The 15-member advisory council, which will be chosen in June, will also have to look at difficult issues like raising chickens and bees in the city, or how to set up a food hub at the local community league, said Hani Quan, principal planner with the city’s new food and urban agriculture strategy. Read more…
The first in a series of meetings to discuss the concept of a local sustainable food system in Huron County was held last week in Varna.
Presented by consultants Mary Ferguson and Ryan Turnbull, the goals of the meeting May 8 were to “create a unified understanding of a sustainable food system in Huron, bring learning from other rural areas engaged in sustainable food system efforts and build momentum and leadership for a sustainable food system in Huron County.”
Last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced its intent to review the term local in relation to food. Calling this undertaking “an initiative to modernize its food labelling approach” the agency promises to soon seek input that will help it better define the meaning of local. Its old definition deemed local food to mean that:
- the food originated within a 50 km radius of the place where it was sold, or
- the food sold originated within the same local government unit (e.g. municipality) or adjacent government unit
It turns out that somewhere along the way the CFIA decided to do away with that policy and replace it (for now) with
- food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
- food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory
That interim policy is apparently considered less “outdated” and better suited to the “current food production practices” and “consumer needs and expectations”.
I am currently living in Nova Scotia, where many of us do indeed consider anything that comes from this province to be local. But this is a province of roughly 55 thousand square kilometers and fewer than one million people. In contrast, Ontario boasts 20 times the area and more than 10 times the population. Some Ontarians who live in the North would not accept that Southern Ontario food is “local”, as was made clear in a recent province-wide report Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond. Moreover, our report highlights the need to recognize the unique needs and circumstances of each food region and even each community. Many of our research participants were particularly dismayed by one-size-fits-all approaches, and would be concerned that such disparate food regions would even be thought of as one locality. Local can mean different things in different places. The diversity of geography, demography, and scale in Ontario’s food system could not be overstated and to fail to recognize that is to disconnect policy from reality.
The Canadian Association for Food Studies listserv saw a flurry of exchange on the issue this week. Many of the discussion participants see the CFIA’s interim definition as inadequate and really missing the point of the increasingly popular turn to local – a turn that, in most general terms, aims to address multiple ills of the current food system and not just the simple mileage issues. As one post suggested, the attempts to “operationalize” local result in an “artificial geo-political boundary” that, according to another post, ”does not begin to address all that we need to do in rebuilding healthy citizens and foodsheds.”
In my work, I have criticized food labels as shortcuts meant to stand in for informed consumption. They are easily manipulated, and yet they reassure us that we don’t need to know our food beyond the messages on the packaging. Such shortcuts quell our curiosities and lull us further into food oblivion. They make us ask fewer questions and justify our convenient choices. And they also shape our perceptions of the world making us think that there is a definitive authority on such things as local, and that someone, in this case the CFIA, is being accountable for the well-being and honesty of our food system.
Local is diverse. It is at the same time vague and meaningful, and no one geographical definition can quite encompass all the different things that local embodies. A province-based definition can hardly begin to reflect that. The upcoming CFIA’s consultation must include considerations of regional foodsheds, layers of diversity, and the multiple goals that are embedded in local. This may possibly mean no policy at all, and it certainly means that a policy that relies on the “province or territory” as the foundation of its definition completely misses the mark. To that end, I invite you to keep an eye on the CFIA’s website and have a say in the consultation in any way you can. Perhaps the diversity of local can be reflected in the diversity of our submissions.
Irena Knezevic is a Nourishing Ontario research associate and a postdoctoral fellow at FoodARC. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily represent either of those organizations. Irena can be reached at email@example.com
The York Region Food Charter was unveiled on March 20th in Richmond Hill. The charter is a guiding document for the development of coordinated food-related policies and programs across the region’s nine municipalities. Aligned with the food movement across Canada, it promotes a system from farm to plate that provides access to local, affordable and nutritious food for everyone. The draft of the charter was developed last Spring in partnership with United Way York Region, through Strength Investments.
And be sure to check United Way York Region’s Strength Investments community fund opportunity: does your United Way offer this?
Carleton University DGES faculty member Patricia Ballamingie receives Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Achievement Award
This Award will assist Ballamingie in advancing two major pieces of research. Ballamingie is integrally involved in two SSHRC-funded collaborative research teams, one aimed at strengthening community-university engagement, and the other at building sustainable, local food systems. Read more…
Stroudco Food Hub is a not-for-profit co-op delivery service, which brings together a range of local, artisan food and drink sellers. … As well as being given the chance to try out some of Stroudco’s wide range of local food and drink, members of the public were also treated to a presentation on the history of the food hub, which now boasts 49 local producers who serve some 400 customer households. Read more…
Experiments in Alternative Community-Building
The village of Greenhills, a greenbelt community in northern Hamilton County built by the federal government as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, turned 75 this month. Read more…
Brighton – a small, tightly woven community of artists and art galleries, is located Northwest of Over the Rhine and downtown Cincinnati. … Walking these narrow streets, a person can, for a moment, almost feel the history of a once bustling and vibrant neighborhood, which today, is virtually abandoned. …
Thursday, May 16
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Baltimore offers an important example of a city that has successfully implemented an inter-governmental initiative to increase access to healthy and affordable foods in underserved neighborhoods.
