With a speakers line-up that includes an urban farmer, a cattle producer, a chicken farmer, an urban eater and a working mother, common ground may be hard to find.

But that’s the hope of ‘Germinating Conversations: Eating at the Table Together,’ a free, public presentation to be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Canadian Mennonite University. 

Wednesday’s discussion—featuring seven speakers from many corners of the Manitoba food scene— is the fifth in an ongoing series. The series hopes to help producers and eaters from rural and urban settings understand food production, sustainability and ethics from each others’ perspectives.

“The question has been, how do we get urban and rural folks talking about food issues. There have always been tensions between the two,” said event co-organizer Kenton Lobe, an international development and environmental studies instructor at CMU. 

He hopes the series, which was launched in spring 2012 in Winkler, broadens understanding about food production, ethics, consumption and sustainability and reduces those tensions.

“We all need to eat and we all eat but what do we eat and does it matter what we eat,” said Lobe.

Wednesday’s event at CMU coincides with World Food Day, a United Nations initiative to halt hunger worldwide.

Ismaila Alfa

CBC Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa proudly displays his Golden Carrot award from Food Matters Manitoba. (Robin Summerfield )

In Winnipeg, Food Matters Manitoba, a charity dedicated to strengthening food security across the province, among other initiatives, hosted its annual Golden Carrot Awards. The awards, held in the rotunda at the Manitoba Legislature, brought together local ‘food champions,’ who were honoured in several categories. (CBC Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa garnered a Golden Carrot in the media category.) 

Back at CMU, the differences of food beliefs and practices don’t just stop with rural and urban folk, said Lobe.
There are many divergent opinions about food between eaters, wherever ever they live and between farmers, who don’t all produce food the same way.

Understanding food security and sustainability in Manitoba starts with listening and not jumping to conclusions, said Lobe.

“[People] just don’t want to be judged by others about their food ethics and food habits.”