24 August 2009

104 Days - Celebrating Our Local Food Traditions

I spent yesterday at my community's wonderful little fall fair. I convened the Young People's Agriculture section, and was delighted to see so many people appreciating the children's produce and educational projects on food growing.

It wasn't until a lovely German tourist came through the displays and mentioned that there is nothing like it where she lives, near Frankfurt, that I realized the power and importance of our fall fair tradition.

Small-scale farming and organic gardening connect us to the past, connect us to the earth (and the Earth), and connect us to future generations. Celebrating the fruits of our harvest helps people understand where their food comes from.

And since agriculture depends on a stable climate, and the stability of our climate is already deteriorating, it would be good for all of us to appreciate what we've got before it's gone.

As the Arctic summer sea ice disappears, the whole northern hemisphere is losing its summer "air conditioner," so summer weather is becoming hotter in some places and more unpredictable in others.

I grew tomatoes in pots on my sunny deck this summer, and midway through one of our extremely rare heat waves, I started adding up how much water they were getting. I was shocked! (I've since started using grey water/dirty dishwashing water on my tomatoes.) If my few tomatoes needed almost 100 litres per week, how much water must our food producing systems use? Yet our fresh water is one of the resources most at risk due to global warming.

We don't have a clue how much things are going to change and how bad they're going to get (because they certainly aren't, despite the hopeful protestations of certain commentators, getting better nearly as fast as they're worsening), but in the meantime, let's find ways to honour our food growers and support them as they try to adapt to the changing climate.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?