Searching for food sovereignty in the Bella Coola Valley

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Many eco-conscious people have fantasized about leaving it all behind to go live off the land and eat only what they grow, hunt or fish. But what would it really be like?

Author Kristeva Dowling has put it all down on paper in a new book called Chicken Poop for the Soul: In Search of Food Sovereignty, the story of how she lived exclusively off the land for several years in Bella Coola, BC.

In 2008, alarmed by the impact agro-business was having on Canadian food quality and security, Kristeva Dowling decided to take control of her own food source. In an attempt to achieve 100 percent self-sufficiency on her small holding in the Bella Coola Valley, she ploughed under her land, converted her garage into an intensive care unit for chickens, and learned to hunt, fish, gather and preserve her own food.

In the tradition of the “back-to-the-landers” of the ‘60s, Dowling sheds the habits of her urban life and, with no agricultural background, began an emotional and political journey toward independence.

Dowling’s story is a witty, humourous and often bizarre journal of trial and error. Between rendering maple syrup, mothering baby chicks, canning hundreds of pounds of preserves, tracking wild game and growing her own wheat, Dowling finds time to reflect on her new-found tangible skills, her intangible problems and the politics and legislative barriers that face BC’s small farming communities.

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