Tag Archives: food policy

New Papers on Food Systems

From Nourishing Communities members Connie Nelson and Mirella Stroink:

Accessibility and Viability: A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to a Wicked Problem for the Local Food Movement

There is a tension between enhancing vulnerable people’s access to local nutritious food and ensuring viable incomes for local farmers. This tension arises as a result of interactions and processes scaling outward to the broad level of economic and political ideologies (Ikerd, 2005; 2012). We suggest that by conceiving of this tension as a wicked problem and employing complex adaptive systems theory, we create space in which community members are empowered to share existing knowledge and develop new knowledge as they innovate potential solutions and discuss constructive change. We introduce this space as the beginnings of a dialogue-driven, shared journey through four features of the back loop of the adaptive cycle. Read more

… and from international partner Samina Raja et al.

Rustbelt Radicalism: A Decade of Food Systems Planning Practice in Buffalo, New York (USA)

Pressure is increasing from nongovernmental actors to incorporate food more concretely into municipal policies and plans. A qualitative case study of Buffalo, New York (USA), demonstrates that incremental, persistent food systems practice and advocacy by nonstate actors, a group we call the “rustbelt radicals,” followed by their collective engagement with municipal planning, can lead to transformations in municipal policy and planning for strengthening food systems. The paper concludes with seven factors that enable “rustbelt radicals” to transform local food systems plans and policies. Read more

New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System

American Farmland Trust (AFT), Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) are pleased to announce the release of their new report New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System

A sustainable food and farming system in New England is key to creating a region that is resilient, just, healthy, economically vibrant, and environmentally sound. New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System identifies policies that are helping New England grow its capacity to feed itself, policies that are hindering this growth, gaps in the existing policy framework, and opportunities for new policies to strengthen our food system. Read more

MSc Food, Space and Society

The Masters Graduate School of City and Regional Planning at Cardiff School of Planning and Geography will be offering a new Masters of Science degree in Food, Space and Society starting in September 2014. Here are some of the highlights:

“Food is at the forefront of society’s grand challenges”

Food is a unique lens through which one can address key social science questions on resource shortfalls, environmental pressures and social development. A focus on food provides important opportunities to raise questions about the prospects for a more secure, just and sustainable future and to understand the shifting boundaries between the state, the market and civil society.

Special Features

A core feature of the course is its emphasis on research-led teaching. Modules are designed and taught by staff from the Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food (SURF), who have a long-standing and world-renowned expertise on conventional and alternative food networks, food consumption practices, the interplay between global and local food systems, community food growing, public food procurement, food justice, animal geographies, and the community food sector. Staff’s engagement in agenda-setting research on these topics ensures that students are exposed to the most recent debates in food studies and are involved with our extensive network of stakeholders.

Suitability
This MSc is suitable for graduates in subjects such as geography, sociology, politics, anthropology , planning and economics, and/or those with appropriate professional experience and qualifications in food. Applicants with a background in other subjects, and relevant work-based experience, will also be considered.

To read more, please visit http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/cplan/study/postgraduate/food-space-and-society-msc

The African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN)

The African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) was founded in 2008 to address the crisis of food insecurity in Africa’s rapidly-growing towns and cities. AFSUN aims to improve the knowledge base of the dimensions and causes of urban food insecurity in Africa and to develop and advocate for international, national and local policies to enhance food and nutrition security.

The new website of the African Food Security Urban Network is now operational at www.afsun.org – you are invited to visit and look around.

Fortnightly Feast – vol. 11

For the faithful reader of this post, and those interested in the creation of sustainable regional food systems, here are two wonderful sources of news, information and events:

Locavore News

The Locavore News Editor, Elbert van Donkersgoed, puts together concise but informative summaries with links to only the most interesting and relevant stories about local food on the internet. These stories are carefully separated into three separate weekly posts, with  Ontario-based, Canadian and international versions. Information about Locavore News is available on the Terra Coeur website. This includes an archive of past issues of Locavore News.  To add your address to the Locavore News distribution list, send an email to: Plumbline-subscribe@terracoeur.com.

