Larkin Schmiedl's Blog

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Archive for March 2012

Councillor Donovan Cavers eats local

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I interviewed city councillor Donovan Cavers about his food choices and the ethics and thinking behind them.

As someone who eats almost exclusively local food, here is what he had to say about where he gets his food and why he eats the way he does.


Written by larkinschmiedl

March 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Colonialism and food

with 4 comments

I am interested in bringing the effects of colonialism (and work on de-colonization) into my work on food.  I want to consider how colonization has affected diet, how this links to culture and health, how it relates to power, and ultimately how it relates to interaction with/use of the land in terms of both agricultural practices, gathering and hunting practices and plant life in non-agricultural spaces.

Colonialism has drastically shifted food practices on the landscape many of us now know as ‘Canada’, and in our local area here in Kamloops.  I’d like to know as much as possible about the topic both in general and specific terms.

There is lots of knowledge about this topic out there, and it’s something I know some about already.

I have asked readers the question “How does (and did) colonialism affect food? I want to hear your thoughts.”

And here are some responses….

  • “Colonialism changed the diets of the societies that were colonized to their detriment. When you drastically alter the food of a society you are then subjecting your “acceptable” practices onto them, and the ill health effects that come with it!”
  • “Over-processed foods are creating epidemics in indigenous communities: diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc. all have roots in Western diets that are high in grain and sugar consumption.  Here in the Columbia River Gorge (the river between Washington and Oregon), the colonists built a series of dams that swelled the river to create hydro power. It also flooded natural falls (Celilo) where, for hundreds of generations, indigenous people would go to catch salmon during the season for such a thing. Now the salmon population has been decimated, which has affected the culture, the food system, and the ecosystem.  [It’s a] big effing deal.”
  • “Neocolonialism in the form of “international development” has forced North American farming techniques (nitrogen-based fertilizers, nuclear family farms, factory farms) onto “developing” nations, disrupting cultural practices, local agricultural knowledge, and land use patterns. Countless were forced out of subsistence farming, where they shared generations worth of local know-how, into cash crop farming. Instead of growing their own food, people who used to know the land they lived on are forced to buy food that is often priced according to a global economy they never consented to being a part of.”
  • “They slaughtered 60 million wild buffalo, almost to extinction to raise inferior cattle like brainless idiots!”
  • “The process of colonialism included killing off the buffalo not just for hides, not just for profit, but to wipe out the indigenous communities. In 1873, Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano said “The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains. I would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in its effect upon the Indians, regarding it as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors.”
    A year later In 1874, Delano testified before Congress, “The buffalo are disappearing rapidly, but not faster than I desire. I regard the destruction of such game as Indians subsist upon as facilitating the policy of the Government, of destroying their hunting habits, coercing them on reservations, and compelling them to begin to adopt the habits of civilization.”
  • “Enclosure of commons is a big deal too.”
  • “I am (hopefully) writing my PhD dissertation on this very topic (food sovereignty and colonialism)! Right now i’m thinking about things in terms of land and enclosure… farms were among the first enclosures on Vancouver Island, as land was surveyed, divided, sold, cleared, and farmed. The mechanization of farming allowed capitalist farmers to exploit farmland more intensively, and it was only the wealthiest growers who could afford the latest technology. That meant that smaller farmers got squeezed out… and we are still in that process today: the larger farms tend to rely on the exploitation of precarious migrant labour (primarily people of colour), they use high-tech machinery to maximize efficiency, and they use chemical fertilizers/pesticides (or tons of amendments in the case of organic agribusiness)… and they are all based on the enclosure and privatization of indigenous lands… but this history throws a wrench into a lot of the mainstream settler narratives of food sovereignty, which are often about a yearning for a return to the good ol’ days of the (white supremacist, patriarchal) family farm against the big bad corporation… so where does that leave us settler foodies who want to grow food here? What are our responsibilities/obligations? Can there be decolonizing settler farming practices?”
  • “Have you read “Empires of Food” by Fraser and Rimas? It looks at the historical development of food systems over the last 2,000 years or so; one of the stories I learned is of landless Tamils being brought to Sri Lanka in the 1800s to farm tea on plantations for the British – there was a major drought, as well as a recession in Britain that lowered the price of luxury imports, and tens of thousands of workers died because, despite being surrounded by tea, there was no food to eat.”
  • “We (Europeans) brought diabetes amongst other things. We took tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and we have lost countless foods because we have lost languages and the knowledge that they contain.”
  • “Colonialism influences our understanding of food and how it is distributed. Food as something you can (or cannot) afford and thus can or cannot eat. It’s produced and distributed through the free market and by huge corporations who operate based on profits and using people, farmers, the environment.”

