Category Archives: Nourishing Ontario

Local Food Fund Re-opens — Briefly!

Important Update on the Local Food Fund

(OMAFRA) Following a successful launch and high interest in the Local Food Fund, the program was temporarily paused on July 1, 2014, while the ministry undertook a review of the fund’s design. The review provided an opportunity to look at ways to improve the fund’s objectives and make any necessary adjustments needed to best target and support Ontario’s local food initiatives.

As a result of the review, a funding cap will be implemented for ‘for profit’ businesses. For-profit businesses will now be able to apply for a maximum of 50 per cent funding, however they are encouraged to apply for less.

The program review is now complete and the ministry will begin accepting new applications on November 24, 2014. To be considered eligible, an application must be submitted between 9:00 a.m. on November 24, 2014 and 11:59 p.m. on January 16, 2015.

The fund supports projects in four categories:

  • Regional and local food networks;
  • Enhanced technologies, capacity and minor capital;
  • Research and best practices; and
  • Education, marketing and outreach

To be considered eligible, an application must be submitted between 9 a.m. on Nov. 24 and 11:50 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2015.

For more information: Visit the website
Telephone: 1-877-424-1300

Fortnightly Feast vol. 23

Ontario’s Regional Co-op Food Hub Project

The Regional Food Hub Expansion project provides capacity building, business planning, regional local food forums and collaboration among four regional food hubs and associated network partners and stakeholders. The four food hubs are in various stages of development by existing local food co-ops. Funding from the Local Food Fund, Carrot Cache, The Co-operators, LOFC and ONFC is providing the financial support to develop and expand the regional food hubs. Read more


Talkin’ Local Food with UHN

University Health Network now has 85 ideas on their crowdsourcing project to better connect local Ontario food to the hospitals at University Health Network.
You can vote for any and all of the challenges for the next month, and until September 7, you can even add more ideas!


Individual diet changes can’t fix the global food system

Jennifer Clapp and Caitlin Scott on the excellent Guardian Food Hub blog

Up to this point, we’ve been fed simple messages about the scope of the problem, and we’ve been given specific advice about how we can address it individually. Simplicity and a sense of our own agency are important in communicating messages that can contribute to broader change. But, we must be wary of reducing complex problems into overly-simplified sound bites that gloss over serious aspects of the problem and place too much responsibility on those with the least leverage. Read more


… and for those wondering how an entire country gets ahead of the curve:

Ireland: Working with Nature through Origin Green

Ireland has always been known for its natural high quality food, drink and ingredients. Through a world first program called Origin Green, we’re aiming for Ireland to be a world leader in sustainability. See the infographic


What I’ve Learned about Food and Sustainability

Jason Clay at World Wildlife Magazine

…we came up with a list of 35 priority places around the world and analyzed the threats to the biodiversity in those locations. What we learned was eye-opening: the greatest pressure on those places, by far, was coming from the production of food and fiber. … 15 globally traded commodities present the most significant threats across the board to the world’s most ecologically important places.

Our research showed that 300 to 500 companies buy 70-80% of each of those 15 commodities. And 100 companies touch about 25% of that group.

Best of all, that level of influence means producers will compete to sell to those 100 companies. So we can actually impact 40-50% of global production by working with a carefully selected group. That is a strategy that changes the game. Read more

The No Nonsense Guide to World Food – Wayne Roberts

No-nonsense GuideIt’s not a worm’s eye view of the food world, but then it’s not a bird’s eye view either. The brand new and totally rewritten edition of the No Nonsense Guide to World Food is written by Wayne Roberts, longtime manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council, who sees the world from between the blades of a grassroots movement, mainly in Ontario, where he’s lived most of his life. Friendly and down-to-earth.

The book is designed as an intro, which means it’s easy to read rather than technical,  and fairly short rather than fairly long. Each of the six chapters asks and answers a different question, so a moment’s glance shows that you’ll get up-to-date info on the meaning of food system, industrial agriculture, junk food, hunger, food security, food sovereignty, industrial agriculture, and sustainable food strategy.  It has the earmarks of having been designed with a university intro course on food in mind.
For copies or more info on The No Nonsense Guide to World Food, go to the website of Between the Lines.

Meal Exchange National BBQ Day

July 13th, 2013 marks Meal Exchange’s fourth annual National BBQ Day (TM), a nation-wide celebration of locally sourced foods. Why go local? Buying local benefits your food system,your local economy as well as your taste buds. With farmers markets popping up everywhere during the summer, it’s never been easier to make the right choice.

Great, so where’s the BBQ? Well… It’s in your backyard!

