• Magazine

    The fight for food sovereignty on P.E.I.

    Big agribusiness corporations control the entire food supply chain – from seed to superstore – on Prince Edward Island. But small family farms are fighting back.

  • Magazine

    Voices of resistance

    Across the Americas, Indigenous women are working to restore values of harmony, co-operation, balance, and respect within their communities.

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    Freshwater food security

    Many fishers are passionately opposed to wasting fish but struggle to survive in an industry where the price paid per pound has declined over the years while costs such as gasoline, labour, and equipment have only risen. Fishers in Grand Rapids have come up with a potential solution.

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    Living the HyLife

    Over the past 40 years, increasing numbers of Prairie towns and villages are “dying” as people leave in droves to find work in the city. But aggressive recruitment campaigns by the hog industry are now re-populating and transforming the demographics of some of Manitoba’s smaller urban centres. What do these changes mean for these once-stereotypical Prairie towns and the growing populations of economic migrants who now call them home?

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    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.

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    Food for all!

    In 2009, immigration enforcement entered a community garden outside a Toronto food bank and deported one of its users. The deportation was but one of the 70-odd sweeps, detentions and deportations that happen in Toronto every single day and underscored one of the barriers to food access for undocumented migrants in this country.

  • 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.

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    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

    From apple pie and mother’s milk to pop-tarts and formula

    Ninety per cent of pregnant families in Canada plan to breastfeed their children. After the recommended six months later, less than 25 per cent of those families are still exclusively breastfeeding. This is a story of severed cultural ties to breastfeeding knowledge; “breast is best” lip service by many care providers, hospitals and government funding models; and huge marketing dollars from the big multinationals that produce artificial human milk (marketed as the more genteel “formula”).

  • 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

    Propagating the food movement

    Rhizomes are horizontal, underground plant stems with the ability to create complex root systems. They can expand relentlessly underground, often lying dormant for years, and re-emerge as healthy plants in different locations when the internal and external conditions are right. Each new plant created is connected to the parent but exists as its own independent, flourishing entity. The rhizome can serve as a metaphor for the Canadian food movement – a decentralized network of diverse, self-organizing, interconnected initiatives with no identifiable beginning or end.

  • 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.

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    Feeding the revolution

    After years of working for cash-strapped environmental organizations, Rick Morrell founded an organic grocery store in 1996 with the goal of directing profits into the environmental movement. Fifteen years later, Morrell is still struggling to find those profits, but the store has become a mainstay in Regina’s activist community.

  • Magazine

    Peak oil for preteens

    Claudia Dávila’s debut graphic novel, Luz Sees the Light, sets Luz and her friends on a path to transform their fossil-fueled world.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Letter from the editor

    Health, and the way we manage our collective well-being, is inherently political. As perhaps the most universally relevant topic, health care cuts across lines of class, race, nationality, age, gender and political bent, and has the potential to either unite or polarize, to inspire or enrage. As well as being highly political, health care is also deeply personal, affecting each of us at the most fundamental level of our existence.

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    De-linking from dependency

    The concept of indigenous food sovereignty represents a policy approach that extends the concept of food security through honouring the wisdom and values of indigenous knowledge in maintaining responsible relationships with the land.

  • Magazine

    Breeding disease

    Many Canadians first learned of flesh-eating disease or necrotizing fasciitis in 1994 when then-Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard lost his leg, and very nearly his life, to the affliction. Media reports of Bouchard’s brush with death described the disease as “extremely rare.” It was at the time, but has since become more commonplace.