volume 9, issue 4 november 2009
in this issue
Food is personal. It is communal and intimate—it comforts us, it connects us, it sustains us. Food is also loaded with political connotations: everything we eat has roots, a chain of production. If we’re talking plant-based food, this starts off with seeds and soil. The seeds grow into plants, which can be in a huge industrial field, a mid-sized family farm, or in your own backyard or community garden. Those plants are then harvested, and then usually processed or packaged into other kinds of foods. The final products are sold in markets or grocery stores. Once sold, they are cooked and eaten. Every step of this chain of production is politicized; every step and every choice made regarding the end product, what you eat, has different consequences for different people. Growing organic produce has different consequences for the environment and personal health than growing non-organic produce. Too often, these consequences are negative for those with less power on a global scale, and positive for those with more power. It is all, ultimately, about choice; those with resources have more power to choose what they eat and when they eat it. Those with fewer resources have less choice. This is the reality of the global food system; it favours those with wealth. This means that health, in many ways, is a privilege. It’s a privilege to be able to go to the grocery store and buy whole, nutritious foods. It’s a privilege to own, or have access to, space on which you can garden. It’s a privilege to have enough time to cook healthy and ethical meals. It’s important to acknowledge this privilege and try to make ethical decisions. The difficulty is determining what it means to consume ethically; does it mean buying fair trade, or organic, or growing our own food whenever possible? Or does it mean engaging with the global trading system in a way that benefits small farmers worldwide? Or is it a combination; maybe there are many ways to reach the same goal. In the midst of a local food revolution, it’s important to think about the decisions made regarding food and consumption. The food production chain affects everyone: the farmer, the workers on the farm, the consumer, and everyone in between. What you put in your mouth has an infinite amount of implications that, ultimately, affect the entire world. The personal is the political.
Photography & Art
Essays 3 4 5 6 8 16
Dialogue on Food Graham Engel Bryson Rhodes
Subsistence and Self-Esteem Kevin Hatch To Your Tummy Zinta Avens-Auzins Save the Kale Hayley Lewis
Tillage in the Tundra Emily Slofstra Beholder II Nuno Teixeira Emmanuel Xerx Javier
Literature for Thought 11 Fruit Jordon Chiarelli
Eating the Environment Brendan Jeffery Which Way to the Buffet? Jodie Mace
FOOD for the improvement of Matt Mousseau Eye of Your Apple Kate Richards
new content • every thursday • blueprintmagazine.ca
blueprint magazine Volume 9, Issue 4 November 2009
75 University Ave W. Waterloo ON, N2L 3C5 (519) 884 0710 x 2738 (519) 883 0873 (fax) blueprintmagazine.ca Next Issue Thursday, January 14 Theme “Love” For advertising info contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: (519) 884 0710 x 3560
Editor-in-Chief Erin Epp Managing Editor: Print Content Morgan Alan Managing Editor: Visual Content Carly Lewis Promotional Director Kelly Grevers Editorial Assistants Michael Gagliano Julia Klyn Dnyanada Palkar
President General Manager/Advertising Chair of the Board Vice-Chair Treasurer Director Corporate Secretary Distribution Manager Web Manager
Zinta Avens-Auzins Jordon Chiarelli Graham Engel Kelly Grevers Kevin Hatch Brendan Jeffery Carly Lewis Hayley Lewis
Jodie Mace Matt Mousseau Sasha Ormond Bryson Rhodes Kate Richards Emily Slofstra Nuno Teixeira Emmanuel Xerx Javier
Bryn Ossington Angela Foster Jordan Hyde Luay Salmon Suhail Hafeez Kyle Muizelaar Maeve Strathy Nicole Weber Jonathan Rivard
Blueprint Magazine is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community. Started in 2002 as Bluprint, Blueprint Magazine is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by a board of directors. Opinions in Blueprint Magazine are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the management team, Blueprint Magazine, WLUSP or WLU. Content appearing in Blueprint Magazine bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. The circulation for a normal issue of Blueprint Magazine is 3,000 copies.
