January 2011


Talking About Food... and Eating It, Too!

I used to think January was a dead month: many people take a few weeks to recover from the holidays (excessive eating and exposure to family members will do that), and for those of us living in more wintry climates, any interest in going outside is easily replaced by the desire to keep warm under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate.

Then I met Food Forward, and my naive worldview went out the window... and immediately froze in mid-air and shattered on contact with the sidewalk. Later someone slipped on it and fell. You get the idea. If you only attend two events this month (okay three, because you should also come to the free screening of The Economics of Happiness), these are the ones for you:

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The Secret Classroom

Jason Qu gave a defining talk on the socially innovative food work of today's young generation at the recent TedxHartHouse (University of Toronto). His words (view below) reflect the actions of a movement that is on the edge of a breakthrough, not just in changes in the production and content of the food we eat, but in the social rebuilding of education, community and civic engagement through its projects. Please take a few minutes to look and view his thoughts (in which he also brings up several University projects that we work with and can be found in our Projects link above) - and respond.


Make your voice heard

A number of public consultations are being hosted on the City of Toronto's budget at our four civic centres in which our elected politicians will be listening to your concerns and wishes for the 2011 budget. A proposed budget has been produced by City staff, with overarching guidelines provided for its development by Mayor Ford.

A number of councillors are also hosting their own ward consultation meetings on the budget. These will help you understand the issues to better provide feedback to your councillor and at the broader consultations listed below. Social Planning Toronto is also organizing a forum to help organizations better understand the budget. Other budget committee meetings will be held this week and are open to the public but the presentations cannot be made. The TTC Commission will hold a special meeting to discuss its part of the budget.

Saturday, January 15

Sat Jan 15 2-4PM Ward 18, Councillor Bailao, Wallace-Emerson Dufferin and Dupont Centre

Monday, January 17

Ward 13, Councillor Doucette, Swansea Town Hall, 95 Lavinia Avenue
7-9 p.m.

Social Planning Toronto Member Forum on the Budget, 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. - Register here.
3-5 p.m.

Wednesday, January 19

Council Chamber, North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street
6 p.m.

Council Chamber, East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenur
6 p.m.

Thursday, January 20

Council Chamber, Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive
6 p.m.

Council Chamber, York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West
6 p.m.

Saturday, January 22

Ward 20, 27, 28, Councillors Vaughan, McConnell, Wong-Tam, Council Chambers, 3rd floor City Hall, 100 Queen Street West
2-4 p.m.

Thursday, February 19

Ward 22, Josh Matlow Community Town Hall, CNorth Toronto Memorial Community Centre, 200 Eglinton Ave West
7-9 p.m.

To address the Budget Sub-Committees (civic centre meetings), please notify the City Clerk, Budget Committee, by calling 416-392-1032 or 416-397-7768, or e-mail buc@toronto.ca no later than 12 p.m. on January 18, 2011, indicating your preferred date and location. There will be a 5 minute time limit for each presentation.

To submit written comments to the Budget Sub-Committees, please send your letter to Merle MacDonald, City Clerk's Office, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, 10th floor, West Tower, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, by e-mail buc@toronto.ca or fax 416-392-1879. Any comments received after the Sub-Committee and Budget Committee meetings will be processed to Council.


11 ways to change the food system in 2011

Everyone can make an difference in our food system and different folks can do different things. Here are some ideas:

1. Participate in a community garden. Winter's a good time to think about the gardens in your area or work with neighbours to plan a new one. I've spoken with many new City Councillors interested to help!

2. Volunteer with a local organization. Food Forward is looking for volunteers, and so are many others!

3. Buy local, sustainable. Local Food Plus wants this to be your New Year's Resolution, and you may be able to make the switch to buying $10/week. Try out some of Ontario's seasonal crops like root vegetables this winter which are hardy and often inexpensive.

4. Make a contribution to a local organization. January is the right time to sign up as a monthly contributor for Food Forward or to support another local cause.

5. Support Toronto's Food Strategy and policies that will provide better food access in Toronto by writing your Mayor and Councillor with some ideas or attend budget consultation to make sure food programs remain and grow. Check our policy priorities and contact us for help or ideas.

6. Make a new connection: if you're currently volunteering or working in agriculture, community kitchens, or buying from farmer's markets, make the connection to another link in the food system chain to learn and brainstorm.

7. Intern with a local farm or food co-op or other business to get your hands dirty with those shaping the new food economy.

8. Tweet away ... share links about global issues and local solutions on your social media accounts. We'll keep sharing lots @pushFoodForward and on Facebook (see top right for links).

9. Feed yourself right. Give up that resolution to diet that won't last more than a week and think about how to make healthy choices that will last through the year.

10. Spend time to enjoy food and consider its journey to your plate by hosting or participating in a potluck. It could be a simple event to start with a couple of friends. See how local food actionist Emily Van Halem does this, in her blog post at Feel Good Food.

11. Share this post with a friend and comment below. Let us know what you've been up to and how you're growing better food.