Nature’s Past – Episode 37: Histories of Canadian Environmental Issues, Part VII – Agri-Food Systems, II

Nature’s Past Episode 37 – click to play | right click, ‘save as’ to download

First Nations farmer ploughing field on Western Canadian Indian reserve, 1920. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

First Nations farmer ploughing field on Western Canadian Indian reserve, 1920. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The history of Canadian food and agriculture is an enormous topic with both a global and deeply personal scope. All humans require food to live and agricultural products become food for our consumption, demonstrating the profound interrelatedness of food and agriculture. Beyond sheer survival, food serves social and cultural purposes for all people, from planting and harvesting, through preparation, and ultimately with consumption. Communities and families coalesce around these activities and have done so for all of human existence. Food is a source of pleasure and for many people is intricately linked with spirituality. Examining the environmental history of food and agriculture in Canada reveals the ways in which our complex relationships with nature and each other inform this most intimate aspect of our daily lives.

On this second part of our look at agri-food systems in Canadian history, we discuss Canadian food history and we speak with the editors and authors of a new anthology from University of Toronto Press called, Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History. This round table interview features Franca IacovettaValerie KorinekMarlene EppJames Murton, and Ian Mosby.

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Suggested Readings:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System, 2012”
  • Andrews, Geoff. The Slow Food Story: Politics and Pleasure. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008.
  • Bradbury, Bettina. “Pigs, Cows, and Boarders: Non-Wage Forms of Survival Among Montreal Families, 1861-91,” Labour/Le Travail, 14 (Fall 1984), 9-46.
  • Carter, Sarah. Lost Harvests: Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policy. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993.
  • Derry, Margaret. Art and Science in Breeding: Creating Better Chickens. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.
  • Iacovetta, Franca, Valerie J. Korinek, and Marlene Epp. Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.
  • Mosby, Ian. “‘That Won Ton Soup Headache’: The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, MSG and the Making of American Food, 1968-1980.” Social History of Medicine 22, No. 1 (April 2009): 133-151.
  • Murton, James. Creating a Modern Countryside: Liberalism and Land Resettlement in British Columbia. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007.
  • Russell, Peter A. How Agriculture Made Canada: Farming in the Nineteenth Century. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.
  • Turner, Chris. “The Farms are not All Right” The Walrus, October 2011.
  • Wall, Ellen, Barry Smit, and Johanna Wandel. Farming in a Changing Climate: Agricultural Adaptation in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007.
  • Winson, Anthony. The Intimate Commodity: Food and the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.

Works Cited

Music Credits

Other Contributor(s): 
  • Franca Iacovetta
  • Valerie Korinek
  • Marlene Epp
  • James Murton
  • Ian Mosby
Citation: 

Kheraj, Sean, Stacy Nation-Knapper, and Andrew Watson. “Episode 37: Histories of Canadian Environmental Issues, Part VII – Agri-Food Systems, II” Nature’s Past. 5 May 2013.

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Sean Kheraj is an associate professor in the Department of History at York University. He researches and teaches in the areas of environmental and Canadian history. In addition to being a co-editor of niche-canada.org, he is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at http://seankheraj.com.