Local, yes. Sustainable, no way.

Attending the Royal Winter Fair last Sunday was a rude reminder of the reality of mainstream farming.

Sorry to be a downer, but I saw plenty not to be happy about: University of Guelph food geneticists, pesticide companies claiming environmental stewardship, corn fed beef, (not to mention the usual bad coffee).

Whine whine. Gripe gripe.

At first glance, the Royal Agricultural Show is a great thing. The farm comes to the city and the farmers, at least on the surface, get the recognition they deserve.

But the fair is steeped in traditions (horseshows, auctions, biggest zucchini) that belie the dire situation of the farmers and their absolute dependence on the pharmaceutical companies who lord over them — a tradition in itself, unfortunately.

I came across some slick marketing materials by so-called pest controllers that use clever omissions in their copy to convince us that using pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers is not only necessary for plant growth, but actually improves soil quality and preserves wildlife habitats.

Come again?

I have nothing against the farmers. They’re caught in a cycle of chemical dependence that began after WWII and it is bleeding them dry. But seriously, does the Royal Winter Fair have to add insult to injury by having the very same forces that are destroying our food supply, our soil and our waterways claim the high road as saviour of these very things?

I thought this event was for the farmers.

Whine whine. Gripe gripe.

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