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Executive Summary

The Mayan Garden at UBC Farm

At the most recent meeting of the UBC Board of Governors on December 4th, the committee was presented with the final recommendations by the Sustainability Academic Strategy (SAS) concerning the UBC Farm’s future development.  With all the recent debate surrounding the development of the south-end of campus, these recommendations come at a time when the fate of UBC Farm is still fresh in many minds.  Although by many, the Farm is considered “saved,” its future still remains unclear.

“The UBC Farm and its surroundings are a globally relevant microcosm that will explore and exemplify sustainable ecosystem management and community development within the context of increasing urbanization,” states the SAS.  In promoting the UBC campus as a space where students and community members can actively participate in learning about sustainability, the SAS recommends the preservation of the UBC Farm in its entirety of 24 hectares.  This recommendation is opposed to the initial development plan which would compromise up to two thirds of the farm, or potentially relocate the farm entirely.

Among many other valuable assets which would be lost in the commercial development of the UBC Farm, construction on the proposed 16 hectares would mean the loss of a small corner of the farm known as the Mayan Garden.  The Mayan Garden is a project begun by a few dedicated individuals who came to Vancouver in the 1980s as political refugees from the Guatemalan civil war.  For these members of the Maya Cultural Society, the Mayan Garden represents a reservoir of cultural knowledge almost lost to them during their years of struggle and hardship in Guatemala.  For many immigrants to Canada, migration often means a loss of cultural history and tradition.  “Having farmed since we were children, agriculture is a crucial part of our existence and identity,” the group explains, “We came as farmers but without land. With the support of UBC South Farm we have been able to maintain this crucial part of our tradition and identity.”  By farming the land of the Maya Garden, members of the Maya Cultural Society are able to pass on to “two generations of children” their heritage and their cultural identity.

For the Maya, farming is not just a means of producing food; it is also a deeply spiritual practice.  “The land is sacred and the maize it produces is also sacred: together they give us life,” states the group. Throughout the agricultural process, the Maya enact various ceremonies which honor the land and its accompanying ancestral spirits.  Many of these ceremonies, which take place at planting and harvest, bind participants to the land which feeds them and to their spiritual ancestors.  These ceremonies simultaneously maintain the material, agricultural tradition of the Maya as well as their traditional religious practices.  For many of its caretakers, the Maya Garden is a physical centre of spirituality and cultural unity which brings together a community of individuals from many differing backgrounds.  Although most members of the Maya Cultural Society share the same nationality, they frequently speak one of many different Maya languages and have very different cultural experiences.  The Garden, then, is a unique space where Maya people can share their common spiritual traditions and their experiences in a new country.

But the Mayan Garden is not just the locus of a certain cultural heritage for the descendants of Guatemalan war-survivors; it also offers up a unique learning opportunity for UBC students and local community members.  The type of farming practiced at the Mayan Garden is an example of “sustainable” agriculture, developed over thousands of years by the Maya, which regenerates the soil used to grow their crops.  This process of soil regeneration, called “nitrogen fixing,” involves planting three central crops in the same space: maize (corn), beans and squash.  “The beanstalks use the maize plant for support, and the squash plants spread out below” explains the group.  While the maize and the squash act as staple crops for the Maya, the beans are used to help replenish the nitrogen lost in the soil with the other two crops.  Unlike many conventional types of farming, this particular tradition permits the constant growth of crops on the same plot of soil, thus using space much more efficiently and avoiding constant crop-rotation.

In the SAS’s recommendations, the UBC Farm is envisioned as a space of research and learning about sustainable forms of agriculture and their connection to sustainability in urban spaces. “The proximity of the farm system to the main campus offers accessible experiential and transformational learning for students who are able to directly link sustainability theory with practical applications through field studies on site,” the SAS states.  The unique agricultural practices demonstrated by the Maya Cultural Society in the Mayan Garden represent just one form of sustainable agriculture not typically explored by UBC students.  Beyond just the examples the Garden provides of non-conventional farming, it is a cultural centre for Mayan residents of Vancouver where they can share their rich cultural heritage with local community members.