cover by yusuf kidwai with erin epp & carly lewis
inside front cover by carly lewis inside back cover by emily kennedy back cover by myles wilson & kelly grevers
p, up, bubbles roll under and over mirepoix and potatoes, caramelized apple and yam, an avalanche in reverse. They come from an impermeable solid, no pores to pour out from; unbelievable, but fire’s transformative, and it would appear something can come out where there is, apparently, nothing for them to come out from. Fire isn’t the only change-maker; food is too. It turns empty to full, sad to happy, wary to warm. It’s a universal conduit for communion, bonding over the bountiful and beautiful – and sometimes terrible. Shit food can ruin your day. Though it should be said we should be grateful for what we have, as the rest of the world’s dinner plate is rapidly shrinking. Some could say we taught the rest of the world that their role was to prepare for a global banquet in which we were the only guests, and to ignore their own needs. If you deny this, you’re probably an asshole. This diatribe has waxed poetic and philosophical, and now there comes a point; something else I wanted to say. Food should be shared. In the global view, we’ve begun to rethink our distribution networks, to local and non-agribusiness, but it’s far from improved; we still sit at the head of the table. In the local view, food should be shared with friends, lovers, complete strangers even. Everyone needs to eat, eating needs everyone. Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom… Graham Engel
Illustration by Kelly Grevers
here is just something special about sharing a meal with someone. It is some simple pleasure transcending generations and civilizations. Experimenting in the kitchen leads to culinary feats and defeats, yet cooking remains one of the joys in my life. And I relish the praise garnered from the presentation of some new work or treat, most certainly delectable beyond ken. Why then did I turn down an invitation for dinner tonight? No, I am not stark raving mad, or at least I do not think so. No, no it is something more than that. Currently I am experiencing the worst financial ruin of my entire adult life. Sure, it would be chic to blame it on the economy, but why lie? This is all my doing, and I am not that ashamed. By not holding down a lucrative job in the summer, and restricting the amount of hours I work during the school year, getting those ends to meet is so very hard. So it is the case that my pantry is bare save for a few of the staples. Now is when people turn to the food bank to make certain that the semblances of three square meals a day are at least met. Surely it is mad, then, to turn down a good thing. Madness! Whether to surrender myself to my incapacitation and accept their help, or to keep my demented pride and go hungry, this is not a hard decision. My drive for independence gets in the way, and when my back is up against the wall is when I am the most defiant. Infantilization is what I loathe and fear, and when people are offering me out of dire situations it is putting me in a terrible spot. I cannot accept support, no matter the form, and a delicious meal is all the same. Inventing situations alleging I have just eaten, or even just declining simple invitations to save face. I have to maintain mastery over myself and my affairs, and be the author of my own destiny. My personal failing, then, becomes my public stigma; food then, my joy, becomes my bane.
Subsistence and Self-Esteem W
“While we may allegedly live in a more accepting and proactive culture, anyone who argued that body size relates to self-esteem problems is still very much alive and would have a lot of trouble backing up their claims.”
e’ve all been there, male or woman. The age old situation when a young woman pauses, on the verge of accepting some desert or otherwise ‘unhealthy’ food, then says “No, I really shouldn’t” and refrains from accepting it. Regardless of prompting that no, she really looks fine, and she doesn’t have to worry about it, and it’s just one, once that initial threshold of decision has been crossed, it seems there is no going back. For quite some time, but particularly lately, these moments have been really bothering me, because every time I notice them, I see the same frown signifying the same thought process going on in the head of the woman in question. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not by any means advocating a lifestyle of unhealthy eating—far from it. The problem for me is that the pause, the frown and the refraining are almost never as much a question of a healthy lifestyle as a signifier of body image anxieties to some degree or another. And let’s face it—the social issue of how generation after generation have been prompted by the media to starve themselves, attempting to live up to an ultimately unattainable standard of culturally constructed beauty, has become an almost exhaustively overdone debate. The problem is, the debate really isn’t much of a debate. People raise the same arguments of how bad it all is, but never really present any viable alternatives in terms of attitude shifts. As such, the problems ranging from self-esteem issues to more pronounced conditions such as bulimia and anorexia, just keep on happening. While we may allegedly live in a more accepting and proactive culture, anyone who argued that body size relates to self-esteem problems is still very much alive and would have a lot of trouble backing up their claims. The problem is, I think, that most people articulating such arguments have trouble practicing what they preach. I can think of countless examples of women in my life who are tremendously accepting and supportive of overweight people being treated as exactly equal and just as beautiful as anyone else, while themselves falling prey to worrying about what they eat and how they look. An ex-girlfriend told me that she has never spoken to another woman who wasn’t to some degree worried about her weight. More and more, as much as it depresses me, I’m inclined to believe her. People can sound off all they want about how everyone of any size should be equally accepted, yet nobody wants to be the person whose beauty standards are being championed. It makes perfect sense, but the problem is, the deep-seated ideological problems never really go away if people can’t reconcile them with their own lives and senses of self-image. What makes the issue even worse is that it’s seen as a very gendered problem. Since there is such an uproar (justifiably so) over female size concerns, seldom do people stop and think about the just as present size anxieties existing for overweight men. While larger women may extensively struggle to reconcile themselves with culturally constructed notions of beauty, at the very least (if it is any consolation), their debate has been prominently articulated throughout the years. Seldom have there been writings, studies, texts exploring the equal struggle for identity and positive self-image for men. While it is generally seen that being overweight and male is more ‘culturally accepted’ than being an overweight woman, explorations of the issue usually stop there, without attempting to unearth the real pain and struggle undergone by overweight men. In many ways, there are likely just as many incidents of men refusing desert for fear of gaining weight, just less immediately evident, making them just as insidious a concern as the conflict over female size acceptance. As such, food is played up to an almost transcendent state—that which people ultimately strive for above all else, but must force themselves, martyr-like, to constantly self-deny. Whether lusting after it or forcing themselves to deny it, food becomes prominent in the lives of everyone far past the importance of merely needing it to survive and be healthy. It becomes a strange, fetishized commodity, intrinsically linked with self-perception and self-image. And this is what I think is not only slightly ridiculous about the whole matter, but the most viable grounds on which people can start dismantling ideological anxieties and just living their lives. Read Subsistence and Self-Esteem in full at blueprintmagazine.ca
