Agroecology blends ancient practices with scientific insights. A tasty example of agroecology is the cultivation of truffles, a wild mountain food, which grows best without chemicals and enhances biodiversity while mitigating climate change. This ancient food is cultivated with the latest scientific research.
Mountains are a perfect place for agroecology to take root because they are rich with biodiversity and ancient traditions, and nowadays mountains are centres for innovation too.
In Europe agroecology is part of the Slow Food movement and the backbone of mountain food products, promoted by NGOs like Euromontana (www.euromontana.org)
Euromontana has worked for more than a decade to get the European Parliament to regulate the use of the term 'mountain product' for foods produced and processed in mountain areas, and to obtain a European Charter for mountain food products. In May, Expo Milan will see a launch of the next stage of the process, 'Promoting European Local Food Systems'.
What this means for consumers is reliability. We can trust we are buying products that really come from mountains. Products that promote human and environmental health.
Market studies show consumers associate mountain labels with health, purity and traditional quality foods. In Europe mountain food products have an annual turnover of 23 billion Euro, Euromontana reports. Consumers are right to set their sights on mountains because they often represent the last uncontaminated soil.
Yet few people realize how much they help themselves while helping the environment by purchasing agroecology mountain food.
Since the 1960's the total global production of pesticides increased from 0.5 million tonnes to almost 4 million tonnes in 2000, the UNEP reports. That figure still grows. In the sixties the global use of chemical fertilizer was 10 million tonnes, and by 2000 it increased to over 85 million tonnes (excluding the former USSR). Today twenty companies control the global seed and pesticide production industry. The larger ones, like Monsanto and others, also own the most powerful companies in the pharmaceutical and food production industry.
This would leave a company in the immoral position of being able to poison with one hand, in order to sell a cure with the other hand...
Lets hope this would never happen, but rather than just hope the best way to remove the risk of unscrupulous behaviour is to stop supporting this controlling combination of the most vital aspects of life. Especially since no one has the answer to the next question: who pays the repair bill for environmental damage?
Agroecology helps mitigate climate change and strengthens the health of the soil. It includes farming practices such as agroforestry, conservation agriculture, and companion cropping. The benefits are increased carbon sequestering, increased bio diversity, increased resistance to erosion and extreme weather, increased habitat for wild animals, increased water quality and quantity, increased human health - and the list goes on!
Canada has mountains of opportunities for innovation. Canadians need to demand accessible mountain food products from Canada.
It's time to advance beyond products like 'Mountain Dew' and give Canadians a regulated mountain food label to encourage agroecology so Canadians can support their mountain environments while enjoying wonderful foods.