Read more

Fortnightly Feast – vol. 10

More Fun with Labels!

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is undertaking an online consultation on its
Food Labelling Modernization Initiative, until August 30, 2013. The supporting document prepared by CFIA -the Discussion Paper for Food Labelling Modernization– suggests that this is driven by changes in production, processing and global trade, but also by consumers, who “… are looking for more diverse and innovative food choices.

  • Consumers are becoming more aware and knowledgeable about labels on products, to ensure that products meet their needs (e.g. health and safety; getting best value for money)
  • Higher consumer expectations and increased media attention around labelling requires improved transparency and accountability

While much attention has been devoted to CFIA’s changing definition of “local food” -and this has raised interesting conversations on the importance of local– it also opens the door to a reevaluation of CFIA’s approach to GM labelling. And given the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service has recently opened its own door to “Non-GMO” labels, such a reevaluation is more likely now than ever. And also more urgently required than ever, following the recent discovery in Oregon of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GM wheat seeds -a product which was never commercially released- and CFIA’s recent approval of Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready GM alfalfa. This is a conversation that we must engage in, as part of the critical development and evaluation of sustainable food systems.

And that means, both in the info-tainment media and online, sifting through 1) reasoned, well-supported arguments; 2) venomous attacks; 3) meaningless, sycophantic drivel; 4) unhelpful exaggeration and 5) distracting disinformation, as well as 6) broad uncritical surveys, that present all of the above as equally deserving of your attention.

Snap Quiz #1

Based on the previous descriptions, it’s time to do some labelling of your own!
“Label” the following recent items from 1-6 … it’s fun for the whole family!

UK must become global leader on GM crops

GM crops won’t help African farmers

Choice of Monsanto Betrays World Food Prize Purpose, Say Global Leaders

World Food Prize 2013 Laureates

CropLife Canada: GM Labeling

Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

Case for GM Food Labels Weak

Regional Food / Infrastructure Funding Opportunities

A number of funding opportunities have come across our desk in recent days and are well worth sharing.

The Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises has a fast approaching deadline (July 12). This program is designed to enable “social entrepreneurs and innovators to turn their ideas into world-changing impact by supporting promising early stage social enterprises with access to capital and [Centre for Social Innovation’s] existing programming and services.” Loans of up to $25,000 will be available to small (under 25 employees) social enterprises in Ontario. Fill out this pre-screening survey to determine if you are eligible for one of the loans. The inconvenience of the tight deadline is outweighed by the fact that, depending on your eligibility, the same application may qualify you for three other funding opportunities.

Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure has launched its Places to Grow Implementation program for 2013-14.  The fund is meant to support research, capacity building and public education in the area of growth planning. Eligible applicants include academic institutions, sector/professional organizations, non-governmental/not-for-profit organizations and municipalities / administrative organizations. There is no deadline associated with this fund. (Au francais)

Federal and provincial governments have partnered up to fund Growing Forward 2 – Helping You Reach Your Goals. This program will support “strategic initiatives” that focus on innovation, competitiveness and market development. Eligible applications will come from organizations and collaborations, and there are three upcoming deadlines – September 5, October 24, and December 12, 2013. You can find more information at the Agricultural Adaptation Council’s page (with an excellent breakdown of eligibility and application process) or at the Growing Forward 2 portal.

Two *NEW* Reviews of the Literature on Food Hubs

Local Food Systems in North America

A Review of Literature

June 2013

Prepared by: Elena Christy, University of Guelph
Karen Landman, Associate Professor, University of Guelph
Elizabeth Nowatschin, University of Guelph
Alison Blay-Palmer, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

Prepared for: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food

This report is a survey of the prominent North American literature from academic, governmental, and non-governmental sources published within the last thirteen years on the subject of local food systems. The goal of this report is investigate current discussion on North American localized food systems and to identify the terms of engagement of participants seeking to access the perceived benefits of this form of food marketing.


Local Food Systems – International Perspectives

A Review

June 2013


Prepared by: Irena Knezevic, Postdoctoral Fellow, Mount Saint Vincent University
Karen Landman, Associate Professor, University of Guelph
Alison Blay-Palmer, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food

As the development of the local food movement in Ontario is not happening in isolation, the trends and the lessons of local/regional food initiatives around the world are worthy of consideration. The purpose of this review is to provide a brief overview of research and initiatives in other parts of the world, which may be useful for identifying patterns of successful models for local food hubs. Focusing on European Union countries, with an additional, less comprehensive turn to Australia and New Zealand, this overview is a cursory scan of scholarly and “gray” (government and community) literature on food hubs and regional food systems.

