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.