Go ahead. Call me a bad parent. It’s okay. Despite the midnight trip to the ER, on Saturday Cameron was acting like he barely even had a case of the sniffles. Tell me, how can fresh air and sunshine hurt sniffles? So, we packed up for a mild adventure. As Cameron had been sick, I bundled him up in the stroller, knowing that there was a bit of a walk in.
This time, the destination was something I had been looking forward to doing for weeks and weeks. We went to hear Michael Pollan talk. In case you don’t know, he is the author of In Defense of Food (among other things), and this was his sole Canadian speaking engagement in the near future.
The event was being held at the farm at the University of British Columbia, and was a fundraiser for the farm as well as a speaking event. The farm apparently once took up much of the land that the university’s buildings now occupy, a shrinking in area correlated to the reduction in prevalence of the agriculture program. Once upon a time Agriculture was one of the main faculties within the University, and its mark is still seen in some of the street names.
I was anticipating that this would be a lecture in a building, and that the afternoon would consist of little more than that. Lecture, explore the farm while waiting for my opportunity to say hi and get a signed book, more farm exploring, then go home. I was quite pleasantly surprised!
The lecture was held in the open air on a grassy field at the farm, with musicians for entertainment before and after, T shirts on sale in support of the farm, and several tables with locally sourced munchables. The venue only makes sense – who wants to sit indoors on a nice day, and where would they put 500+ people? Also a bonus – Chris (aka Auntie Chris) and her friends were there, with good food and picnic blankets.
Michael Pollan’s talk was interesting – while mostly seemed to be a recap of his writing, he was still an engaging and entertaining speaker. He spoke of eating food our great-grandparents would recognize as food, and that does not contain ingredients that you could reasonably expect to find in a pantry. He talked about how the industrialization of our food (from production and manufacture through to point of purchase) and sense of nutrition has contributed, even caused, the diet-associated health issues that are plaguing North Americans. In all, I found myself agreeing with the common sense message he presents, as it is common sense. He acknowledged this, evoking laughter as he pointed out how ridiculous it is that our culture seems to need people to tell us how to eat healthfully. I especially found interesting his take on the different diets of the world, how there is no one pure ideal diet. Sure, we’re pressured to eat “Mediterranean”, or this diet, or that diet. High fat? Bad for you right? But the Innu culture is well known for its high fat traditional diet, and relatively low diet-related health problems. He isn’t pushing eating this oil or that, multi-grain over whole wheat, or zero-tolerance local eating. He’s just talking about common sense.
Ohright. Adventure! Of course, we had never been to a talk together, so that was a new experience for Cameron, though of course he could care less about the man who was talking or what was being said. He wanted to see the tractor! He wanted to see farmers! We had our chances to explore a bit after the talk, as we ran into an old friend of mine. Naomi worked as an undergrad research assistant with me in my old lab, and we’ve remained friends despite rarely seeing each other. Truth is, it took me a moment to even recognize her. Still, we’re old friends. She’s now an apprentice at the farm, learning the principles of small-scale organic agriculture. This meant we got a private tour! Cameron got to see broccoli, beets, peas, beans, brussels sprouts, and various lettuces. I got to taste young, fresh beet greens again, only seconds from plant to mouth. Yum! We also left with a few yellow tomato plants, leftovers.
Then time to see the chickens! Cameron was a little disappointed that they were in a pen, but still peered through the fence at them, and clucked back to them.
We also got to see a small garden plot with one of Auntie Chris’s friends. However, by this point my little love was too tired and fussy to stay quiet, which was needed as there was some interview being held.
At the end of the day, yummy fresh bread from the bakery and tomato plants tucked in the bottom of the stroller, we were all set to head out. But Cameron had one last request. He wanted to say good bye and thank you to “the man who was talking.” I encouraged him, and he marched straight up to where Mr.Pollan was sitting, mountain of books mostly signed. High-five and hand shake, and goodbyes said, off we went.
Was Cameron any worse the wear for our afternoon? Not at all. He had a good nap on the way home, and barely even coughed at night. What can I say? Farms. Good food. Good for your health.