Thursday November 23, 2017

The hidden power of food: Finding value in what we eat

Project Manager Adrianne Lickers and her mom Kitty R. Lynn Lickers run Our Sustenance, a community garden, greenhouse and farmers' market at Six Nations of the Grand River. (Filmed and edited by Stephen Daag 2:35

Listen to Full Episode 54:00

In Canada we waste about a third of the food we produce. And yet four million Canadians experience food insecurity. In partnership with the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, we hear from Dawn Morrison whose work focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty and Bryan Gilvesy, a long-horn cattle rancher who puts sustainability first. Part 2 of a 2-part series.


"If you can feed yourself, if you can grow your own food and gather your own food, that gives you the power to be self-governing. There's an inherent power to know you are safe." — Kitty R. Lynn Lickers, Six Nations of the Grand River.

Beyond the basic nutrients and calories we ingest, there's a hidden power behind the foods we consume.

Dawn Morrison has been working with Indigenous communities across the country for the past decade to understand concepts around Indigenous food systems and food sovereignty. One of the things that comes up repeatedly as a theme is the power of food in fostering relationships.  

"We've never stopped observing the deep understanding of the way we relate to the food and one another," says Dawn Morrison. "That power — that's the basis of our economy. Ours is a giving economy. In ecology there's a reciprocal relationship. It starts with giving to the land."

The power of that reciprocal relationship is something that long-horn cattle rancher Bryan Gilvesy identifies with.

"If we harness all that food can bring to us, we can have community and sharing," says Gilvesy. "We can have the fundamental pieces of a local economy. We can foster species at risk and encourage biodiversity. All these are opportunities."

Gilvesy grew up tobacco farming in southwestern Ontario. Back in the 1990s, when he and his wife left tobacco farming to rear cattle, they followed a completely different farming philosophy. Instead of focusing on farming for production output, they focus harnessing the power of the sun to grow grass.

"We begin by trying to create a perfect ecology on the farm. We ask our cattle to fit into that." says Gilvesy, who is also CEO of ALUS Canada. " We don't produce beef, we produce grass. Because grass is the vehicle that harvests the energy of the sun."

Rene Van Acker's long-term crop rotation study is meant to draw farmers together. (Filmed and edited by Stephen Daag


Guests in this episode:

  • Dawn Morrison is of Secwepemc ancestry and she is the director of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty Over the last 10 years she's worked on for Indigenous food sovereignty research, including decolonizing research and relationships, and the Wild Salmon Caravan.
  • Bryan Gilvesy is a farmer and owner of the award winning Y U Ranch, producing grassfed beef in Norfolk County, Ontario. He is also CEO of ALUS Canada, a cross-Canada community-led environmental program and he serves as an executive in residence at the Ivey School of Business.
  • Evan Fraser is the director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security.

**This episode was produced by Nicola Luksic.