Food Supply
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Human beings have four absolutely fundamental needs: warmth or shelter, air, care during infancy and nutrition (food and water).  We have many other needs which, at times, seem important too such as love, a sense of belonging, money, a telephone and a car.  Many of these perceived needs are actually "wants" and socio-economic planners should be careful that they understand the distinction -- lest those who are grossly under-fed or under-sheltered are forgotten during the distribution of wealth and services.

Nutrition, one of our four basic needs, is served to a very large extent by our agricultural industry. Profoundly connected, we cannot study the evolution of our nutritional health without also studying the economic evolution of farming and the socio-political evolution of our farmers -- and the communities in which they lived.

From The Scarboro Heights Record V3 #2


Some Stories and Information Relating to Nutrition and Food Supply
As Published in

Neigh the Front -- Exploring Scarboro Heights
Child Mortality Late Nineteenth Century
Iodized Salt Groundwater minerals
Nutrition and Health Care On the Farm ca 1925
Farm Output 1830
Farm Prosperity 1871
Founding of the Milk Marketing movement Dairying, 1892
On the Farm 1925-50
Subsistence gardening The Great Depression
Threat to Crops Storm of '35
Apple Crop Failure 1917
Roadside Raspberry Stand ca 1930
Feasting on a huge mushroom 1917


Some Stories & Info on This Web Site Relating To
Food Supply 
(Other than the Links at the top of this page and their child-links)
(Back Issues of Scarboro Heights Record generally)
Government land ownership policy 1841
Memories -- on the Farm 1925-1950
Safety on the Farm Horses and Implements
Links to other Research Sources Please advise us if a link is broken


Celebrating the Farming Community and Their "Food Fairs"

For almost a century and a half, the agricultural economy of the Township of Scarborough was supported by neighbours helping neighbours. Barn dances, strawberry socials and other entertainments followed the completion of a community task or "bee". The community was strengthened both by the sense of accomplishment and by the fellowship of the frolic.

Scarborough Fair was the major community event of the year -- a bonafide "community venture" that brought together a broad cross-section of the local population for social, cultural, educational and economic purposes. The McCowan Society's 1993 publication, Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play, explores precisely what the old-time "community action" was all about. Working together built community spirit... which built confidence... which built prosperity.

As a logical followup to the success of Fairs and Frolics, the McCowan Society teamed up with "The Scarboro Heights Record" (dedicated to community events, multicultural activities, the arts, non-profit groups, local history and local heroes) and Like Magic Productions (a non-profit theatre group) to present Scarboro Fare Fair 1994.

The 1994 Scarboro Fare Fair was a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Scarborough's first "food fair". There weren't any cows and sheep at this recent 1994 Fair -- but there was plenty for the public to learn about the past, present and future nutritional needs and expectations of the family. There was another significant difference between the first Fair in 1844 and this 1994 version -- no government grant this time!

Take-home literature from almost three dozen different agricultural marketing boards and Scarborough and Metro Toronto non-profit organizations such as the Scarborough Hunger Coalition, Toronto Childrens' Breakfast Club, Metro Social Services and Agincourt Community Services -- all involved in food-related issues -- was on hand.

One hundred sat down to a delicious old-time Scarborough farm-family dinner served by the ladies and gents of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Scarborough's most historic congregation.

Next on the program was Like Magic Productions' "A Scarboro Tale", a musical and historical narrative of Scarborough's colourful agricultural past and pioneers, written by Larry Westlake and based on an idea by Bruce McCowan. Some of Scarborough's hardy farm folk that the audience met included Dr. Duncan McDiarmid, Margaret Crone, Robert Stobo, Jenny Neilson, and Alexander McCowan.

From The Scarboro Heights Record V9 #6

Here's how the Scots stored their potatoes close to 200 years ago.

potatpits.gif (2194 bytes)

The Conical and Prismatic Forms of Potato-Pits

Potatoes may therefore be kept in almost any situation in the early part of winter; but then, if damp is allowed to surround them for a time, it will inevitably rot them, and if air finds easy access to them at all times, the germ of vegetation will be awakened in them at the first call of spring. To place potatoes beyond the influence of those elements as long as convenience suits, they should be stored in a dry situation, and be covered up from the air; and no mode of storing affords more ready means for both those requisites than the ordinary forms of pits in dry soil... The potatoes are then covered with a thick thatching of dry, clean straw... Thus spadeful after spadeful of the earth is taken from the trench and heaped on the straw above the potatoes... which is then beaten smooth and round with the back of the spade.(1)

From When the Ground Fails: An Economic Watershed

(1) Henry Stephens, Book of the Farm, 1844

The McCowan Society has participated in several publications and events regarding our food supply. Please click on the links above to access articles from The Scarboro Heights Record, and from the publications of the McCowan Society.