Lillooet food forum educational and uplifting

On March 19, six participants involved with the 100 Mile House Food Network and Community Kitchen, travelled to Lillooet for a one-day food forum held in the Ucwalmicw Centre Society’s Julianne Hall.

Lillooet Food Matters is a non-profit group concerned about food issues. It recently received funding from Interior Health to hold the public forum on community food security, entitled Bringing Our Food Back Home! … a free forum on making our communities food secure.

The gathering was well attended with representatives from local government, Interior Health, producers, First Nations leaders, herbalists, community developers and members from the area and beyond.

Presentations were facilitated by longtime resident and producer Trevor Chandler.

Sue Saeger gave the best PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever seen on a very compelling topic of saving seeds for biodiversity. We’ve asked her to present in 100 Mile House at the BC Food Systems Network (BCFSN) gathering in July.

Other presenters included Cheryl Thomas, Dawn Morrison and Sarah Bradshaw who talked about things people can do to increase food security.

The most impassioned voice was that of a young woman who echoed her mother’s call for healthy indigenous food systems that include the wild plants and animals.

A recent study, called Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity, by Victor Toledo of New Mexico describes the fascinating relationship between people and biodiversity recognizing the importance of culture and community. It is available online.

When we had the opportunity to participate in a visioning exercise for the region, we initiated a discussion on strengthening the trade route between our communities. Our area can provide grass-fed meat, poultry, potatoes and cabbage.

It is well known the Lillooet area grows fine tomatoes, peppers and is one of the closest supplies of soft fruits.

Of course, no food gathering would be complete without a good meal. The lunch was exceptional with the best bread I’ve ever had made with Lillooet wheat, fresh milled and baked into tasty perfect loaves.

There were three different soups, including home-grown chicken soup, Lillooet squash soup and local bean soup. I wish we could grow beans.

There was a jewel-like array of various fruit juice in glass bottles and a heaped platter of organic cheese.

Set amid the towering slopes charred by forest fires, this flat bench in the fertile alluvial valley is an inspiring place inhabited by a rugged sort.

Trevor highlighted the history of food production that puts modern efforts to shame. The area once fed thousands and lays in waiting for hands willing to bring food to the table. Many people don’t value manual labour, but that is what it takes, and in return, the earth gives so much more.

 

For more information on the upcoming BC Food Systems Network Gathering, contact Trish Chung 250-459-7779 or e-mail tntchung@telus.net.

 

Trish Chung is a BCFSN board member.