Deconstructing Supper 20 October 2002

A Wakeup Call 

  Tonight's premier of Deconstructing Supper sponsored by FarmFolk/CityFolk was fantastic.
  To me, the film (which is superbly shot and directed by Marianne Kaplan), is a wakeup call that crystallized all that I had read and thought about food over the past several years.
  Where does our food come from? What is in it? These are the kinds of questions that this film, like a gentle but insistent wakeup call, compels you to ask and seek out answers.
  It chronicles John Bishop's voyage of discovery around these very questions. The voyage takes him from his restaurant in Vancouver, Bishop's, to Saskatchewan, Michael Ableman's organic farm on Salt Spring Island, the USA, Britain and India.
  The film's point of view is obviously against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and industrialized farming, but it does try to give a balanced view.
  John talks to a Monsanto scientist who is obviously a sincere believer in GMOs as well as to anti GMO protesters, Percy Schmeiser who is fighting for his livelihood as a seed gatherer against Monsanto, GMO activists in Britain, farmers (led by activist Dr. Vandana Shiva) in India who are resisting the spread of Western industrial farming and more!
  As a computer scientist and engineer (as well as a passionate food lover), the film made me realize that our Western vision of science and progress is disconnected from the wisdom of our ancestors.
  If scientists and engineers were more connected to our past and the wisdom we can gain from it, then perhaps we would achieve sustainable progress without the conflict that we have today. Something to strive for!
  This film is a must-see! If you missed it tonight, it will be shown on Vision TV this Thursday October 24 at 8p.m. Pacific as well as on Global TV and other Canadian channels in the next 6 months. US rights are still being negotiated.

Michael Ableman's call to action 

  In the film, John travels to Salt Spring Island and speaks with Michael Ableman, who is a renowned organic farmer and activist. Michael is originally from the USA and became famous for his organic farm there.
  Tonight, Michael, introduced the film and was member of the panel for the discussion afterwards.
  He is a phenomenal speaker: clear and powerfully persuasive.
  His message is that it is our right to know what is in our food. And that although the costs for organic food are high initially, the costs are lower overall.
  Because your health is priceless and organic food is healthier. So you will live longer. And more importantly he also argued that it's not the farmer's job to figure out the economics! It's the farmer's job to produce healthy good tasting food and to make money in the process.
  Because in order to have good quality food, we need to pay the price of having commited professional farmers. We don't question what we pay for lawyers, and bankers and other professionals, he argued. Yet when it comes to food we balk when we have to spend more than 14 cents out of every dollar we earn (that's the cost in American dollars of food to the average American family). To him, that's ludicrous and the low pay and long hours are why farming is dying in North America.
  I came way from his talk convinced. I'll be writing a letter to my MP asking for legislation to label GMO foods and we will buy and eat more organic food.

The Food 

  The food and drink was superb: Organic gewurztraminer from Summerhill; organic Red Branch Irish Ale and Beyond the Pale Ale from Crannog Ales (who also provided the beer for our wedding!); wild spring salmon with pear cranberry chutney; braised delicata squash; carrot, turnip and chard julienne; basmati rice; eggplant tomato and pepper curry (my favourite!); lentil dahl; naan; pear, plum and apple compote; Terra Breads teacakes and brownies, Origins coffee and herbal tea from "T"


  My hats off to the organizers and the staff! I know how difficult it is to organize and hold a dinner party let alone an event like this which had over 200 hundred hungry people!