Although the Board of Governors has been presented with the SAS’s recommendations for the farm’s future, the plans for development are still to be decided.  For the Maya Cultural Society, and many other students and community members, there is much at stake in the Board of Governors’ decision.  For the moment, the farm has been “saved,” but this may not be the case in the foreseeable future.  It is the hope of both the Garden’s caretakers and students alike that this unique space of culture and learning remains available to the children of its dedicated founders and the UBC community.

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What started as a Directed Study Course in the Fall of 2007 at the University of British Columbia, has now turned into an event that students continue to look forward to every other Friday. From September to April, Community Eats is held at Sprouts in the Student Union Building (SUB) and attracts over 250 students, faculty and staff members as well as those who live within the UBC campus.

“In some ways it has been more than what we expected,” comments the Director of Community Eats, Renee Wild, “ there has been an increase of an average of 60 people per Community Eats since the end of last year.”

Renee is just one of many volunteers who helps to continue to make Community Eats an appreciated and educational lunch for everyone in the UBC community.

The idea behind Community Eats is simple. Everyone receives a free or by donation, nutritious hot lunch – provided they bring their own reusable containers.  While serving a delicious hearty stew, quinoa salad, fruit or donated bread from Terra Breads, one will learn about food security and available locally grown seasonal products.
Not only do so many people enjoy eating the lunch provided by Community Eats, the lunch is also delivered in a way that maximizes sustainability. Whether the volunteers are picking up bread through the bike coop program, taking a bus to the nearby Save on Foods or encouraging students to use only reusable containers, Community Eats is a well balanced initiative.

With the aid of local businesses, Community Eats is able to host lunches every other Friday. The event and the student volunteers have developed a strong partnership with local businesses and are very thankful that the following organizations are involved: BC Bike Coop, Save on Foods, Sprouts, Terra Breads and the UBC Farm are just to name a few. Not only does Community Eats benefit from receiving the donated food, but the employees at these businesses feel as though it is the right decision, “I am very thankful that you guys are picking up this food, it really means a lot to me” comments an employee at the newest Save on Foods at UBC, “…food that would have otherwise been thrown out.”

As an added incentive to support Community Eats, the remaining unused bread and/or produce will go directly to the UBC Food Bank. This year, the program is trying to indirectly make a difference in someone else’s life. Any leftover or unused food will go directly to the UBC Food Bank which is located just across from Sprouts.

We can thank a group of volunteers for making this event a success. Those people who pick up food every Wednesday prior to the event, and start cooking the very next day with ingredients they have on hand. The volunteers rely on the kitchen space on the main floor of the SUB. Depending on the produce they receive, the lunch is usually thrown together and surprisingly turns out to be a tasty and nutritious lunch. The cooking portion of Community Eats is a creative and social process, in which the volunteers are keen on sharing their recipe with others.

The intentions of Community Eats, not only encourages dialogue about food security issues, but “is one of the best lunches you can get around UBC – and it’s healthy too!”

comments a fourth year undergraduate student at UBC.

I experienced my first Community Eats about a month ago and was amazed at how popular it was. Lines ups were found nearing The Fringe Hair Design, students who appeared to be regulars, were waving and saying hello, and others were just excited to see what was on the menu. Laughter and excitement was heard throughout as well as students reading the educational components posted outside the door and on the nearby walls.

The surrounding environment was so uplifting I certainly believe that “…the power of food is used as a tool for building communities.”

“Since we don’t pay for the produce we use to cook and we have volunteers who organize the event, we don’t want students to have to pay for it,” explains Wild, “however, it’s not often that we’re able to collect staple foods (such as rice, beans and lentils) so we order it through Sprouts.”

The only reason they collect donations at Community Eats lunches is to help cover the oversets of these staple items.

From finding distributors, to picking up the food, to preparing the actual meal, the entire lunch is brought to you by student volunteers.

The volunteers help promote the anticipated vision of the whole event presented by the founders Caitlin Dorward and Heather Russell back in 2007. Wild explains the visionary process of Community Eats, “Picture it as a three fold. We serve people who wouldn’t normally get a healthy balanced lunch, a meal that is full of proteins and lots of veggies. Second, to use food that would otherwise be thrown away and to ultimately reduce waste. Lastly, Community Eats helps to create awareness about food security and how much food, styrofoam containers and cutlery is actually going to waste.”

