Food activist Thomas Pawlick in Sharbot Lake
Photo: author Tom Pawlick at Oso Hall
On November 16, Tom Pawlick, award-winning journalist, editor and author of a number of books including his most recent, "The war in the Country: How the Fight to Save Rural Life will Shape our Future", spoke to a full house at Oso hall in Sharbot Lake.
The event was organized by Sharbot Lake resident Janina Fisher, who introduced Pawlick
"This is a very old idea and right now in Canada there are six or seven large multi-national corporate food industry players who have decided that they want to dominate world-wide," said Pawlick
said that these businesses are doing this through "cost price squeeze" - controlling prices at both ends, and are now taking that control to the next level.
"As always happens when greed is the dominant factor, the companies now want to control everything in the middle.
Thus we are seeing a concerted effort by every multi-national corporation in the world including Canada and the US to take over absolutely everything to do with the food production industry, including the land," he
According to Pawlick
, politicians benefit from the purses of these companies, and as politicians form the government, they are creating legislation designed to undermine every small entity in their way, i.e. family farms, cheese factories, health food stores, farmers' markets and small abattoirs.
"Governments respond very quickly to what these big corporations want by passing a whole bunch of regulations for the environment and for public health, which to the average City Joe seem right but which are designed to put small scale food producers out of business," he
cited the example of a friend of his
who owned a successful butcher shop for 20 years but was forced to close after the government slapped the shop with $20,000 worth of "unnecessary overhauls".
also spoke of small-scale egg farmers who are forced to have on-site grading stations if they want to consider expanding their production.
Vegetables came next as Pawlick
cited statistics gathered over a 56-year period that showed a drastic drop in the flavour and nutritional value of vegetables.
Regarding huge multi-national cattle farms like the feed lots in Texas, Pawlick's
statistics and facts led him to compare them to concentration camps.
"The way these animals are housed and treated is an abomination, a crime - and I hesitate to use this word, a sin."
Though in some ways Pawlick was preaching to the converted, he
did shine a light on the steps that concerned groups, consumers and producers can take.
paid heed to local efforts like those of the National Farmers Union's Local 316 chapter who are leading the way in developing a strong local food system and he
encouraged support for these systems and others like local farmers' markets, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms and other groups.
But he said that supporting local agriculture is not enough, political action is needed, and he would like to see some seemingly unlikely coalitions develop. "The NFU needs to work with political groups such as the Ontario Landowners Association to really make some changes happen.