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Soupstock: Stop the Mega Quarry

Soupstock: Stop the Mega Quarry

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Published by STOP THE QUARRY
www.chefsdailyfoodbank.com: Boston-based chef Rich Garcia explains while he'll be at Soupstock -- posted October 13, 2012
www.chefsdailyfoodbank.com: Boston-based chef Rich Garcia explains while he'll be at Soupstock -- posted October 13, 2012

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Published by: STOP THE QUARRY on Oct 14, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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by: Chef Richard GarciaThrough aChefs Collaborativeconnection I was recently invited by theCanadian Chefs Congress&Chef Michael Stadtländer
to attendSoupstockon SundayOctober 21, 2012 in Toronto.I will admit that although I had heard of this proposed quarry I did not knowmuch about the details and the possible destruction it could cause. The quarrywould be the 2nd largest quarry in North America.TheHighland Companies’has proposed a massive limestone Mega-Quarry inMelancthon Township, 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto.Backed by a$25-billion Boston, MA-based hedge fund, Highland proposes to blasta pit deeper than Niagara Falls from beneath a landscape of great agricultural,cultural and ecological importance.The Mega-Quarry would permanently destroy more than 2,300 acres of the bestfarmland in Ontario. It would also require 600-million litres of water to bepumped out of the pit each day — in perpetuity. This water is used by up to onemillion Ontarians downstream.In September 2011, after months of public outcry and media scrutiny, theOntario government ordered that a provincial Environmental Assessment beundertaken of the proposed Mega-Quarry. This would be the first-everEnvironmental Assessment of a quarry operation in the province’s history.The province now awaits confirmation from Highland Companies whether theywish to participate in an Environmental Assessment, or to abandon thecontroversial project.
The Canadian Chefs’ Congress,David Suzuki Foundationand countless tirelessorganizers, local farmers and supporters continue to demand that the proposalbe rejected outright.So I'm sure your wondering why my involvement and I too thought about theinvitation when I received it and if my voice and participation was somethingthat could help make a difference.To be fair I studied both sides of the story. And I have always been a hugebeliever that there are 3 sides to every story, with the third typically being themost accurate.The Highland Company has prepared several documents backing their claim thatthe impact of the quarry would be minimal to none based on their plans. Theyclaim the economic impact on the area would be beneficial to the area andwould create more income to the local community than the local farmlandcurrently does. And by reading their web site, I admit that they seem to besaying the right things.Both sides of the story seemed to have valid points and positive impacts on thecommunity and I encourage you to read as much as you can about this as I thinkyou will come to the same conclusion I did and understand why I decided tosupport and attend Soupstock and back the fight against the mega quarry.The one thing that struck me right in the face was the fact that this proposedmega quarry is not sustainable. Meaning that once the limestone is gone, so isthe quarry. And so are the farms that currently are a source of income for manyfamilies, so is the source of food that many Canadians rely upon. Gone are theopportunities that allow chefs to create local food from local resources and goneare the recreation areas that we as humans rely upon to stay connected to ourplanet.
Also, due to the magnitude of the proposed excavation, and the fact that it laysdirectly in a highly sensitive water recharge area, any miscalculation, oversightor other error could result in an environmental catastrophe of enormousproportions. Which the Highland Companies cannot guarantee will not happen.The proposed quarry site is situated on prime agricultural land, to be excavatedinvasively 200 feet below the water table in the midst of the headwaters for anumber of significant river systems that serve a large portion of Ontario’spopulation.As a chef who has focused much of my career on sourcing from my local farmsand waters, I ask myself if this was a proposal that would impact my communityand my relationships with those that grow the food that feeds us, I know I wouldbe the first in line in opposition of such a proposal. I thought about the Canadianchefs and their connections with the farms in harms way and understand the fearthey have about loosing a major part if not the most important part, thesource of a food system and the impact it will have through the entire chain.I am not against hedge funds and the thought of investing my money to watch itgrow, in fact if I'm ever in a position that I can invest in a business through ahedge fund and make millions, hell count me in. I too am after the Americandream, right? But I will also think about the investments and the business thatcould harm people. I've said this many times, I truly don't consider myself anenvironmentalist or tree hugger in any essence of the term. But I do considermyself a peopleist , a person who cares about people, especially those that allowme to feed those willing to pay for my food. I am a cook who appreciates thefood I use and respect the food I use more than many in my field. I care aboutbeing able to continue to cook local food and share this with my cooks andguests for as long as I can hold a pan, therefore I understand why this megaquarry is the center of opposition for Canadians especially those in the foodservice industry. I understand the impact it can have on the environment andrespect that side of the story as well.

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