We Must Build Community and Food Security

As Karen Theriault stated, in a recent article, “Healthy Diet too Costly for Some: Expert,” in the Chronicle Herald publication, “We know that Nova Scotia has a particularly high rate of food insecurity with about one in six households experiencing this.” We know from farmers locally that growing food is getting more and more difficult. In fact, even mid-income households report that a lot of the vegetables and fruits are unaffordable now that drought and other factors of the climate change crisis that have driven up the prices for imported produce as well, all which spell more food insecurity in Nova Scotia.
People struggling without property or capacity to profit, even the working poor and the lower middle class, who are also MORE insecure than if they were working communally, building more resilient communities, have to face the runaway climate emergency without the cushion of “means,” [though, as the difficult-to-attribute (Alanis Obamsawin is one source) quote, “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.” points to], we need new, radical strategies to secure food for everyone.
 
Before the notion of private property and profit, was that of the “Common,” by which all indigenous and pockets of other cultures (including in Nova Scotia in my grandmother’s era) shared resources sustainably. An example of this in present-day has occurred, for the last five years, on the Halifax Peninsula, on land that belongs to the people–the Halifax Commons. This movement is called the Common Roots Urban Farm which catalyzed and enriched food production capacity for food banks and any citizens who paid the $40 fee for a growing plot at the now demolished Queen Elizabeth High School site. Now this vital development has been forced to move to make way for a new hospital (where many of the diseases being treated are largely as a result of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices (of which the sufferers of them have few) . The “irony loop” never ends.)
 
Apparently, no socially-minded citizen with fallow land has offered to lease to this vital health movement of urban farming. But, wait! Directly across the street from that site is another parcel of “Common” land, the site of the now demolished Saint Patrick’s High School. A citizens’ group has collected over seven thousand signatures for the municipal council imploring them to allow the Common Roots Urban Farm, a movement, the like which we will need more and more, as produce becomes too expensive to buy and too hard to grow.
 

We need strategies to apply the new Canada’s Food Guide with its 50% vegetables and fruits at every meal. How else can most segments of the population begin to attain this standard if we don’t sometimes shift our thinking away from prioritizing a monetary tax base of “condos for the rich” to the basic needs of the majority? This requires politicians to be far-thinking in the service of survival for the many, instead of short-sighted in the service of covering our common lands with private enterprises for the recreational and pecunious obsession for power and luxury of the few. This part of the common should be available to all citizens who need to grow and supply food to themselves and the neediest. Otherwise, the new Canada’s Food Guide will only be for the few who can afford its platform.

 

By Joanne Light

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OPINION: Why I’m Finding it Difficult to Believe in the Current Corporate-Owned Capitalist Political System We Have

I wish I could believe. I respect progressive politics– the creators of the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation – they were my people after all [Baptists!]). I’ve believed for a long time. I want to believe now. I really do. Trudeau has nailed the final nail in the coffin of me not believing in the voting and election process. I wrote “Spoiling the ballot” as a shout out to trigger an example of the level of civil disobedience needed. I really feel we have flatlined as far as governments go–there are no worse and no better because what we desperately need NOW– a declaration of a state of emergency and a war level effort to slow global warming–they cannot produce. They are all chained to being bad because the corporate capitalist takeover of democracy is complete.

I’ve been reading and listening to Chris Hedges for eight years. He’s saying we MUST carry out acts of legal, peaceful civil disobedience. Most of us who have slipped from the middle to the lower income quintile are now the “underclass” that indigenous Canadians have been for 250 years. We really need to join with them in resisting environmental “extractivism” and degradation. John Risley doesn’t need any more profit for a second private plane. Galen Weston doesn’t need any more profit from his palm oil-laced processed foods to the detriment of the rainforests being decimated and the habitat of orangutans and tens of thousands of species lost. For our junk food? To make us obese? Why is this allowed? Because governments will not regulate industry because industry owns them, the way Northern Pulp owns McNeil, the way the Big Boys owned Dexter and every other politician who gets into power.

All our employment must come from small organic farming (permaculture) operations. Everyone must go “back to the garden” and governments need to help people get back to growing their own food. Focusing on a non-polluting energy industry and an improved grid, as well as a new tax system which heavily taxes the richest (as FDR did in the 1930s) in order to create clean infrastructure jobs,  should be prioritized. Selective silva culture forestry and rebuilding of the Acadian forest will follow.

Prevention of lifestyle disease through nutrition education and massive numbers of public government-run kitchens which distribute fresh food and teach skills about what our bodies need and what the environment can handle now is key for a healthy future. Extreme heat and irregular weather is upon us, so we must shut down biomass, fracking, coal mining and pulp mills, (nationalize our energy system), restore salt marshes for protection from storm surges and put people to work doing all these things.

