Kat Tancock on Food and Biodiversity

I don’t recall when my strong interest in food issues began, but ever since I quit eating red meat at age 13, thinking about food has been a core part of my identity. From Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma to Locavore by Sarah Elton and Apples to Oysters by Margaret Webb, books about food make up a major part of my reading material.

These days, my interest lies primarily in the areas of food policy and security and biodiversity, and I go to online sources first. The web has made accessible writing and information about food issues that I could only have dreamed about as a small-town vegetarian in the pre-internet world.

Kat Tancock likes fresh local vegetables simply cooked and seasoned. One day, she’d like to have a mango tree in her backyard. Follow her on Twitter @kattancock

Kat’s five links

1. Farmlands in flux

As a B.C. expat I keep the web-only magazine The Tyee in my RSS reader to stay on top of the news in my home province. It was the original publisher of the now-famous 100-Mile Diet. This series on B.C. and Ontario “farmlands in flux” is another example of the excellent reporting and writing it supports. I love the video of the auctioneer at the Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative.

2. Protecting seed diversity

Many people don’t realize how diverse our fields once were and how industrial monocultures threaten food security. The Irish potato famine could be repeated. This talk by Dr. Cary Fowler, executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, outlines the concept of crop biodiversity and the role of Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a Norwegian seed bank that exists to maintain it.

3. The Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada

The Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada offers home gardeners the chance to participate in a Canadian seed bank while championing the idea that seeds—and genetic diversity as a whole—should be kept in the public domain. Become a member for just $20 and you’ll receive five varieties of seeds to grow in your garden. Catalogue how well they do in your soil and climate and send in records, and you’ll get another five sets of seeds to try.

4. On this farm there was animosity

It’s easy to support local agriculture in theory—it’s another thing to actively participate. This article, part of The New York Times Magazine’s annual food issue (a must-read), gives a humorous account of the author’s summer spent collecting a CSA share from a local farm, and of his shift in attitude along the way. (He even learns to not dislike kale.) It’s food for thought on the line between producer and consumer.

5. How to make raw crackers

We throw out a disgusting amount of food. One (American) figure I’ve read is that a quarter to a half of all food goes uneaten, and 40 per cent of that is discarded in the home. I’m trying hard to curb my own waste, and now that I’m juicing a lot, I’ve been looking for ways to use the juice pulp instead of throwing it out. This cracker recipe from an excellent raw-food blog was my first attempt.