It was a perfect convergence of messages from the universe that led me to this adventure, this CHANGE DUE.
The messages started when I read the comments by Galen Weston which reminded me just what farmers and producers are up against in their effort to grow good food and sell it in their communities.
Then, I was offered a new job working in community development (I accepted and can't wait to start!). My whole life has had community development at the heart of all I have done and it is exciting to be part of an organization working towards the values and goals I hold.
Then my friend and I attended an event hosted by Revel Caffe in Stratford that was about raw milk. Volunteers with Slow Food Perth County hope to kick off a regular discussion group on food-related topics and the evening was a wonderful, meandering conversation about food, economics, community, health, farming and what we can all do. One of those nights when you feel excited to know you aren't the only crazy one out there!
Are you seeing the trend?
Food is about community. It connects us in ways not many other things can. I also believe that food can build a community, broaden a community and bond a community.
Friends and I have been talking over the last year about a buying club or co-op of some kind, particularly for access to local foods, the purchase of which will support our neighbours in this rural area we call home. There are lots of examples including this cool model in England, The People's Supermarket. For a variety of reasons, I think now is the time to pursue this.
The first reason is the momentum behind food issues right now. People are interested and are thinking, talking, tasting. And they are searching for community among the stalls at the markets, hoping to connect over the carrots. I can't wait for our seasonal market to reopen in May!
The second reason that now is the time is that we, the residents, don't have many options.
Goderich is in a state of recovery following the tornado that devastated the town on August 21, 2011 and the health food store that sold items like organic milk has still not reopened. Because of this, I go to the grocery store. If I am choosing to "break-up" with Zehrs (a division of Loblaws) for a little while, I am left with no other source for organic milk. I have two choices, the popular in-store private label or the organic cooperative. I always choose the cooperative even though the check-out lady always asks me if I know this is the expensive milk - it's endearing and thoughtful of her to ask.
So, my first challenge is the milk. The health food store is still taking orders for products they use to sell. Job number one today is to find out if they are still getting the milk order.
What else will we miss?
We don't eat a lot of processed foods and there is another grocery store in town, albeit smaller and with less variety and specialty products, so we can still get a few of the items we like there.
I will miss the olive bar (so will my kids). My husband will miss the naan. We can't grow olives but I can certainly make naan.
We will likely miss the convenience although last summer, in an effort to drive less, we were trying to shift our spending downtown so it's not a completely new challenge for us. And I have always been willing to go to where the good food is - have cooler, will travel is my motto (when we celebrate our wedding anniversary at The Inn at Walter's Falls I am picking up two sampler meat packs from Dragonfly Farm - we will be in the neighbourhood!).
And I will miss Jason who always has a funny story and a smile. I will miss the kid who bags my groceries and says "I always see you in here." I will miss Cindy who always offers my kids the bologna and tolerates me saying "No thanks - I am THAT mom!".
But, this is a small town - we'll see each other around.