Food

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The City that Ended Hunger

More than 10 years ago, Brazil’s fourth-largest city, Belo Horizonte, declared that food was a right of citizenship and started working to make good food available to all. One of its programs puts local farm produce into school meals. This and other projects cost the city less than 2 percent of its budget. Above, fresh passion fruit juice and salad as part of a school lunch.

“To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer.” CITY OF BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL

In writing Diet for a Small Planet, I learned one simple truth: Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy. But that realization was only the beginning, for then I had to ask: What does a democracy look like that enables citizens to have a real voice in securing life’s essentials? Does it exist anywhere? Is it possible or a pipe dream? With hunger on the rise here in the United States—one in 10 of us is now turning to food stamps—these questions take on new urgency.

To begin to conceive of the possibility of a culture of empowered citizens making democracy work for them, real-life stories help—not models to adopt wholesale, but examples that capture key lessons. For me, the story of Brazil’s fourth largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a rich trove of such lessons. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market—you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.

Snack Attack

Every Sunday afternoon I take my 6 year old son to dance, a sport which he absolutely loves for the high-flying acrobatics that the men get to do. Well, not so much at his age, but they are starting into some of the fun stuff and he gets to watch the older boys do it. This kid is a natural artist and we want to encourage that in every way we can. A couple of weeks ago now he asked me completely out of the blue if we could take some snacks to dance with us, which I thought rather odd since we had not done that sort of thing in a very long time - since he was maybe 2 or 3. When the boys were young we used to fret about going anywhere without having a supply of snacks on hand for them - I guess this is probably common with all new parents. Better to have a happy child than a whiny child. But it has been years since have done this and it struck me as odd that he'd ask for it out-of-the-blue.

I managed to shoe him out the door without the snacks, but then when we arrived at dance I finally clued in as to where this request really came from - every single kid at dance had a constant supply of snacks being shoveled into them by their parents. It was literally non-stop eating, and got me to thinking a lot about this.

Look Ma, I'm a "Foodie Blogger"!

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Last week I was sitting around, minding my own business, when my wife sent me some information about a "Foodie Blogger" get together which was taking place just around the corner from our house at the posh Urban Element cooking school. While I have fully embraced the term "foodie", and am active on the popular Ottawa Foodies website, I have definitely not warmed up so much to the term "blogger". I dunno what it is about it, really, that irks me, but it just does. Maybe in part due to the fact that I've been "blogging" for some 14 years now, since long before that term was ever used. I guess maybe I'm old-school or something.

In any case, it was not until my wife sent this invitation to me that I actually realised that even if I did not agree with the terminology, I am in fact a "foodie blogger"! I write about food all the time - usually simple, wholesome, back-to-earth food. With simple, wholesome, back-to-earth methods. And since I'd only been to the Urban Element once before, and really enjoyed the atmosphere, I decided to head over. Especially since it was free!

Destressing Christmas

Christmas can be a pretty stressful day if you have young kids, and like to have a big, traditional feast of a meal. Which is why we've started to split it up and make Christmas Day all about the kids, and the next day - Boxing Day - all about the food.

A Productive Weekend of Food!

With the family away in Nova Scotia our little house has seemed awfully big the last week, especially so on the weekend. So I've been spending my time going crazy with preserving food! It was high time I tried out the new food dehydrator I'd bought a few months ago, and of course there was lots of canning to be done, too.

On Saturday morning I walked down to the Parkdale Market at the end of the street, just to see what was in season at present. I was not sure what I'd end up canning, but I was pretty sure the Market would tell me. And sure enough it did! The first thing that caught my eye was a large basket of absolutely wondeful-looking carrots that were on sale for 3 bucks. 3 bucks! I asked and the guy running the booth said they were 2 days old now so he wanted to get rid of them. 2 whole days? Wow! Gawsh I love my market! So I picked them up and when I got them home, weighed them in at 15.5 lbs.

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