• Magazine

    The Plight of the Pollinators

    In the battle between beekeepers and agrochemical lobbyists over the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, farmers and non-farmers are joining forces to stand up for the bees.

  • Magazine

    Regulatory Snarls for Small-scale Farmers

    Consumers and foodies are clamouring for ethical local foods, but some farmers are in a pickle just trying to get their goods to market.

  • Magazine

    Women who dig

    The 2014 Writing in the Margins creative writing contest runner-up for creative non-fiction. Chosen by judge Marcello Di Cintio.

  • Magazine

    An honest man

    They knew that he came from overseas and that all he knew was digging holes.

  • Magazine

    Cracking the soil in Uganda

    How will subsistence farmers like Ninsiima Florence fare under the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition?

  • Magazine

    Weeding out Monsanto

    Canadian farmers have successfully blocked genetically modified flax, wheat, and pigs. Now the fight is on to keep out Monsanto alfalfa. It’s a fight farmers and their consumer allies can win, writes Cathy Holtslander.

  • Magazine

    Organizing for Gaza’s land and sea

    Gaza’s farmers and fishers are on the front lines of a military occupation intended to force them from their land and seaways. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees is organizing Palestinian farmers and fishers to support their efforts to remain on the land and sustain an independent agricultural economy. With the help of a growing international boycott against Israel, their strength is growing.

  • Magazine

    The spoils of an undeclared war

    The presence of drug traffickers in Laguna del Tigre hasn’t affected oil production. In fact, there’s a renewed interest from oil companies in Guatemala’s oil.

  • Magazine

    Land rush

    Amid skyrocketing food prices, climate-related instability, and declining soil and water resources, wealthy investors have begun to size up the world’s farmland as both an investment opportunity and a hedge against food crises and political turbulence. Saskatchewan’s farmland has gained a particularly noteworthy reputation, making the province a global hot spot for farmland investment.

  • Magazine

    Letter from the editor

    Necessary for survival and intricately intertwined with our emotions, spirituality and culture, food holds major power. As such, the systems that govern its cultivation, distribution and consumption are fertile battlefields for controversy, domination, generosity and resistance.

  • Magazine

    Selling the farm

    If Harper has his way, CETA – the biggest trade deal since NAFTA – will be finalized by the end of this year. The agreement has largely escaped the attention of the media and food activists, but if gone unchallenged will deal a heavy blow to food sovereignty in this country.

  • Magazine

    Recipe for disaster

    Monsanto is among a handful of powerful multinationals that, with the support of Western governments, including Canada’s, are priming Vietnam to become a hotbed of biotechnology development, with potentially devastating consequences for its land and people.

  • Magazine

    Fair trade and empire

    Fair trade marketing and advocacy rely on the idea that fair trade increases connectedness between Global South producers and Global North consumers. But while fair trade does reduce the number of intermediaries in the supply chain as compared to the free trade system, it also serves to reinforce racist and colonial distinctions between the poor Global South farmer and the benevolent Global North consumer. While it may channel slightly more income into agricultural communities, it ultimately fails to address the colonial capitalist structures that produce the impoverishment of farmers on an ongoing basis.

  • Magazine

    20 food initiatives to get excited about

    A recent study on the Canadian food movement found it to be uniquely decentralized and self-propagating in comparison to other social movements. Through phone and e-mail conversations with foodies across the country, Briarpatch learned about dozens of inter-connected but independent food-related initiatives that together are crafting a network of more sustainable, democratic and inclusive food systems that challenge our current corporate, industrial model. What follows is a small sampling of the most exciting initiatives we came across.

  • Magazine

    The colour of food

    Farm workers and their unions have always been at the forefront of the battle to reduce the toxic pesticides served on our fruits and vegetables, fighting for environmental food standards before most consumers were aware of the concept of organic food. Yet today, many food activists seem concerned solely about directly supporting their local farmer, with farm workers’ conditions absent from the seasonal garden tour map.

  • Magazine

    ‘Play in the Hay’ and other agricultural ventures

    While there is a long history of some agri-tourist ventures like pick-your-own fruit farms, contemporary agri-tourist ventures are responding to specific contemporary realities: urban ignorance about food production and the economic need to instill a love and appreciation for local food in local customers.

  • Magazine

    In defence of the Canadian Wheat Board

    Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have declared they will end the Canadian Wheat Board single desk in August 2012. Recklessly turning the clock back a hundred years, this move will leave farmers at the hands of the robber barons of the grain trade who are already more powerful than ever before.

  • Magazine

    From the ground up

    On the West Coast, agriculture has always taken a back seat to logging, which has generated a lot of money for folks in these company towns. Now, as the export-the-trees-and-import-everything-else economy seems to be running out of steam, there’s renewed interest in small-scale farming as both a way to make a living and as a community resource. And in contrast to the decades of focus on the male-dominated forest industry, this movement is in many cases being led by women.

  • Magazine

    Room and board

    There are three things a farmer can’t live without: a wheelbarrow, a dog and a pry bar.” Maggie called this to me from just outside the barn, where she stood offering me the said pry bar. The dog looked up from where she lay lounging in the shade, and I paused where I crouched, preparing to heave a sizable boulder into the aforementioned wheelbarrow.

  • Magazine

    Agriculture under apartheid

    As the boycott of Israeli goods continues to gain momentum in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and worldwide, Palestinian farmers are extricating themselves from the Israeli economy and building self-reliance through community-supported agriculture.