Sunday, June 26, 2011

Denmark, and Food Supply.

Near Borup, Denmark

This week, I visited my son, who works in a high end resto in Ottawa. He's interested in food, of course, and has been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. He's about to get a philosphy degree, so he'd better he interested in food! He told me about the book (which he will lend to me when finished) and mentioned that the author suggested that Denmark was the model for food production we should be following. (Or something to that effect.) Well, it is well-known that the Scandinavian countries lead the way in the world when it comes to sustainable, healthy food production,

Well, I joked to my son, now 23,"You sure know about Denmark and the grocery stores."

My brother has lived in Denmark for 30 years, in Roskilde (on the fjord) Nascov and near Borup, on a collective farm of some kind, and my son has visited there.

He went for a summer once, when he was a teen, and like most North American boys of a certain tweenage, he was a little chubby from too many chips and video games.

He game back much thinner, despite the fact he said he did little at my brother's home in Nascov back then but play video games.

You see, no junk food!

I visited Denmark for a few weeks in 2006 with my other son, who had just become a vegetarian - after seeing a film on slaughter houses in CEGEP.

I am a foodie myself and I take an interest in any grocery stores I find in foreign countries. In Denmark, in 2006, I found it very hard to cook vegetarian for my son. I also found it difficult to find 'convenience foods'. I recall I wanted sliced chicken and what the stores had was expensive and came in teeny tiny amounts. Lots of pickled fishes though.However, you could buy booze anywhere, even in shoe stores. At least I think I saw some booze for sale in a show store :) The fish aren't the only thing pickled in Denmark.

Anyway, we ate great, because people still know how to cook in Denmark, or at least my brother's relations can cook, as can my brother, although he's usually pickled when he cooks. They still have to know how to cook from scratch.

Which is all the more ironic, as I downloaded J.W. Robertson's 1908 report to Parliament about The Macdonald-Donaldson movement, in which he says that his inspiration for the movement came from visiting Denmark at the beginning of his career as a civil servant!

"Shortly after I had the honor of being appointed a public servant, to help in the forward movement for agriculture and education in Canada, some twenty one years ago, I paid a brief visit to Denmark. I saw and learned very much there from which I tried to bring back the lessons to the Province of Quebec."

Now, my sister in law is a retired nurse, but she grew up a farmer's daughter, I guess in the 40's and 50's, and as she descibes it, her life was very peasant-like. So I dunno.

"The foreward movement for agriculture and education." That phrase, I guess, summarizes the Catch-22 or whatever about the Movement. It was a 'forward movement' that waxed nostalgic for a kinder, gentler past that had never really existed. In 1910, people were 'herding to the cities', a bad thing, Robertson believed. The solution, in his mind, was to educate the farmer. But the clock can't be turned back, and all his movement did, from what I see, is provide the science for the industrialization of the food supply, that fed the ever increasing urban population.