Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed when I do my research. Sometimes I hit a point when I just want to stop because every new bit of information I uncover only seems to add complexity and confusion instead of taking it away. When I reach this point, I do stop and I try a completely different strategy.

Food security is one of those topics that has the potential to overwhelm. Food is so integral to our being and ingrains so much of our history, our economy and our own lives that its difficult to determine what is cause and what is effect. It's all so chicken and egg, so to speak.

So rather than trying to solve the entire world's food problems, I'm going try my back up strategy and try to tackle a smaller problem close to home: the scarcity of local garlic.

I love garlic. Most of the world loves garlic. And most of the world's garlic comes from China.

Now, I'm no xenophobe - its not the particular country where the garlic comes from that causes me worry. Its just that it all doesn't seem right to me. Because garlic growing is so strong in China, the local producers of garlic just can't complete on price and so they've largely started growing other products instead. If you go to any supermarket where I live, you can only buy garlic from China - which is cheap but also old - sometimes months so. The other thing that doesn't sit well is that I don't like the idea of such a crucial foodstuff being a commodity and subject to financial fluctuations that seem out of line with all th....

I know of a couple farms in the area that sell Canadian garlic. My pledge is that I will approach these farmers and ask them kindly to participate (or help me participate) in Seeds of Diversity's Great Canadian Garlic Collection.

From the website:

Seeds of Diversity's Great Canadian Garlic Collection is a national project that explores and doc**ents the many varieties of garlic grown in Canada.

There are well over 100 varieties of garlic that are suited to Canadian growing co.... Our goal is to grow as many varieties as possible in all of Canada's major agricultural areas and to record their success and characteristics.

The collected information will be posted to our web site for use by all.

Garlic grows differently in different climates. Some varieties have particular colours, shapes or other characteristics in certain areas of the country, but not in others. For instance, some varieties grow scapes in the east but not in the west. Some have a purple or red colour when grown in certain climates, but are white elsewhere. More importantly, some varieties grow better than others in different regions.

We want to find out which kinds of garlic grow best in your area, and this is how you can help.

I love that this crowdsourced work that can be done by an individual for the benefit of all and for future generations. Reminds of this network I know of...

Views: 27

Comment by Gene Becker on March 14, 2010 at 10:28pm
Garlic from China? I had no idea! Although now that you mention it, I have noticed that the garlic I buy always seems old -- either starting to sprout, or more often just on the verge of going bad. Hmm.

I was in Wh*** Paycheck last night (that's what we call Wh*** Foods around here) and they were displaying big posters that talked about knowing your 'foodshed' -- where your food comes from, and how it flows, like a watershed. Garlic from China, I would never have guessed.

Anyway now I'm curious because Gilroy, about 50 miles south of here, is known for its garlic. I wonder if Gilroy garlic makes it to my local Safeway...

And I can't believe Jane has me playing a game where I'm talking about garlic on a Sunday afternoon.
Comment by Mita Williams on March 14, 2010 at 11:58pm
Ha! In our house we talk about garlic all the time!
Comment by Elastika on March 19, 2010 at 8:15pm
Great post Mita and yes, also in the heart of Europe we can just buy garlic from China!
Comment by Shakwei Mbindyo on March 19, 2010 at 8:36pm
+1 Local insight. Great to know. I wonder if garlic can grown in greenhouses - perhaps I will be exporting garlic to Canada in 2020. By then an Evoke project will have a work-around for the food mile challenge :)


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