Nourishing Ontario travels to Corner Brook, NL and East Lansing, MI

Irena Knezevic, Postdoctoral Fellow, FoodARC
Mount Saint Vincent University
Erin Nelson, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Guelph
Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship / Research Shop

CUExpoThe 2013 Community-University Expo, an international gathering of people committed to collaborative research  partnerships, was held in Corner Brook, NL in the second week of June. Some 400 attendees from 12 countries brought with them fascinating stories of successes, obstacles, challenges, and rewards of community-based research. For the entire four days the event overflowed with an almost feverish brand of enthusiasm that proved contagious and impossible to contain. The conference was well-planned and well-executed – with credit being equally shared by CU Expo organizers and volunteers, the City of Corner Brook, the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University, and the province’s Office of Public Engagement.

Whether it was the opening event (with a keynote address by Canada’s Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston) or the Friday night “kitchen party” at the local Legion, the conference was marked by a fine balance of remarkable professionalism and relaxed hospitality that is the trademark of Newfoundland and Labrador.

If there was a complaint to be had, it must have been the difficulty of choosing a session to attend. With several concurrent sessions in various time slots, the program was packed with excellent content ranging from hands-on opportunities to make art (or even butter!), to tours of local community centres and projects, to more traditional sessions that focused on such topics as institutional frameworks for community-university partnerships, using social media effectively, and ethical challenges in community-based research.

Erin and Irena

Erin and Irena

Both of us (Erin and Irena) were at CU Expo wearing two hats –  we travelled with partners from our respective postdoc placements, and we also participated in the conference’s Engagement Fair on behalf of Nourishing Ontario.

2013-06-13 16.26.25

The fair was a two-hour event featuring an incredible array of booths, displays, and posters. While the 4-6pm time slot might have seemed like an opportune moment for people to steal some down time, the place was buzzing for the full two hours, with connections being made, stories being shared, and snacks being enjoyed.

2013-06-13 16.26.42

Our contribution to the fair was a poster presenting the conceptual mapping work done by Phil Mount for our Models and Best Practices Report. The maps seemed to catch people’s attention, and roughly 60 attendees stopped to chat with us and ask questions about Nourishing Ontario’s work. We received lots of positive feedback, and a few people took advantage of the laptop on hand to test the open access software used for the mapping.


Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society Conference, 2013

One week later, the poster was in Michigan for another conference, where Nourishing Ontario regional teams presented on current and upcoming work. At the same conference, Mount discussed the food systems mapping with an engaged room of artists, academics and practitioners, in a well-attended, thought-provoking workshop on visualization. However, you don’t have to travel to see our poster!

Just click here!

The Community, the University, Sustainable Community Food Systems

Working Together to Improve Regional Food Systems

Interested in learning about Community-University partnerships and their ability to facilitate healthy, sustainable community food systems?

Join us for a webinar, Wednesday June 26, 1 – 2 pm EDT

Sign up to receive call-in information.

Hosted by The Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) project of Food Secure Canada and Carleton University

All webinars are recorded and posted within a week.

Webinar description

In 2000, the Waterloo Region was recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and comprehensive approach to creating a healthy community food system. It was through this approach that food was recognized as a key determinant of health. In this webinar, Katherine Pigott, Steffanie Scott, and Wajma Qaderi-Attayi describe two models of community-university partnerships in the Waterloo Region Food System.

These models are operating through the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo and through the Healthy Eating and Active Communities Team at the Region of Waterloo Public Health. We will compare and describe these two ad hoc models of community-university partnerships, both of which act as facilitators of a healthy community food system.

Our presenters:

Katherine Pigott has worked at Region of Waterloo Public Health since March 2000. Katherine has over twenty years experience in community based planning, systems change and policy formulation that spans health promotion, economic development, crime prevention, and environmental planning.  In the course of her work, she has launched several businesses and non-profit ventures to meet social needs. She acts as Chair of Health Promotion Ontario.

Steffanie Scott is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo, and is engaged in research on sustainable food systems in China and Canada. She is President of the Canadian Association for Food Studies and is past Co-chair of the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable. Steffanie’s next research project will involve developing a sustainable urban food system assessment framework, which will be applied in several cities in China. Steffanie teaches a 4th year course on food systems and sustainability.

Wajma Qaderi-Attayi is now working to complete her Master’s in Public Health. Currently, as a Public Health Planner Intern, she is working on the Healthy Eating Active Communities team at the Region of Waterloo Public Health, also with Health Promotion Ontario. In addition, Wajma is also currently precepting public health surveillance at the University of Waterloo.