Foodstock: chefs, farmers unite to fight quarry planned for Niagara escarpment

From Jennifer Bain, in the Toronto Star:

Chef Michael Stadtlander is the driving force behind Foodstock, an Oct. 16 fundraiser in support of the movement to Stop The Mega Quarry. He's in the potato field of Dave Vanderzaag, who is one of four farmers who didn't sell to an American-backed company that wants to develop one of Canada's biggest rock quarries. JASON VAN BRUGGEN PHOTO (from Toronto Star)

“Activist chef Michael Stadtländer is spearheading a farm-based food protest and hopes 20,000 people will join him.

The Oct. 16 event is called Foodstock and it’s a pay-what-you-can culinary and musical rally against a proposed limestone mega quarry on prime agricultural land next to the Niagara Escarpment. The project’s opponents fear for the region’s water, farming and quality of life.

“We have to protect land that can grow food,” Stadtländer said Thursday. “We’re just at the dawn of localism, and after seeing the drought, hurricanes and floods that have happened in the United States, I think we had better secure where our food comes from.”

Stadtländer, whose restaurants Eigensinn Farm and Haisai are in nearby Singhampton, has enlisted more than 80 members of the Canadian Chefs’ Congress to cook at Foodstock northwest of Orangeville.

“One of our policies is to work and protect farmers who are in need. More or less, this is a call to arms.”

The chef’s list is a who’s who of the Toronto restaurant scene. It includes heavy-hitters Jamie Kennedy (Jamie Kennedy Kitchens), Anthony Walsh (Canoe) and Brad Long (Café Belong), plus chefs from hotspots Parts & LabourEnoteca Sociale and Buca. Fishmongers fromHooked, butchers from Cumbrae’s and chocolate makers from ChocoSol Traders have also pledged support.

Most of the chefs are from southern Ontario, but at least three are coming from Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Each will create a dish using locally grown or procured items like potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, apples, smoked lake trout, beef and pork.

“In a way, you will taste the land that’s in jeopardy,” promised Stadtländer, a longtime supporter of organic food and localism.

“Foodstock will be a day for the history books,” he predicted.

Organizers are calling Foodstock “a harvest feast of monumental proportions” and hope to create a fundraising cookbook. Musicians such as Jim CuddySarah HarmerCuff the Dukeand Hayden are expected, along with speakers.

They’ll discuss how the Highland Companies, owned by a Boston-based hedge fund, assembled farmland north of Orangeville to grow potatoes and then applied to develop one of Canada’s biggest rock quarries. It wants to dig 1 billion tonnes of limestone from the potato fields.

The farmland is in Melancthon Township, about 115 kilometres northwest of Toronto and just outside of Shelburne.

The quarry lands are to stretch five kilometre across and plunge 200 feet down. A “mega quarry” is defined as having a rock reserve of at least 150 million tonnes. The Highland reserve has one billion tonnes, part of a six-billion-tonne deposit.

Highland would have to pump 600 million litres of water a day from the quarry, equivalent to the volume used by 2.7 million Ontarians. It would have to store it for three days to reduce sediment, which would mean handling 1.8 billion litres of water a day.

Ontario’s environment ministry has filed stinging criticisms of the mega-quarry proposal.

Foodstock is slated to run 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on World Food Day on the Honeywood-area farm of Diane and Bill French, farmers who refused to sell their land. They grow rhubarb, potatoes and Brussels sprouts and have a farm stand. Several other farm families that refused to sell their land will also take part….”

Read it all in the Toronto Star.

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