slave labour on cacao plantations – What can I say. Heartbreaking stories and sinister practices underline the commercial chocolate industry. Many youth in impoverished conditions are exploited by multinational companies for the sake of a huge profit for the latter. I like chocolate but not at this expense.
- Land grabbing – Get your paws off land that doesn’t belong to you! Land grabbing is the aggressive acquisition of land in developing nations primarily by foreign investors in the developed world (and often with collusion from the governments of the developing nations). This practice became prevalent after the 2007-2008 world food crisis. Sub-Saharan Africa is a prime target with Southeast Asia and Latin America also falling prey to land grabbing practices. In the process, locals have been evicted from their lands and often forced to work as slaves in their homeland. http://www.stopafricalandgrab.com
- Save our seeds! Agribusiness has largely homogenized crops grown for commercial use. Seeds used are often genetically modified and patent protected. Monsanto is notorious for their use of these types of seeds. This poses a threat to seed variety and sovereignty. http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/08/farmers-to-monsanto-save-our-seeds/
- Save the Orangutans! – Orangutans are forest dwellers who spend the majority of their lives in the trees. Their survival is being threatened as these forests are being decimated to make way for palm oil plantations. Of course there are other animal and plant species that are endangered but it’s the Orangutan who is the poster child for deforestation in Borneo and Sumatra, its native home. (And these ginger apes are just so darned cute too!) Palm oil is used in personal care products, cleaning products and food. If a label says vegetable oil, it is most likely palm oil. For more about palm oil, see the following: http://www.schusterinstituteinvestigations.org/#!products-with-palm-oil/c1z3e