By Wayne MacPhail
For the past twenty years Sally Miller has worked in, researched and taught about alternative food in Canada and the U.S. Mostly recently she's spent her days interviewing farmers across Ontario. The news isn't good. As she writes in her new book Belongings: The Fight for Land and Food: "I was saddened by the clarity of despair of farmers and reminded that at the situation is indeed a crisis." She found farmers who had to take other jobs to pay for farming. Farmers who had to sell land, who were isolated from their community and infrastructure when their neighbours moved on. Farmers who felt deep, painful guilt about being the last of many generations who would pull crops from the earth. Miller believes that land has stories, narratives that are lost when farmland is viewed only as a commodity, and farming only as an extraction industry. But, she's also heartened by the localvore movement and an increased awareness of food security issues. Even the Ontario provincial government is now showing interest in doing something to preserve farmland and the livelihood of the farmers themselves. Along with healthy food, those are good things things to be growing.