ood is a really big deal to me. Thinking about it can make my heart swell and my brain want to dance. I love putting time into preparing tasty things. It makes me feel like I take care of myself, my body, and helps me keep doing the things I love to do. I really believe that you are what you eat. I mean, all the cells, molecules, chemicals, tissue in your body came from somewhere. They came from the food you’ve eaten. Think about it. Where does food come from? Not the supermarket. It really comes from fields, greenhouses, clay pots on windowsills, cows, chickens, pigs, real animals! Which is why I don’t eat meat. The point is, food is not a human invention. We’ve been pretty creative with it, but it comes from that really sexy thing most of us call nature, or sweet, sweet Mother Earth. I feel like most people who live in the city forget that, because they often forget about nature in general. We forget how connected we are to this living being that is our planet. We forget that we stand on it, because there’s concrete between our feet and the suffocated soil. We forget that the sun shines and fills us with love because we hide inside with our computers. We’ve forgotten that trees and flowers and animals can talk because we’ve just been listening to ourselves. And we’ve started putting overly processed food in our bodies. All the nutrients that signal “life” have been removed, and we’ve forgotten what real food is, what comes straight from the land. We just want the fancy package, the shiny can. But when have you eaten Krap Dinner and felt really good after? After I had been cooking decent meals for myself for a few months, I had some, and I felt terrible after! I could feel my stomach wondering where the real stuff was. It wanted succulent vegetables, it wanted whole grains, not some creamy weird white flour mush. There’s something about good, nutritious, and delicious food that shoots an arrow of amazingness to my brain. Mostly because I think about where it came from and the process it went through to get to my taste buds, to get to my tongue. Texture, flavour, scent, warmth, fullness, fulfillment. It’s like oral sex with the Earth involving incredibly long foreplay. Okay, awkward analogy. But it’s kind of true if you’re that into nature. The first handpicked strawberry of the season makes me stand still in awe, tonguing that flavourful flesh. To think that a plant can make little bits of heaven grow all over itself ! Not only does food directly connect us to nature, it connects people to each other. We cook for one another, we bake bread together. We have potlucks. We share. There are people all over who realize the importance of food and that its commodification can make the healthy, delicious stuff inaccessible to many. These people are Foodies not Bombers, People’s Potato lovers. They are servers in soup kitchens; they are dumpster-divers. They are community gardeners. They are small organic farmers. Please, for the love of your body, and the love of the planet, try to put beautiful, healthy, whole (as local as possible) foods into yourself. Here’s a recipe to start you out. Most of the ingredients can be found fairly locally.
.))1#2#.)3!-.#."/) -34&)5-)3!6 • A few tablespoons of oil • A teaspoon of salt • A tablespoon of delicious herbs, or a teaspoon of ground pepper • 1 big / 2 medium leeks, cut into 1.5cm-ish chunks • 3 large carrots, cut into sticks • 4 medium potatoes, diced • 1 ½ to 2 cups water • 1 cup dried lentils
')!+"5 Heat the oil on medium-high in a large saucepan/pot. Add the salt and herbs/pepper and stir them around for several seconds. Throw all the vegetables in and stir-fry them for a few minutes, making sure everything’s nicely coated with oil. Add the water and the lentils and stir. Turn the heat up to maximum and cover with a tight-fitting lid. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down low and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When all the veggies are nice and soft/piercable with a fork, turn the heat off and it’s ready to serve! [Adapted from my favourite cook book, 125 Best Vegetarian Recipes by Byron Ayanoglu, except I added lentils for a good shot of protein]
ur generation exists in the midst of vast cultural and political change, both locally and globally. Our lives can often seem seized by capital interest and our society’s constant tendency to outsource, expand and globalize. The idea of a global neighborhood can be exciting and charged with change, but on the other hand, can simultaneously be quite terrifying and only established at a great cost: the sacrifice of culture, tradition and resource. Corrupt corporations and governments alike have entitled themselves to properties, and the goods they produce for the purpose of capital gain. As a result, much of the world’s resources, including water and food, are being monopolized. This means that corporations decide what is distributed to us, where it comes from, how it’s made and who gets paid. A scary thought. Fair access to food and resources are amongst our most fundamental human rights. If money is power, corporations have it, but there is still a way for you to fight back, through an ongoing grassroots revolution that has existed since the start of human time: GROW YR OWN FOOD! Gardening is one of the most empowering and produc-
tive things someone could do in this generation. It promotes our connection to the land and teaches us how to respect and nourish it. Perhaps more importantly, it allows us the knowledge to know exactly where our food is coming from, a concept not foreign to our ancestors but seemingly distant and difficult for our generation to grasp. With such a strong impulse towards sustainability and a greener lifestyle, now is the time to take the power back into our hands and learn how to build and sustain on our own, from the bottom up. Aside from the political implications, growing and harvesting food is personally fulfilling. It’s hard work, requires energy, time and commitment, but the payoff is huge. I had never been happier than this summer, after harvesting my first head of lettuce. After about a month of letting it grow from the soil I grew up on, I picked it, washed it, put it in a bowl and ate it with my family. Simple as it sounds, and is, it was one of the most satisfying moments of my life. Fully content, in my own backyard. My experiences in the garden have been a reminder that I am a self-sufficient human being, that things do grow and that I can accomplish and provide with my own two hands. Corporations have no place in my kitchen.
