Living Locally

by TeaLady on January 20, 2013

Post image for Living Locally

Take Charge Tea was thrilled to be in attendance at the fifth annual Living Locally fair put on by the Russel Horticultural Society. This very special event gathers producers, farmers, educators and volunteers together for a dynamic experience of a thriving local economy. People there want to talk about sustainability and yesterday I was in a room full of solutions; a room full of energy and hope for the future. This kind of event always gets me thinking and I thought it was about time for a blog post on the issue that is an important part of what we are actually selling here, at Take Charge Tea.

There are a lot of different diets, health trends, food obsessions and philosophies about consumption intersecting with environmental and social accountability. Part of this is resulting from the realization that we have evolved a whole new set of health issues by letting our diet be dictated to us by grocery store availability. In essence, on a mass scale our population in North America has inadvertently been bottle-fed for life by multinational corporations with no individual autonomy or accountability. What this means is that the products we’ve been consuming since the 50’s have been made with more and more focus on: packaging or visual aesthetics; lowering cost of production by substituting quality ingredients for fillers; extending shelf life with preservatives; and profitability with smaller more expensive portions sizes. The option to buy fresh, pure, high quality food in the quantity we need without extra plastic packaging has almost disappeared. This has resulted in poverty, overflowing landfills, asthma and obesity epidemics in children while increasing profits for the pharmaceutical industry who serves up over the counter and prescription medications to alleviate chronic conditions resulting from our poor diets. We spend our hard earned dollars and what we end up consuming is not helping society as a whole in the long run….but it is helping investors and stockholders of multi-national grocery and chemical conglomerates get richer.

Living Locally, supporting local growers and producers is one solution to this. An incredible thing happens to the caliber of foodstuffs we access locally with regards to the taste and the intensity of nutrition in the food; not to mention the dramatic lack of unrecognizable chemical preservatives, flavourings and colourings. They aren’t necessary because it’s not wood pulp disguised as food here. It’s a farmer or baker or jam maker who loves the ingredient enough to labour long hours bringing it to market for us; bringing us the increasingly rare option to feed real food to our families. When you face your farmer or producer each saturday at market or at annual community events, you are staring accountability and integrity right in the eye. This is the stuff that you can’t even put a price on. It really is as simple as deciding what core values one votes in to power. Politics is just the machine. We all know that money is power, and so we need to realize that every dollar we spend votes for the kind of future we are building. Over the past 50 years we have unintentionally built powerful systems of control over our food security, our agriculture and our natural resources which have no built in access to human values such as accountability, and integrity. Some have seen it happening and there is some political will to try and tame the wild life of corporate profitability but it’s become too huge and powerful to regulate. The only recourse is for we, the people, en masse to carefully vote with every dollar we spend for quality food with integrity and accountability. Our very survival as a species depends upon it.

I sit here this January day listening to the roar of my furnace, in Ottawa, Canada, where for over 6 months of the year we are not growing much because in most of the country the ground is frozen solid. However, we do have successful crops of food items such as root vegetables which can be stored and fruits such as apples and berries. But most of our groceries stores contain less expensive imported produce even during growing season. This is a food security issue, and it is inhibiting the viability of local growers. If the food item can be produced here we should be feeding our population with it and exporting the rest.

I am keenly aware that the global community keeps getting smaller and smaller, and I’m not suggesting that we cease all importation of foodstuffs. What I am suggesting, however, is that we invest in becoming aware of the origin of what we are importing. That we patronize local producers, shops, websites and co-ops who support fair trade initiatives. This means that in the long run we are directly participating in the local economy of the country of origin for our tea, mangoes, coffee, and coconut oil (instead of elite corrupt government regimes). Do not underestimate the value of trade done fairly for impoverished countries. Support grass roots initiatives and talk to people who know people. Take Charge Tea sources herbal tea ingredients from wholesalers and a co-op who partner up with the growers in other countries and/or supply fair trade certified ingredients. The coffee roasters in my town travel to the plantations and bring the beans up here knowing that the children at that place are well fed, clothed and educated.

ACCOUNTABILITY plus INTEGRITY equals SUSTAINABILITY….for the planet! Do not underestimate the implications of placing a good portion, if not all, of your consistent lifelong grocery budget as a vote for a more humane future for us, and for children all over the globe.

As we hibernate a little bit during the cold winter months, I’ll be enjoying some of the products pictured above and preparing for the spring when we come out on the weekends to local farmers markets to participate in the dynamic local economy of the Ottawa Valley. You can tap into it sooner on March 2nd at the annual “Seedy Saturday”; another gathering of local, health wise, environmentally concerned small businesses, along with non-commercial seed traders and a day of workshops and lectures. These seed trading events are held all across the country sponsored by Seeds of Diversity Canada. It all starts with the seeds….but that is another whole blog entry!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie January 21, 2013 at 10:14 am

love this page

Laksmi January 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I love, love, love, these kinds of fairs but I wish this one hadn’t been so far away – I might’ve gone otherwise. But I think I know what you mean by the energy. It’s very inspiring to be ain big room of like-mindd people like that.

I am left wondering what indigenous people did for food during the cold months before “white man” came. I am guessing they ate a lot of meet. I wish I knew more about this.

Cate January 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Well said!
I remember growing up on a mixed-product farm in the Ottawa Valley in the 1950’s & 60’s. By many standards we were ‘poor’…but we had our own vegetables, fruits, meats all year-round. In those days we didn’t even know about ‘organic’…but not a chemical had touched our crops or animals! If drugs & chemicals were even available we couldn’t use them – we were too ‘poor’!! If we wanted treats we made them – popcorn, potato chips, maple candy – and they weren’t consumed daily! Animals were raised ethically, slaughtered according to the ancient wisdoms of my parent’s ancesters, at the right time of the moon. Meat was a part of the meal, but not over-consumed. Produce was stored for the colder months by various methods, again taught from generation to generation. Fresh baked wonderful-ness was available daily, but again not over-consumed. We knew which grain crops to grow and mill for each need (baking, animal feed, cereals).
We were living a golden life! Today we cherish all we were taught, and are thrilled to be able to share that knowledge with our children. Our roots are LOCAL!

Caroline Adam May 28, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hello Tea Lady. You really know the importance of buying local when you live in a smaller community and you are by default closer to the producer. This could be food, services, etc. I learned this first hand in small town Quebec. It was hard justifying buying anything outside the area when you know the maker, seller etc. Indeed, the owner manager are often closer to their suppliers and know their sources. You do not get this with globalization where “content” can be virtually hidden in paperwork and who asks any questions anyway with the right price. When you buy local, you more likely hands down to know the supply chain and who the links are making that chain. There are more checks and balances and you are more likely to get better and a quality product service, where someone actually cares the customer because they see you face to face. It is impossible to know this in our big box, multi chain, multi-source world. Sometimes local is sadly reduced to knowing at least your cashier lives somewhere in the neighbourhood. It is nice to see the provincial government reinforcing this most vital principle. (see their support in this Montreal Gazette article

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