The politics of food is seedy

This past weekend I was invited to speak at the local March Against Monsanto. From farmers, to students, to politicians, each speaker shared compelling reasons from their perspectives as to why it is important to stop Monsanto. 

In exploring the devastating impacts that GMOs and companies like Monsanto have on our food system, there are some important factors that need to be part of the conversation in thinking in our local context. When talking about the land, we need to acknowledge that we’re standing on Onkwehon:we land and respect the true history of this place. We must honour and respect the treaties and live in a Two Row relationship with each other and the land.

With another one of the Harper government’s omnibus bills looming overhead, there is renewed cause for concern. Bill C-18, The Agricultural Growth Act, will make many changes to the agricultural landscape in this country. As of right now the only organization, to my knowledge, that has spoken out about this bill is the National Farmers Union. This bill includes changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, putting more control and profit in the hands of multinational seed companies like Monsanto, enhancing their property rights in terms of seed patenting, while restricting the rights of farmers and other types of growers.

The proposed adoption of the international union for the protection of new varieties of plants (UPOV) 1991 convention will open our food supply up to new varieties of modified seed. It promotes the globalization of seed, not focusing on what makes seeds locally adapted and suited to local growing conditions. Most importantly Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, and other such companies will continue to threaten generations of indigenous knowledge of agriculture and seed keeping. Through cross-pollination GMOs will find their way into intergenerational cultivated family seeds.

There is a real focus on GMO or Organic labeling as the way to resist Monsanto and revolutionize the food system. The problem with this, is that it puts in place more red tape and barriers to small scale farmers, who as a way of life practice ethical agriculture but do not have the monetary resources to be “certified.” All it will accomplish is a shift in control of the market from one group of capitalists to another. Labeling emphasizes voting with your dollar, a consumerist luxury that not everyone has. We need to focus on real systemic change by building a food system starting at the local level from the ground up that is secure, healthy and that provides for all.

On that note, asparagus is available most of the year and is imported from far away, where it is grown as a cash crop for export, not local consumption. Buying asparagus at your local market only when its in season is one way to support real food change.

Seasonal Raw Shaved Asparagus Salad

  • Local Asparagus
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Finely Cut Chives


  1. Trim woody stem off asparagus, save for a vegetable stock. With a vegetable peeler, shave asparagus as thin as you can.
  2. Mix equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and fresh ground pepper
  3. Mix in bowl with chopped parsley, chives and cheese.
  4. Adjust seasoning as necessary and enjoy!

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