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Month: October 2011

Find yourself on Six Pack’s vest

Japan’s Tsuyoshi Sato (popularly known at IFAJ as Six Pack) always brings his unique spirit and effervescence to an IFAJ congress — as well as a new memorial vest every year, for which he seeks other participants’ autographs. If you attended IFAJ 2011, check to see if yours is here, along with mine (maybe yours was on the...

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Much has changed since last Thanksgiving dinner

The 2011 version of Thanksgiving’s weekend dinner was a lot different than last year’s model, whether you enjoyed it at home or had it served in a restaurant. This year food is, in general, more cherished, more expensive and, interestingly, viewed with more suspicion and confusion than ever. Consumers are continuing their love affair with local food. As a movement, it’s more appreciated and better organized than it was even a year ago. A shining example is the Guelph-Wellington Taste Real program’s “Farmalicious” initiative. Farmalicious may also underline that local food is not, by definition, cheap food. The Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association says that across the board, menu prices have risen nearly three per cent over the past year. Local food production is subject to the same pressures as non-local food, however you define it. And over the past year, the pressures have been significant. Bad weather, rising fuel prices and global demand have all pushed food prices at grocery stores up about three per cent higher than they were last Thanksgiving. I write about these and other changes in my Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury. The illustration here is from St. Stephen’s Anglican Church...

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Vote to keep our agri-food sector vibrant

We’ll vote this week for the people and the party we think will best serve Ontario’s interests for the next five years. Who will those people be? The Liberals and Conservatives are running neck-in-neck, and the NDP is a solid third. The heat’s on and the rhetoric is bound to hit fever pitch this week. Some voters are looking for pit-bull politicians who can rip their opponents to shreds. Not me. I don’t think the best politicians are the ones who chew up and spit out others in all-candidates debates or in TV attack ads. Instead, I’m looking for someone who exhibits leadership, trustworthiness and a realistic attitude, and represents a political party with imagination, compassion and integrity. I’m interested in who will help our agri-food sector flourish, both by knowing when to stand aside and let farmers farm, and by creating legislation that helps them capitalize on Ontario’s unique features — diversity, processing capacity, an educated workforce and proximity to huge U.S. markets, among them. We have major advantages here that need to work in farmers’ favour. Ontarians need to vote for those who will keep our agri-food sector vibrant. I write about this imperative in my Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury. The photo above is from

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Urban Cowboy

Raising awareness and promoting dialogue about current food and agriculture issues.


Owen Roberts – journalist, columnist, educator – provides an urban perspective on agri-food issues.

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