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Why must we grow our own food?

November 12, 2011

At the last all candidates debate, I was asked if anyone in the Green Party had tried living on a disability pension wage.  I thought this was a great question, I wish it had been asked to all candidates.  It is one thing for politicians to talk about poverty, and how to help low-income families, it is something completely different for them to live that life.

I was disappointed with my answer (I need to learn to think on my feet, then voice my thoughts), and it has bothered me since.  So this post is meant to be an airing of thoughts I have had since the question.  It doesn’t do much now, but it is important to me.

I answered that as a farmer, last year I made under $10,000.  But what I didn’t say (and it has been eating me up inside), is that I made the choice to become a farmer, knowing I wasn’t going to make a tonne of money.  The difference is the gentleman (living on disability) didn’t have that choice, and so while I can empathize with his situation, there is no way I can understand the challenges he faces, not only living on disability, but struggling with a disability as well. I tried to find him after to apologize, but never had the chance.

What I also wanted to say was that probably the only reason I could survive on $10,000 last year was that I had the opportunity to grow my own food.  By putting our food on the plate we saved a huge amount of money, and I think this is an important step to helping people out of poverty.

This is why I am advocating for a food policy in our city.  We at city hall need to help develop community garden spaces in our city where residents can grow food.  But much more than that, they can share skills – I am always amazed at the knowledge I get just walking around a community garden, the years of gardening experience is amazing.

And to develop the idea further, with the creation of food hubs we could have people processing the food we are growing, and selling it at farmers markets, or to local restaurants.  Pretty quickly we have developed a social enterprise that can not only provide healthy, local food, but some money for low-income residents – a social enterprise that can develop the local economy, and strengthen our community.

I wish I had have tied this together for that gentleman.  I wish I could have really driven home the point that growing food is so important for our city.  I promise I will keep his question in the front of my mind as I am talking to the community.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 13, 2011 1:46 am

    Matthew,
    I saw you speak at the candidates debate and I respect that you are a farmer and was able to live on less than $10k last year. We too grow a garden (in the city) and it does save money. My partner and I spent the evening at the debate because we wanted to get a sense of each candidate. We respect the platform of the Burnaby Greens. The evening was not wasted. You have two more votes! 🙂

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