welcome to another sporadic post. I promise that in the months since the last entry I’ve accumulated some extra good stuff to write about!
The main growing season is slowing a bit now as the summer veggies have given in to the first frosts, and the winter veggies become our main focus. Those summer veggies held on for a long time this year – we had our last harvest of peppers and eggplants in October! We’re still harvesting winter veg as we move through December, as many people are surprised to learn. The cold storage and root cellar are gradually filling up with goodies like carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, cabbage, parsnips and celeriac. It’s amazing how resilient some plants are.
We’re also down a market now, and another ends within the next weeks. Having one less market per week to worry about is a bit of a relief, even though I really enjoy working the markets (despite the early mornings and the long drives sometimes made in the dark). This season I was grateful to learn how appreciative people are of the food. One market was in an area with a racially diverse population, and residents of differing backgrounds often recognized the vegetables as ones they would use traditionally but which can’t be found at the big supermarkets. Many market-goers were excited to tell me what they liked to make with specific vegetables. I learned that Independence day in Mexico is often celebrated by making stuffed poblano peppers; that basil is not only common in Italian cooking, but also Iranian; was recommended an at-home cough remedy made with radishes that was used in eastern Europe during periods of communism, when no antibiotics were available; and had regular customers coming back each week for months at a time because they found veggies like tomatillos at our stand – items which are part of their cultural menus, but were not on any grocery store shelves. It’s so rewarding to know people feel connected to what we grow. I hope this sparks ideas for folks who want these kinds of foods, which can be grown in their own backyards or on their own porches.
I’ve been mulling over criticisms of local and organic food movements since I started getting into it myself a couple years ago (and also of vegan and animal advocacy movements, and others, for many years). A lot of (usually white, middle class) folks are praising these movements and treating them as blanket solutions for health issues, environmental destruction, etc. without taking into account the different lived experiences of others (for example, extreme poverty, lack of food access, different factors affecting health, exploitation of people by food industries big and small, environmental racism…the list goes on). I’ve been guilty of this myself for sure, but am fortunate to have many people in my life who devote some (or a lot) of their time and energy toward examining and working to change these problems that create barriers to healthy food (whatever “healthy food” means to any given demographic). I didn’t study this stuff (officially) in academia, but enlightenment happens often just by talking with people you know. (thanks friends!)
Anyway, it’s important to be open to criticisms of any movement in order to facilitate true change, and to make improvements where necessary to avoid propagating existing injustices. I’m sure I’ve only chipped away at a tiny part of the mountain of stuff to learn about – it’s an ongoing process – but was recently lucky enough to attend a conference on intersectionality that expanded my awareness of these issues.
Speaking about the many injustices facing migrant farm workers, the existence of poverty and food deserts in places like the USA and Canada (Turtle Island), culturally appropriate foods, and foods that are supposedly “cruelty-free”, lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project raised some important points that are relevant to everyone, especially veg people and local/organic food proponents. (The audio is not the greatest; if I find a better video of the talk and/or one with subtitles, I’ll replace this one).
I also recently read this article which touches on the related issue of food racism. (Yes, food racism. Read it).
There were many other great talks at the conference, given by awesome folks like breeze harper, pattrice jones, and Margaret Robinson, among others. Videos of their talks can be found here and here. We’re all implicated in these issues, so I recommend watching! They’re captivating and enlightening. Weeks later, I’m still talking the whole thing over with my lovely partner, who also attended the conference, and looking at my notes again and again. I’d be interested in reader feedback if you decide to watch the videos.
In other news, I’ve been sporadically volunteering at a nearby sanctuary for farmed animals. It’s a good way to make up for the time (and money) I put towards academia, being taught to exploit these animals while at school, which felt disgusting and wrong. I love being there.
Fun fact: male turkeys have their own kind of “mood ring” – the skin on their faces and necks changes colour to reflect their emotions! In this picture, the bright red colour lets everyone know that Darkwing is stoked about visitors and happy to show off his feathers.
Along the same lines, I decided to do a “vegan mythbusting” theme of posts here. I need feedback for this! This is where you come in…if you have a critique of the movement or the concept, if you have questions, etc. you can email them using the form below, or leave them in the comments below this post or any other (anonymous comments are allowed) and I’ll do my best to respond. My responses are indeed my own, and since this movement is huge and diverse, I can only speak from my own perspective.
More to come soon!