Images by Carly Lewis & Hayley Lewis There are other ways to support independent food distribution and growth too. Shop at food co-ops, go to local markets, eat organically, moderate your intake of animal product or cut it out all together (the cattle industry alone accounts for 18% of carbon emissions, yikes!), know your farmers, and keep it local! Develop respect and reverence for the food you receive, because as populations grow and consumerism prospers, our resources will run dry.
# e v o " !
self-love, cultural & religious perspectives, living through love, intimacy, romantic and platonic love, desire...
!"#$%&'#()'!%*$+,%-)%# Why we need sustainable agriculture
Visiting a community greenhouse in Inuvik
oday, the world of food is inextricably tied up in the global environmental crisis. What we eat, the way we eat, and how we produce food are a few of the most important, contentious, and controversial issues that our world faces today. Demand for meat and fish is rising around the world, food prices are rising, the population is growing, energy demand is rising, oil is being depleted, ecosystems are being destroyed, monocultures threaten the health of the plants and the soils, pollution is mounting, the oceans are being overfished, and companies can now control the genes of the food that they are producing. While the issue becomes increasingly complex, many people have turned a blind eye to the realities of the world’s natural environment and where their food is coming from. Nowadays, though, there are more and more people speaking out for more research into the health effects of genetic modification, better labeling, consumers’ rights and corporate accountability/transparency. However, the problems remain of over-consumption, over-population, and unsustainable practices. The fact remains nonetheless that the vast majority of people, in Canada and the rest of the so-called ‘Developed World’, are still content to go to the supermarket, and buy what they need and save as many dollars and cents as possible. The truth is, that is exactly what agribusiness companies have always tried to do as well: produce as much as they can and cut their expenses as much as possible. This, as well as the pressure of population growth, led to the great technological advances of industrialized agriculture, and then biotechnology and genetic modification. One of the great leaders in both of those fields is of course the company Monsanto.
The modern supermarket is something that is representative of our culture in every way. It is big, convenient, with wide selection, abundant products, and good prices. It is also, however, horrendously unsustainable. The vast majority of products in supermarkets are shipped from very long distances away; this of course requires fossil fuels to transport them. In order to produce so much food, year-round, companies resort to massive machines for field work: huge amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides, inputs which are usually petroleum based chemicals. The advent of genetic engineering seemed to strive to make things easier, but has since made everything very complicated instead. The fact remains that the industrial production of crops requires huge amounts of fossil fuels, to produce huge amounts of food that is coated in pesticides and shipped over here, often across oceans. All this has huge implications for everyone. Industrialized agriculture also leads to massive depletion and erosion of the soil. There are vast areas that were once over-fertilized crop fields being grown by huge companies that are now barren deserts. Another issue is the runoff of nitrogen fertilizers off of fields into rivers and the oceans has completely disrupted the aquatic ecosystems. This fertilizer is causing massive blooms of algae, that suck up all of the oxygen in the water, leaving none left for the other organisms. The life cycle of the algae is relatively short, and so it dies, leaving the water completely devastated in its wake. Industrial agriculture also, when over tilling soil, releases the CO2 that the soil has captured and is storing. Irrigation also is a massive consumer of water, which is inefficiently used through
The Inuvik Community Greenhouse is the most northerly greenhouse in North America, and it’s certainly unique. It was formerly an arena, but thanks to the Community Garden Society of Inuvik in 1998, it was converted into a greenhouse.