The plan has lived up to what the founders have envisioned and are continuing to learn and improve the event.

Community Eats is just one tool to create awareness about food security issues. Without it, an immeasurable amount of food would be thrown out. Many students are drawn to the event because it is free. I strongly believe that if there was a cost associated with the lunch, it may deter people from coming and it goes against the main message that is being conveyed.

Since Sprouts has reopened its doors earlier this year, Community Eats lunches have continued to strive. Sure they would like to improve their main vision of the event, but overall it has been very successful. They are also planning to have Community Eats on a weekly basis starting in the New Year. “It has always been a goal to do it every week” comments Wild, “and with more interest in volunteering in the program, hopefully it will start to happen in January.”

Since its first lunch on October 26th, 2007,

the project has escalated and has become an event students look forward to. To some, it has changed the way they view food and have become consciously aware of what they eat.

If you are also interested in supporting Community Eats, they will soon be looking for volunteers for the newest Assistant Director positions. But if that is not of interest to you, stop by at the next Community Eats and experience what everyone has been talking about!

1 Wild, Renne. “Community Eats.” Community Eats. Blogger, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

2 Wild, Renne. “Community Eats.” Community Eats. Blogger, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

3 Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats. University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook%20_2__2.pdf

4 A comment a friend of mine made when we were eating at Community Eats.

5 Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats. University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook%20_2__2.

6 Wild, Renee. “Why Free? Why Donate?” Web log post. Community Eats. Blogger, 6 Feb. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://communityeats.blogspot.com/>.

7 Wild, Renee. “Community Eats.” Sprouts: Healthy and Sustainable Food at UBC. UBC Sprouts, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://ubcsprouts.ca/communityeats.html>.

8 Wild, Renee. “Community Eats.” Sprouts: Healthy and Sustainable Food at UBC. UBC Sprouts, 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://ubcsprouts.ca/communityeats.html>.

9 Dorward, Caitlin, and Heather Russell. “Community Eats Handbook.” Community Eats. University of British Columbia, Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seedslibrary/files/Community%20Eats%20Handbook%20_2__2.pdf


The Gateway Project’s proposed freeway system is far from being the only option for development in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). Extensive research has been done to propose alternative development plans for the region. Alternatives to the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) fall under two groupings: those that wish to abolish entirely the development of a freeway system throughout the FVRD, and those that offer an alternative freeway route.

The Canadian Pacific Gateway Strategy is a federal initiative outlined in Bill C-68, also known as the Pacific Gateway Act (“Gov.” 2005). The Pacific Gateway Act sets policies to increase the economic prosperity of Canada through international trade with Asia. With rapidly expanding Asian economies, the coast of British Columbia is intended to serve as a gateway to Asia through exporting Canada’s natural resources, in return for cheap consumer products (“Gov.” 2006).

Regardless of the Pacific Gateway Strategy, a significant growth in population for the FVRD is expected to occur over the next 40 years. Vancouver’s current population of 2 million is expected to be 3 million by 2025, and 4 million by 2050 (“Sustainability” 2007). Most alternatives to the Gateway Projects freeway system do not address whether they advocate getting rid of the current proposed freeway system for the FVRD. Most alternative plans focus on how to manage an increasing population; however, it becomes clear that the two are undeniably linked.

Vancouver-based transportation consultant Deming Smith calls Vancouver “one of the healthiest and most liveable cities on the continent” (Doherty 2004). This is because Vancouver is “the biggest city in North America that does not have a freeway running through its heart” (Doherty 2004). According to Northeast Environment Watch, “one reason for Vancouver’s success is B.C.’s province-wide farmland protection policies, which established the ALR in the 1970s” (“Northwest” 2002). Seattle spreads across ¾ more land per resident than Vancouver. It has been estimated that if Vancouver had adopted Seattle-style sprawl development, approximately 4/5ths of the agricultural land that remains today would be developed.

