Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Farm/city overlap and Suzuki's Top 10 seafood

Yesterday's episode of CBC's The Current included a segment called Farmland Disputes, a discussion of what happens to farms that are swallowed by cities. It's uncomfortable territory.

There is no doubt we need to protect growing land for food, but those lands, particularly when they are overtaken by the city limits, are too expensive for farmers to buy, particularly when farmers are paid so badly - and in careers that lack pension plans. When retirement comes, many of our aging farmers hope to sell their land, or rezone it for development, in order to make up a retirement fund. But that takes more land out of the food production picture. The program reported that
  • Only 6% of Canada's land is suitable for farming
  • Class 1 farmland, on which you can grow almost any crop, makes up about .5% of the total
  • Between 1971 and 2001, Canada permanently lost 14,000 square kilometres of its best farmland to urban growth
  • Almost half of Canada's urban land is sitting on dependable farmland
  • The population of all our cities is growing beyond the limits of existing housing
Where land is being protected - and developers do tend to be winning the battles - much of the land sits idle, because there are not enough new farmers. And aspiring farmers often cite the cost of land as one of their chief obstacles. Until we have governments that back farming and promote a national food policy, we'll go on losing land. Meanwhile, we must sit watching it slip away until the crisis point is passed.

Turning one's worried face to the sea, here's another handy fridge guide for sustainable seafood, courtesy David Suzuki:


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