Rekindling an old flame


Food festival in Regina tries to reconnect our relationship with food

Taouba Khelifa
News Editor

Food makes the world go round, and Regina is about to find out how.

Three local activists and university students – Allison Doan, Kay Niedermayer, and Halena Seiferling – are organizing Regina’s first ever Field 2 Fork Festival: a four day event with a focus on celebrating and educating the community on issues relating to the food system. 

The idea for the festival started in the winter semester of 2012 when the three organizers participated in the Arts Cares program offered through the Community Research Unit (CRU) at the University of Regina. During the February reading break, the students worked with SCIC (Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation) to plan a conference on issues affecting the global food system. Excited to turn their plan into an actual event, Regina’s Field 2 Fork was born. A sister event to be organized by SCIC called Harvest and Hunger was also established through the work of these three students. Harvest and Hunger will be hosted in Saskatoon in November. Feild 2 Fork will run from September 19 to September 22. The event, which will take place in Victoria Park, is open to students, children, and community members alike.

Doan says the flexibility of the event to incorporate all ages and lifestyles is an added bonus to educate all.

“The overall goal of this event is to bring community members that are working with and around food and the food system together with the average citizen…and educate them,” she said. “As well as [this, getting] kids involved as young as possible, teaching them about the food they eat and how to be responsible is key to the future of our food system, as they will be the deciding factor to create the change we need to create a food secure world.”

 To engage the participants in talking about the various food issues affecting Saskatchewan and the world today, the festival organizers have put together daytime and sunset workshops, activities and panel discussions featuring different experts, voices and organizations working on food issues.  

 “The Sunset Sessions, which will happen on the evenings of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, will provide more of that informative side of things,” Seiferling said. “And on Saturday, the workshops are more hands-on to provide people with tangible skills like how to compost, how to preserve their food, or how to grow organically. Together, we hope that these two aspects will create citizens in Regina who want to change the food system, and moreover, who…have the skills to do that.” 

Being the first festival of its kind in Regina, Field 2 Fork is more than just an event to celebrate food, or get educated about our food system. For the organizers, Field 2 Fork is about understanding what it means to eat. 

“Eating is absolutely the most political act we do, and we do it three times (or more) a day,” Niedermayer said. “Every time we eat, we send a message to the big players in the industrial food system, telling them that we either subscribe or reject their practices.”
Seiferling agrees. 

“Food can be a really easy introductory way to get into talking about [issues]… like the global food trade, additives of genetically modified ingredients that are in our food, the rights of farmers to their land… We can talk about community gardening, or teach people how to compost, and these seem like simple enough little tasks,” she said. “But through this introduction, we can start to get at the deeper issues of the food system, and in this way it’s a really great channel to begin these conversations.”  

Events and festivals that explore food issues and the global food system have been held all over the country, and worldwide. But, the organizers believe that having this event in Regina has an added significance. 

“Historically, food has always been integral to the identity of our province. It continues to be extremely vital for our community to be engaged in the processes of our food system.,” Niedermayer explained. “Agriculture is a crucial aspect of the Saskatchewan culture.” 

While many places may have lost their connection with the food they eat, Niedermayer believes Regina is still strongly holding on to its roots.

“Every time we eat, we send a message to the big players in the industrial food system, telling them that we either subscribe or reject their practices.” – Kay Niedermayer

 “I really believe that the people in Regina have not forgotten their connection to the production and consumption of food entirely: it’s so much a part of our culture that it’s hard to erase,” she said. “Many of us, I believe, have a longing to reclaim food preserving techniques or to understand our city by-laws and the deeper issues at play.”

But, fixing the broken food system goes beyond merely connecting with the food we cook and eat. To change the system, Seiferling believes we need to understand the system and its problems, and then find solutions and alternatives to the way things are done. 

 “The goals of [our] food system are not what they should be: providing people with healthy, nutritious food and providing all people with this food,” she said. “Instead, the goals of this system are making a profit, which usually involves exploiting people’s labour power and exploiting the environment, and in this goal, the system is definitely succeeding.” 

The organizers believe that what we need is a system that provides all people in the world with control over where and how their food is produced. This right to self-determination, where each individual has the right to make the decision of what to eat, what to buy, what to plant, and how to grow it, is the framework for the food system the world needs. 

And, the organizers say, everyone has a role to play in creating this food system – from consumers to producers. 

“People are very unaware of the power they have as a consumer, if everyone became more conscious of what they eat, [and] where it comes, that alone is enough to make a shift to the sustainable food practices we need,” Doan said.

Niedermayer agrees, adding that becoming conscious of our food choices and changing our food system can be fun as well. 

“[You should] take time to cook a great meal and share it with friends and family more often,” she said. “Support local farmers that are growing healthy food for our community. Support the Farmers' Market. If you feel inclined, grow a garden in the summer, or some herbs on your window sill. Have conversations with your neighbours, classmates, coworkers. Host a potluck. Our relationship with our food is also so much a relationship with our community and the people that surround us.” 

As a reminder, Seiferling adds that understanding the food system is about understanding ourselves, and to  start building that relationship 

“Go be in nature for a while, and see how that makes you feel. Our food comes from the earth, so maybe we need to remember that we, too, come from the earth.”


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