Yet this is now the direction that development is heading in Vancouver with the Pacific Gateway Strategy and provincial Gateway Project. The SFPR and the other proposed freeways will encourage greater urban sprawl by making areas such as Delta, Langley, and Surrey more accessible by car. This will encourage increased development, and possibly even more roads in the future, which would mean removing more land from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for these purposes. Building compact communities is essential to preserving agricultural land. Instead of building Vancouver like another Seattle or Los Angeles, Patrick Condon of the University of British Columbia (UBC) has led a team of researchers and architects to come up with a 50 year vision for the region that promotes compact communities as well as a variety of transportation alternatives to the automobile. This plan is called “Sustainability by Design” (SxD), and does not involve building any new roads, yet it would still accommodate the projected population growth for the region. Dense urban nodes, and low-intensity transit such as walking, cycling, and a tram system, are at the heart of this plan.

The SxD plan does not necessarily imply that the Pacific Gateway Act be eradicated. By building compact communities that encourage walking and cycling, as well as investing in public transportation, already existing roads may be freed up to allow a greater transfer of goods (Doherty 2004). Eric Doherty, a master’s graduate from UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), wrote his thesis on alternative transportation ideas to the proposed freeway system in the FVRD. Eric argues that while freeway expansion has shown to increase car usage, when connected and located properly, transit expansion has shown to increase transit ridership (Doherty 2004). Doherty recommends buying more Skytrain cars instead of twinning the Port Mann, because the current Expo and Millennium Skytrain lines are only being used to half of their capacity: the tracks and station are designed for trains up to 2X as long as currently exist. He also recommends improving bus services South of the Fraser in Surrey, Langley, and Delta, which would improve connections to the Skytrain and reduce pressure on the Port Mann. This would not only eliminate the need for a new bridge, it would also eliminate the need for the SFPR – regardless of whether the Pacific Gateway Act is carried through.      

More dense urban communities and increased transportation has also been proposed by the City of Vancouver in their Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). This strategy recognizes that 5.4% of the FVRD’s 1.4 million hectares is highly productive agricultural land, and it aims to support and enhance the agricultural sector – among other things. It states that “the RGS promotes the development of a transportation system that supports compact urban development, promotes a network of sustainable communities, and minimizes intrusions on rural, recreational and agricultural lands” (RGS 2004). However, the city’s plans have been overridden by the larger provincial and federal strategies.

One alternative to the SFPR that does not challenge the idea of a freeway system for the FVRD is the Hoover/Naas Proposal. This plan would help to protect much of the farmland and the bog that is currently being threatened by the SFPR; however, as it would still encourage urban sprawl, it would increase the threat of future development in these areas. In short, the new route would follow an existing railroad line that goes out to where the rail line crosses with Hwy. 99. From there, semi-truck traffic could either go South on Hwy. 99 or North on Hwy. 91, and trucks would not be allowed access to the Massey Tunnel. There would also be a tunnel under the area from Surrey to Nordel and Hwy. 91, which would be much less destructive than building a highway right along the river bank. This proposed alternative highway would be faster and cheaper to build, and less disruptive to Delta residents. It would also protect Burns bog, as well as preserve farmland. This proposal has been rejected by the province because “The Hoover/Naas proposal to limit truck access to the George Massey Tunnel would significantly impact the transportation services necessary for a strong economy” (Haig 2008).

As worded by the Sustainability by Design proposal, “Our challenge, in this generation, is to transform our liveable region into a sustainable one” (“Sust.” 2007). A sustainable region is one that consists of substantial farmland to feed its citizens. All of the alternatives discussed here attempt, either directly or indirectly, to protect local agricultural land and to preserve the ALR: the Gateway Project does not. The SFPR threatens food security in the FVRD by paving over valuable farmland while more food will be imported from California – even though “a recent report by the National Geographic Society warns that studies predict the Southwestern U.S. is descending towards drought conditions, making it vital that we protect all farmland for a sustainable food supply” (Haig 2008). For this reason, among many others that have not been discussed here, the SFPR is not in the best interest of the FVRD, and alternative development strategies should be adopted.

