Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fired Up!

This week is Diversity Week on campus and today I had the opportunity to attend one of the diversity week events; a luncheon on Quality Access to Food. I am soo happy I went! First of all they served a really delicious curried carrot and peanut soup, yummy oatmeal raisin cookies, and fair trade coffee. The discussion was led by one of my professors, and included a panel of 3 local farmers from PEI. One was an organic pig farmer, originally a chef from north of Toronto who moved here 2 years ago to start a pig farm. One was a young women who started volunteering on organic farms as a cheap way to travel across the west coast of the states, she ended up falling in love with organic farming and came back to the island in 2008 to start her own farm. The third was a fair trade advocate who has done a lot of work with Via Campesina.

I feel like I came away from the lecture with renewed passion for my profession and the acquired knowledge of where to source more local, organic food here on the island. We talked about a couple things that I have really been interested in but haven't been able to devote the time to figuring out for myself such as Community Supported Agriculture. I've been really interested in participating in a CSA for a while now, but haven't really been able to source any farmers offering the service near me until today. Very exciting stuff! I look forward to digging a little deeper into the resources I learned about today in order to find more delicious food. I am hoping to be able to visit some farms, be able to see exactly how they produce their products, and then buy directly from farmers come the summer when everything is in full swing. Having a label say 'free-range' on a package of chicken just isn't enough anymore. Industry has found so many loop-holes to be able to market their products as organic or 'natural' in order to increase sales. My goal is to become a lot more connected with what I'm eating, to know first hand exactly where it came from, what went into its production and the nutritional and environmental impact the product has. I feel very fortunate that I will be on PEI for the majority of the summer because I feel that this is one of the only places where it's possible to learn all this first hand and have direct access to a wide variety of farmers.

I also got a job today! UPEI has a program called SNAP that collects dietary data from elementary school kids in order to evaluate policies and trends and such. I got hired as a student research assistant and will hopefully be traveling to local elementary schools starting in the next few weeks to help out with the data collection. I am really really excited for this project, and would probably even do it for free. I have yet to participate in any research initiatives, and this project is in my field of future practice. It'll be great to have some research experience before embarking on my research based honors degree next September (which I will hopefully find a prof to take me on for) and for any grad school applications when I decided to get my masters/phd. So much exciting stuff coming up!

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