Thursday, 15 September 2011

Local food and local jobs

Local food is on the rise, there's no doubt about it. But it's worth considering what exactly we're after when we say that local is important. Particularly during an election cycle, when we hear a lot about jobs, I find it interesting that despite all the talk about so called 'green jobs', producing value from Ontario's greatest natural resource, it's farmland, is rarely brought up. More and more of the actual work on labour-intensive farm operations is being carried out by temporary seasonal workers. Farmers Forum, a newspaper for the Eastern Ontario farming community recently reported that there are now 23,000 temporary foreign workers in Ontario.
It begs the question, if green jobs are such a priority, why not get more folks working on the original green job, the farm.
Ohio farmer, author and rural philosopher Gene Logsdon recently wrote a piece on his blog about what a return to small-scale farming could do for the dismal US job situation. Mr. Logsdon is not just another blogger, dishing out half-baked ideas of the kind that make up most internet commentary. He has written a veritable library of farm-related titles covering everything from berry growing to pasturing animals since the 1970's. I'd love to see a political platform for Ontario based on his ideas.