 References:

Government of British Columbia. Pacific Gateway Strategy Action Plan, April 2006.

Web. December 1 2009.

Government of Canada. Bill C-68, October 2005. Web. November 25 2009.

Doherty, Eric (2004). Freeway Insanity. Seven Oaks Magazine. Web. November 23,

2009.

Haig, Wilma. “Re: 163107 ‐ South Fraser Perimeter Road.” Message to Minister of

Transportation. 4 March 2008. E-mail. Web. December 3, 2009.

Sustainability by Design 2.0: 2007-2020. UBC Design Centre for Sustainability. Web.

November 25, 2009.

Regional Growth Strategy. City of Vancouver, 2004. Web. November 23, 2009.

Students of this year’s Student Directed Seminar in the Geography of Food Security have come together this year to work on a documentary movie that showcased the recent history of the UBC Farm (aka ‘the Farm’). Our intention was to provide a historical introduction for new and upcoming students who are not aware of the events that have led to the protection of the Farm. The movie focuses on student involvement from a student’s perspective. We intend to show how students have come together to protect the Farm from preset developing plans.

Guided by Andrea Morgan’s narrative, president of the Friends of the Farm AMS Club, the movie starts with a description of activities that take place at the UBC Farm. “When you walk around at the Farm, you are literally looking at hundreds of different projects without knowing”, says Andrea. “UBC students grow over 250 different varieties of fruits and vegetables”, and the research that takes at the Farm encompasses several faculties, including “Forestry, Land and Food Systems, Education, Medicine, Family Studies, The Institute for Aboriginal Health” among many others, and the “number of user groups and the number of projects just increases every year, and [the Farm] is becoming hugely important” regionally”.

Viewers are taken through a journey that starts at the genesis of the Friends of the Farm phenomenon into the infamous Fall of 2008 Campus and Community Planning (CCP) ‘consultations’, and the development and implementation of the Great Farm Trek plan, which raised awareness for the Farm at a whole new level. Andrea explains that “in 2000, students began to take special interest in the Farm because of its label in he Official Community Plan as ‘future housing reserve”.

Seeing the deep flaws inherent in the consultations set up by the UBC administration, UBC students, in collaboration with the Friends of the Farm, created the UBC Farm Design Workshops, which took place in late 2008 at the First Nations House of Learning.This workshop was incredibly successful, and its process, creative, participatory, and engaging, contrasted deeply with the deeply flawed ‘consultations’ set up by CCP – the differences were staggering – students were able to get more participation, feed people, and produce better materials, and get world renowned supporters to speak on their behalf (e.g., Michael Ableman) for under $3,000 whereas the CCP spent over 1 million dollars in a highly contested and problematic ‘consultation’ process that triggered a social movement on behalf of the UBC Farm.

Students organized, created the Great Farm Trek concept, and secured the support of the Alma Mater Society, the largest student union in the country with about 47,000 members. This alliance was strengthened by over 15,000 signatures collected by Farm supporters, and delivered to the UBC President, Prof. Stephen Toope, who pledged to support the Farm. Farm supporters did not hold back and approached the Metro Vancouver Council with  request for support to the 24 hectare UBC Farm. Metro Vancouver Council responded with their unanimous support, and wrote a letter to the UBC administration voicing their unwavering support to the 24 hectare Farm.

Over 2,000 Farm supporters participated at the Great Farm Trek, on April 7th 2009. Shane Point, speaking on behalf of the Musqueam Nation, on whose territory the UBC Farm rests, told the public that “they [the administration] should not take away from future generations”. “None of us have the right to take away anything of beauty from future generations”, he said “you good people are saying it needs to stop, here at UBC, on Musqueam territory, and I agree with you – I am humbled today by your presence and your commitment”. For Morgan, the Trek was really important, because “it demonstrated that despite there being this apathetic culture at UBC” students managed to make the Great Farm Trek a “really huge thing” and “people all over the city were willing to come out to UBC that day in support of the Farm”. For Morgan, “watching thousands of people walk through the newly constructed Wesbrook neighborhood, in the middle of cranes and a huge construction zone, and then just take that right turn down to the UBC Farm, where the atmosphere changes completely… it was magical, and emotional, and really a pivotal moment in this entire thing”.

