Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New Healthy Food Box Program in Montreal

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When I was growing up in the small city of Guelph Ontario, I was surrounded by inspiring artists, musicians, and an extremely progressive and innovative environmental activist community. Guelph was one of the first cities to achieve a three-tiered recycling program (wet, dry, non-recyclable) in North America, and it fostered a vibrant organic food movement, especially considering the University there is one of the premiere agricultural science schools in the world. When I was attending University there (for English, mind you, not agro-science), I enrolled in an organic food delivery service that delivered organic, local (when in season) produce to my doorstep. It was, however, fairly expensive. And I was a student, and thus somewhat underfunded. I figured that the extra money was worth it for supporting local farmers and the sustainability aspect of the production.

Guelph, however, is also characterized by a stout middle-class moralism that is unfortunately part and parcel of its counter-culture. Growing up there with a working-class background was not always easy. Class prejudice was, and I suspect still is, alive and well in quixotic Guelph as it is in many cities. That said, I reflected on the food that class marginal people receive through the food bank, to which I admittedly had to resort to survive sometimes. It was usually not of the highest nutritional value, and the produce was especially lackluster. It is fairly common knowledge that pesticides are carcinogenic, and vegetables are essential to a healthy lifestyle. I realized that in the commodity culture that we inhabit the label organic quickly became a marketable commodity with an often inaccessible price tag. I saw the need for some kind of grassroots organization between organic food producers, food banks, and the government (which would hopefully help with subsidization).

I tried to start such an organization that joined the arts community with the organic farming community in 1998. I remember even making preliminary contacts with the folks at the United Way. In hindsight, I think a lack of perseverance and practical skills on my part, combined with a social environment that willfully denied the class implications of poisonous food because of local pride hindered the organization from finding its legs. Perhaps ahead of its time, and out of place, this idea did not fully germinate. My interests shifted, as they often do, and I relegated this venture to the dustbin, slightly discouraged.

Fast forward to the present. An initiative has started in Montreal that addresses these very issues! It is called good food box, and it is being implemented by Moisson, Canada’s largest foodbank, who help to provide food and essential products to 112 000 people in Montreal. It buys produce in bulk from local farmers and distributors, and makes high-quality fruits and vegetables accessible to people in the lower-income brackets. Johanne ThJroux, who is Executive Director of Moisson Montreal, says “Because of the current economic crisis, many families have had to reduce that portion of their budget allotted to food. Families such as these are now able to ensure healthy nutrition through an accessible program which works hand in hand with local farmers in order to offer fresh fruit and vegetables at reduced prices.” But it is about more than food, as Theroux maintains: “Good Food Box therefore offers Montrealers the possibility to break out of their isolation and create community bonds. The program is being developed in Laval and on the South Shore and our objective is to distribute 40 000 boxes in 34 boroughs before 2011.”

People who register for this program are eligible to receive three different sizes of food box, depending on the needs of the family. The large box is $16, the medium box is $10, and the small box is $7. The boxes supply families with 5 daily portions of produce per person for one week according to the standards established by Canada’s Food Guide along with information and recipes for the produce. For more information, visit this website:

  • Moisson


  • This program has been assisted by Centraid of Greater Montreal, the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, and the Bombardier Aerospace Employee Fund. While it is rewarding to see my vision validated, and to know that Moisson is doing the important work of supplying those in need with healthy food, I think a more aggressive fundraising program could have eliminated the price altogether. Healthy food is a right, and by offering poor quality food for free while simultaneously offering healthy food for a price (no matter how affordable), you put it into the category of privilege

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    My Tweetfeed @ Pleonasticity

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    Pleonasticity

    1. already misses the everyone tab in the right sidebar.
    2. is eating his words often these days. Luckily at least some of them have nutritional value.
    3. finds the function of irony on twitter totally multivalent. Difficult to signal.
    4. Here's the scoop: http://tinyurl.com/dmobna re: Kenyan sex strike.
    5. @joshstuart I think smitherman should just resign period. He helped McGuinty with the erosion of workers rights re: York strike. #cdnpoli
    6. is impressed by the ingenuity of Kenyan women re: sex strike to make gov't function.
    7. lol@msntech. Swine flu goes viral? Well, duh......!!!!
    8. thinks when politicians think of themselves as something other than media for the execution of their constituents' will, democracy fails.
    9. is making a deal with the pigs: don't give me the flu, and I won't kill you and eat you.
    10. Air conditioning is not rocket science. Drill a few damn holes in the ground 100m deep that "share the air" with the basement.
    Go ahead! Follow me. You know you want to!