Food Resiliency

Our food system has changed fundamentally in 60 years. Many people in our community can remember growing up in a home where the only food purchased was salt, sugar, flour, and rice (for special occasions only). Everything else was grown by the family. If that were the only change that has occurred, this would not be serious, but with that change have come many related changes:
  • Families and individuals lose food skills such as gardening, preserving and cooking
  • Producers providing food for local consumption do not make fair or sustainable wages
  • People travel long distances to get to grocery stores or food sources
  • Healthy food options are hard to find
  • Truly healthy food becomes expensive
  • Most food is transported 1,000s of miles to get to the consumer
  • Local food production systems become unsustainable

Are We Food Secure in the Southeast?

Southeastern Manitoba is a strong agricultural community, but that hardly makes us a food secure community. It has been estimated that 90% of the food consumed in the southeast is grown outside the southeast, and 90% of the food grown in the southeast is exported from the southeast. This being the case, how food secure are we?

No doubt there is something efficient about growing produce where it grows best. If we wish to consume lettuce in February, it makes sense to grow it in California and transport it here in a big truck. It probably is quite a bit more efficient doing it that way than heating a greenhouse in Manitoba for that purpose. Sixty years ago, people in Manitoba did not eat lettuce in February -- and in spite of that they were healthy. Sixty years ago they ate canned peas and beans, cabbage and sauerkraut in February.

Our willingness to become dependent on foods grown 1,000s of miles away has created a vulnerability that will come back to bite us one of these years. In 1997 Southern Manitoba experienced the "Flood of the Century". Due to the foresight of then Premier Duff Roblin, that flood did not take us unawares. How prepared are we for an event that will disrupt our food system? At the South Eastman Transition Initiative we are of the opinion that we need to prepare for a disruption of our food system. We know it will come. We don't know when.

Gary Martens lives near Kleefeld and is on the Agriculture faculty at the U of M. He has written a novel Farming 101: Transitions. In the novel Gary explores what would happen in Manitoba if a crisis occurred that would disrupt our food system. If you have any concerns about the chemical dependency of our food system, this on-line book is a Must Read. The e-book ($0.99) is available here

Some Suppliers we Like
Lehmans Equipment supplier to the Amish

Mike Jaques of Northern Sun Farm near Sarto has teamed up with Jen Unwin of Winnipeg (204-837-4190) to market red wrigglers and worm castings. Natures Perfect Plant Food

Information Sites

Uof M Horticultural Hot line
Benefits of Buying Local Food 8 reasons it’s better to be a locavore

If you aspire to be up on organic science a visit to the archive of the
What others are Doing
Urban Eatin in Winnipeg