We need to encourage the creation of organic farms, clean energy technology, conservation (rewilding, tree planting), a plant-based diet and active transportation programs to encourage exercise and healthy eating. Redistribution of excess food to low-income households should be a law–no corporation should be throwing out perfectly good food. All these things must be put in place by government.

Thirteen-year-olds are striking from school and suing federal governments. They know they have no future. We have to do something more radical because of the climate crisis is fully upon us. Even at the oft-quoted 1.5 degrees temperature rise limit, growing food may be too difficult. PEI ploughed under 30% of its potato crop this summer. Growers told me it was the hardest year to grow food they have seen in 30 years. If that’s the case at 1.1 degree temperature rise that we already have, what will 1.5 degrees bring?

Seven years ago we were at 380 parts per billion of CO2. Now we’re up to 412 and it’s rising in greater increments all the time, especially in the last two years. We have to draw down, and drawback from business as usual which federal and provincial governments exemplify as fast as possible on our own and maybe with the help of municipal governments declaring a state of emergency. We need to collapse unregulated corporate capitalism. Piketty’s book is called ‘The End of Capitalism‘. The sooner we get there, the very slight chance we have to create a green economy and a more socially just world.

Climate disruption demands we change everything from plastic bags to limiting flying to the shifting the tax system to upping public transportation and limiting car use in urban cores. We must tax the rich heavily and use all the money to transition to a no carbon, zero growth economy. We have no time to wait for governments who are under the thumb of Big Oil in the case of Trudeau and the Mafia (in the case of Thug Ford). We have no socialist party in Canada. Otherwise, the NDP or the Greens would have promoted things like “The Leap Manifesto” (in the case of the Federal NDP) or “Carbon Fee and Dividend” (in the case of the Green Party). There are no parties that will do what is needed. It’s a state of emergency, no less.

Chris Hedges doesn’t even get to talking about climate change. He has just thoroughly dissected and exposed neoliberalism, austerity and the corporate takeover of government. In Canada as well, we have books and articles written by whistleblowers. Such as ‘Deep Oil State‘, which spells out how the multinational oil companies took over the federal government, and Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret exposes what factory farming is doing to the atmosphere, not to mention our health. The UN has announced our global food system is broken. People are starving; people are morbidly obese; people are full of disease caused by what they eat or don’t eat. Corporate agriculture and billionaire food processing giants are killing us so that big pharma can squeeze millions of insurance dollars out through heavy drug prescribing.

As Chris Hedges said, “If we don’t stop them, they’re going to kill us all.” Climate change is the most obvious evidence of how the thugs, the goons, the greedy, the sociopaths, the criminal, the power mongers that control the world are killing us.

We need to have face to face discussion about what we, the people must do in Nova Scotia and all across Canada. That’s why I’m trying to bring activists together to brainstorm and listen to each other. Convince me that the NS NDP will come with policies that address all these concerns.

The frog is seconds from croaking its last croak. We need to get him out, do major revival work on him and there’s a minuscule chance he will recover. But we have to make Nova Scotians understand what Hedges is saying and that’s a big challenge unless maybe they can see how serious it is now because of the difficulty growing food.

By Joanne Light

2018 ACORN Conference – Building Bridges: Creating New Relationships in Agriculture

Are you passionate about organic and sustainable agriculture?

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The ACORN Conference a great opportunity for you to deepen your organic farming knowledge and network with people with similar interests. The conference is a three-day event that brings together farmers, researchers, processors, and businesses from across the region and beyond!

 

This year, you will have the opportunity to learn about sustainable livestock management, soil health, farming in changing climate, on-farm water security, seed to seed farming, and more!

 

Register before November 14 here: 2018acornconference.eventbrite.ca

 

We look forward to seeing you November 26-28, 2018 in Charlottetown, PEI.

There’s a Place for You At Our Table -Regenerative Farming, Eating, and Thinking by Starhawk

Join ACORN for a public talk by Starhawk – There’s a Place for You At Our Table -Regenerative Farming, Eating, and Thinking – and share this event with your network!

 

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In collaboration with the Tatamagouche Centre, ACORN is pleased to present our featured speaker Starhawk, following the business portion of our 2018 Annual General Meeting on August 27th. For more information about the AGM visit our website.

ACORN Annual General Meeting 5:00 – 6:00 pm

Special Permaculture Guest Lecture featuring Starhawk at 7:30 pm

Buy your ticket here

$15 for non-members

$10 for members

$20 at the door

Starhawk is an author, activist, permaculture designer and teacher, and a prominent voice in modern earth-based spirituality and ecofeminism. She is in the Maritimes to teach her 2-week permaculture design certification course, Earth Activist Training at the Tatamagouche Centre from August 18-September 1st (space is still available!).

Learn more about Starhawk on her website.