Category Archives: food policy

PEI Food Security Network Weighs in on a Local Food Awareness Act

Female hands holding an aubergine

The PEI Government is in the process of developing a Local Food Awareness Act, and they are asking for input. Here’s what the Food Security Network said:  PEIFSN_Food_Awareness_Submission

And read the submission by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women (a member of the PEIFSN) here: final-peiacsw-food-awareness-act-nov-2018

Food awareness should encompass the whole system, from the ways in which food is produced or harvested, and its effects on the land, water, wildlife and soils, through its processing, distribution and consumption. The whole food system, including waste and disposal. Also included, all of the people who provide the labour and the conditions under which they work.

Food awareness should include awareness of the contribution that the food system makes to GHG emissions worldwide and therefore climate change. Especially the significant impact of industrial agriculture, and a system that is so focused on producing food for export to countries around the world.

Food awareness should take into account all of the traditions of all of the people living in PEI and recognize that food has spiritual and cultural meaning in all of our communities. Our vision for food awareness would respect the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaw people, the ways in which this land has been used to gather, cultivate and hunt for food.

Food awareness is about recognizing and striving to understand the root causes of food insecurity. It is also about developing strategies to reduce food insecurity, based on social justice, not charity.

Prince Edward Island undoubtedly produces very high quality, healthy food. And celebrating that fact is a great idea. Also celebrating workers, and the producers who are making substantial efforts to preserve soil, water, forests – the ecosystem in general, would be a great idea. The vision should include celebrating the small farmers who make healthy, often sustainably produced food available in farmers’ markets and through community-supported agriculture. As well as the people in our communities who, often as volunteers, support farmers’ markets in so many Island communities. And those small general stores in rural communities that provide an essential service.

BUT maybe we could shift the discussion, to a Local Food Act, the vision of which would be a more sustainable, locally based food system. In which every person regardless of where they live, has access to healthy, food, provided by local producers who themselves have a livable income. A vision which accepts that food is sacred, is at the centre of many of our cultural traditions and in many ways at the centre of our communities.

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A Food Awareness Act for PEI

af_food_awareness_act_webThe PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is developing a “Food Awareness Act”. While the focus seems to be on establishing a Food Awareness Day and a Food Awareness Week, the legislation will also include the option for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to set annual local food goals or objectives for organizations in PEI.

This is something the PEI Food Security Network has been talking about for some time now. We believe if schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other government-run institutions were required to purchase a percentage of their food locally, everybody would win. Local producers would have a secure market. And patients, students and others would have access to healthy food.

The Department if Agriculture and Fisheries is looking for public input as it moves ahead with this legislation. You can find a discussion guide and a set of questions here: Food Awareness Act for Prince Edward Island

 

Let’s Talk Food – What Was Said

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Over eighty people attended Let’s Talk Food on November 19, 2017. They took part in many, many discussions on a diversity of topics. Read the full report here: Let’s Talk Food 2017 Report

Let’s Talk Food was hosted by the PEI Food Security Network, in partnership with the City of Charlottetown and the United Way of PEI. The event was designed to gather people together, to share their experiences and knowledge, to make connections and to develop a shared vision to inform policy and initiate collective action to create a healthy food system.

The day was designed to allow groups to form around key topics to support actions that promote food security. Participants included primary producers, preparers of food, people from faith communities and community organizations, people involved in food innovation, educators, students, government representatives, food activists and volunteers. Continue reading

A Food Policy for Canada – Have Your Say!

Food Secure Canada (FSC) has prepared this short analysis to encourage thoughtful participation in the online survey towardsA Food Policy for Canada (link is external) led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). For a general background on national food policy, read our primer.

Canadians are invited to complete a short online survey(link is external), open until July 27, 2017, about the objectives that should guide Canada’s first National Food Policy (NFP). According to a high ranking government official, over 16,000 people have participated in the online consultations so far. This is an impressive and encouraging number of Canadians who care deeply about our food system!

Although the online survey is less open-ended than other recent government consultations, for example the Healthy Eating Strategy or the Poverty Reduction Strategy, FSC is encouraging its members and the wider food movement to participate.

The online survey is framed around the four themes of the government’s consultation:

• increasing access to affordable food;

• improving health and food safety;

• conserving our soil, water, and air; and

• growing more high-quality food.

The overall focus is on “how objectives should be prioritised for short-term action.” When you open the survey you will quickly see the structure which is based around ranking a series of listed objectives, within and between the four pillars. However this feels misaligned if you take a food-systems perspective.

The exercise can be frustrating for people who believe in a joined-up food policy — the very essence of which is to tackle health, environment and equity considerations together, not to trade one off against the other. It’s not a question of choosing between a priority for “Making nutritious food more available to all Canadians” or “Supporting the growth of local and regional food production,” instead it’s important how they can be both be addressed, potentially together.

A final optional section in the survey on Guiding Principles includes some systems thinking but, again, it’s all about ranking one approach as more important than another.

There is an opportunity at the end of each theme to suggest another objective, in 50 words or less, and there is one entirely open-ended concluding question, with a 250 word limit.

FSC’s Five Big Ideas for a Better Food System and From Patchwork to Policy Coherence: Principles and Priorities of Canada’s National Food Policy are good sources of ideas and inspiration for these questions. For example, why not write in the human right to food, making food a part of reconciliation, or seeding social innovation through adaptive policy?

FSC believes that every Canadian should be able to put healthy, affordable, sustainably grown food on their table. Make your voice heard before July 27, 2017.

In addition to the survey, consultations include a Food Summit hosted in Ottawa June 22-23, five or six regional events still to be announced, and potentially a number of community events, webinars and food movement briefings facilitated by FSC. Stay tuned for details.

Find the online survey here.