Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poverty Perspective from Laurie Cook of WRC

Oct 2010
So here I am again putting together another edition of Poverty Perspective and I feel like I need to come with a Mea Culpa. There is something extremely humbling about writing a post regarding abject poverty and food scarcity when I just finished a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by family, great friends and a fully ridiculous amount of food. I am originally from Texas, so I will readily admit that I come from a culture of food. There is nothing that is done in Texas that does not include eating. "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing while eating " is a state motto down there. Sometimes I think that over here in North America food is so easy that we take it for granted. Food is like a wonder drug to us - there is nothing it can't cure or be the answer for.

New neighbour ? Take them some food! A friend is sick ? Let's make casseroles! Invited to someone's house for dinner ? Take dessert ! Having an early morning meeting ? You can't go wrong with donuts ! Birthday ? Bake a cake ! Thanksgiving ? Bake a pie ! Christmas ? Make a fruitcake ! (Although I have never done this or seen someone do it... in fact I have a theory that there are only a dozen fruitcakes in existence and they keep being "re-gifted" year after year.)Easter ? How 'bout Paska! Valentines Day ? Cupcakes for everyone! Canada Day ? Let's Bar-B-Q !! Church Annual General Meeting ? Make it a Potluck !

You name the event, there is a food that is appropriate here in North America. This is our world, our ethos, our culture, our social expectation. I recently found an online calendar that lists all the "special days of the year" and sat there aghast at the extensive list including "International Homemade Cookie Day" and "National Cold Cuts Day" and "National Pastry Day" and an entire "Asparagus Month " and other such nonsense. I don't want to demean asparagus oor any other vegetable for that matter, but do we really need a day (much less a whole month) to celebrate it ? This entire exercise seems to have become absurd (unless my wife is reading this and then homemade cookie doesn't seem like that much of a stretch ... maybe we can celebrate that one).

But honestly, we have come to the point that we completely and totally take food for granted. We are creating reasons to eat things. Which is funny because we already have a perfectly good reason for eating. It's called hunger. It's the point where our body says. "help me out here, I am running out of energy." It is also the point that we seem to sprint right past on Thanksgiving Day as we load up our plate for the second time - because there wasn't room to get some of everything the first ime we filled it. (Of coure maybe we just have small plates)

But seriously, we have so much food, so readily available that we just naturally expect it to be there for us. Getting food for us is easy. We are hunter/gatherers. We hunt for a parking space at the grocery store and then gather everything we want in our baskets before checking out. Truth is, we have lost touch with the concept of need. We are used to simply getting, and when we can't, we lose all sense of reason. I know - I saw this firsthand at the grocery store on the Saturday before Thanksgiving as two women were coming to blows over who would get the last packet of sage. I'm not kidding. They were hollering and threatening each other like this was the world's only packet of life saving medicine for their children. I stood there somewhat bemused and partially in mouth-gaping awe at the spectacle of them. The show was cut short when the store manager, we'll call him Solomon, offered to get two ziplock bags and let the women split the contents of the package evenly. The crisis was averted, two families got the appropriate amount of spice on their stuffing, and no one was injured. I also realized that I was feeling somehow superior as I stood there because I knew I had plenty of sage in a small jar in my pantry at home.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there is another day coming up on the calendar soon - October 16th is World Food Day. World Food Day is a world-wide event designed to increase awareness and understanding of, as well as to promote year-round action towards the alleviation of hunger. I am not advocating ways that we celebrate or even recognize World Food Day in this post. What I am doing however, is suggesting that we might want to take some time, after we emerge from our post-Thanksgiving meal stupor, to think about those who do not have the privilege of celebrating every conceivable event in their lives and communities with feasts. Those for whom the words "food security" do not mean "keep the pies on the counter so the dogs don't get them before dessert" like they did in my house growing up.

Men nd women who struggle to feed their families every other day because eating two days in a row would deplete their scarce food supply too quickly. Stop and give them a few moments of your time and thoughts today. Offer up some honest prayers for them, and for us - because there is something wrong with the balance in the world. And while you are doing that, maybe take a second to consider how far your dollar goes towards feeding those families when we get those four quarters matched at the Canadian Food Grains Bank and then multiplied by the Canadian International Development Agency.

How far will it go? $9 to $1 is the answer. NINE to ONE. For every dollar you give we can send an additional nine more dollars overseas. That's $10 that can feed families. $10 that can train farmers to grow more and better crops. $10 that can provide the basic tools necessary to meet the agricultural needs of a community. And that's if you give just a single loonie.

I truly do hope that you had a blessed Thanksgiving weekend. I hope the time with your family was rich. I hope the laughter around the table was loud and heartfelt. I hope the fellowship was life giving. I hope you got to eat something as good as the buttermilk pie I made for my friends (because, that might be the best pie in the known world).

But with all of that, I hope you stopped to be thankful for all that God has given us - we truly are blessed. I can tell you that we at World Relief Canada stopped and thanked God for you this Thanksgiving. You are the most iimportant partner in all we do. Without you, there would be no World Relief. You are the reason we can continue Cultivating Hope and Growing Communities. And that is worth putting a special day on the calendar to say Thanks!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All in !

We just got word that the Tiede's got the wheat harvested in Alberta. Yield was approx 60 bu an acre... that's very good.. There are some quality issues because of the hard life it led this season but we are working on it !

Monday, October 11, 2010


We have been making great progress for harvest lately ! 6 of our 7 fields have reported they are harvested... Here is an update of recent happenings.

Rock Olson did get the canola harvested on the edge of Norquay, Saskatchewan. We got 410 bushels of canola from that field. 41 bushels per acre. Will release the $ bu on that part soon.

The way the year looked 41 bu is verrrry nice ! All of the grain prices have been improving lately so that will help us raise more $ but that often makes it harder for people in other countries to access reasonably priced food. We want to keep helping !

Gerald & Darla at Kinistino figured out how to raise canola in near flood conditions. The crop survived to produce 30.5 bushels per acre. That was on a 50 acre field... Not bad at all ! They also were able to get $9.95 / bushel which adds up to a lot of money for our Sudanese partners.

Jim and Bryan with a "y" Sandstrom got the Kernels wheat harvested at Minnedosa this week. The weather here this week was better than at most anytime during the whole growing season. Yield and quality are yet to be determined on this wheat.

We'll tell you more as we go about the harvest. I wanted to add some pictures of what canola looks like when it is mature and ready for harvest. Also I added a picture of the seed size compared to a quarter (25 cent coin ) It is amazing to look at those little tiny seeds and think of how they add up and grow up to become something !

We are looking forward to reports from the Norquay area on the Helping Feed the World initiative that gives such a boost to the Kernels of Hope figures every year.

Taste ?

Many of you that know me (or people like me ) know that I don't like vegetables !

I just had to show you this action shot of me eating some ! It reminds me how blessed we are to be able to have our choice of food in this country... Can you imagine having barely any food and making a face like that when some food was finally provided ?

Thanksgiving drives the point home even more where we need to not take things for granted and we need to remember those in need. Sometimes people think they can't make a difference in the big picture... Every TV picture is made up of tiny little dots that make a wonderful picture for all to see. Be one of the dots ( I am just helping to connect those dots ) . The worst thing that can happen when you make that decision whether to help in some way or not, is to feel you won't make a difference and you do nothing. It all starts with you. Thankyou for being a part of Kernels !

The Partnership