Before I left Vancouver we took a spin around a newish supermarket in West Vancouver: Osaka (the nineteenth store to be opened by T&T Supermarkets) is huge with a mind-boggling selection of just about anything Asian – from soya sauce to rice and noodles, and vast quantities of everything in between. There were large fish tanks offering shoppers live seafood: king and Dungeness crab, lobster and abalone as well as several varieties of oysters, clams and fish, and a bakery with all manner of Asian pastries and decorated cakes. While we browsed, reading labels as best we could, I couldn’t help but wonder what effect all these ultra-processed foods, high in sugar, salt, fats and all kinds of preservatives, will have on the much-studied Japanese life expectancy. We calmed ourselves at Bene with a couple of platters of sushi, including this vegan roll in a cheerful soybean wrapping.
Back in Victoria, winter waited politely until I was settled, unpacked and the larder stocked with vegetables before drawing in with a little snow and cold weather, ideal for making soup and catching up on my reading. One of my astoundingly heavy bags held a copy of the River Cottage Veg Every Day! cookbook which holds some worthy temptations.
With my poetry ear I’ve been listening to the Saturday Play on BBC Radio 4, Tom and Viv, which explores the problematic relationship of TS and Valerie Eliot. Available until Saturday January 21, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch who seems to be everywhere just now. Listen for the reference to Robert W. Service…
Time, food and agriculture never sleep, at least not where interesting stories are concerned. Here are some that have been stacking up while I was away.
There’s a link here to a rather beautiful brochure shows that shows you who’s growing what and where in twenty-six urban farms in Vancouver.
And a nice story about the loneliness of the the farming life which I suppose applies to urban farmers as well; it offers a reminder that we are often in too much of a hurry, and too accustomed to shopping anonymously for food, to thank those who provide it.
There was wrist-slapping lesson in public consultation for Stephen Harper whose decision to bring to fruition his longtime plan to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board was declared illegal by a federal court.
And finally, the soil is the thing: the EU Soil Report warns about the cost of doing nothing in a time when we are quickly losing the soil we’ll need to grow food by building on and contaminating it. Soil: Worth standing your ground for from The European Environmental Bureau explains why we should be paying attention, in urbanizing and industrialized countries everywhere:
Soil is the basis of all our food and fibre production and plays an essential role in water purification, waste decomposition and climate mitigation. It therefore must be regarded as a natural resource of strategic importance which should be protected adequately and used efficiently throughout Europe. The reality however is that Europe is losing this natural asset, thereby jeopardising Europe’s food security and its ability to deal with the consequences of climate change.