Sustain Ontario

Along with a huge amount of information on their policiespolicy papers, consultations and campaigns, Sustain Ontario also has three streams of food news: from SO, from their member organizations, and from around the world. You can also subscribe to have Good Food Bites sent to you every Wednesday, or to receive monthly updates about the work of the Alliance and opportunities to support food and farming in Ontario.

 

6 US Regional FOOD HUB models

Seems to be all food hubs, all the time – particularly south of the border, where state and local planning and economic development efforts appear to be following the lead of the USDA in advocating the value of these regional food hubs:

NC   Are Food Hubs the Key to Expanding Regional Food Systems?

WI   Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative and institutional procurement

New report: Municipal Food Policy Entrepreneurs in Canada

Guest blog from Lauren Baker, Coordinator of the Toronto Food Policy Council

Over 64 municipal and regional governments across Canada are using a food systems approach to improve health, generate economic development, address environmental sustainability, and engage communities.

The report “Municipal Food Policy Entrepreneurs: A preliminary analysis of how Canadian cities and regional districts are involved in food systems change,” is the first scan of municipal and regional food policy development in Canada. It reveals that a growing number of communities right across the country have launched food charters, food strategies and action plans, and created food policy councils.

“We were surprised by the number of municipal governments involved in food policy work,” states Lauren Baker, food policy coordinator with the Toronto Food Policy Council at Toronto Public Health. “Municipalities are finding creative ways to improve people’s lives through the way they manage a broad array of food priorities.”

While municipal and regional governments have limited jurisdictional authority over the food system, many are springing into action on the food front. They are bringing together diverse sectors to stimulate the local food economy and generate more jobs, but also to address significant food issues such as agricultural land loss, climate change, food poverty, food affordability, and public health problems associated with inadequate or poor quality diets.

“The activity of food policy councils is clearly visible in almost every major city in Canada”, states Vancouver Food Policy Council member Joanne Bays. “Gardens and urban farms are sprouting in backyards, boulevards, rooftops and parking lots. Farmers markets, food vending carts, and food hubs are bustling businesses. And increasingly foods from nearby farms and oceans are found on the retail shelf and on our plates in restaurants, schools and hospitals.”

The research shows that Canada’s municipal food initiatives have varied governance structures. Some are formally linked to municipal departments; others have less formal structures and funding mechanisms, and some are largely volunteer-driven. The rate of growth of this food policy work has increased exponentially since 2005 and the most significant nodes of food policy activity exist in the provinces of British Columbia, and Ontario.

Given the increasing number and diversity of food policy initiatives, and the potential economic, environmental, social and cultural impact of these initiatives, the report recommends that the time is ripe to take a more systematic approach to documenting and evaluating their role and success. Further, it recommends the establishment of a national network to share best practices across municipalities, and to further efforts to clarify how governments at various jurisdictional levels can best support these efforts.

”With some 80% of Canadians living in urban communities, we need to understand how cities are creating change through food initiatives,” notes David McInnes at the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute. “Clearly municipalities are embracing food as a catalyst – to spur economic activity across supply chains, to improve the health of its residents and to respond to sustainability objectives, among other priorities.”

The report was prepared by researchers at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, Rod MacRae and Kendal Donahue, and involved a diverse array of food policy organizations and advisors from across the country.

The information collected through this research will be available on this webpage shortly. You can find more information at our website: http://tfpc.to/canadian-food-policy-initiatives
Cet rapport et le communiqué de presse sont également disponibles en français.

Study looking at sustainable food system for Huron

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.”

Read more

Is CFIA’s local your local?

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 irena.knezevic@msvu.ca

Engaging with local food communities

… from The Cord

Going local on food systems

Laurier professor urges students and locals to engage in their local food communities rather than getting food from abroad

James Shin  Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Behind the plates that get served at our tables every day, there are intricate infrastructures and economies that control how and where food is produced, processed and distributed. According to Alison Blay-Palmer, an associate professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, this current food system may not be the most favourable for our local communities. Read more