Editorial: Fair is more than just rides

Nanaimo’s annual fair aims to celebrate the Island’s agricultural heritage and we think it’s important to revisit our rural roots.

The Vancouver Island Exhibition isn’t all about riding the Tilt-A-Whirl, winning an oversized plush toy at the midway or rocking out at the Econoline Crush concert.

It’s all those things and something more. Nanaimo’s annual fair aims to celebrate the Island’s agricultural heritage and we think it’s important to revisit our rural roots.

Seeing local farmers comparing their ginormous potatoes or corn cobs is a fun part of the fair, but it can also serve as a reminder. Should we be concerned about the Island’s food security? Do we know where our food comes from? Do we care?

A natural disaster that severs our supply chain isn’t likely, but all the same, it’s a good and worthy goal for the Island to be self-sustaining when it comes to our food security. Because if we aren’t self-sustaining, then we should be thinking about what that means.

Much of what was once agricultural land has been repurposed over generations into residential, commercial or industrial property. Farmers have left their land, whether driven by market forces or in search of city life. As the fields have been left fallow, we have lost some of the local knowledge base we once had, and when we don’t use it, we lose it.

When a farm fails on Vancouver Island, in the Fraser Valley or farther afield in B.C., it means that more crates of produce need to be shipped from California, Mexico or New Zealand, and we will have to truck, ship or airfreight them over here, whatever the environmental and social costs.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can spend a day at the VIEX and see those ginormous potatoes and corn cobs and whatever else our gardens grow and maybe it can get us thinking.

We love rides, plush toys and rock concerts, and they’re all part of a day at the fair. Supporting local agriculture, on the other hand, is something we can try to do every day.

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