Food insecurity in Canada is “a serious social and public health problem,” says a new report that found nearly one in eight Canadian households couldn’t access sufficient, safe and nutritious food in 2011. Click here to read the full article in the Edmonton Journal. Click here to read the study.
On June 7, 2012, Allan Patton convinced his colleagues on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to adopt a motion to register its disapproval of the Arctic Apple, a genetically modified apple that carries the risk of cross-pollination of traditional varieties and puts the entire Okanagan fruit industry in jeopardy. The RDOS board unanimously READ MORE
Truro Nova Scotia town council is creating an urban agricultural bylaw to support local and sustainable food production and small agricultural uses on residents’ properties including allowing residents to keep animals. Read more at Farm Focus of Atlantic Canada .
Richmond city council has unanimously passed a motion banning genetically modified plants and crops from being grown in the city making Richmond the first predominantly agricultural jurisdiction in B.C. to enact such a ban. Read more at the Vancouver Sun.
Under current municipal laws, food grown on residential land cannot be sold commercially, but city council has asked staff to remove legal impediments in order to encourage local food production, one of the 10 goals of the Greenest City 2020 plan. Read more in the Vancouver Sun.
BC secondary students are sharpening their palettes, culinary skills and appreciation for local, seasonal, and nutritious food in a program called Take a Bite of BC . The program delivers donations from 42 local B.C. farms, food producers and industry associations twice a month to participating schools. Currently 37 schools are participating. According to cofounder, Lindsay Babineau, “Each of the READ MORE
Richmond BC is in the process of drafting legislation that would make the municipality free from genetically modified organisms. Richmond has a large agricultural sector and local farmers, food activists and now councillors are worried about the impact of GMO’s on local farms: the contamination of non GMO crops, excessive use of weed controls and READ MORE
At a recent forum on food security in Oliver BC addressed a number of issues surrounding food sovereignty, from the decline of BC’s agricultural sector to the impact of GMO foods on local farms. Of immediate concern however was the effect that the proposed CETA agreement would have on buy local policies, and in turn READ MORE
Todmorden, a small village of 15,000 is embarking on an ambitious plan to be self sufficient in food by 2018. The town already has 70 large vegetable gardens, and is digging up lawns to plant more veggies on an ongoing basis. No public space is sacred, the police station, train station, health centre and school READ MORE
The FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) conducted a survey in 2010 to learn whether Canadian municipalities are considering sustainable food systems in their planning process. The results are now in and show that there is a strong interest in developing sustainable food system particularly in urban areas (57%). Find results of the survey here .
BC’s Farm to School program is having a transformative effect on student participants. The program provides students with locally grown food served at the school cafeteria, and some classroom time dedicated to learning about local food and nutrition. At participant schools students are enthusiastically lining up at the salad bar and are showing a genuine READ MORE
With support from the Greenbelt Foundation and the Province of Ontario municipalities and public institutions across Ontario are initiating local food policies to encourage local food being served in daycares, schools and hospitals. The Broader Public Sector Investment Fund: Promoting Ontario Food provides funding for connecting local food to communities. Read more at Broader Public Sector Investment READ MORE
Applying biosolids (treated sewage) to farmland as a fertilizer is a common, but controversial practice that has resulted in some very toxic fields. Although it is banned in some countries, Canada has no such policy. Victoria councillor Philippe Lucas made a motion to the CRD to ban biosolids and it passed unanimously. Read more in the READ MORE
Despite worries that a Canada European Trade Agreement (CETA) will threaten local procurement policies, many Canadian municipalities are moving ahead and developing their local food motions. THe Saanich District in BC just passed a policy that would make local food a priority at district events, at council meetings, and at cafes in recreation centres. Read READ MORE
The City of Edmonton is looking at incorporating lands reserved for agriculture, as well as community and backyard food gardens, into its city planning. A huge demand for local produce combined with disappearing agricultural land has motivated the city to start looking at the long range picture, “There has to be a balance with how READ MORE
Ontario’s Local Food Champions report recognizes Markham Ontario as being the first municipality in Ontario to develop a local food policy. Highlights of the policy include:• Cutting edge food service model bringing more Ontario food into a municipally run cafeteria• In 2008 Markham committed to procuring no less than 10 per cent Local Food Plus READ MORE
Campaigns aimed at supporting local economies are gaining popularity, especially in BC. Writer Darren Barefoot has made a commitment to buy only Canadian products and services for an entire year, and the BC chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced its “ Ten Percent Shift Campaign ” to encourage British Columbians to shop locally. Read the READ MORE
The Cowichan Valley Regional District, BC, has issued a report card to measure the following areas of environmental concern: Overall Environmental Footprint, Population Growth, Biodiversity, Agriculture, Water, Climate Change, Air Quality and Waste Management. The report card is but one piece of a larger plan for building a “strong, resilient community.” Find report card here . READ MORE
Toronto’s “The Stop” is not a typical foodbank. In addition to giving groceries, it also provides meals prepared from local foods, a community garden for patrons, and important community connections. Read the article in The Tyee .
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has just released a report on Climate Justice and BC’s food system titled “Every Bite Counts” . The report suggests a new framework is in order for BC’s food system and that we can no longer rely on the market to deliver food that supports local economies or is nutritious or READ MORE
A new study suggests that a decline in bee pollination may be due to climate change rather than declining bee populations. The study points out that flowers are blooming earlier in spring while bee populations are not yet active. Read the full story in The Star .
