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Letters – for Oct. 14, 2010

Eating local can be done

While there may be some accurate points in Ronald L. Doering’s recent articleManitoba Co-operatorOct. 7 article regarding “locavores,” energy consumption of production, processing and preparing of certain foods and how it outweighs transportation of food, you cannot make the subject so “simplistic” that it applies to all food.

For example, when bringing in garlic from China, are we sure that the potash used to fertilize the fields there is not first brought in from Canada and then shipped back to us as garlic? Does this not increase the energy consumption of this food unknowingly?

Anyone who thinks that, as Doering puts it, “no region in this country could begin to provide the broad range of food products that we need to meet our nutritional requirements,” is simply off their rocker.

Many people can and do meet more than their nutritional requirements in their areas. My husband and myself are two such people. The settlers who made it here in Manitoba; they made it by providing their own food – chicken, pork, fish, dairy, fruit, vegetables. Ask anyone who lived in a small town or a farm in the ’40s or ’50s! They rarely had any imported fruits – maybe once a year for a treat – and were certainly not starving or malnourished.

Thirdly, I would like to comment that eating local is possible for the entire year in most areas of this country. To do this you must procure food in season and preserve it yourself, which is possible and done by many people. Purchasing food from the grocery store, is for the most part something we do because we want something, not because we need it.

We want the convenience, or we want the boxed cereal or the chocolate. Eating locally is a lifestyle choice and many people may not want to go to the “extra trouble,” but some can and do. And frankly it’s not that much trouble.

To sum up, although I agree with some of the statements made by Doering, blanket statements are rarely the whole truth. Things aren’t always what they seem.

Anne Bachewich Sandy Lake, Man. average) as the attention grabber. But there’s so much more.

More of us desire the freshest, healthiest, easiest-to-identify food around us – and not only in summer. Searching out local food, supporting regional farmers, encouraging the next generation of smaller-scale farmers and visualizing, and thereby caring for, the very soil our food is grown in, isn’t the whole picture either.

It may take less energy to grow tomatoes in Spain than in England, but it’s not that simple. When droughts hit, or pandemics close airports or when listeria breaks out (again and again) we want to ensure that our basic need for healthy food is satisfied. Food scares have not been coming from our neighbours’ farms.

Yes, people in Guatemala depend on us buying, and transporting at great distance, bananas in winter. But have you seen the living conditions our “first world” Industrial Food Giants have helped create? Our willingness to pay for those bananas has resulted in indigenous people losing both land and the freedom to grow their own food. The message I hear imbedded in local food initiatives is that of food security and food sovereignty for all.

It’s not the oversimplification or the patronizing tone or even the derisiveness of Mr. Doering’s argument I find most troubling. It’s his attachment to a faith in the industrial food system. It’s odd to hear him assert that “No region in this country could even begin to provide the broad range of food products that we need to meet our nutritional requirements.” The system we now have is only, what, 200 years old?

Yes, those of us who can afford the transportation and armies do benefit from increased diversity, but along with that selection we get a system that encourages the denaturing of our soils and food-like products that increasingly fall

Minimal loss of agricultural land

I understand questions have been raised about the impact of building Manitoba Hydro’s new bipole transmission line on agricultural lands. To help answer questions, Manitoba Hydro has invited all landowners within a half-mile of the preliminary route to Landowner Information Sessions this fall. Hydro will also be providing information at community open houses. Dates and locations of the open houses can be found at www.hydro.mb.ca or by calling the Bipole III information line at: 1-877-343-1631.

The route for Bipole III has been carefully developed to minimize impacts on agricultural lands. Diagonal crossings will be avoided where possible and the line will run along roadways and half-mile lines. Landowners will be able to continue farming the land under the transmission line as they have prior to any towers being erected and still will be able to aerial spray their crops as they do now, all the while being eligible for easement compensation. In total, only 37 acres of cultivated agricultural land will be taken out of production.

Manitoba Hydro is offering a package of as much as 135 per cent of market value for a 66-metre-wide easement, loss of production and changes to farming practices. In addition, from $5,000 to $23,000 will be offered for transmission towers, based on current land use.

Hugh McFadyen and the Conservatives play a dangerous game when they claim that if elected they will completely reverse work on Bipole III and force it down the east side despite local and international opposition. Such a reckless move would face legal challenges, grind the entire project to a halt, risk the reliability of our power supply and threaten billions of dollars of Hydro exports that keep our rates the lowest in the country. When Hugh McFadyen’s Conservatives were in government in the 1990s they knew about the need for Bipole III, but did nothing.

We will not roll the dice on Manitoba’s future in this way. We are moving forward to build Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III transmission line to ensure the continued reliability of our power supply and to provide capacity for future exports to the U. S. and Western Canada of clean, renewable energy that keep our Hydro rates low.

Rosann Wowchuk, Minister Responsible for Manitoba Hydro an insult. There is no adequate compensation. To bribe municipalities with yearly funding is a further insult. It is landowners, not municipalities who are inconvenienced.

Thirdly, I am alarmed and also vehemently opposed to suggesting a route that is approximately 500 km longer, resulting in an additional cost of more than $1.6 billion. For Manitoba Hydro, currently operating at a loss, to ignore the eastern route which it prefers, is totally irresponsible and shockingly poor financial planning. I am appalled at the additional cost of this western route and expected cost overrun. The compiling cost of voltage loss, which would also exceed a billion dollars, would be an additional burden to the Manitoba taxpayer.

Your government is insisting on “finding the best western route” with total disregard for prime agricultural land.

The “eastern route is viable” I’ve been told. It is also shorter, safer, less costly, more environmentally friendly and has a reduced impact on people, livestock and agricultural land.

Do the right and responsible thing.

Louise Neufeld Tourond, Man.

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