I was just about to start writing my Frugal Friday posting for this week when I noticed I had another two amazing comments on my posting from yesterday – I think they really highlight the tough position that Loblaws sponsorship of this event which highlights local farms and businesses, has put people into. I know not everyone reads the comments section so I thought I would post them here. Thank you to everyone who has posted a comment, either on my site, through an email or DM on twitter. I appreciate the feedback.

I also want to say, without getting sappy, that I’m so proud of our foodie community to be able to have a discussion about our principles and beliefs in our food system while still supporting the great work done by all those volunteers and the event organizers of Feast of Fields, and supporting those who no longer wish to participate. Everyone has had their say with the utmost respect for everyone else involved. Kudos.

On to the comments:

One of Ottawa’s Real Foodies – 

Ottawa Magazine also posted an article yesterday that Piggy Market is pulling out of Feast of Fields as well. http://www.ottawamagazine.com/restaurants/city-bites/2010/08/25/exclusive-feast-of-fields-chooses-loblaws-and-loses-the-piggy-market/

My dilemma is: do I go anyway. There are great farms paired with great chefs at this event. And I would hate to see them not have the chance to showcase their good stuff if there is a mass exodus of participants or if ticket sales are harmed. Can we learn from this experience mid-stream and still keep the train on the tracks?

It is likely time for COG to step in and show some leadership on this before it all starts to crumble. Isn’t that worse than having Galen Weston at the festival with his big banner?

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marienique – 

Having been involved in the events’ world for many years, I am aware of the need for organizers to find funding where they are able, in order to survive.

Too often grants are elusive and often come in in lower amounts than the request. And our government seems to look to arts & culture first, when seeking areas in which frugal cutting-back can be done. What’s left but the well-padded coffers of the big corporations, looking to shave off some taxable revenue.

I guess I am naïve enough to believe (hope?) that some of those same corporations are also looking to give back to their community. In our day-to-day, we dance the same dance, as we acknowledge a necessary give and take… a weighing of our own impact on our world – economical, environmental, etc. We do our best when we know we need to use the car for a weekend outing, and try to balance things out by taking public transit during the week; some of us justify the purchase of a bottle of water, in those rare, rare cases when we truly see the need.

Yes, I cringe at the McWalbuck’s takeover of much of our events. I still find myself stubbornly referring to ‘The Palladium’ sometimes, and shake my head when I think of the DuMaurier Centre in Toronto, even though its programming has done so much good for world music awareness there. There are countless other examples of corporate marketing through sponsorship, and the dilemma remains the same.

I will be attending the Feast of Fields. Like you, my decision remains independent of how I feel about such sponsorship situations. I will remain aware and keep seeking to be informed on the best ways I can support the arts in my community. And I will live in this world as best I can.

Don (@foodieprints) –

This is one blog post I did not want to write.

Loblaws’ sponsoring Feast of Fields has evoked some powerful emotions from local producers, vendors, chefs, and restaurateurs.

Many retailers and producers who staunchly support organic, local, or a combination of the two feel participating in an event sponsored by Loblaws betrays their food philosophies.

Loblaws hasn’t really shown any interest in changing their supply chains to truly support local farmers, let alone local and organic ones. Ever wander down the organic aisle at a Loblaws or Superstore? The herbs aren’t even from Canada.

Loblaws is very interested in amending its image as it has been struggling to remain profitable. It has even re-arranged its produce sections to resemble more farmer’s market displays.

Yes Loblaws should be taken to task for having no substance behind its marketing efforts. The question is, does the confrontation need to take place at Feast of Fields…

COG has been transparent in informing people Loblaws is sponsoring. It, however, has not been clear about Loblaws supplying produce. It has not been clear about whether or not Loblaws will be using the event to gauge Ottawa’s interest in local organic produce. It has not explained Loblaws’ intentions.

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Dave Neil –

As owner of The Piggy Market, I still strongly urge everyone to go and support the farmers and chefs who do opt to continue. Feast of Fields has always been a wonderful event, and wouldn’t exist at all without the people who come out and buy tickets every year.

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Colleen

Farmer here! Since learning of the Loblaw’s sponsorship I have been having a moral battle about our longstanding support and involvement with Feast of Fields. Way to go Dave for pulling out and standing on your principles! I am so proud of you.

We are a family based certified organic farm- we employ a few locals and work very hard 7 days/week in order to bring fresh, nutrient dense, tasty, safe, diverse food to Ottawa every week- to restaurants, a couple of independent stores, CSA and farmers markets (Landsdown and Main St). We will never likely sell our food to Loblaws because we simply can not jump through the hoops that they insist upon- we need specific expensive non-biodegradable packaging, we need to put a sticker on every one of our tomatoes, melons, cucumbers etc etc…we would have to get a bar code…I would bet that NO farmer that participates at F of F can or will do any of the necessary things to get onto Loblaw’s shelves- oh and then we will have to compete in price with the cheaper imports. No can do!!

Loblaw’s is green washing “local”. I thought that we were trying to build a FOOD SYSTEM- this requires local farmers that can earn a viable living- which in most cases means cutting out the middle man- like Galen Weston.

I am sure Galen is a very nice man but he has no intention of buying produce off of any one of the farmers attending the F of F. What he wants is all of the people that buy at farmers markets, CSA’s or independent grocery stores to buy from him! That is how his world goes round.

As a member of La Via Campesina and the National Farmers Union I am struggling with my participation in an event that is sponsored by a corporate conglomerate that is actually making it more difficult for farmers like me, and my farmer friends to make a viable living. When food needs a passport you should not eat it. We all need to make more of an effort to eat locally and seasonally- stores owned by Weston sells anything anytime- local = get it here in 24 hours by plane.

F of F is really about the chefs and restaurants anyway. I have gone for about 8 years and as other farmers have noted, there is not much interest in the farmers or the farms, just in the food. People dine and dash.

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Karen –

My question is: what happens to the farmers who were paired with Red Apron and The Piggy Market? Do they still get to participate? I can understand taking a stand but I agree, is the time and place really at the Feast of Fields?

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