Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Food for Thought - Canada's Growing Agricultural Deficit

A lot of us think of Canada as a land of great agricultural abundance. It's not and that's entirely our own doing. Watch this badly needed wake-up call:

While domestic food production is important in its own right, it will become critical in less than a generation. We'll pay dearly if we don't wean ourselves from our dependence on cheap imported foodstuffs. Globally, agriculture is taking a beating due to a variety of ecological scourges from desertification and freshwater depletion to the migration of pests. If the warnings about Peak Oil are true that, combined with the other pressures, could land us with a dramatic and quick food crisis. We have the ability to restore Canada to agricultural self-sufficiency and now is the time to see to it. Yes it may be more expensive to produce locally but that difference could all but disappear before long.

Here's another critical policy that the Libs can run with, if only...


double nickel said...

Successive federal governments have all but destroyed the family farm. Once agriculture has become completely corporatized, we will truly be royally screwed. But at least we'll have WalMart.

Okie said...

Besides all the sensible and logical considerations, the bonuses are that this is an issue that concerns everyone and it is not a divisive issue among the general population. Corporate interests, servants of, futures and commodity players excepted.

A little light shed on modern agricorp food production methods might go a long way toward putting pertinant considerations forward. Most people don't understand the extent of chemical and pharmacuetical processes involved, nor are they aware that once Agricorp has the total control that they seek, they will be in a position to completely dictate prices and methods, and no one will have the ability to challenge or change that. Which means the end for any hope of food sovereignty.

Fish said...

I haven't had the chance to watch the video yet Mound, so maybe I've missed something.

Does increasing our land's agricultural abundance not necessarily lead to increased deforestation?

The Mound of Sound said...

Deforestation, Fish? Only in those areas where the soil and climate are good for agriculture. The main concern is in the best agricultural regions, southern Ontario and BC's Fraser Valley for example, the finest agricultural land in the country is being paved over for roads and suburbs. The video has a telling description of what's happened in your home province.

Where I live it's all rocks and Christmas trees. We have all those Christmas trees because we have all those rocks. You could clear our forests but all you would have left would be rocks and bogs.

The Mound of Sound said...


It's not a divisive issue but it is one plagued by urban indifference. Most Canadians get their foodstuffs packaged from store shelves and, beyond that, don't spend much time thinking about how it got there. That has to change.

Agribusiness always seeks the most profitable methods of mass production. As you point out that usually means a lot of chemicals and degraded quality. Most have never enjoyed a truly free-range, grain fed chicken. In my backyard we farm a lot of salmon but the locals won't eat it. We eat wild salmon, the kind that migrate hundreds of miles of open ocean at depths of up to 200 feet feeding on prey fish like herring. Farm fish have nowhere to swim, nowhere to dive, circle in their collective waste and eat anti-biotic laced pellets. Yummie.

Okie said...

I have read some about fish farming and the effects of that on the wild salmon. Not at all an encouraging situation. Have also recently read some on what you mention.

Urban indifference regarding foodstuffs is one of, if not the most significant area that requires attention. Certainly in order to achieve a reasonable level of support for reversing current supply and marketing realities.

LeDaro said...

To answer Fish's question lot of farmland has been abandoned as corporations take over. In New Brunswick it happened because of McCains.

Okie said...

LeDaro is correct about the abandoned farmland. I could write on this subject for quite some time and point to multiple examples of how neglect, indifference and not updating programs and tax regulations by various governments over the past 50 years has resulted in not only land being abandoned, but how corporations can and have manipulated both government programs, grants and subsidies, plus market prices in order to achieve dominance.

I would point to the situation in Saskatchewan just a few years ago when farm real estate prices dipped to less than the price of the average chipboard mansion in Mississauga. Many farmers who were planting hundreds of acres could no longer survive on 1950's prices and either lost their farms to creditors or were forced to sell for whatever they could get.

After an extended period of this, grain prices miraculously recovered significantly. I expect those lands are still in production, but in the hands of far fewer interests.

I would liken this to what Nato troops must have felt like when fighting the Korean war.

It comes in waves. You fight to survive one battle, only to be faced with another and the nameless faceless horde that is your enemy, never stops coming. Never stops picking off the weakest and those who fall behind.

The Liberals have a winner in this Food Policy if they can see the full value of it. To go where they need to go, all the way, they may have to eat some crow regarding past practice, but it is in the nature of the political beast to dance around those things. That was then, this is now. It is much clearer now.

It is not just the industry players themselves anymore, it's also the voracious appetites of the Speculators. I know you have written on this Mound, and it is a major concern that people need to be aware of.

Anyong said...

double nickle...you can boycott WalMart as I do and every other Canadian ought to do in this country.

Okie said...

Fiddleheads should be farmed: scientists

Research scientists in Nova Scotia say fiddleheads should be cultivated commercially because of their high nutritional value.

The ferns grow in the wild along wet riverbanks and streams in the spring, and are considered a delicacy in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.

John DeLong, with the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Kentville, said scientists are just discovering how nutritional fiddleheads are — even better than blueberries, the gold standard for antioxidants.


So many things to do and focus on other than imposing long gun registries or focuing on jaffer or evangelicals who rent boys.

Anyong said...

"John DeLong, with the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Kentville, said scientists are just discovering how nutritional fiddleheads are"

When ever wild food is cultivated, it loses a lot of its orginal food value. These
agriculture people do not ever mention this. Dark green wild food is always much more nutritional than lighter green cultivated foods. Wild fiddle heads are so delicious.