A response to MLA Bennett’s statement of March 27th, "I get a kick out of the 100 Mile Diet, which is a great idea, except that where I live you'd have to eat hay."
Global News and http://www.cknw.com/2014/03/27/provincial-government-announces-changes-to-the-agricultural-land-reserve/
Mr Bennett went on to say:
"It's great, it's a great idea, and you've got a market garden in the Kootenays, but it can't feed 80,000 people."
'A market garden'? – Surely he meant to say gardens and he was surely just using the statement to justify the changes in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Mr Bennett would not infer that if all food delivery stopped tomorrow the valley's inhabitants could not feed themselves, would he?
Really - would that not be possible?
Apart from the beef cattle, sheep, goats and wild meat, we do have market gardens, home vegetable gardens, fruit trees, local eggs, Creston grains, wine and cheese. This valley even supplied potatoes and other produce to Calgary at one time. There still could be a whole lot more food growing opportunities if those food commodities received their true value and if it were the choice of those who live here to farm or garden the land for that purpose.
However we have come to rely on and choose cheap, often imported, mass-produced food, often with unknown content. The art of raising and storing our own food has been lost by many including our local agricultural economy since the Province put a stop to farm gate sales that we used to enjoy. This leaves British Columbians, and indeed, most Canadians to support foreign food growers, rather than our own producers. The 'buy local' campaigns are relative. Merchants want us to shop in their stores to purchase goods but those goods are often imported from elsewhere. Those businesses provide some local employment but in the case of food, we have a real opportunity to support genuinely locally made, and that keeps even more of the money circulating within our area economy, and more local employment rather than in another country or province.
If we are unable to feed ourselves, what does that say about food security, and our ability to be self-sufficient if necessary? If it was possible one hundred years ago and it was, there is no doubt it should be possible now if necessary.
Using an 'eat hay' analogy to justify the decision to unlock the gates on future agricultural land reserves allowing, 'whatever' would appear very short sighted. If it is possible to grow food on an artificially lit, glass covered rooftop, it is possible to raise food on much of the natural mineral rich Kootenay land. Preserving that precious resource for future use when it might be more highly valued would seem to many, the wisest thing to do.
Kudos to the many who do know how to feed themselves and kudos to all those who provide us with a wonderful locally grown product. We shall not eat hay.