The building of shopping malls on land removed by the Provincial Government from the Agricultural Land Reserve has significantly reduced available farmland in the Fraser River delta. Agricultural land comprises 5% of BC land; only 1% of the province is prime agricultural land, such as Big Bend on the Fraser River, with some of the richest soil in Canada. Provincially appointed commissioners of the Agricultural Land Commission rule on applications to have land removed from the ALR for development or other purposes. Loss of viable agricultural land means greater dependence on imported agricultural foodstuffs, facilitated by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The single-bottom walking plow tearing up the mall floor cuts back to the soil underneath. This allegory of resistance and recovery is compromised by the knowledge that the 19th century single-bottom steel plow, capable of turning the thick buffalo-grass turf of the North American prairies, was to some degree responsible for the dust-bowl of the 30s, when insufficient remaining ground-cover allowed wind erosion to remove millions of tons of topsoil, leading to general agricultural collapse on the high plains.
Small-hold labour-intensive market farming still typical of the Fraser Valley is juxtaposed with expansive suburban malls several acres in size. (The mall in France is called la grande surface.) A limited production continues alongside unimpeded consumption; in the mall grocery hothouse vegetables trucked from Mexico are available a short drive from local produce.