“We can thank poor countries for our wealth, prosperity and food abundance,
because that’s where we get it.” giant sprinklers to stock the shelves of the supermarkets. The consumption of resources, the emissions impact and other impacts of large-scale industrialized agriculture are staggering. Yet there is also a human impact. In many places, specifically third world countries, people who once had a traditional claim to the land, but lack modern legal title or documentation, are dispossessed of their means of livelihood and must become indentured labour in these huge corporate plantations. Multinational corporations exploit poor countries and their shady governments (who are sometimes set up by the CIA or the military for the monetary interests of the West) to allow inhuman labour conditions and extremely low wages. Sometimes things like sugar, or chocolate, are being produced using child labour. The things we see in the supermarket are actually part of a vast network of food commerce, and food bondage. Many impoverished countries where children are starving actually have food surpluses. However, the company who has set up their operation owns the food, and they export it here. Take peanut butter. In a supermarket, the peanut butter selection is usually a vast array of various brands, sizes, consistencies, and types. When you’re in a supermarket looking at the selection of peanut butter, think about how much peanut butter there must be in each supermarket. Then think about how many supermarkets there are in the world. The numbers are truly astronomical. Peanuts are actually one of the main exports from Africa. In some countries, it’s their only export. In fact, the entire country is basically geared towards production and exportation of peanuts. Yet the economy is not a wealthy and equally distributed GDP; the people are poor, starving, and cannot do anything but keep trying to produce and sell one export and try to pay off their debts.
This is a very important part of this whole puzzle. Two of the most powerful organizations in the world are the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They have proven themselves to be very good at something called “Structural Adjustment.” Basically, when a “developing” country is in economic trouble, the IMF and the World Bank are the “lender of last resort”. They state that they are committed to “ending poverty”. When they lend a country money, they attach conditions to that loan. Those conditions are Structural Adjustment policies. Their economists, the best in the world, declare that these policies are meant to stimulate their economies and help them become economically developed countries. In fact, these policies effectively enslave their economies, and provide rich Western countries with cheap labour, resources, and anything else they may want to squeeze from them. We can thank poor countries for our wealth, prosperity and food abundance, because that’s where we get it. Let me sum up by saying these are some of the things that are ongoing practices that supply the food we see everywhere. Really, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. However it’s not where ALL of the food comes from. Family farms that are small and sustainable are becoming very rare, but they are still there. The shift in consciousness towards organic, local, unmodified, unprocessed, and fair trade products is a step in the right direction. However, the Global Food Chain is still running and still something that people need to pay more attention to. There are all sorts of ways that we can change how we spend our food budget to help people and the environment (and be healthier). One of the things that many people may or may not know is the impact of the meat industry. If you are to eat meat, there are local organic sources that you can go to to get sustainably produced meat and help support small, local farms. continued on page 14
Inuvik is not isolated like fly-in communities such as those in the Arctic archipelago, but food prices are still several dollars higher than in southern Canadian communities, perishables especially so. The growing season outdoors is just a few months long, and the greenhouse itself is only open from May to September. However, its plots are high in demand by individuals, group homes, children’s groups, the mentally disabled and other charities.
Many of the plots are elaborately equipped to grow many kinds of plants, both edible and flowering. Each member must tend to his or her own garden as well as help out with general tasks such as turning the composters, filling the water barrels or giving tours.
’m called upon and asked to continue slicing up a pineapple. In the dimly lit classroom I stand up and approach the task at hand, feeling the piercing glare from the rest of my peers. I take a squirt from the hand sanitizer that accompanies my spread out newspaper, a plastic cutting board, an array of sharp knives and of course, the focal point of the project: a pineapple. It’s time to slice and dice. I picture at once a herbaceous perennial plant baring a fruit wrapped in rigid bark locking in a tender, ripe fruit. A fleshy inside. Layered, resembling the sedimentary rock of the Canadian Shield, that easily tears and as you eat it, the moist nectar drips around the fingers and lips, running down the chin revealing a unique tang. I have no choice but to taste it, and the tang accentuates the taste buds, reminding me of summer. I forget there’s snow outside. It reminds me of scorching summer days and how my father would cut up chunks of the fruit and bring it into the backyard for my friends and me to eat while we guzzle copious amounts of beer. We share the fruit and celebrate vacation and drunken debauchery, and it brings us closer together; a topper to the alcohol – a chaser in some instances. I can’t help but remember my father having chunks of pineapple stuck in his moustache and failing to realize it from the numbing effects of the ice cold drink. I slice another slab and toss it on the plate, like dad does. I cut out the core, the dead left behinds. “Sometimes you just have to cut away the dead flesh,” as my father would often remind me. “Like a coyote in a bear trap, in order to survive they eat off their own paw; you’ve seen three-legged dogs haven’t you?” I can picture