Transcript: Can Food security Be Fixed Locally? | Oct 30, 2020

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Can food security be fixed locally? Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

A wall screen behind him reads "Ontario Hubs."

Jeyan says JUST AS THIS PANDEMIC HAS REVEALED MANY WEAK POINTS IN OUR SOCIETY, IT'S ALSO PROMPTED SOME INTERESTING INITIATIVES. AND WHERE FOOD SECURITY IS CONCERNED, OUR ONTARIO HUBS RECENTLY LOOKED AT TWO PROJECTS THAT AIM TO GROW MORE FOOD LOCALLY. WITH US NOW ON THAT: IN RED ROCK, ON THE NORTH SHORE OF LAKE SUPERIOR: CHARNEL ANDERSON, WHO COVERS THE NORTHWESTERN PART OF THE PROVINCE...

Charnel is in her thirties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black sweater.

Jeyan continues AND COVERING HAMILTON-NIAGARA, FROM HAMILTON, JUSTIN CHANDLER...

Justin is in his twenties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit and shirt, and a spotted purple tie.

Jeyan continues WELCOME BOTH TO THE SHOW.

Charnel says THANK YOU.

Justin says THANKS VERY MUCH.

Jeyan says YOU BOTH LOOKED AT CHANGES TO TRADITIONAL FARMING. TELL US ABOUT THE CHANGES TO FARMING YOU REPORTED ON?

The caption changes to "Charnel Anderson. Northwestern Ontario Hub Journalist. @charneland."
Then, it changes again to "Tech advancements."

A picture shows a white container placed on two mounds of dirt, surrounded by greenery.
A picture shows crops growing in trays under grow lights.

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/OntarioHubs. Northwestern. Why this first nation bought a shipping container during COVID-19. By Charnel Anderson AUTHOR."

Charnel says I WROTE ABOUT CONTAINER FARMING, SOMETIMES THOSE ARE CALLED VERTICAL FARMS. I THINK THE TECHNICAL TERM IS GROWTH CHAMBER. WHAT IT IS IS ONE FORM OF CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURE WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE. SO IT'S TRUE IT'S PRODUCED IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT. AS YOU CAN SEE HERE, THIS IS WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE. IT'S ESSENTIALLY A REPURPOSED SHIPPING CONTAINER. SO IT'S OUTFITTED WITH SHELVING UNITS AND A HYDROPONIC GROWING SYSTEM THAT USES WATER INSTEAD OF SOIL. SO IT PRODUCES A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT PRODUCE, MAINLY LEAFY GREENS, SO STUFF LIKE LETTUCE, KALE, SPINACH, DIFFERENT HERBS, AND QUITE OFTEN MANUFACTURERS, AND THE MEDIA DOES THIS AS WELL, THEY TOUT THESE CONTAINER FARMS AS A SOLUTION TO FOOD INSECURITY IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES. YOU KNOW, THESE ARE PLACES WHERE THE GROWING SEASON IS SHORTER, THE WINTERS ARE LONGER. SO FOR MY STORY I WANTED TO EXAMINE THAT CLAIM AND WHETHER CONTAINER FARMS REALLY ARE A SOLUTION TO FOOD INSECURITY IN THESE PLACES.

Jeyan says I'M GOING TO JUMP TO JUSTIN. YOU LOOKED AT SIMILAR TECHNOLOGY, BUT TELL US, IT'S BEING APPLIED A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

The caption changes to "Justin Chandler. Hamilton-Niagara Hub Journalist."

Justin says YES. AS YOU SAID, ESSENTIALLY IT'S THE SAME SORT OF CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT, AGRICULTURE THAT CHARNEL WAS TALKING ABOUT, BUT IN THE CASE OF WHAT I WAS LOOKING AT, IT WAS BEING APPLIED MORE STRAIGHT UP. SO INSTEAD OF HAVING A CONTAINER, THESE ARE OFTEN MORE FACILITIES. FOR EXAMPLE, ONE THAT I'M LOOKING AT IN NIAGARA IS 13 FLOORS. SO YOU'RE GETTING THE SAME TECHNOLOGY, JUST ON A BIGGER SCALE, OFTEN TO FEED THE LARGER COMMUNITY. AND A LOT OF THE ONES IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO ARE CENTERED AROUND THE GTA. SO I WAS LOOKING AT HOW THOSE ARE GOING TO BE APPLIED TO HELP PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THAT COMMUNITY.

