Learning the opposite way

“The Right to Food,” a recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, takes a long term view for the planning and developing of farmland.

“The Right to Food,” a recent  report to the United Nations Human Rights Council,  takes a long term view for the planning  and developing of farmland. It calls  for  a more democratic control. That means making big changes  in the way food is produced and distributed  on a global scale.

At the moment, the world’s food system is controlled by large (mostly U.S.) corporations. The report calls for less control by these giant agribusinesses,  more food grown locally and  sustainably.

What does this have to do with us?

Well, “Feeding the World,” a feature story in the  Vancouver Sun’s weekend business section,   tells  about “reshaping”  our agri-food sector to “exploit the export opportunities.”

The provincial government is doing a great job in leading the parade to this goal, according to the story, especially in the Asian markets. Good news economically.

The Sun story notes  “massive markets” will benefit our fish farms as will global craving for our blueberries, although the latter will “gobble up Fraser Valley farmland.”

The story doesn’t mention the B.C. government is messing around with the Agricultural Land Reserve; planning on Site C which would wipe out farmland that could feed a million people;  and  encouraging fish farms despite the potential damage to wild fish stock.

Oh, and that farmland going to blueberries for export once grew produce for local consumption.

While the  Clark government is encouraging  global markets, many B.C. communities, including ours, are leaning the opposite way, focusing on community gardens and  markets selling locally grown produce and meat. However,  Bill Bennett, the cabinet minister in charge of rewriting the agricultural land legislation, was quoted as saying  if he relied on locally grown food in his constituency, he’d have to eat hay.

If we keep losing our farmland and exporting what food we do produce, maybe we’ll all be eating hay a few years down the road.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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