The Horn of Plenty – cornucopia.  

If I owned a shipping line these days, maybe Cornucopia Ltd. would be a good company name. So much of what we, here in North America (and elsewhere in the world), use and consume come to us transported by ships. These ply the oceans and seas, trafficking in exchanged resources and goods.

If I owned a grocery store chain, I’d be tempted to have Cornucopia as my corporate name. Somehow obtaining my food at a store called Cornucopia would be more attractive to me than shopping at, say, Thrifty Foods or Overwaitea or Safeway. The name sounds somewhat more promising of plenty.

If  necessity dictated a smaller commercial dream for me, as in a road-side fruit stand, or a small corner grocery store, a sign identifying my place of business might very well read “Cornucopia”, or for those less inclined to Latinisms, “The Horn of Plenty”.

In  a recent conversation, Lucky mentioned that her cousin, a blueberry farmer in the Fraser Valley expects to have this year’s blueberry crop to be 60% less than in previous years. Because of rains during June and much of July, the berries didn’t mature as expected, and those that did split during intermittent hot sunny days.  These split berries are useful mostly for making jam.

Our local back roads have many small kiosks selling blueberries.  The quality of the berries is dependent in which weather they were picked.  The berries are much more expensive this year.  More than likely, the better quality berries are earmarked for shipping elsewhere. No “Horn of Plenty” roadside fruit-stands this year for us locals.

Then, too, not all blueberry producers use organic farming practices. People who wish to only buy and consume organic blueberries have to pay a hefty premium. Generally, the large local grocery chain stores sell sprayed blueberries, and even these are more costly this year.

There are not many growers of organic blueberries in our community. One, who has been in business for over ten years, had his fields cut in half this past year, so that a highway approach on to the proposed new bridge over the Fraser River could be built through his bisected farm. The decision to sacrifice good growing land so that commuters in cars have reduced travelling time shows short-sighted policy-making on the part of our politicians and planners.

I live in a fertile valley of British Columbia, which during the past 40 years has seen major reduction of productive lands. Much of this land has gone to build golf-courses, subdivisions, industrial parks. Yearly there is increasing pressure to have lands released from the Agricultural Land Reserve for other uses than food production.  Our Valley, our own “Horn of Plenty”, is fast dwindling. Increasingly we can buy food-stuffs from far-away places more easily than we can buy food produced in our region.

At what point does sense kick in, or realization, that we must return to being primary producers of that which we consume?

3 Responses to “Cornucopia…”

  1. tugster Says:

    so true about your ship line names and supermarket names. as a farmboy transplant living in the big apple, i know this consumer lifestyle cannot be sustained, but it’s as if we sit on an out-of-control tanker headed for a shore mountain at top speed, helmsmen (that’s all of us) asleep at the wheel?

  2. Cargo « tugster: a waterblog Says:

    […] Friday, August 17th, 2007 in environmental advocacy, globalization, thoughts, photos, personal Recently Gabriella wrote this lovely piece on her blog, whose complete title is “surviving the suburban life.” I pass along her eloquence about growing or buying local here. […]

  3. suburbanlife Says:

    Will, count me in as one of the asleep ones – however I struggle to wake up to awareness of my own role as a cog in the machine of the tanker heading for that inevitable grounding. G

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