This webinar offers an in-depth exploration of Baltimore’s healthy food retail programs and accomplishments including its virtual supermarket program, the financing of two recent healthy food markets, and a just released study mapping food quality in Baltimore food markets.
- Laura Fox, Director, Baltimore Office of Chronic Disease Prevention
- Amanda Behren’s, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Maryland – Food System Mapping Project
- Dana Johnson, Market Leader Baltimore, The Reinvestment Fund
- Patricia Smith, Senior Policy Advisory, The Reinvestment Fund
Thursday, May 16, 3:30 – 4:45pm ET
But how do you start a food hub?
This webinar brings together the stories of the formation and first year of three different, successful food hubs. Our presenters are all founders of their hubs. They will share some of the best decisions they made … and some of the worst. What types of contacts did they feel really helped their business to thrive? How much money did they need, and how did they get it? Why did they choose their incorporation status? And more…
- Sandi Kronick – Eastern Carolina Organics
- Chris Hartman – Good Food Collective-Head Water Foods, Inc
- Jim Crawford – Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative
The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the Union of Concerned Scientists cordially invite you to a public webinar
Monday, May 20th – from 3:00 to 4:30 pm EST
Brief Summary - To address the current state and future direction of economic analysis with regard to local and regional food systems, Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food & Environment Program convened a meeting of a group of economists and local food researchers on January 31 and February 1, 2013. This webinar will provide a brief synopsis of the meeting outcomes, with a focus on questions one should consider when conducting or commissioning a study on the economic impacts of local and regional food systems. There will be adequate opportunity for participants to weigh in with comments and questions to continue to inform the discussion on future economic impact studies of local and regional food commerce.
To get on the webinar, go to: https://connect.msu.edu/
The webinar will be recorded for those who are not able to participate on May 20th. For additional information please contact:
Rich Pirog – Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems -firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff O’Hara – Union of Concerned Scientists - email@example.com
Thursday, May 30
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern
This webinar will provide an overview of the “Find Money” section of the Healthy Food Retail Portal and provide examples of specific federal, state, and local resources that can be tapped to create or expand healthy food retail opportunities in underserved communities.
- Pamela Porter, Executive Vice President, Strategic Consulting, Opportunity Finance Network
- Christine Fry, Senior Policy Analyst and Program Director, ChangeLab Solutions
- Khanh Nguyen, Portfolio Director – Healthy Living, The Colorado Health Foundation
- Patricia Smith, Senior Policy Advisor, The Reinvestment Fund
Building the capacity of local and regional governments to improve community food systems to benefit small and mid-sized farmers and underserved community residents.
The overarching goal of this project is to enhance food security while ensuring sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food production. This requires, in part, removing public policy barriers and deploying innovative public policy tools.
Growing Food Connections is a diverse partnership of researchers, planning practitioners, and food systems stakeholders from across the United States. The partnership includes eight core groups, all of whom will play a role in the research, practice, and educational areas of the GFC initiative.
On April 4, at the OMAF and MRA- U of G Partnership Knowledge Exchange Day 2013: The KTT Toolbox, we took part in a workshop that discussed the processes involved in gathering and responding to user feedback, and the positive changes in the digital toolkit that resulted.
At the same event, Jordan Vander Klok won the Student Video Contest with his video “Building Regional Food Hubs in Ontario: A Micro-Dairy Case Study” [YouTube] – part of a series of video case studies currently being conducted by Nourishing Ontario.
The release of the report “Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond” has been featured by the Universities of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier, and picked up by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
… and elsewhere on the net:
Are you interested in a local food system in Huron County?
Please attend our community meeting to learn more and share your ideas!
Where – Stanley Community Centre just west of Varna
When – Wednesday May 8th from 6pm to 9pm
Refreshments available – doors open at 5:30
Please call or email to register:
Janice Dunbar 519.482.3416 ext.2255
What we hope to achieve:
- Create unified/common understanding of a sustainable food system in Huron
- Bring learning from other rural areas engaged in sustainable food system efforts
- Build momentum and leadership for a sustainable food system in Huron County
Some questions we hope to answer:
- What does the system look like?
- What are the missing pieces?
- Who are the key players in the system?
- Where are you? How do you fit within the food system?