“I want to dramatically expand access to healthy, local food. Through community gardening and local farming on underused lands, we can produce healthier food and foster a sense of community. We need leadership to make it happen.”
With an emphasis on urban agriculture, George Smitherman has become the latest mayoral candidate to prioritize healthy food in Toronto's municipal election.
Smitherman's plan, "Urban Food Strategy: Healthy Food For All", has five points:
- Making urban farming a priority
- Removing zoning restrictions that get in the way of growing and distributing local food
- Encouraging City departments to purchase more locally-grown food and engage youth
- Expanding mid- and micro-scale composting projects to schools and apartment buildings
- Enabling food businesses
For the full release, see: http://bit.ly/9ADaPG
The points are in line with many of those in the Toronto Food Strategy and Food Forward's priorities for the next Council. Though missing some hard targets, the Strategy marks a good understanding by George Smitherman of the need for people to access healthy food, and would make a solid start in implementing Toronto's Food Strategy.
Many food forward thinking Toronto residents are excited that food and health is now getting on the election agenda and platforms of council and mayoral candidates.
For example, Jonathan Goldsbie in the National Post on the food platform released by Joe Pantalone: "I like the policy. A lot. I have a soft spot for innovative ideas that would concretely improve lives, especially those of people who aren’t necessarily that well off. I look at this primarily as an investment in public health, but also as a relatively straightforward way to assist in the integration of disparate and diverse communities that, in some respects, are disadvantaged by the very design of the suburbs." More: http://bit.ly/foodplatform
Now is the perfect time to increase talk of food in public dialogue, candidate discussion and media by asking questions at all candidates meetings.
Questions such as, how will you work to end food deserts in Toronto?
Will you support urban agriculture and fund community projects in City spaces?
Would you increase the purchase of local, sustainable food and increase support for food entrepreneurs and businesses?
A calendar of mayoral all-candidates meetings and our policies priorities are listed here: http://pushfoodforward.com/recipe
To find out when the next council debate is in your ward, email Darcy
And register to vote! http://www.toronto.ca/elections/voters/voter-info.htm
When it comes to Canadian eating choices, a new market research study has shown that Canadians are choosing fruits first for snacks, but junk food is up too. Potato chips as snack time events have risen 22% in three years.
Interestingly in a Toronto Star article this week, Pepsico/Frito Lay has linked this increase to the economy, along with successful marketing.
“Additionally, as consumers faced the recent financial downturn, we saw an increase in consumption occasions as consumers spent more time dining and entertaining at home."
See article: http://www.healthzone.ca/health/dietfitness/diet/article/861247--canadia...
Is it also possible that junk food is becoming more accessible?
Produce stores in Toronto are leaving many neighbourhoods because of the high cost of rent. Meanwhile the price of fresh produce has gone way up in many cases.
According to study by the Martin Prosperity Institute this year, "access to good quality and affordable food is a growing challenge," particularly in Priority Neighbourhoods. In fact, one half of all Torontonians live over one kilometre from a grocery store. This makes it difficult to buy healthy food, especially when the amount of drivers is decreasing.
As the study finds, "Unable to easily access good quality food, those living in many inner suburbs are served instead by an army of corner, convenience and fast food outlets that offer an assortment of unhealthy foods high in fats, sugars and salts."
This may be another reason why chips are up.
Let's support Toronto's Food Strategy and bring food into urban planning. We have the ability to plan our neighbourhoods for healthy food by bringing urban planners together with developers, funding food animators and supporting community-based food projects and centres. Let's get to work!
Tune in on Thursday September 9 at 8:00PM to join our live screening and discussion of HOME with Food Forward Executive Director, Darcy Higgins. Participate and ask questions and think about local solutions.
Just click here at 8:00:
"The film HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a beautifully shot panorama of the Earth and the damage done to it by modern humanity. It includes a moving narration about the evolution of the Earth, nature, agriculture, humans, and the crises of habitat destruction, energy depletion, climate disruption, degradation... of the environment, health, economic disparity, and more."
With the passing of a comprehensive Food Strategy by the City of Toronto's Board of Health this summer, it's time to push food forward at City Hall. In an election in which some commentators are dividing Toronto neighbourhoods, the issues of food security, sustainability and local jobs unite us all.
You can continue to make food an issue in this election by asking candidates for their thoughts on purchasing local sustainable food, providing land for urban agriculture, or whatever food issues are important to you. Now is the best time. See our policy priorities for some ideas.
Let's help bring the next Council into 21st Century food ideas. Councillors have an important say, so write your ward candidates as well as leading mayoral candidates, their contacts here: