Tag Archives: Canada

A trip around the blogosphere

I’m weirdly tickled by the idea of a blog tour. I know it’s old hat for most people but the idea of a virtual book tour, stopping in at various blogs, seeing the “sites,” chatting with new people, amuses and delights me. I picture myself like some steampunk traveller floating around in a hot-air balloon in an empty sky, then dropping down every once in a while to chat with a blogger who must hold tight onto the ropes, then release us the next day into the wild blue yonder (hopefully with a few new readers along for the ride!).

This week, my coauthor Nick Saul and I are off on that magical mystery tour, dropping in at various literary hotspots along the way. We are so grateful for their hospitality!

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First stop is Lost in a Great Book.  Jenn, who hails from the Creemore, ON, area, asked us some great questions about The Stop, the book and the future of Community Food Centres in Canada.

On day two, we meet the lovely Char from The Literary Word, who filled the book with post-it notes and called it “a highly addictive and wonderfully informative read.”

On day three, we stop in at Pickle Me This, the stomping grounds of writer,  editor and longtime blogger Kerry Clare. She said “The Stop is a fantastic story well told, compelling to read, and it will inspire readers to reconsider their relationships with both the food they eat and the people they live amidst.”

Day four is a stop at That Tall Girl Loves Books (this short one, too!).  Carrie did a Q&A with Nick and me, and asked us smart questions about Jamie Oliver, ideological versus logistical challenges and more. She called the book “a fantastic read. It was interesting, informative, and inspirational. Reading accounts of how everyday people made such profound changes and impacts certainly does make me want to get more involved.”

The last stop is Serendipitous Reading where Marci writes: “I urge everyone to go out and get this book. Not just because you have to but because you want to make change in your own communities….Get stubborn, get active and make your city or town better not worse.”

If you haven’t already, check out the fabulous animation CFCC produced to tell its story about the power of food.

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Growing good neighbours

This week, Crave, a web site focusing on food and health-related books, asked us to blog about our book, The Stop: How Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement coming out next week. Nick Saul and I decided to write about our experience planting a veggie patch on our city lawn—and some personal discoveries about the power of food.

urban gardenHere’s a taste of the blog post. To read the whole thing, check out Crave.

When we decided to build a raised bed vegetable garden on our small downtown Toronto front yard a few years ago, we thought mostly about the delicious tomatoes, peppers and fresh herbs we’d enjoy come harvest time. We ordered fresh soil, built a simple structure using 2x6s and some brackets and shopped for seeds at farmers’ markets. But the day the soil arrived, it was clear the harvest was the least of the pleasures involved in growing food in the city.

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Coming soon!

The book that I’ve been working on with my husband, food activist Nick Saul, arrived at our house the other day. The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement is a bit like our third baby. It’s been a long and interesting gestation process thinking about, researching and writing a book together and it was thrilling to see it for reals.

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If you can’t wait for the book itself to launch into the world on March 19th, an excerpt is coming out in Reader’s Digest next week. In the meantime, we’ve written a piece about the challenges of food banks in the April issue of The Walrus. The online version of the essay won’t be up for a bit, but you can find one of Canada’s last great magazines on newsstands everywhere great magazines are found. Nick and I will be talking about the book and the Community Food Centre (CFC) model a lot over the next few months. Watch here for details. For more on CFCs, visit the Community Food Centres Canada website or www.andreacurtis.ca

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Filed under City gardens, Community Food Centre, Kids and food, School lunch, What's for Lunch?

On the blog roll

As I gear up for my next book to come out in mid-March (check it out here)—with all the trepidation and excitement that entails— it’s particularly nice to see blogger reviews still coming in for What’s for Lunch?

I’m also doing a number of talks and presentations about the book with both children and adults over the next few months. If you want me to come to your school or community group, you can contact me about fees and my availability.

final WFL coverJust this week, obesity doc Yoni Freedhoff posted a review of the book on his blog Weighty Matters. He liked What’s for Lunch? quite a bit though he had some really interesting stuff to say about how obesity is framed in the text.

