What Feeds Us

The City of Vancouver defines a just and sustainable food system as one in which food production, processing, distribution , consumption and waste management are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional well-being of our city and its residents.”

Vancouver Food Strategy –  page 10, January 2013

The spectre of food insecurity is a reality for many people, even in the wealthiest countries.  In a recent Times Colonist articles, Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of the agri-food analytics lab and a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, and a senior fellow with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, notes:

Hunger is horrid, an undesirable state few deliberately choose. We know that over 800 million suffer from hunger around the globe. In the western world, hunger surrounds us without knowing that it’s there. It’s estimated that four million Canadians experience food insecurity regularly. Hunger is cruelly invisible and unfairly discriminatory. Women, the disabled, Indigenous and people living in northern communities are disproportionally hungry compared with the average Canadian. Despite having access to one of the more affordable food baskets in the world, relative to household income, vulnerable populations in Canada are severely affected by hunger. But while hunger is a real issue, there’s little evidence that food is becoming increasingly scarce in the world. In fact, never in history has the supply of food per capita been greater than in the past three decades.

Dr. Charlebois continues by arguing that while Canadians may want to understand the mechanisms of how food makes its way through the production, processing, and distribution process, we are mostly food illiterate.  Very few of us have been to a working farm, much less lived on one.  We live in a complex world where time has become a scarce resource.  We look for convenience in food. Even though we love to watch cooking shows, we spend less time in the kitchen.

Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

In a world that is experiencing climate change, resource depletion, growing inequity, and loss of farmland, we have the opportunity and duty to become involved in food.

Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

How is Vancouver responding?  Vancouver’s ambitious food strategy to create a just and sustainable food system for economic, environmental economic, and health goals, was approved on January 20, 2013.  The Food Strategy responds to the Vancouver’s  food challenges and aligns the food system with broader City plans and processes through five main goals.

GOAL 1: Support food-friendly neighbourhoods Food-friendly neighbourhoods provide residents with access to healthy foods and ways to sustainably dispose of food waste.

GOAL 2: Empower residents to take action. The most effective community food systems are shaped by the people who live there.

GOAL 3: Improve access to healthy, affordable, culturally diverse food for all residents Access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and affordable food is fundamental to health and equality, especially to vulnerable populations.

GOAL 4: Make food a centerpiece of a green economy.

GOAL 5: Advocate for a just and sustainable food system.

The overall local food target is to increase city and neighbourhood food assets by 50 per cent by the year 2020. Examples of food assets include community gardens and orchards, urban farms, farmers markets, food processing infrastructure, community composting facilities, and neighbourhood food networks.

Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

We are one year away from the target year, 2020.  How are we doing?  The first place to look is City Hall.  Join me as I meander through City Hall’s vibrant and productive community garden, a confirmation that there is genuine enthusiasm for our food strategy.  One gardener said, “I see this is as a labour of love.  I spend many hours in my garden and enjoy every minute.”

Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

“Food is an important part of all our lives whether it’s through the meals we prepare, the food we grow, composting or taking part in community food celebrations.”

Vancouver Food Strategy

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    A brilliant approach to an essential issue. I was pleased to read this recent article about some of the things being done/planned by Edinburgh City Council. A long way to go, but important steps forward http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/news/article/2692/fresh_thinking_is_turning_edinburgh_into_a_sustainable_food_city_-_cllr_george_gordon

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you Liz. This is an excellent article that confirms we are addressing the issues of food insecurity and poverty as a global community. I was just reading on FAO instagram that “one-third of our soils are already degraded. If we continue to treat our soils the way we do now, over 90% could become degraded by 2050.” I am excited that there is a groundswell rising up to respond and become involved in saving our soil and food supply.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Resa says:

    Hopefully Toronto will catch up to Vancouver. We are not far behind. There is a small community garden going in up the street from me, and we have a Fairy Garden (about the size of 3 house lots) around the corner from me. There’s lots of sunflowers, but that is the only food plant in there. However, it is a dense Island of green, much needed in the summer. Just standing in it, it is several degrees cooler.
    I did a post in May, 2017, about a shipping container turned into a fresh food market for less fortunate folks in our city.https://graffitiluxandmurals.com/2017/05/21/moss-park-market/ I know you saw it, because your gravitar is in the likes. Thought you might like to see it again.

    I’m liking this series you are onto here in Taking The Kitchen!
    I enjoyed your trip through the garden. Looks like Eden.
    The time is now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      Our cities are active in food security and sustainability. I went to Toronto’s website and found this link: https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/health-programs-advice/toronto-food-strategy/ I was especially interested in the food project – Growing the world’s foods in our own backyard – where there are plans to grow foods that are normally imported. I must look into this! Exciting stuff. Your comment about gardens providing a cooler environment resonated. Have you noticed that many buildings have placed plants on the walls. Thank you for joining this adventure. Hugs!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Resa says:

        I too, like the idea of growing foods that we normally import. I eat locally grown, which is easy right now. In winter things are different, but the squashes, root veggies and apples store well.
        There are more greenhouse products every winter, too. Mostly tomatoes & cucumber & some lettuces.
        It’s a fab adventure! I’m off to the link now!
        OH… our milkweeds are paying off! We saw Monarchs (second to the bee for pollinating) laying eggs!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother says:

        What wonderful news – the Monarchs have arrived. Great news to begin my day!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Resa says:

        I’m so happy! We planted 1, about 4 years ago. There are many babies now. This is the first year of egg laying!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Ms Frances says:

    Maybe we are seeing humans taking care of themselves rather than buying every thing at “the store”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      We are living in interesting times. I believe that Vancouver’s Food Strategy is essential. I am enjoying this research adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ms Frances says:

    Little by little we travel far if we work together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      How very well said!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ms Frances says:

    This is such an important post. Food is such an important part of healthy living. I grew up on a farm years ago, crops of corn, wheat, barley and other crops grew on large fields. Large gardens had an important place near the farm house. Now, all this has changed in the years that followed. Small farms are almost a thing of the past, large farms taking their place. I am glad to hear of community gardens, and other efforts to correct this shortage of food production. I spoke with Brian today and found that they have a garden in their back yard, and I have heard of others doing the same thing. Maybe I should take one of my flower pots and plant some lettuce seeds. That would actually be fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am enjoying our podcasts that feature your life on the farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s. What is fascinating to me – the farming methods that you employed decades ago is coming back. The idea of family gardens supplying food for family meals is the focus of Vancouver’s Food Strategy. New gardeners are recognizing the time and effort required to produce food. We live in exciting times where people are coming together to solve a global problem by implementing strategies at the local level.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cindy knoke says:

    Informative and so important. Thank you for sharing this Rebecca.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am on an amazing adventure – so glad that you are following along. Community gardens, food security, recycling – words that we hear and read about on a daily basis – are we putting these ideas into practice? Are there ways in which we can do better? I need to become more “food literate.”

      Like

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