the stump now actually, and the memory fades. I plop down another piece. I feel the power of the knife, the gliding motion of the razor sharp blade penetrating and slicing through the yellow, tangy fruit. I can smell the pineapple - the unique smell of the juice - a juice which is easily mixed with rum to great appeal. Try a “Pineapple Spritzer”: Pour rum over pineapple chunk in a tall glass Add pineapple juice and sweet and sour. Top with Sprite. Stir and serve. The smell associated with a pineapple isn’t easy to describe; a tang that reminds me of summer, a sensory trigger that makes sense because of pineapple’s association to the tropics. People say pineapples remind them of Hawaii, but I think of my own personal Hawaii, how the accompaniment of the fruit mixed with heat, rum, friends and family by the pool is no different than Hawaii- with addition of the occasional lei for good measure. We played football with one once, it tore apart my nipples because I bit the bullet and was on “Team Skins.” There’s nothing more rewarding than catching a pineapple Hail Mary only to have its crown leaves penetrate your eyes, ears and nose. My grandmother told me once she would feed me cantaloupe and pineapple when I was teething which amazes me because she’s always been off her rocker. Knowing her, she would probably have bought a pineapple infested with mealybugs. Mealybugs vector wilt disease and I could picture my fruit sticky body wilting like a rose and looking something like a young/old Benjamin Button (thank you F. Scott Fitzgerald). Remaining at the desk, I continue to chizzle out the core of the ripe fruit. They say the core can’t be eaten without effect, but I’m sure it has been done. People act like the core is Plan 9 or something, but really it’s no different than a peach pit: both will apparently make you extremely constipated. The amount of congeries my professor will come across in these proceedings crosses my mind and my stomach begins to rumble. Naturally, I begin to see food in my near future. I ingest another slab of pineapple and think of pizza; cheesy, gooey, Hawaiian pizza. You know that feeling you get stepping into a pizza parlour, and that smell of baking dough punches you in the face, that bell rings signaling your arrival and the entire staff peers over like Linda Blair in The Exorcist? Or Pineapple glazed ham, glistening in the oven with toothpicks holding bits of ham in place all around the moist slab of meat. I’m a long ways from class at this moment. Did you know that Chicago is a slang term for pineapple? “One Chicago sundae please.” The movie, Little Nicky, starring Adam Sandler as Lucifer’s son makes clever usage of the pineapple. There is a scene in which Hitler, in a maid’s uniform (dust feather and all), enters to choose a pineapple out of a cabinet only to have it inserted rectally by none other than Satan himself. And with that I suddenly have no desire to eat anymore. “Alright, who’s next?” shouts my professor. “Phew.”
Opposite: Core | Matt Mousseau
for the improvement of T
hey had small talk for appetizers. Napkins all around because conversation is a messy process. Indeed, the words spoken or heard can cause a person the same indigestion as a spoiled ham. But, the same words read or written in the right context and for the right purpose can bring a willing subject the same nourishment as a turkey dinner. Thanksgiving anyone? What are holidays? Why should they be associated with extravagant meals? For my Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to serve words, sentences, paragraphs... My guests, ravenous for some enlightenment, but aimless and without direction. I decided to encourage some discussion among those present by introducing a topic and serving the main course: discourse. “It is my opinionThe idea was left unfinished. It sat on my plate, quickly going cold. Soon, it would lose flavour (and relevance). “Are you going to finish that?” asked a guest. “No,” I said. “You may finish it.” -that we have invested a lot of trust in those who are responsible for feeding the greater population. And they have abused our trust. Most of what they sell at the grocery store is processed. No longer grown in the ground. And don’t get me started on the fast food industry.” “What is real anymore? Everything is simulated. It’s cheaper that way. The food industry is less about the feeding of stomachs and more about the feeding of pockets.” “That’s what I don’t understand. You would think the producers of these foods would have more empathy. They have to eat, after all. Anyone who wouldn’t eat the food they produce shouldn’t be producing food at all.” “I for one refuse to eat the synthesized foods. Have you ever considered what that word means? The combination of parts or elements to form a whole. Yes. And they list the parts along the side of the package, but they neglect to list what parts are combined to make those parts, add infinitum. Synthesized foods are the Frankenstein monster conceived by Mary Shelley.” “Indeed,” said another guest. “We are living in the dystopian future predicted by writers like Huxley and Orwell. They would be ashamed of us. We don’t fight to overthrow this food oppression. We accept it. Eyes closed. Mouths open.” “That’s enough,” I said, having lost control of the party, my guests, and the main course. Discouraging discourse indeed. “You have a lot to say about the matter, but what has been said here that hasn’t been said before? Is anyone here trying to better the food plight? Stop talking and do something!” “Like what?” asked a guest. “Throw a hand grenade into a McDonald’s restaurant... Cause a riot in a grocery store... Torch a food processing plant... Jump in front of a Coca Cola truck... I don’t know, anything! Are you even listening to me?” The guests began slumping in their chairs. How rude, I thought, to slump in ones chair. And what about the main course? Almost untouched! “Listen to me! Isn’t anyone listening?” Unfortunately, the word, spoken or written, offers nothing in the way of viable sustenance. My guests are dropping like pages of a book. They’re getting shorter every day. Soon, the collective attention span will be incapable of reading anything longer than a food menu. And by the time they finish reading it, they will have starved to death. Order up!