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Filed under Kids and food, School feeding, School gardens, School kitchens, School lunch, What's for Lunch?

New book coming out in March

The Stop coverI’m thrilled to report that my new book, written with my husband, Nick Saul, is nearly ready and coming out from Random House Canada in the spring. It’s called The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement. It’s an account of Nick’s 14 years working with the community, volunteers and staff at The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto to transform it from a tiny, inadequate food bank into a thriving, multifaceted community centre that supports people to grow, cook, eat, share and advocate for good food for everyone. Part story about The Stop’s people and evolution, part argument for re-imagining emergency food, part call for a new kind of food system altogether, it’s written in Nick’s voice (it is his story, after all), but the book was a true collaboration.

These days, Nick has left The Stop to head up Community Food Centres Canada, an organization that aims to spread the model they developed across the country. We hope the book will be a great calling card as he and his dedicated colleagues work to bring its innovations to other cities and towns.

The Stop is nearly finished (from our perspective—I’m sure the publisher has a few things to do before it ships out in March!), and we’ve been showing it to others, many of whom have offered very moving words of praise. A number of our food movement and activist heroes—people like Marion Nestle, Jan Poppiendieck, Frances Moore Lappé, Naomi Klein and Raj Patel—have provided blurbs for the jacket copy and publicity material. What a humbling and thrilling experience it is to show your baby to someone you admire and have them say they think it’s important and brave and must be read by everyone. Check back soon to read the advance praise here.

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Vegetative states

November is the longest month here in Toronto. (Or maybe February.) The short, grey, cold days and distance from spring make me despair that it will ever be warm and bright again. Luckily, there are photos. I’m going to try and imagine that this sunflower is my own personal Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp and it’s pouring its sunshiney goodness all over me.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe these radishes can inspire a bit of spring-like optimism.

But I’d even settle for the kind of tough, in-it-for-the-long-haul fortitude of a squash.

Who knew light deprivation could make a person want to anthropomorphize vegetables? For a hilarious take on this very subject, check out Don Gillmor’s wonderful children’s book, When Vegetables Go Bad.

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Garden variety politics

The school garden has been put to bed for the winter, and I find myself reflecting on the season past and beginning to think ahead to what we might do differently next year.

Sadly, here in Ontario, where the government has decided to unilaterally end bargaining with the teachers’ unions, and the teachers have responded by withdrawing their involvement in extracurricular activities (one of the only tools they have left to make their displeasure clear), there could very well not be a garden next year.

We’ve worked hard to embed it into the school’s life—supporting teachers to use the garden as a teaching tool, buying curriculum resources, etc. And it’s worked remarkably well. We have a committed and enthusiastic staff team devoted to using it for teaching purposes. In just the past few weeks, the teachers have been using the harvest in their classes, baking kale chips and making a veggie soup that had children literally pushing to the front of the line to get seconds.

But maintaining the patch is the collaborative work of parents, students and teachers, and such collaboration isn’t possible right now. We’re doing what we can while respecting the teacher’s right to withdraw their voluntary labour, but it might very well not be enough. A lot of work has to go into planning and fundraising—not to mention planting and tending—to make the garden thrive, and without parents, kids and teachers working together the whole thing could easily not happen.

It’s devastating to think that all the work we’ve put into this garden, all the momentum we’ve built over the past two years could actually grind to a halt.

I think making food literacy a part of our schools and education system is a key part of how we’re going to reverse the damage of our current food system—the diet-related health issues, the environmental degradation, the fear about food safety and unfair labour practises. Teachers are our most important resource when it comes to making food literacy a part of our children’s school life. We need to urge our provincial government to treat them with the respect they deserve and get back to negotiating in good faith.

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Filed under City gardens, Kids and food, School gardens, School kitchens, School lunch, What's for Lunch?