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

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UN makes case for agroecology

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A UN report released this time last year talks about how agroecological methods of growing food outperform systems that use chemical fertilizers.

Agroecology, simply put, is the management of agricultural systems along ecological lines; recognizing that agriculture itself is its own ecology.  Agroecology is not tied to one specific type of farming, for example organic, but instead looks at context.  It is a way of studying our food production systems.

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Squirrel cover

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Cover shot of The Omega, photo courtesy of yours truly.

It’s a photo of a native red squirrel outside Thompson Rivers University library.

Eastern grey squirrels are invasive in this area.

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Kamloops local food map!

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I’ve created an interactive Google map that shows where you can get local sustainable food in Kamloops, B.C.!

It also includes a graphic showing where the 100 km radius surrounding Kamloops lies.

The map is always in progress, so please comment or send an email to if you have any ideas for me to check out and add.

Happy hunting!

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Where Canadian food comes from

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Interestingly, this video was made by Hellmans.  That tidbit aside, it’s a great vide to get folks to start thinking about where our food comes from.  Gives numbers on import and export ratios.

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Tomboy goes deep using simple moments

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see article on The Omega‘s website–scroll down to 5th article

please note this is not a part of my current food project

Larkin Schmiedl, Copy Editor  Ω

Transgender children have been coming more to popular awareness lately, with Anderson Cooper featuring a family with a transgender child on his show, CBC’s Passionate Eye looking at the topic back in January, and CNN covering it last September.

Director Celine Sciamma engaged this topic with her second film, Tomboy, which played on Saturday, Mar. 10 at the Kamloops Film Festival. Tomboy shows us in intimate detail the life of a 10-year-old transgender child during a pivotal summer in his life.  It’s a French film, and was made in 2011.

Tomboy keeps a slow pace, but rather than being tedious, it allows viewers to absorb the significance of each moment as it unfolds.

‘Laure’ is the oldest daughter of two in a close loving family.  When her  family moves to a new neighbourhood, she introduces herself as Mikael to Lisa, the first other kid she meets.  Lisa later falls for Mikael, leading to complications down the road.

Mikael begins living as a boy all summer long, without the knowledge of his family.

The movie comes across first and foremost as a story about a specific person’s struggle with gender identity, and this is where it succeeds and draws its power.

Mikael carries a silent, inexpressive air with him throughout most of the film.  His muted expressions convey the palpable sense of the weight he carries, of the secret he feels he can’t tell anyone.

The cinematography was brilliant, revealing the emotions of characters even during moments of silence through close-up face shots.

Tomboy is not depressing, but interesting, educational, fun and extremely well-storied. Each event contributes to the plot in some way and nothing is wasted.

Mikael is always quietly calculating and on guard, having to construct scenarios to prop up his new identity.  As a result he is rarely able to be open and spontaneous as a child.  This tension is felt through the screen as everyday scenarios play out.

During a soccer game with the neighbourhood kids, Mikael sits out.  The boys are playing a shirts versus skins game, and that night, Mikael goes home and inspects his chest in the mirror.

He practices spitting in the sink like he saw another boy do during the game.

The following day, he strips off his shirt and plays along with the others.  He even spits.
The body dysphoria experienced by many transgender people is shown when Mikael looks at himself in the mirror different times, trying to adjust what he sees to fit his image of himself as a boy.

His yearning to fit into this image is tangible.

When the kids later decide to go swimming, Mikael takes his bathing suit into his bedroom and cuts off the top half to create trunks.  He folds in the jagged cut top and models his new suit in the mirror, and smiles widely with glee.

Mikael realizes he must fashion a penis to wear in it, so he sits down with the play-dough machine beside his sister and fashions a small roll.

The audience laughed most at the parts of the film where this makeshift penis was shown.

For anyone who likes a film showing people and their relationships, that describes psychological dynamics profoundly through straightforward life moments, or who’s interested in gender or wants to know more, Tomboy is a must-see.

Written by larkinschmiedl

March 14, 2012 at 1:45 am

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