continued from page 9... The problems with and impacts of factory farms and meat production are immense. The CO2 emissions from all of the animals alone is a huge contribution to the human-enhanced greenhouse effect. The best way to reduce your impact through meat consumption however is of course, to not eat meat. Eating local, organic foods, that haven’t been over-processed or over-packaged is a way to eat responsibly, support people, the environment, and also to find some great quality ingredients. Also, look for fair trade sources of things like sugar, coffee, and chocolate. However, the most important thing is for people to be aware of what goes on everyday throughout the world, and how it connects to you. When the evils of the world seem so numerous and unstoppable, that is not the time to resign yourself and keep it out of sight and out of mind. The great debate that is ongoing today is between those who helped create the technological advances in food production, as a response to increasing demand, and those who are opposed to its impacts and problems. The former point to how much it’s done for us, which is a very true point, and say that with the population now at 6.8 billion and rising, there’s no way we can feed everyone any other way. They say small scale production or organic production is simply not enough. However, the problem is not a shortage of food. The problem is firstly the distribution of food (we are over-consuming the food we import from poorer countries), and secondly our eating habits. We have the excess of the West, and the subsequent starving of everyone else. In India and China, the problem continues: as average
incomes rise, their diets are switching to more meat and animal products. The other side of the debate is “What is sustainable?” While in a global context, a system of sustainable food production would be a tremendously complicated undertaking, if everyone could just be taught the simple techniques to farm their own land in an effective, perennial, sustainable manner, everyone could feed themselves. That would actually in itself contribute to curbing population growth. We know that one of the reasons the population is growing, especially in developing countries, is people living in poverty. Poverty, in effect, is a huge environmental issue, and if we want to help the environment, we have to help those people who need the most help, and we in the West need to consume less of the world’s resources. The fact is that we know how to farm sustainably. The knowledge and techniques are there, in thousands of small-scale organic farming communities all over the world. What we need is a truly global shift in the way we look at food, the way we acquire food, the way we produce food, the way we eat food, and most importantly the way we think about what we eat. We need a shift in the way the people at the top, the rich policy makers and the corporations who have the most influence think about the best way to produce food into the future. Eating ethically and sustainably is one of the best ideas that is gaining ground today, but it is only one step in a long road ahead. We also need people to take notice, get informed, speak out, and take a stand.
Brendan Jeffery http://peacefulseeds.blogspot.com/
Which Way to the Buffet? L
et me begin by assuring my readers I am fully aware that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Yes, I know—enjoyment of good food is a worldly pleasure and overeating is an evil for which those who indulge in the act should hang their heads in shame. But I can’t help it. I love to eat. Sure, everybody loves food, but I really love food. It occupies my mind probably more often than it should. I would rather be eating than doing anything else. No matter how happy I am at any given moment, my contentment could always be increased if only I had a fork in my hand and a plate of some culinary delight or another sitting in front of me. I like to linger over my food, taking small bites so that I don’t finish too soon. At breakfast, I eat no more than half a Shreddie at a time, and I make each Mini-Wheat last five or six bites. And when I finally finish the last mouthful of a particularly tasty dish, I always have to remind myself of that old adage which tells us not to cry for what we lost, but to smile for what we had. After I finish eating my morning meal, the only thing that consoles me is the knowledge that I will get to eat again in a few short hours. As soon as lunch is over, I’m looking forward to dinner. After dinner, I can’t wait for my bedtime snack. And after that blissful indulgence is in my belly and I’ve curled up for the night, visions of sugar-plums dance in my head as I dream about doing it all over again in the morning. Not only do I love eating food, but I enjoy buying it, too. If I were to write a list of my favourite places to be, the top five would all be grocery stores. I would rather win a shopping spree at Sobey’s than at H&M. Sure, I can get as excited over a new outfit as the next girl, but I can never justify to myself spending more on a dress than I would on a dinner out. When I look at the price tag on an item of clothing, I mentally calculate how many meals I could buy for the same amount. Usually I conclude that I can do without a new blouse or skirt, no matter how cute I would look in it. I recognize, of course, that there is more to life than shopping for food and looking cute while doing it. As a university student, I am often forced to turn my thoughts from what I’m going to make for dinner tonight, to how I’m going to earn my bread (and cakes and scones and tarts) after I graduate from Laurier. In a perfect world, I would be offered a