Jeyan says NOW, SOMETHING THAT CHARNEL HAD TOUCHED ON IS THIS IS RELATIVELY NEW TECHNOLOGY, BUT THERE MIGHT BE SOME LIMITS WHEN WE TALK TO ITS APPLICATION IN RURAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES. CHARNEL, WHAT DO YOU THINK SOME OF THE BENEFITS ARE FOR REMOTE COMMUNITIES AND IS THERE SOME LIMITS TO THAT?

Charnel says RIGHT. SO IN TERMS OF THE BENEFITS, I THINK THE BIGGEST DRAW OF THIS TECHNOLOGY IS IT CAN BE USED TO GROW FOOD ANYWHERE. IT WAS ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED AS A TECHNOLOGY TO GROW FOOD IN SPACE. SO YOU CAN GET THESE CONTAINER FARMS, PLOT THEM DOWN, PLUG THEM IN, WHETHER THAT'S IN THE DESERT OR THE ARCTIC AND THEY'LL GROW FOOD. IN TERMS OF SOME OF THE DRAWBACKS, JUST BECAUSE IT CAN GROW FOOD ANYWHERE DOESN'T MEAN IT GROWS THE KIND OF FOOD THAT PEOPLE WANT TO EAT, NOR IS IT THE WAY THAT PEOPLE WANT TO GROW THEIR FOOD ALL THE TIME. AS YOU KNOW, FOOD IS A BIG PART OF CULTURE, FROM WHAT WE EAT TO HOW WE PREPARE IT, OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD IS A BIG PART OF WHO WE ARE. SO PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO ADDRESSING FOOD INSECURITY IN REMOTE FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES, WE NEED TO TAKE THOSE CULTURAL AND SOCIAL ELEMENTS INTO ACCOUNT. FOR EXAMPLE, IN MANY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, COUNTRY FOOD TENDS TO BE WILD FOOD, SO CARIBOO OR MOOSE, WHICH AS OF YET CAN'T BE GROWN IN A CONTAINER FARM.

The caption changes to "Addressing food insecurity."

Jeyan says RIGHT. JUSTIN, I WANT TO THROW THAT QUESTION TO YOU IN TERMS OF THIS TECHNOLOGY, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS WHEN WE THINK OF REMOTE COMMUNITIES, RURAL COMMUNITIES SAY IN THE NIAGARA AREA?

The caption changes to "Justin Chandler, @mr_lois_lane."

Justin says WELL, AS IT STANDS RIGHT NOW, A LOT OF COMMUNITIES IN THE NIAGARA AREA THAT ARE MORE REMOTE, THEY HAVE A LOT OF FARMLAND THAT THEY CAN GROW ON, AND THAT'S STILL THE CURRENT BETTER OPTION. SO WHAT THESE ONES ARE DOING IS MORE HOPING TO GET FOOD TO PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN CITIES WHERE THEY DON'T HAVE CLOSE DRIVING ACCESS TO FARMS AND TO AGRICULTURE, AND PART OF THAT REASON IS JUST THAT THESE ARE SUCH BIG FACILITIES RIGHT NOW THAT YOU CAN'T NECESSARILY PUT A HUGE VERTICAL FARM OR A CONTAINER FARM JUST ANYWHERE, BECAUSE THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE ENERGY COSTS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE. SO WE'RE STILL I THINK EARLY STAGES. AS CHARNEL SAYS, THERE'S SO MUCH LETTUCE, KALE, OR ARUGULA PEOPLE CAN EAT. THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE GROWING RIGHT NOW. ONE OF THE EXPERTS I SPOKE TO AT UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH SAID LETTUCE IS ONLY FOOD WHEN YOU ADD RANCH DRESSING. THAT'S SORT OF HIS JOKE ON IT. BUT WE'RE NOT AT THE STAGE WHERE WE CAN EASILY GROW BERRIES OR PROTEIN OR THESE OTHER THINGS THAT PEOPLE WOULDN'T USUALLY CONSIDER THEIR STAPLES AT THE GROCERY STORE.

Jeyan says WHEN THIS TECHNOLOGY CAME OUT A FEW YEARS AGO WE HAD... THIS WAS TOUTED AS POTENTIALLY THE BIG SOLUTION TO FOOD INSECURITY IN NORTHERN AREAS. JUSTIN, DO YOU THINK THAT THIS CAN BE REPLICATED TO ADDRESS THAT, OR IS THIS JUST ONE PIECE TO THE PUZZLE?

