We can alter the world’s course

There’s change afoot. Can you feel it?
I can—and it has me happily rubbing my hands together and doing a high-five with anyone willing.
We’re starting off 2014 with a positive foot forward with the UN declaring that “Small-Scale Organic Farming [is the] Only Way To Feed The World.”
This is a significant statement with so many considerations: animal well-being, diversification to eliminate monocultures that are harmful on so many levels, the decentralization of food production, and reduced demand for transportation of all foodstuffs, to name just a few.
Feeding the world starts with strong local food producers doing it “the right way,” and consumers making the choice to support said producers by buying local wherever and whenever possible.
Farmers’ markets often are considered charming, a bit nostalgic, a day’s outing for the family. But they have become—and will become even moreso—one of our first stops when purchasing food.
And diversity is the key in this shifting picture of agriculture. The monoculture of the factory farm needs to be something we look back on in our rear-view mirrors and wince; ever thankful we mended our ways and came to our senses.
An example of this shift is right on my doorstep. A dairy farm operates a five-minute drive down the road. It is a fifth-generation farm that started out with mixed farming: milk, cream, eggs, and apples to feed the family and neighbours.
In 1960, the farm “upgraded” and went all-in dairy. Then five years ago, in light of the number of mouths having dibs on the milk cheque, they re-invented the farm and began backpedalling.
They now have a farm-gate market that grew from a small refrigerator in a tiny shelter offering self-serve free-range eggs to a market inside the barn that offers the same free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and lamb and pork, free-range turkeys, honey from hives on their farm, and walnuts and apples from trees on the farm—all tucked into a charming self-serve shop filled with odds and ends that represent the family’s history.
Friends, neighbours, and visitors alike stop to soak up the nostalgia, to feed the chickens that wander happily under the trees pecking at bugs and grubs, to admire the sheep that know a good photo op when they see one, and to buy food directly from its source.
A miniature horse and a donkey, along with a couple of pygmy goats, round out the PR division of the farm.
I applaud these farmers and it is one of my favourite stops.
Another positive step forward is the success of the GMO INSIDE campaign to bring General Mills around to the realization that using GMO products in their cereals has to stop.
General Mills announced on Jan. 2 that Original Cheerios no longer would include GMO corn and GMO sugar.
This is a huge step but the GMO INSIDE campaign isn’t stopping there.
There are 11 other Cheerios varieties offered for sale in Canada and the U.S., all of which use GMO products while none of the Cheerios cereals sold in Europe contain GMO products, so it can be done.
Our consumer voices have to unite and get louder. Cheerios often are the first solid foods that our children are introduced to and it no longer is acceptable for parents to have no choice when it comes to GMO foods.
Change is possible. Our voices have been heard.
So often we feel powerless to effect any change in our society, our economy. But with social media and our collective raised voices, we can be heard—we can alter the course the world is on.
And we now have proof that someone is listening.
Good for us and a hearty well-done!
wendistewart@live.ca

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