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
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.
The Conical and Prismatic Forms of Potato-Pits
(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.