Ask yourself this question: would we have the ability to feed ourselves if food delivery from other regions just stopped?
If you don’t know the answer, you may want to get to know Vandana Shiva.
Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author Vandana Shiva is in Alberta this month to deliver a keynote address at the 8th Annual Advocacy Conference
in Calgary (April 10, 2014), and Edmonton (April 11, 2014). She is the founder of Navdanya
, an organization spearheading the national movement in India to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – in other words, what we eat. Their efforts have resulted in the conservation of more than 2,000 rice varieties across India, established 34 seed banks, and supporting 70,000 farmers as primary members.
Vandana Shiva has a few thoughts for Calgarians:
1. It’s possible to grow food anywhere. So do it!
“Anyone who thinks that food sovereignty is obsolete just because Calgary is an oil capital has forgotten what a society’s needs are long-term.”
“Nothing is more intimate than food. Everyone needs it. And because everyone needs it, we must make sure it grows sustainably, it grows as close to eating as possible, because that’s the only way you can guarantee quality and fairness.”
Consider the kinds of foods you find at your local farmers’ market – all of that was grown nearby. You can do it too! For Calgary gardens, try beans (bush bean, pole bean), beets (Detroit dark red, burpee’s golden, early wonder), carrots (scarlet nantes, red cored danvers), and kale (black Tuscan, dwarf curled scotch).
Harvest at Highwood Crossing Farm
2. Be a source of your own food:
“In Calgary, we are blessed with access to land, seeds, and markets to sell/purchase goods.”
Start small, and see what you can grow. Fresh ingredients can’t be beat. Instead of meals that rely on out-of-season or out-of-region ingredients, challenge yourself to grow a few things and build meals out of them. We’re with Vandana on this one; fresh local food tastes infinitely better.
For those who do not possess a green thumb: The Eden Project
is a unique local business that will establish and maintain a vegetable garden in your own backyard so you can enjoy just picked garden produce at your table.
If you’d like to try but need help getting started, YYC Growers & Distributors is an alliance of Urban/SPIN farmers in Calgary that provide high quality produce that was grown within the city. Sign up for their CSA Farm Share to enjoy fresh local produce throughout the growing season. Find out more about both on the YYC Growers & Distributors website.
Urban Container Garden at Boxwood
3. Respect your farmers by protecting your farmers.
“The idea that farmers can be removed from the land is probably the most cruel current dominant idea of our times. The signal being sent to farmers is ‘it’s not worth farming’.”
The easiest way to say ‘thank you’ is to buy local and buy direct. Calgary is blessed with several fantastic farmers’ markets that support local and regional farmers.
Check out the following markets and suppliers for local seeds and products:
4. Don’t be discouraged. You can change it.
Dr. Shiva attributes her optimism to her understanding of quantum physics – nothing is certain; everything is constantly evolving and changing.
“I think the reason that I’m such an optimist in the middle of terrible collapse and disaster everywhere is that I know there is not linear guarantee that it will continue that way. If we do a little more, if we think a little differently, if we are more engaged as citizens with responsibility, we could take it to another place.”
5. Get involved:
“You get a patent for something you’ve invented. You don’t invent a plant, they existed before.”
A few radical stats that might scare you:
76% of all commercial seeds are currently in the hands of 10 companies.
Most of the genetically modified seeds are in the hands of one company (Monsanto).
We could be eating 8,500 species of organic plants, but instead cropping systems are reduced to a whopping four species, which are genetically modified so royalties can be collected.
Vandana created the Navdanya
seed saving movement in response to these companies thinking they could create and patent life. We can all do our part, whether politically with advocacy or individually on a daily basis by actively supporting local producers and saving seeds so we grow our own food.
George Stromboulopoulos inteview with Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva at River Café