Saturday, October 22, 2011

#Foodstock: Cooking to Stop the Mega-Quarry

Twitter / Recent images by @TeamHeadwaters:

Chef Michael Stadtlander, environmentalist and owner of Eigensinn Farm, with the help of the Canadian Chefs Congress, mobilized many of Ontario’s best chefs to come out last Sunday, October 16th to cook up a storm of protest in support of the Stop the Mega-Quarry movement. They named it Foodstock and the event attracting foodies and environmentalists alike, took place in Honeywood on the farm of Diane and Bill French. Both Stadtlander's restaurant/farm and the French farm are not far from the Melancthon Township proposed quarry site.

Stadtlander and the more than 70 Ontario chefs prepared a feast in the forest for the 25,000 plus Foodstock attendees who came out in the cold, wet and windy weather in support of Stop the Mega-Quarry. To name only a handful of the hard working chefs who ventured out in the early morning hours to start cooking and setting up for the event were: Brad Long (Café Belong), Order of Canada recipient Jamie Kennedy (Jamie Kennedy Kitchens), Victor Barry (Splendido,The County General), Keith Froggett (Scaramouche), Alexandra Feswick (Brockton General), Zane Caplansky (Caplanskys Deli), Anthony Walsh (Canoe), chefs from Parts & Labour, Enoteca Sociale and Buca, Kristen and Dan Donovan (Hooked), butchers from Cumbrae’s and chocolate makers from ChocoSol Traders.

In addition to the chefs that came on board were some iconic music industry performers you just might have heard of. To the delight of the crowd, singing and playing their support on the rain soaked stage were musicians Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame, with Cuff the Duke, Sarah Harmer, band members of the Bare Naked Ladies, Ron Sexsmith and Jeremy Taggart of Our Lady Peace acting as MC.

The mega-quarry that Foodstock was organized to help oppose, is a controversial proposal by The Highland Companies, an American-backed entity intent on transforming 765 hectares of Ontario’s best farmland into one of the largest limestone quarries in North America. When completed this hole in some of the best farmland in Ontario would be 1.5 times the depth of Niagara Falls. The quarry plans to excavate high-quality limestone deposits that sit well below the water table. Projections show that up to 600 million litres of water would be pumped from the massive quarry every day. The negative impact on local rivers, cold-water fisheries and Southern Ontario’s water supply would be catastrophic.

These days tickets for food events with chefs of this calibre can be $100+, but the people organizing Foodstock wanted everyone to be able to participate with a pay-what-you-can or a suggested $10 donation. The money will be used for legal fees to fight the mega quarry.

Giving a nod to 1969's Woodstock, a defining moment for an entire generation that attracted half a million participants to a dairy farm in upstate New York, Foodstock organizers drew inspiration from the Woodstock poster that featured a white dove on a guitar. The Foodstock poster (seen above) features a bird on the handle of a saucepan. Not just any old bird though, this bird is a bobolink, a threatened species that nests in the farmer's fields and grasslands in the proposed mega-quarry site of Melancthon Township.

”...and everywhere there were songs and celebration..."

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