Category Archives: buy local

Food Solidarity

Last week my bin from On The Move Organics arrived and inside was a fennel bulb. This one right here. Now, I don’t hate fennel it’s, as my beloved likes to say, just not one of my favourite things. I do the bulk of the cooking for me and my family so our menu skews to what I like and do. There was a time not too long ago I would have just thrown it into the compost pile but this time, this time I thought for a minute about how far this organic bulb had travelled to get to me. It was grown in California USA shipped to London On Canada then packed up for me and brought to my door. Tossing out perfectly good food is wasteful and, I’m starting to think, pretty damn rude and also incredibly privileged.

I mean, I have the ridiculous luxury of choosing what I eat, not many people in my community can say that. We have hungry people who come from all over town for the local church’s Saturday night hot meal and here I am being picky about the fresh food that magically arrives on my doorstep every week.

Over a year ago I decided to get my first bin of veggies delivered and at first was a bit overwhelmed that the veggies kept coming. Now I get the bigger family bin and sometimes I order two. We go through all those veggies no problem now. In fact, much of our bin goes into the dinner meal the day it arrives. This week the zucchini, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes all went into the pasta sauce along with some of the kale. NOM NOM NOM

So last week the fennel went into a layer of potatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, kale and celery that roasted under chicken topped with a jar of butter chicken sauce. I ate it, it was overall a good meal, I didn’t get excited biting into kale but it was fine.

It dawned on me that by ordering a fixed bin, by eating local in season when I can, I’m exercising a TINY bit of food solidarity with people who have no choice in what comes next. I pay more for my organic produce so that the local food system is sustainable. By investing a bit more, because I can, I can help grow food sovereignty. This choice to spend more means great jobs growing, distributing and cooking great food are available to people in my community. I can’t grow all of my own food. Sure I tinker at it because I the luxery of failure, so I’m not forced to eat in season but I want to shift more to that. Going with a place that has set bins is one way to give up some privilege, a tiny amount really, to eat what’s in season or available, like most people around the world do.

Food solidarity for me is recognising our food system is broken and we all have a part to play. I’m growing my part by volunteering in the community on The Carolinian Food Forest, growing some of my own food and ordering local, organic food when I can afford to. I can’t always and that’s ok too. so when I can afford it, It honour that opportunity and the fennel, well, the fennel tasted a lot sweeter for it,

The luxury of failure

hobbit house garden June 2014

The hobbit house garden is coming along nicely.

Last year  I sheet mulched the front lawn and planted a guild of perennials around the crabapple on the right that included yarrow, strawberries, horseradish and borage. I put in a tomatoe patch on the left edged by native plants: obedience, virginia mountain mint, blue vervain, new england asters and white echanacea. The native plants weren’t very impressive last year but this year they are really taking off, all chest height and ready to bloom I can’t wait to see all the pollinators that will visit them.

I’m trying all kinds of edible plants in the gardens around the house, I have the luxury of failing. I don’t rely on surplus to sell and if something doesn’t grow I simply buy what I need. That is a privilege I don’t want to squander. Time seems to be on my side as I learn how to grow perennial & annual foods. The hardy kiwis on my back porch won’t bear fruit for 3 more years, but I have the luxury of time, I have enough cash to buy food too.

The UN published a report a while back that emphasized the need to shift away from large scale monoculture farming to small scale polyculture. If you want an idea of what that might look like applied in an urban setting I highly recommend reading Anni Kelsey’s book Edible Perennial Gardening and be sure to check out her blog.

So while the ants, squirrels, skunks, raccoon and hares have been having a heyday in my very edible yard I can rest assured we won’t go hungry thansk to On the Move Organics

Claire delivering my order from On the Move Organics

buying more local handmade, more often

I’m cradling an exquisite mug I bought from the London Clay Art Centre run by the London Potters Guild. The photo doesn’t do Elly’s Pottery Productions justice but you get the idea.

You can contact Elly via email EllysPotteryProd"at"hotmail.com

You can contact Elly via email EllysPotteryProd”at”hotmail.com

It’s a delight to drink from, to hold and to look at. My partner and I have both had full time jobs for the past 7 months (after 12 years of contract work, being students and other cobbled-together financial solutions) and I am mindful of the privilege that brings. We recently sat down for our annual budget deliberations to see if our spending aligned with our values.

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
―     Joe Biden

We value time together which means our default is to eat out when we can. It is the Achilles heel to our otherwise frugal impulses. The kitchen in the house we rent is small, it makes food prep cramped and by necessity a solitary endeavor. Good food takes time and, with both of us working outside the home, a very late dinner indeed. But I’m off on a tangent so back to budgets and values.

We buy second hand, receive hand-me-downs, make stuff and try to buy quality when buying new to reduce our consumption overall. Our vacation plans are car trips to see family back east, nothing involving flying or hotels, it’s just too much money & resources.

For Christmas our stockings were filled with great goodies from Weezi’s like handmade soaps & journals made from upcycled books. We had chocolate made at Habitual Chocolate & coffee from Fire Roasted Coffee Company . It was all delightful and I got to look the people who made these wonders in the eye and thank them. I get to share the stories of what a great Christmas we had thanks to their good the next time I’m there. I know the money I spend at local shops gets reinvested into my community.

We’ve recommitted to not eating out as much to ensure we have the money to buy local and handmade when we can. When we go out to eat we choose independent restaurants that are locally owned, like Winks Eatery.

Our mug supply had been suffering from some serious attrition so when it came time to replenish I decided to follow through on that ongoing commitment and get handmade mugs. It turned out Elly was working the shop that day and we chatted about how the blue glaze changed as it got wet, how that matte finish felt in my hand and my love of coffee.

This beautiful and practical art is now part of my morning routine, it fits just so in my hand. It has a nice heft to it, like drinking out of it means something. It grounds me in the moment. The smell of the coffee, the feel of the glaze on my lips as I sip coffee organically grown, fairly traded and locally roasted. I feel connected to my community, I’m in the moment, far from my anxieties and worries and I’m very thankful I can afford to buy things in line with my values most of the time.