Philip Solman and Debbra Mikaelsen launched a print magazine in 2008— admittedly a crazy thing to do. We didn’t choose this path because it seemed like an easy way to make a living. Or because we wanted to get invited to a lot of swish parties with copious quantities of caviar, truffles, and foie gras.
There's just one reason we did it. We saw the food system breaking down in numerous ways, and we thought a beautiful, engaging magazine could help rebuild it.
WE ARE DISCONNECTED FROM FOOD
With fresh strawberries and asparagus available in supermarkets year-round, we have lost the pleasure of seasonal eating. Many of us no longer have that basic understanding of where food grows, how it grows, and when it grows. Too many meals are eaten in a car—instead of around a table with loved ones. People seem afraid of butter, bread, and salt—our culture is ridden with food guilt—and we’ve lost much of the pleasure in eating (maybe because of all those meals eaten in cars). We shouldn’t fear real food; if anything, we should fear those polysyllabic, cryptic words on food labels.
WE HAVE LOST SKILLS
Over and over again we hear that people have stopped cooking; parents no longer have the time, so children don’t learn by watching them. Ditto for gardening and preserving.
WE ARE LOSING FARMLAND AND FARMERS
The average age of a farmer in BC is 56 years old (as of 2011), and few young people have the desire—or the means—to start farming. Who can afford to? Farmland throughout this province is disappearing. Instead of food, strip malls and real-estate developments are growing on some of the most fertile, nutrient-rich soil in the world.
We could go on about examples of childhood obesity rates, industrial-meat recalls, and overfished oceans, but instead let’s look at the brighter side. Over the years we've shared stories of regular citizens waxing enthusiastic about heirloom apple varieties, ways to cook gai lan, breakfast radishes purchased at the farmers’ market, and pierogi nights at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. We wrote about a dentist growing tomatoes in his office window and an urban farmer who grew food on the rooftop patio of a Yaletown high-rise. In the Okanagan, we visited a biodynamic winery that used rescued horses to cultivate the vineyards. We learned about a variety of school programs that teach elementary school kids gardening and cooking skills. We have written about food wastage, food rescue, and the demand for ugly fruit.
Clearly, there are a lot of good stories to tell. Despite a broken food system, there's much to celebrate. It's important to continue sharing these stories, inspiring people to reconnect with real food and the people who produce it.
It is our belief that small steps—growing food, cooking food, caring about food, and reclaiming food—will gradually lead us back to a better way of eating and a better way of living. It has been an amazing road so far and we thank our guardian angels that we lost all common sense back in 2008. Thank you for joining us at the table.