Ideas

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

CBC Radio

November 23, 2017

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In Canada we waste about a third of the food we produce. Yet four million Canadians experience food insecurity. In partnership with the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, a look at the food systems and sustainability.  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. **This episode originally aired November 23, 2017.

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.

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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."

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After hearing kids answer "the grocery store" when asked where food come from, Adrianne Lickers and her mom Kitty thought things had to change. For them, learning how to grow food is a life skill and a game changer. "The ability to grow food gives you the sense that you can accomplish anything," says Kitty.  2:35

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."

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Long-horn cattle rancher Bryan Gilvesy describes how he harvests the power of the sun to feed cattle.  1:17

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."

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For Rene Van Acker it's a "shame that so much energy is spent pitting farmers against each other." The University of Guelph Dean of Ontario Agriculture College hopes that his research will help unite them under their goal of being stewards of the land.  2:35

Guests in this episode:



**This episode was produced by Nicola Luksic.