This past week, my family and I drove to Quebec and backalong the 401 Highway. Even though I’d just spent the last year researching the food system here and learning about all the ways food travels to our plates for my book, I was stunned to see just how many of the trucks on the busy road were ferrying edibles.
There were food supply trucks of all sorts; I saw generic-looking trucks stopped for deliveries at fast food joints and trucks advertizing their “artisan” or organic products delivering to bourgeouis shops and restaurants. At one Tim Horton’s truck stop somewhere in south-eastern Ontario we saw an egg truck as well as a chicken truck–I was stunned to see all the live birds in tiny, stacked, open-air pens. Those birds must be terrified, barreling down the highway at 100 km an hour, the wind gusting through the truck. We’d recently driven by a farm bordering the highway with a giant Maple Leaf Chicken sign on it.
Then there was the goat milk pool pulling off at one exit and later, on our way home just as we entered the GTA, another livestock truck, but this time it was filled with live pigs likely headed for the slaughterhouse in the west end of the city. The animals were poking their noses up and enjoying their last (and likely their first if they were raised indoors on an industrial farm) taste of fresh air. Seeing all that food in motion was unappetizing; when you see the industrial machine at work, it doesn’t make the mouth water.
The day after we returned from our trip, I went to the Riverdale Farmers’ Market. My family walked there (the kids rode their wheels) and we bought our food from the farmer Ted Thorpe, the man from whom we always buy our organic veggies. I felt good knowing that this food we were buying hadn’t been travelling for days, that it was simply good and clean and grown nearby.