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Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing Our Food System
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Nelson Daily News

"Pedaling a message across the nation"

Nelson Daily News - 05.26.08
By Timothy Schafer

For almost three years the message of Deconstructing Dinner has been travelling the airwaves and cyberspace.

As of May 7 the nationally-syndicated radio show hosted by Jon Steinman on Kootenay Co-op Radio (Thursday, 6-7 p.m., 93.5 FM) is travelling on the road across Canada via recumbent bicycles.

Powered by the legs and the spirits of Darrick Hahn and Sinisa Grgic, the two will be pedaling across Canada this summer, contacting local media about the show and raising awareness about the way our food is produced.

Like thousands of community radio listeners across Canada and the U.S. -- and internationally with podcasts on the Internet -- Steinman's show about food issues connected with Hahn. He grew up on a conventional dairy farm in Ontario, but has been "disconnected" from that life for the last three years, most recently while in Vancouver, working at an electroplating facility in Richmond.

Although he wanted to see what city life could offer, Hahn did not like what he found. It was a society far removed from the land and a respect for the way things are grown, opting instead to buy cheaper, imported food than support a local agricultural economy.

Inspired by Steinman and his passion for the issues of the land, Hahn decided to bring a message along when he took his summer road trip with his pal Grgic from Ontario.

They will be dipping their toes in the Atlantic Ocean July 20, but last Saturday they were in Nelson at the Cottonwood Community Market, after taking in a meal which included local produce at All Seasons Caf Friday night. New owners Paul and Julia Archambault were also supportive of the trip, offering a complimentary meal to the riders.

Hahn and Grgic had been planning the trip across Canada for two years, been dreaming about it for eight years prior to that. Hahn first met up with Steinman while they attended the University of Guelph, and rekindled that friendship at Shambhala music festival in Salmo last year. At the time, Steinman was doing a workshop as a spinoff of his show, and Hahn soon began to tune in.

"I was hearing a strong voice for the farmer and I guess I never heard that perspective from any of the media before," he said.

And Steinman's message -- born out by events occurring daily all over the globe -- is that the current food distribution system can't withstand the pressure of rising fuel prices, nor the environmental cost to move it long distances.

"It's of increasing importance to let people know about what is going on because it is our industrial food system that is (failing)," said Steinman. "We're all connected through this common theme of food."

We have been making choices for cheap food from other parts of the world for years, he said, now people have to make choices again as the food crisis hits home and a local agricultural economy needs to be restarted.

Riding bright, yellow, three-wheeled, recumbent bikes draws a lot of attention, said Hahn. Which is good, because it gives them the opportunity to discuss the show and food issues with people, hand out information pamphlets and offer up CD's of the show.

"As we've crossed B.C. we've found a lot of people were discussing (food issues) already in their community," he said. "This trip has really resonated with a lot of people."

"It's a pretty easy subject to talk about with people because everybody eats," said Grgic.

Before the two arrive in a community, Steinman contacts the media, farmers and other groups concerned with food security and local agriculture.

A Calgary listener has already come forward with an offer of heirloom greenhouse vegetables grown just outside the city for when they arrive in the city. After doing 100 to 130 kilometres a day there is often a meal made from local produce awaiting them, or possibly a room at a farmhouse.

And it is to a farmhouse Hahn will likely return to after the trip is over. The dairy farm he grew up on is now an organic beef farm, and he is preparing himself to learn the business end of the operation.

The two were to stay with a farmer in Creston, one who is also involved in the grain Community Supported Agriculture project, later on Saturday. Once they go through the Crow's Nest pass and Calgary, they will follow the Trans Canada highway straight to St. John's, Nfld.

You can follow their progress online at their blog (www.fresh-entertainment.ca), or link up through Deconstructing Dinner (www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner). Steinman's show, which is rebroadcast on Monday (12-1 p.m.), will also carry weekly updates and clips from the road as the voyage continues.

On June 17 the Kootenay Co-op will donate one per cent of their sales to Deconstructing Dinner in support of the cross-Canada trip.

(Copyright 2008 Nelson Daily News)


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