La restriction d’accès aux articles les plus récents des revues sous abonnement a été rétablie le 12 janvier 2021. Pour consulter ces articles, vous pouvez notamment passer par le portail de ressources numériques de l’une des 1 200 institutions partenaires ou abonnées d’Érudit. Plus d'informations

Book reviews

Locavore, Sarah Elton, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., 2010, 240 pages[Notice]

  • Julia Christensen

It all begins with a cookie. In Locavore, the food columnist and blogger Sarah Elton describes how her mission to become a “twenty-first-century urban hunter-gatherer” (5) began after learning that the baked confection in her daughter’s loot bag had travelled over 9,000 kilometres to get there. To make matters worse, the cookie was filled with preservatives so it could survive the long journey from factory to table. This small discovery proved transformative for Elton as she started to consider where all of her food originated before finding its way into her grocery basket in downtown Toronto. A locavore was born. The local food movement today “advocates for food that is produced in a way that has the least impact on the environment” (15). Though this often means food that travels a minimal distance from production to consumption, Elton assures us that it also includes “imports that are produced and transported sustainably” (15). This is an important clarification, because many critics of local food reduce the movement to an obsession with minimizing food miles, something they argue is not feasible in today’s world. But Elton insists that the debate about food miles keeps us from addressing the more pertinent question: is industrial agriculture sustainable? The premise of Locavore is that it is not, and that the many Canadians awake to this reality are building momentum towards a new local food system. The pages of Locavore are filled with inspiring accounts of growers and consumers from the East Coast to the West Coast, their stories vividly and beautifully detailed. I felt that I was there with Elton as she sat in the kitchen of the Gerrits’ farm in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, navigated her way through the hustle and bustle of the Ontario Food Terminal, and enjoyed mouth-watering local fare at the Sooke Harbour House in British Columbia. The first part of the book is devoted to the farm and to farmers who abandoned industrial farming practices to go back to their roots, as well as to stressed-out urbanites who vacated their desk jobs and condo living for a much more rewarding kind of exhaustion on the farm. “To create a local food system,” Elton writes, “we must redefine the farm” (28). Farmers have found three keys to success as small operation farmers in an industrialized system. The first is to cut out the middlemen – the dealers, the grocery stores – and directly market to the customer through community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers’ markets. The second is to adopt organic farming techniques, which necessitate a close and careful relationship with the land. “It’s a relationship,” writes Elton, “where the farmer plays the role of doting caregiver, tending to the needs of the soil, offering everything required to make it stronger” (83). Not only does organic food command a higher price, but producing it means a farmer can avoid paying exorbitant fees for chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Lastly, many of the farmers Elton meets are pushing the boundaries of traditional farming and experimenting with hydroponics and “farming on the back side of the calendar” (104) by using rudimentary greenhouses to grow food outside, directly from the ground, in the coldest months of the year. Part two of Locavore brings us into the city, where, following her visits to local farms, Elton picks up a head of lettuce at her local grocer and instantly knows “every single link in this food chain” (112) – the farm where it was grown, who grew it, and how it was transported to the city. Nevertheless, Elton dreams of “a city that helps to feed …

Parties annexes

Parties annexes