If last Thursday was all about the blue and white for St. Jean Baptiste Day, this one is reserved for the red and white, and I can't think of a better day than Canada Day to celebrate those who work the land to produce our food.
That is until we start a National Farmers' Day, say about the last Friday in September, where everyone gets the day off except farmers, of course, who would be too busy working, and we all buy at least one thing from a local farm gate or farmers' market, or at least one food item made or raised or grown in our respective provinces. In B.C., that would be ridiculously simple.
So while you're out there celebrating amongst the red and white painted faces, eating the red-and-white-iced cakes with the maple leaves and fluttering those little paper red and white flags, take a minute and think about all those from coast to coast to coast who grow the wheat and rye and potatoes and lettuce and raise the pigs and chickens and cows that we're all gnoshing down day after day, and what we would do, or rather wouldn't do, without them.
Happy Canada Day! Hug a farmer, buy Canadian - and in the between time, here's a Canada Day farmers' index to nudge you along.
Number of family farms in Canada in 1951: 600,000
Number of family farms in Canada today: 230,000
Average age of farmers in Canada today: 55
Ratio of off-farm income for Canadian family farms in 1990 and 1999, respectively: 68 per cent and 73 per cent
Percentage of off-farm income for medium-sized, business-focused family farms in Canada in 1999: 80 per cent
Amount of food Vancouver Island farmers used to supply to residents on the island in the 1960s vs. amount supplied locally today: 85 per cent vs. 10 per cent
Amount of chicken eaten on Vancouver Island supplied by farmers on Vancouver Island: 20 per cent
Position of agriculture in Vancouver Island's economy in the 1920s and forestry, respectively: 1st and 2nd
Year the term "locavore" was coined in San Francisco: 2005
Year it was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionary: 2007
Year that Frederique and Sinclair Philip started what became Sooke Harbour House, known for its local/regional cuisine: 1979
Years using local cuisine was popularized in Toronto by chefs Jamie Kennedy and Michael Stadtlander: Early 1980s
Year that Jamie Kennedy founded Knives and Forks, which pioneered farm-to-table practices in Canada and started Feast of Fields: 1989