World renowned Greenpeace founding member and activist Rex Weyler also spoke at the Great Farm Trek, asserting that “we don’t need huge mega projects, new highway, new bridges, new everything, new apartment houses – we need each other, we have to take care of each other, look after each other and build sustainable communities”. For Weyler, “we have to calm down and learn about the earth – to do this, we are going to protect this Farm, like Shane says, not just for ourselves, but for our children and their grandchildren”. Weyler cautioned, referring to the plans preset by Campus and Community Planning ‘consultation’ processes, that “wrecking half the Farm and saving a little corner of it, that is not saving the Farm”. This comment drew a very loud cheer from the crowd. Weyler finished his speech by making a point about food security, asserting that “when things really get bad we are going to be glad that we have that Farm and so are our children and our grandchildren”.

With their efforts, students and Farm supporters from the greater Vancouver area were able to secure, for the Friends of the Farm, their input and participation in the South Campus Academic Plan Committee, which will ultimately determine the future of the Farm. According to Morgan, “if planned and thought out properly, the Farm could become a seriously important and innovative space for research as it relates to sustainability, human, economic, social, and ecological – all based around food production and place”.

A preview of the movie will be presented at the “Ethical Eats – Chow down & Act up!” event, to take place at the Agro Café, on Granville Island, December 18th 2009, 8PM. This event is hosted by our Student Directed Seminar – GEOG 442, Environmental Communications: Improving our Food System by Increasing Awareness.

Link to the EVENT on Facebook:

<http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/event.php?eid=177814113231&ref=ts>

Removed by Author

Save-on-Foods? Or Save-the-Environment?

We all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch, you don’t get something for nothing and everything in life has a trade off; and the trade off for cheap food is the environment. Today’s consumers demand rock bottom prices, and when it comes to food only a small percent of the population is willing to spend the extra cash to buy local and organically grown produce. It is obvious that when purchasing produce at your ‘not-so’ local Safeway, quality is often sacrificed for quantity.  This paper explores why we buy produce without knowing where our produce came from or how far it traveled to arrive on isle 2. The time has come for people to know that most of the produce that we purchase has been grown on enormous farms that produce only one crop and these plants have been injected with nutrients and sprayed with pesticides in order to make them grow larger at a quicker rate. It is important that our oil/food interdependency is shown to the public, and the environmental impacts of foreign produce are presented to the public.

We, as consumers in the developed world, can eat whatever we want whenever we want. “Everything is in season somewhere, and there is no doubt that it will find its way to [Vancouver]”[1]. The part that makes me sick, mainly because I am a guilty of this act of lunacy, is that most people in the supermarkets feel good about being smart shoppers, “Today consumers demand it all at any time, anywhere and for cheap”[2]. I constantly look for the bargains and I am aware of the impacts hidden behind produce that we import from foreign lands. Yes, “[c]onscious consumers can be seen reading labels so they can avoid things like modified oils and refined sugars. Those concerned with the environment seek local products that have not been shipped around the country”[3]. But not enough of us, in fact only a small handful, really practice eating local.

But who has time to consider what impact our choices of produce are having on our health and our environment? We have many hours of the day to facebook, twitter and send text messages but we don’t have time to acknowledge where our food comes from.  We wonder why our strawberries have no flavor in December and we complain that the local tomato is ugly and deformed, not to mention expensive. Do we as a culture demand ‘good-looking’ produce at the cost of our own health and the health of the environment? Why would we concern ourselves with where our food comes from we can carry on with our daily lives and live off cheap imports?

It is very important to know how much the farmer is paid and if it is a fair price in relation to whether the vegetable was grown using sustainable, environmentally friendly farming practices. In addition it is necessary to understand how much fuel was used to ship your avocado to Safeway and to know that the avocado you are holding has come from a country where labor costs are much lower than in North America.