job as restaurant critic for the New York Times immediately upon finishing school. If food is my first love, writing is my second, and nothing would make me happier than being able to put the two together and make a career out of them. The problem is this: I am a glutton by nature, not a gourmet. The simple truth is that I am far too easily impressed by food. If I were to devote my life to the noble profession of telling wealthy folks which upscale eatery serves the best chocolate pâté, I would have to learn to be much fussier about what I put in my mouth. I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like, or even a stale cracker I did not care for. I like the taste of nearly everything that contains calories—the exceptions which spring to mind being black liquorice (and really, who does like that?), olives (although I don’t mind these as pizza toppings), and soy milk (which is fine on cereal but nausea-inducing when drunk straight from a glass). Like most people, I had much more discriminating tastebuds when I was very young. I used to dread the early evening hour when I would be forced to sit at the kitchen table and down an entire plate of whatever putrid concoction my mother had cooked for supper that day (peas and mashed potatoes? Good God, woman, have mercy!). Now dinnertime is my favourite time of the day, followed closely by lunch and then breakfast. Since I’ve come this far, I might as well unburden my conscience completely with a final confession: yes, I have been known to attend social functions for no other reason than that the notices said “Refreshments will be provided.” Don’t look at me like that! Before you condemn me as a soulless and shallow gourmand, let me say this in my defense: I did stop eating meat in 2008 after awakening to the true barbarity of conditions on factory farms. I ate meat for 18 years, but now I find it horrifying that most people see nothing wrong with eating slaughtered animals. I know that being a vegetarian doesn’t count for much these days, since I am only one of millions of North Americans who forgo meat in the name of saving animals and the planet. But I still feel good about the choice I made, and I dream of the day when the Animal Rights Movement will put a stop to “meatatarianism” once and for all. And if soy milk ever starts being sold for a dollar a litre and stops tasting like rice, I might even go vegan.
Jodie Mace Burger | Sasha Ormond
lot of people come here. They have to. If they didn’t, they might shrivel up like a raisin and decompose into fertilizer. The human kind. Then they could truly aid in the growth of their own fruits and vegetables. But how useful would that be to a pile of dirt? Not very. I remember before I was a baby, petals and pollen. Malus Domestica: my birth home. My birth form: a rose blossom, you know. How romantic. I was very mature for my age. Not by choice. Those little buzzing creatures, entering the center of my five petaled body, that centre where everything comes to a point of sweet, desirable dust. They can’t resist the temptation. Everything changed after my buzzing lover visited. I started to get fat and swollen. My petals slowly died and my center, my lone ovary, became encompassed by warm flesh. I became a red heart of protective obesity, hanging from my stem. Just hanging there, witnessing every sunrise and sun set, showering in the sky’s tears when she was sad and basking in her warm, golden gaze when she was happy. Now I am here. Watching the people. Every single kind of person. Because every single kind of person needs to eat. Fat people, skinny people, smart people, stupid people, young people, old people, sick people, even anorexic people need to eat a little. I just perch here under a mass of my not-quite-identical twins. Watching. I’m not sure how I got here. I do remember the confusion of feeling the pressure of five fleshy fingers clench me and the horrible sting that came from being forcefully detached from my multi-armed mother. Then it was dark and bumpy for a long, long time. But not lonely. I could hear the moans and yelps of hundreds of my siblings. All of us carefully placed in our own little cardboard cavity. This must have been to ensure we didn’t get into any fights. Picture hundreds of brothers and sisters crammed into a jolting, small, dark space for days. Sibling rivalry is bound to kick in and nobody likes bruises. Someone just made a window for me. Before I had to peek out between the cracks of my compatriots. Light is unstable here. Always flashing so slightly. So cold. I am grasped and fondled, bagged and carted. Lifted, weighed, bagged again and carted again. If only my stem wasn’t a dead reminder of where I came from. (My home. Malus Domestica). I wish it were an arm, like people have. Even with only one I might at least have some say in my destiny. Instead I roll around uncontrollably in another one of those dark, bouncy, uncomfortable spaces. It’s kind of fun, rolling around like that. It tickles me all over. But I am a bit worried about where I will end up. I miss the sun and the breeze and the sky’s emotions. I crash into a wall and remain still. Then, click. And there is light again. But it’s not the same when its beams have to get through a layer of plastic first. I am lifted and carried to another inside space, debagged, and placed in another cavity. It’s colder and harder than the first one. It’s bigger, too and there are other fruits and vegetables, vegging with me in this basin. And so we veg together under the cold, artificial light of domesticity. Then someone says, “I’m hungry.” Now I am stomach acid...
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Volume 9 Issue 4 November 2009