Prepared by the Land Conservancy and Farm Folk City Folk, the “Local Government Toolkit for Sustainable Food Production” provides tools and resources for the promotion of local farming and food security. Download the toolkit here .
A report commissioned in 2008 by FMC (Farmers’ Market Canada ) has found that farmers’ markets have an economic impact of $3.09 billion dollars annually on the Canadian economy. The study also shows that 62% of Canadians feel that buying directly from farmers is extremely important. Read the study here .
The Canadian Opera Company in Toronto is doing their part to stop the decline of bee populations in North America by installing two honey bee hives on the roof of their building. Recent studies have shown that urban bees often fare better than their rural counterparts due to lower pesticide exposure. Read about the project READ MORE
A parkade rooftop in the Downtown Eastside is about to become the city’s first urban rooftop farm. Food grown at the farm will be sold to local residents and distributed to local inner-city agencies and kitchens. The managers of the project expect to hire 25 part-time workers from the community. Read the full story in READ MORE
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has proposed a national food policy that aims at encouraging Canadians to eat better, while boosting the agricultural sector. The policy would include funding to help low-income children eat healthy foods and improvements to food inspection standards for imported foods. Read the full story in The Globe and Mail .
The City of Richmond has finalized a 3-year agreement with the Richmond Food Security Society, providing the group with a $15,000 grant to maintain the city’s four commuity gardens. The region has recently seen a surge in the popularity of community gardening, city farms, and food security. Read the full story in The Vancouver Sun .
Vancouver City Council adds its name to the list of over 300 North American cities that have amended their by-laws to allow for backyard chickens. The enthusiasm for backyard chickens stem from issues of sustainability, food security, and consumption of locally grown food. Read the full story in CTV News .
As urban populations grow at a rapid rate, communities around the world are turning to city agriculture to produce cheap, locally grown produce. City farms provide nutritional benefits and bring communities together. China, Japan and Cuba have successfully run city farms for decades, and the idea is growing popular in the U.K., Africa and North READ MORE
The District of Tofino is developing bylaws that would severely restrict franchised fast-food chains from opening up shop in the town. Restrictions will be made on everything from decor to carbon footprint to the use of non-local ingredients. These bylaws are intended to preserve Tofino’s unique character. Read the full story in The Vancouver Sun .
The Islands Trust Council, a federation of local governments representing BC’s islands, has launched a project aimed at increased food security. The council aims to support food security by creating policies that relate to land-use planning, development, environmental conservation, and socio-economic sustainability. Read the full story at CivicInfo BC .
In a 7-2 vote, Richmond council approved setting aside $59.2 million for the purchase of the Garden City lands. Although Mayor Malcolm Brodie didn’t like the terms of the deal, he said a deal’s been brokered with the Musqueam Indian Band and the Canada Lands Company, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to vote READ MORE
The rate of ocean acidification is up to 10 times faster now than it was 55 million years ago, when dinosaurs inhabited the Earth. The oceans are predicted to become so acidic that they will soon become uninhabitable for many types of organisms, especially deep seafloor varieties that are vital in the marine food chain. READ MORE
Eco-conversion is a socio-political idea that eluded the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, but has potential in Haiti. Eco-conversion requires a global solidarity for a creative future, and the aid provided by the U.S., Spain, and France is one example of this. Eco-conversion can heal Haiti, and extend globally to help the climate change crisisRead the READ MORE
The latest idea in urban agriculture is vertical farming, where high-rise buildings are used to grow crops without natural ecological processes. This idea is met with harsh criticism however, and professionals maintain that best approach to urban agriculture is to use natural ecosystem processes on a local scale. Find tips for urban farming and the READ MORE
The U.K. has committed to a massive increase in domestic food production to feed growing populations, and intends to play a full part in meeting the U.N. target of raising food production by 70% by 2050. This new commitment to self-sufficiency raises questions from environmental groups, who fear that unsustainable rates of agricultural intensification will READ MORE
In Febraury 2005, Ontario’s provincial government designated 1.8 million acres protected greenspace. Called the Greenbelt, this area encompasses some of the richest farmeland and natural habitat in Canada. This week, a new development will help secure a legacy of sustainable farming for the area. The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation awarded local farmers a $400,000 grant to diversify READ MORE
The BC Provincial Health Services Authority has just released this new guide , designed to help local governments create more food secure communities. According to the guide, improving food security involves integrating health, economic, ecological, and social factors. The guide includes such topics as community gardens, farmers’ markets, making food access easy through neighbourhood planning, supporting local food READ MORE
This April 2008 report, put out by the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law & Policy, explores the lessons learned from five other greenbelts in Europe and North America and makes recommendations for how to sustain a viable and healthy greenbelt in Ontario that can withstand inevitable development pressures. Click here for the report .
Radio Ecoshock , a Vancouver-based show on co-op radio, has a website which is a compilation of talks by experts on a huge range of topics. Experts include James Howard Kunstler, Ross Gelbspan, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, George Monbiot, and Mark Jaccard among many others. Topics include food, peak oil, climate change and climate change solutions, transportation, and water. READ MORE
This recent article from the Financial Post summarizes a talk given by Donald Coxe, a global portfolio strategist with BMO Financial Group. According to Coxe, the price of food has been rising dramatically, reflecting higher oil prices, increased demand for ethanol (which is made from corn), and increasing demand for meat and dairy products from countries like China READ MORE
A study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explores how the built environment affects food access. How does the neighborhood food environment affect the amount of fruits and vegetables people eat and neighborhood obesity levels? What role do transportation systems play?