The Central Cariboo Community Food Hub (CCCFH) generated some discussion around food production and security in our area recently.
CCCFH hosted a screening of First We Eat, along with the filmmaker herself, Suzanne Crocker, a physician-turned-filmmaker.
The documentary is an entertaining examination of our reliance on a vulnerable food supply chain, which many parts of B.C. experienced after floods cut off access to the Lower Mainland in late 2021 and many areas also saw bare shelves in stores during parts of the pandemic.
Crocker’s family of five ate only local food for an entire year, in Dawson City, Yukon. The family was able to gather an incredible range of food from local sources, despite the extreme latitude and climate.
They were able to hunt a moose and fish for local salmon (a source since disappeared through the collapse of both species previously returning to the Yukon River). They purchased local chickens and pork, and helped plant and harvest vegetables they could then purchase from a local farmer who stores large quantities of root vegetables and even protects some crops from moose with fencing and allows the vegetables to be buried in the snow and frozen, and then dug up for use through the winter. This was for kale and Brussels sprouts.
Milk was sourced from a local dairy farmer, and Crocker learned along the way some of the challenges to eating local, such as storage and preservation. The family was lucky enough to be able to have multiple deep freezes to store a lot of their winter supply in and there was some canning and dehydration as well. An additional challenge was posed by the rivers, as Dawson City is accessed by ferry in the summer and a road across the frozen river in the winter, with the crossing impassible for weeks twice a year during freeze up and break up, something they had to plan for when suppliers like the dairy farmer were on the other side of those crossings.
First We Eat was made much more entertaining by Crocker featuring her three children front and centre, one pre-teen and two teenagers.
While her children accessed other sources of food outside the home, and were not completely deprived of the luxuries of salt, sugar and foreign spices, for the most part the family eat nothing but food from within the local region, in Dawson City.
It is fun to hear the young people’s candid and often comedic confessions or declarations to the camera. Crocker revealed after the screening how she would put the camera in a room alone with each child and promised them she would not watch the footage until after the year-long experiment was done.
She confessed during the post-film question and answer period she mostly chose the funny clips to include in the film, but there were a lot of candid moments which showed the experiment did resonate with them and each took something away from the experience, despite their public assertions they were relieved it was over.
Whether a matter of circumstances, physical differences, personal grooming or lighting, the family of five looked truly healthy as they completed the final interview before going to the local grocery store and purchasing their first mass-produced food from outside sources in 365 days.
Crocker was on medication for her cholesterol prior to the project, and she has since been able to stop taking the medication, and she has mostly maintained a local diet years after the project finished.
The screening took place at the Gibraltar Room in Williams Lake, and the Central Cariboo Community Food Hub covered an entire table in amazing food still seasonally available in the area, and then drew a name for one of the attendees to win the food as a door prize.
The food went to Dave Reedman, owner of Fox Mountain Brewing.
The food hub also had some community engagement opportunities, looking for feedback on how to prioritize some of the current food hub projects underway or planned.
To learn more about the local food hub and their work, go to: https://www.wlspc.ca/food-hub.html
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