David Pimentel who is an expert on food at Cornell University has estimated that, “if all of the world ate the way the United States eats, humanity would exhaust all known global fossil-fuel reserves in just over seven years”[4]. We as consumers must understand the environmental impacts when purchasing produce, “[r]ight now it takes between five and 10 calories of oil energy to generate one calorie of food. By comparison, the opposite was true in the 1940s when the average U.S. farm produced over two calories of food for every calorie of oil burned”[5]. Yes it is a good thing to be well traveled, unless you are a fruit.

There seems to be more bad news than good. What will really put you in even more of a morose state is that, “four to five mega companies still control 60-80 per cent of global food supply and everything along the system, from production and transportation to warehousing and packaging”[6], and the deforestation, labor exploitation and fuel burned for transportation seem to be of small concern for these companies. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and communities around the developed world are staring to grow more local. The city of London is promising to construct over 2,000 mini-farms all over the city[7]. Not to mention that the rooftop salad garden is gaining popularity with penthouse owners across the developed world. Here in Vancouver across from the library the Vancouver convention Center is getting a new living roof, and “just across the street there is a chef’s garden on the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel […] hotel accountants say the roof garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey worth $16,000 annually” [8]. In Japan some of the rice used to brew Japan’s popular Hakutsuru sake grows atop the company’s Tokyo office”[9].  Even Michelle Obama has begun digging an organic garden on the White House lawn. The First Lady has good intentions and she said her hope is, “that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables…”[10]. Eating local produce will not only taste better but it will be healthy for you and Mother Nature.

In order to maintain positive relations with local farmers it is essential that we begin to buy local produce as this paper has demonstrated.  With the introduction of buying local and the recent education about foreign produce, it is important that we realize how commodities can connect space, and as we begin to understand that we are all a part of the chain of life in this geographic space we call home. The question is: “can we make Vancouver and the world a better place through thinking and acting with more sustainable stomachs?”[11], and the answer is yes. It is time for someone to educate the customers of supermarkets around the developed world where their produce comes from, the pesticides, the labor, the fuel and the distance used in producing these foods. In order to make a difference, public statements need to be made in supermarkets of the developed world. Along with promoting the local farmers market we need to expose the environmental impacts associated with the exotic fruits in Safeway.  The understanding of the impact that buying these foods has on the environment is important on a local and global level.

Works Cited

Bartosh, Glenda. “What Cost this Food? From Mom’s Kitchen Table to UN Tables, the Outlook isn’t pertty.” Pique News Magazine 26 Nov. 2009: 82-82. Print.

Burros, Marian. “Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House.” The New York Times [New York] 20 Mar. 2009: A1. Print.

Damaskie, Kevin. “Acting With More Sustainable Stomachs.” Pique News Magazine 26 Nov. 2009: 51-51. Print.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. “Up on the Roof.” National Geographic May 2009: 84-103. Print.

Lapshinoff, Alison. “Harvest Time.” Pique News Magazine 19 Nov. 2009: 42-45. Print.

Manning, Richard. “The oil we eat: Following the food chain back to Iraq.” Harper’s

Magazine Feb. 2004: 37-45. Print.


[1] Lapshinoff, Alison. “Harvest Time.” Pique News Magazine 19 Nov. 2009: 44. Print.

[2] Ibid

[3] Lapshinoff, Alison. “Harvest Time.” Pique News Magazine 19 Nov. 2009: 42-45. Print. 43.

[4] Manning, Richard. “The oil we eat: Following the food chain back to Iraq.” Harper’s

Magazine Feb. 2004: 37-45. Print.

[5] Bartosh, Glenda. “What Cost this Food? From Mom’s Kitchen Table to UN Tables, the Outlook isn’t pertty.” Pique News Magazine 26 Nov. 2009: 82-82. Print.

[6] Ibid, 82

[7] Ibid, 82

[8] Klinkenborg, Verlyn. “Up on the Roof.” National Geographic May 2009: 89. Print.

[9] Ibid, 98

[10] Burros, Marian. “Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House.” The New York Times [New York] 20 Mar. 2009: A1. Print.

[11] Damaskie, Kevin. “Acting With More Sustainable Stomachs.” Pique News Magazine 26 Nov. 2009: 51-51. Print.