Is Atlantic Canada’s food movement ready to tip?

There’s a movement in Nova Scotia to support buying and eating locally. (Photo Credit: The Columbian)

There’s a movement in Nova Scotia to support buying and eating locally. (Photo Credit: The Columbian)

In the past week alone, the Rustik offices received three absolutely staggering food-related emails.

Our colleagues at Devour! floored us (and the nation, really) with the amazing revelation that the lovably irascible author, drinker, traveller and foodie, Anthony Bourdain, would be in Nova Scotia as part of their film festival in November. How can you not say: WOW!?

Our colleagues at the Ecology Action Centre informed us that registration was opened for an important national event called Waves of Change: Sustainable Food for All, presented by Food Secure Canada. Turns out, hundreds of food leaders from across Canada will converge in Halifax in November – the first time a Food Secure Canada gathering has been held in Atlantic Canada.

food-heartAnd the indefatigable leadership at the Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia, along with food leaders across the province, initiated the ‘50% Local Food Club.’ It’s a month-long initiative starting 1 September to increase consumption and purchasing of local foods in Nova Scotia as part of a larger effort to support food producers and farmers, strengthen the local food movement, and celebrate food. What’s not to like?

The Canadian journalist, bestselling author and staff writer at The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote his first book in 2000, called The Tipping Point. On page 12 of the book, he describes the tipping point as, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” All of us at Rustik are wondering if we might have just witnessed that over the past seven days?

Of course, it’s been building for a while. We see incredible, if unsung, leadership coming from the likes of Logie Cassels and his team at Lahave Forests. Or Linda Best and her near-religious zeal for microfinancing farm and food businesses through FarmWorks. There’s also the amazing turnaround story for the Seaport Market and the desire to establish other farmers’ and community markets all around this province (including one in our very own backyard – the Riverport Community Market!).

There’s something happening. And it’s a special time.

But there’s also a need to be vigilant. And even more importantly, accessible. Just 20 minutes from Rustik Cottage, in Bridgewater, we see all manner of fast food and box stores chock full of ‘cheap’ processed packaged foods.

In order to truly galvanize the eat local/good food tipping point in this province (and indeed across the region), all of us in the food and farmer movement must resist the temptation to be elitist and exclusionary – whether by accident or by design. Healthy food is, in our opinion, a basic human right, regardless of income, gender, creed, or culture. And, while we can’t shutter the burger joints and box stores, we can work actively to educate Atlantic Canadians, and all those beyond our borders, to think twice about the choices they make. In that sense, we have a challenge not to preach and finger wag, but to demonstrate by example that good health is good for everyone.

Sometimes that means tough introspection. Who are we kidding – we have an obesity and diabetes epidemic in Atlantic Canada. A majority of us are getting fatter, not fitter. And by virtue of our healthcare system, that means we all pay for bad choices. So the cheap, processed foods aren’t all that cheap after all. Governments at all levels need to wake up to that fact and join with all of us in the food movement to forge a new path to economic and social health.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Rustik Magazine, which is contributing to the ongoing food movement by hosting the first annual Alimentary Ideas: a festival of food and words, coming 13 September to the Chester Playhouse.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. bluenoser:) says:

    Wow, big fan of M. Bourdain… about time our part of the country’s food basket get some recognition 🙂

  2. Organic says:

    I love the positive article, and I think there is a lot of truth to it, there is a lot of excitement about food, rural communities and sustainable, organic farming in Atlantic Canada, and I have some MORE good news for you to tip the scales!

    Food Secure Canada (FSC) selected Nova Scotia in part because of the collaboration with ACORN (Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network)’s annual conference, which means that FSC and ACORN are really excited to be combining forces to offer our conferences at the same venue, with an overlap day on Friday, November 14! We’ll be sharing programming, speakers and knowledge in the farm and foodie event of the year!

    ACORN’s conference will be taking place on November 12-14, and FSC’s conference will be taking place on Nov 14-16. While ACORN’s conferences are geared mostly towards sustainable and organic farmers and growers, FSC’s events target eaters, consumers and researchers. It’s going to be a great marriage of our two events! Find out more at!

  3. I would suggest that an article with the headline “Is Atlantic Canada’s food movement ready to tip?” should include some information about the important initiatives that are happening in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

    The Prince Edward Island Farm Centre and PEI Food Exchange have worked together to give over 5,000 pounds of food grown in the Farm Centre’s Legacy Garden to Food Banks, homeless and women’s shelters and other hungry Islanders this summer. Countless workshops and seminars have helped people learn or re-learn how to grow, preserve, and store food. Our community gardeners are feeding their families with fresh, healthy organic food from plots they have planted at the Legacy Garden. We have hosted sustainability and transition workshops too.

    The Island is abuzz with talk of how delicious, healthy and fresh our local food is, the Fall Flavours Festival and numerous food and farm related events have notched up awareness of the importance of local food and sustainability as has the wonderful work of Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada. Information about organic, time-honoured family farming and chemical farming methods on the Island are being disseminated and interest in permaculture and transition are growing exponentially. ACORN is also very active in PEI as is the Cooper Institute.

    We’d love to inform you about our PEI Farm Centre programs and the amazing Chefs of PEI who are making PEI THE destination for foodies, striving and succeeding in selling Buy Local be Healthy to our citizens and others from across Canada.

    • Rustik Magazine says:

      Thanks for the comment Wendy! Please do get in touch directly, as we would love to hear more about what’s happening in PEI and feature it in the magazine.

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