Words from a Cumberland Community Food Leader

Today was the first day of CFL training. No, I’m not preparing to play professional football… I assume football and me would end with my person being injured, concussed, or possibly hung up in traction. The CFL I’m referring to … Continue reading

Summer in Cumberland County: All the gossip

Thanks to Our Food Project support, the Amherst Community Garden is really prospering this growing season. We were able to help with the hiring of a part-time Garden Coordinator, who has been able to bring some great food growing and … Continue reading

Stories from 4 years of food systems work

We recently released this report profiling stories from the Our Food Project 2013-2017. Here are some highlights! Timeline of garden and program growth from the HUGS garden at Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre: Mobile Food Market in Halifax survey results: … Continue reading

WILD about Foraging for Food

Every summer solstice the Wild Caraway Restaurant hosts a fabulous wild edibles dinner which is so superlatively divine it’d blow your socks off. The 8th Annual Foraging Dinner held this past June 21st was no exception. Owned by the authentic … Continue reading

Building a Food Policy for Canada Together: Summit Summary

The Government of Canada (GoC) brought together 300 members from a variety of sectors including civil society, not-for-profit, academia, industry, the civil service and ministerial staff for a 1.5 day summit to consult on the proposed Food Policy for Canada, … Continue reading

A Food Policy for Canada: Reasons for (Cautious) Optimism

A Food Policy for Canada: Let's Build it TogetherHalfway through its first term, the federal government has begun to develop a national food policy for Canada, including launching online consultations with Canadians and hosting a summit with stakeholders. This was a commitment made within the ministerial mandate letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

A friend asked me whether I think the national food policy will do any good. The People’s Food Policy Commission began some of this work in the 1970’s, engaging Canadians in identifying food issues and priorities, culminating in a 1980 report “The Land of Milk and Money.” In 2011, Food Secure Canada renewed engagement with Canadians through kitchen table talks to produce “Resetting the Table,” which remains a comprehensive and citizen-informed foundation for national food policy.

This is also not the first national effort to address food security. The 1996 World Food Summit saw the development of Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security (1998); the fifth (and, I believe, final) progress report was in 2008.

What gives me hope?

  • filleting fishThe fact that we’re having these conversations. Five years ago, I would not have imagined a federally led national food policy.
  • Food policy is complex touching on multiple areas, such as economic and trade policy, health, agriculture, fisheries, environment, and social supports, as well as crossing municipal/band council, provincial/territorial, national, and international jurisdictions. The government is recognizing the need for comprehensive, cross-cutting, and harmonized approaches.
  • The process of developing a policy and strategy will raise awareness of these issues and help to bring this conversation into our collective conscious.
  • Ecological health and climate change mitigation and adaptation in relation to food production seem to be part of the conversations.
  • Sixteen federal departments and agencies are involved in the development of the policy.
  • There are similar conversations happening within municipalities/councils, provinces/territories, as they explore how to build community food security.
  • The federal government is also developing a National Poverty Reduction Strategy, which has the potential to address inadequate incomes as the root of household food insecurity if it strives to be more than poverty reduction and aims for poverty elimination.

 

What makes me cautious?

  • National initiatives are subject to political will and can fall out of favour when newgovernments are formed. Both Australia and the UK undertook similar efforts, but the strategies were not implemented because of a change in government.
  • We often focus on new policy development, but there are often inadequate resources for implementation and monitoring. Regardless of the quality of the proposed national food policy, it will take years to see real change.
  • There are a number of competing voices and priorities at the table, which makes it difficult to build a common agenda.
  • There is a tension between acting across multiple areas and trying to prioritize. We need to go beyond tweaking the edges and zero-sum scenarios towards holistic change that addresses this complex social issue.
  • We haven’t fully figured out how to honour Indigenous and First Nation rights for food sovereignty and food as a human right.
  • Fish remains on the fringes of these discussions, despite its importance as a source of basic nutrition for coastal communities in Canada and around the world.
  • There are a number of ongoing related efforts that will need to be coordinated, such as the development of the Next Agricultural Policy Framework and the National Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Our work is only beginning. We need to continue to insist on processes that include a diversity of voices, sharing how policies, or lack thereof, are impacting our communities. We have to remain engaged, working with government and decision-makers to inform effective policy and policy implementation that goes beyond minor changes towards comprehensive change.

Learn more about national food policy conversations and background info.

The online survey is open until July 27, 2017 

Blog Written by: Satya Ramen, Ecology Action Centre, Senior Coordinator, Policy Development & Civic Engagement

Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre. Learn more about our program

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Do Regulations Make Food Safe?

Generally, farmers are not big fans of increased regulations and are always pushing for a streamlining and reduction of regulations. Some farmers and operators in Canada have more influence over this effort than others. And that really shows up in … Continue reading