While we do our best, here at the Bovine, to cover the Canadian raw milk scene, along with other food politics and food rights stories, we don’t often get much news from Quebec. Now we’ve heard how fewer French people starved during the second world war because France was a nation of gardeners. And we know that Quebec has passed laws legalizing soft raw milk cheeses. That was a few years ago. The French heritage in Quebec no doubt helps people there maintain a stronger connection to the land and to food quality, than may be the case elsewhere. So it’s great to get this story, via Karen Selick, of a man who’s doing something in Quebec to stem the tide of industrialization, that threatens authentic and healthy farming everywhere:
From Dominc Lemontagne, via Karen Selick:
The Impossible Farm is a profitable homestead, about one percent the size of your average Québec farm, which has slowly been outlawed through years of legislative constrictions. It is, for example, 2 cows, 200 hens and 500 broiler chickens, grass-fed together on the range from early spring to late fall. It’s this small scale, plural agro-business, which manages it’s own slaughter, processing and marketing. In a nutshell, it is the beginning of a mom-and-pop’s driven regional revitalization effort that favors direct (and often local, farmers market driven) sales, thus promoting resilience rather than dependence.
The Impossible Farm
A multimedia conference by Domnic Lamontagne
A short history of an agricultural monopoly and some popular re-appropriation strategies
The conference first documents the legal onslaught set upon Québec’s agricultural practices during the late 1940s by the Government of Québec. Designed to profit a monopoly exercised by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) (Union of Agricultural Producers), the Québec government effectively allowed and participated in the creation of an all-powerful agricultural cartel that has reigned supreme since 1972. Despite the insightful 2008 report by the Commission sur l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’agroalimentaire québécois (Commission on the future of agriculture and agri-food in Québec, a.k.a. the Pronovost report,), which recommended a shift to a more plural, inclusive type of agriculture, no attempt to open up the cartel has even remotely succeeded thus far.
The second half of the conference proposes collective re-appropriation strategies that would allow for true food sovereignty and, ultimately, local resilience. One of the cornerstones of citizen-fueled agro-resilience is the rekindling of the trade of the basic produce and homemade foods we harvest or make ourselves such as eggs, yogurt and bread. To this end, we become reacquainted with and reconnected to the simple arts of raising hens, milking goats, fermenting yogurt and making bread.
DOMINIC LAMONTAGNE: In 1997, he starts up Günt Multimedia with a friend. The partners eventually close the company, and in 2003, Dominic and his spouse Amélie start a new business specializing in vacuum-packed home-cooked meals: Gastronomie Le Naked Lunch. Soon after, the couple acquires a storefront to increase access to their products, opening up a small bistro/fine foods shop on Wellington Street in Montreal. The bistro quickly gains praise for its duck smoked meat and the shop for its high-end tinned fppds (which they make on site). In 2012, the family of four trade in their hectic city life for a safe haven in Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides, opting for a little more authenticity and a little less glitter. They launch En Pleine Gueule in 2013, a locally operated business dedicated to the promotion of food autonomy and sustainable gastronomy. With this, Dominic hopes to contribute to the resurgence and proliferation of profitable homesteads and the love of true terroir flavours.