Justin says I THINK WE'RE LIKELY LOOKING AT ONE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. I THINK CHARNEL COULD PROBABLY SPEAK TO IT BETTER THAN I CAN, BUT MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT UNTIL THIS BECOMES MORE SUSTAINABLE, AND IT HAS BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE IN RECENT YEARS AS THE COST, FOR EXAMPLE, OF LIGHTING HAS GONE DOWN, LEDs ARE MUCH MORE EFFICIENT AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY PUT THESE ON IN A GREENHOUSE AND LEAVE THEM ON ALL DAY. BUT WE STILL NEED THAT INFRASTRUCTURE.

Jeyan says CHARNEL, YOUR PIECE ON TVO.org LOOKED AT A COMMUNITY ON MANITOULIN ISLAND. THEY BROUGHT THIS IN DURING THE PANDEMIC, AND THIS WAS A CONVERSATION THAT THEY HAD BEFORE THAT. WHAT HAVE THEY BEEN SAYING IN TERMS OF THE SOLUTION TO BRINGING FRESH PRODUCE TO THE AREA?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Charnel says RIGHT. SO THIS COMMUNITY ON MANITOULIN ISLAND, IT'S ON THE WEST SIDE, SO IT'S ABOUT A TWO-HOUR DRIVE BACK TO THE MAINLAND AND IT'S 40 MINUTES TO THE CLOSEST GROCERY STORE. SO IT'S QUITE REMOTE. BUT BY ALL ACCOUNTS, THEY'RE HAPPY WITH, YOU KNOW, THEIR PRODUCTS. THEY HAVE YET TO ACTUALLY HARVEST FOOD YET, BUT WHEN THEY DO, THEY'RE PLANNING ON DOING THIS IN WEEKLY BOXES THAT COMMUNITY MEMBERS CAN SIGN UP FOR AND THEY'LL GET THEIR FRESH PRODUCE DELIVERED RIGHT TO THEIR DOOR.

Jeyan says SOMETHING YOU TOUCHED ON WAS THIS... IN TERMS OF THE CONCEPT OF COLONIALISM, WHEN WE LOOK AT HOW THIS SHIPPING CONTAINER AND THIS TECHNOLOGY, YOU KNOW, KIND OF WORKS WITH TRADITIONAL FARMING, ARE PEOPLE OPEN TO THIS IDEA, OR IN TERMS OF THE CONNECTION THAT WE HAVE WITH FOOD, INDIGENOUS CULTURES HAVE A VERY SPIRITUAL CONNECTION WITH FOOD, HOW DOES THAT PLAY INTO THIS?

Charnel says RIGHT. SO ONE OF THE SOURCES THAT I SPOKE TO, ALEX WILSON, SHE IS A MEMBER OF A CREE NATION IN NORTHERN MANITOBA, AND SHE MADE AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION. SHE WAS TALKING TO ME ABOUT THE SPIRITUALITY OF FOOD AND A LACK THEREOF IN FOOD THAT'S GROWN IN CONTAINERS. SO SHE COMPARED IT TO CLEAR-CUTTING OLD GROWTH FOREST. WHEN YOU CUT ALL THE OLD TREES, WHICH ALEX SAYS ARE THE ELDERS, SO WHEN YOU CUT ALL THOSE OLD TREES, YOU TAKE THEM OUT OF THE FOREST, HOW DOES THE NEXT GENERATION OF TREES KNOW HOW TO BE TREES BECAUSE THERE'S NO OLDER TREES AROUND FOR THEM TO LEARN FROM. IT'S SIMILAR TO HUMANS PASSING KNOWLEDGE BETWEEN GENERATIONS. AND ALEX SAYS THAT THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO BE TREATED. THEY WERE JUST PLANTED THERE AND THEY DON'T HAVE THAT SAME TRANSMISSION OF KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY HAD HAD THERE BEEN OLDER TREES OR SOMEONE TO LEARN FROM. SHE SAYS THIS IS SIMILAR TO WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CONTAINER FARMS. THE PLANTS ARE MISSING THAT SPIRITUAL DIMENSION. THEY DON'T HAVE THAT KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY WOULD HAVE ACQUIRED HAD THEY GROWN OUT IN THE WILD. SHE SAYS WILD FOOD NOURISHES YOU DIFFERENT FROM THE FOOD THAT COMES FROM CONTAINER FARMS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Jeyan says VERY INTERESTING STUFF. I WANT TO THANK YOU GUYS BOTH, JUSTIN CHANDLER AND CHARNEL ANDERSON, BOTH ONTARIO HUB JOURNALISTS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

Charnel says THANK YOU.

Justin says THANK YOU.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

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