A year of progressive, purposeful eating in 2018

Winter fruit and spice. Photo: Thomas Nilsson/flickr

The New Year is just a few weeks away -- a good time to start reflecting on what we should do that might be different. At least that is what I like to do at this time of year.

Besides wishing everyone health and happiness (I always dodge the prosperity stuff 'cause I tend to feel that term is ambiguous at best), I always end up reflecting on how best to make this life count in the New Year. What things do I need to consider or undertake that might make this world, my community and myself better?

For some, this time of year might lead to reflections around health, finances or acquisitions -- that never quite cuts it for me.

My resolution this year is going to be all about how I can work towards sustainable eating practices -- practices that work to help the environment as well as food producers here and elsewhere…and practices that help to support food sovereignty.

1. Dump the transnationals

This, I must admit, can be a lofty goal -- but it is one worth aspiring to. On the consumer end of it, I cringe when people tell me to seek out a particular product at Costco. I long ago decided that Costco and Wal-Mart would never be on my list, and I have avoided online shopping through Amazon.

Now, Amazon is about to become an online grocery store as well? Oh boy!

In 2018, I will continue to avoid the transnationals as best I can -- and that extends to very large grocery stores like Loblaws. My goal is to shop locally first, sourcing some foods directly from farms and farmers' markets, and shopping smaller, Canadian, outlets, otherwise.

This is serious business, and as a consumer, I have a responsibility.

It may be a lot easier than you think -- and shopping responsibly is not necessarily more expensive. And it is much safer, I believe, than trying to keep an eye on the mega-food recalls that plague the mega-food industry. A handful of corporations control food production. If I can help it, I do not intend to be a part of helping that continued concentration.

2. Campaign against GM crops, and for food safety and the environment

I plan to continue to keep an eye out for the latest news on genetically modified (GM) foods. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) is a collaborative research organization that is a great resource to keep track of GM products and campaigns in Canada. It also provides a lot of information about corporate concentration in the seed and food industry. Also on my list of resolutions is to do my best to support sustainable fishing practices and to source sustainable fish products. That will be challenging, I know!

3. Become the new foodie -- progressive and purposeful

On my list of resolutions is to support community food groups and community agriculture by continuing to frequent farmers' markets and projects that encourage locally grown and harvested foods.

I don't eat out a lot, but when I do, my 2018 resolution is to, as much as possible, support Canadian restaurants that source healthy, local foods and that contribute to sustainable farm practices and community food projects.

4. Engage in agriculture

While my very small backyard is currently snow covered, come spring, I plan to grow some food -- maybe a few tomatoes and maybe a few berries from a well-nurtured vine. But there is also garlic and herbs, and lots of other stuff to consider, even on a small plot of land. And I plan to learn more about foraging.

Farmers begin planning their crops in January and February -- a good time for me to start on my small-scale project as well!

If I had a flat roof on my house, I might even consider a rooftop garden -- we could use a few more of those on commercial buildings, so that might be another resolution to consider. Imagine rooftop gardens on all provincial and federal government buildings. I feel a campaign coming on…

5. Join-up -- get a new membership

This year, I plan to join at least one more organization -- one that actively promotes policies and practices that benefit farmers, working folk and our planet.

I was stunned and oh so pleased to learn in 2017 that there is now a local of the National Farmers Union in the middle of Toronto. These are urbanites eager to support a progressive and activist farm organization by becoming associate members. I am big on coalitions believing that change will only happen if there is collaboration between urban and rural folks around food issues, both on an individual and an organizational basis. The NFU Toronto local is heartening!

There are some excellent membership organizations that work on food issues. Another is Food Secure Canada. But there are likely many others to be found.

And if you don't want to join or can't for some reason, I would consider donating time or money or both to community food groups working locally, nationally or internationally.

All the best in engaging in purposeful eating in 2018! Happy New Year!

Lois Ross is a communications specialist, writer, and editor, living in Ottawa. Her column "At the farm gate" discusses issues that are key to food production here in Canada as well as internationally.

Photo: Thomas Nilsson/flickr

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