Item consists of a recording of part two in a series of three “Back to the Roots” podcasts about the history of Chinese-Canadian farming in Burnaby and the lower mainland. Part two is titled “Where is your food from?" The podcasts were created by students Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong from the Faculty …
Podcasts hosts: Rose Wu; Wei Yan Yeong
Guest: Denise Fong
Music: prod. riddiman
Podcast Date: October 2020
Total Number of tracks: 1
Total Length of all tracks: 00:17:10 min
Photograph info: Store front of Way Sang Yuen Wat Kee & Co in Victoria, B.C., 1975. BV017.7.191
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Scope and Content
Item consists of a recording of part two in a series of three “Back to the Roots” podcasts about the history of Chinese-Canadian farming in Burnaby and the lower mainland. Part two is titled “Where is your food from?" The podcasts were created by students Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia Faculty and while student interns at Burnaby Village Museum. In this series the students connect their knowledge of food systems to their shared Chinese heritage in order to discover how Chinese Canadian history is rooted in their local food systems. "Where is your food from?" explores contemporary versus historical alternative food movements and how early Chinese farmers in the lower mainland had to be creative in their business tactics in order to survive in a local food system that discriminated against their race.
The podcast opens with an audio clip from Harvard University professor and world renowned food journalist and author of "The Ominvore's Dilemma", Michael Pollan. Wei Yan Yeong and Rose Wu introduce themselves and their topic "Where is your food from?" They comment on the global philosophy "Eat local, think global" and question whether this philosphy ignores the struggles faced by local farms operated by immigrant workers back in the day. They comment "Unlike how these alternative food movements are heralded as sustainable, healthy, and even sometimes trendy now in today’s standards, for Chinese farmers, these alternative food movements were necessary for survival against discriminatory practices entrenched in the food system they were servicing."
02:46 - 06:21
This portion provides background on Chinese immigrant farmers and the establishment of "market gardens" or "truck farms". Rose and Wei Yan tell of how up to the 1970s, Chinese farms produced mostly European staples such as potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, corn and cabbage because there was no market for Chinese crops. Many of the Chinese immigrants were forced into farming and other menial jobs due to discriminatory practices that excluded them from other types of employment. The hosts provide a synopsis of Burnaby Bylaw Number 4, created in 1892, "The Chinese and Japanese Exclusion Bylaw" which prohibited any Chinese or Japanese person from working for the Municipality of Burnaby. Burnaby Village Museum researcher Denise Fong provides information on Chinese immigrants in Burnaby, how many of them were farmers in the Big Bend area and how hard it was for them to own land due to racial discrimination. Denise also refers to an article in"Harrowsmith" magazine (c.1980s) where thirty five Chinese-Canadians operated farms in Burnaby.
06:22 - 09:24
This portion provides a description of Chinese market farms and vegetable peddling. Background information about the history of market farms, truck farms and vegetable peddling in Burnaby and the lower mainland provided by Denise Fong.
09:24 - 12:03
This portion talks about the policies put in place to create further barriers to Chinese farmers. Denise Fong provides information regarding the civic bylaws that were created to restrict produce sales, fines and fees that were imposed on peddlers, establishment of green grocers, the Chinese Marketing Act, the establishment of organizations to support Chinese farmers including the Chinese Growers Assocation.
12:04 - 15:00
This portion talks about how Chinese-Canadians played important roles in conventional "long" food networks. Denise Fong provides information in how Chinese Canadians participated in the larger food distribution network in British Columbia. Denise shares a story of Chinese-Canadian Cecil Lee and how he introduced the import of Chinese mandarin oranges into British Columbia.
15:01 - 16:29
Final summary regarding the contraditions in our local food system that continue to persist today and how despite the improved status of Chinese-Canadians in British Columbia, cheap, migrant labourers continue to be an overlooked part of our local food system. This portion includes a recorded excerpt from M.L.A. Mabel Elmore regarding Temporary Foreign Workers (presented before the NDP caucous in 2015).
16:29 - 17:22
Credits, thanks and acknowledgements. Special thanks to Duncan McCue and M.LA. Mabel Elmore. Music created by P. Ruderman
Beginning in 2018, University of British Columbia (UBC) students have interned with Burnaby Village Museum to create projects highlighting Chinese Canadian History in Burnaby. This project began as a joint partnership between Burnaby Village Museum and the UBC iniative for student teaching and research in Chinese Canadian Studies (INSTRCC), the UBC Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies program (ACAM), the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC Go Global and UBC St. John's College (SJC).
In 2020, due to the restrictions of COVID-19, the interns were asked to create virtual experiences to reimagine Burnaby Village Museum's historical Chinese Canadian programming in remote online spaces. Debbie Liang and Joty Gill (UBC alumni and graduates of Dr. Henry Yu's 2019 summer ACAM 390A Global Seminar to Aisa) returned to work with Burnaby Village Museum to create two short films showcasing the history of Chinese Canadian Chop Suey restaurants and piggeries in Burnaby. Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong (students in the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems) created a three episode podcast series "Back to the Roots" which delved into the topics of family-operated farming businesses, Chinese contributions to early local and alternative food systems, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbalism. During their research the interns interviewed Dr. John Yang and Burnaby Village Museum researcher and PHD candidate, Denise Fong.
Title based contents of sound recording
For associated video recording of research interview with Denise Fong - see BV020.28.2
Compilation of Research Resources used by authors Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong include:
Lim, S. (2015). Feeding the "Greenest City": Historicizing "Local," Labour, and the Postcolonial Politics of Eating. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 24(1), 78-100. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/26195279
Mable Elmore’s statement on the plight of temporary foreign workers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF4_js0R-Mo&ab_channel=BCNDPCaucus
Michael Pollen’s speech at UBC Farm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1n-kRJhPPQ&feature=emb_title&ab_channel=LFSLearningCentre
Gibb, Natalie & Wittman, Hannah. (2012). Parallel alternatives: Chinese-Canadian farmers and the Metro Vancouver local food movement. Local Environment. 18. 1-19. 10.1080/13549839.2012.714763.
Yu, J. (2014, March 31). The integration of the Chinese market gardens of southern British Columbia, 1885-1930 [R]. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0228676
Burnaby Village Museum, Interview with Denise Fong by Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong, 2020. BV020.28.2