food democracy

May
25

Food Justice Day Overview

On May 5th, Food Forward celebrated Toronto’s first Food Justice Day with a reception at City Hall for councillors and good food advocates to celebrate the important work being done in Toronto. Councillors Cho, Colle, Cressy, DiCiano, Doucette, Filion, Fragedakis, McMahon and Mihevc were on hand to support the Food Nation platform and reaffirm the city’s commitment to ensuring that all Torontonians are able to overcome economic and racial inequalities, and access healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.



FoodShare’s Nydia Dauphin and caterToronto’s Vanessa Ling Yu told us about the important food justice work they are doing, and offered some insight into where more effort is needed.


Food Forward would like to thank FoodShare, Toronto Food Policy Council, Malvern Action for Neighbourhood Change, 5N2 Soup Kitchens, the Aangen Community Centre, and many others for joining us; and caterToronto, Good Food for Good, Evelyn’s Crackers, and Building Roots for the delicious food!


  • View the Food Justice Day proclamation, read on behalf of the mayor by Councillor Mihevc
  • Review and endorse the Food Nation platform and our work over the last year and a half to push food forward
  • View the Food Justice Committee's presentation for Food Justice Day explaining the rationale and need for more action on policies to address food access during this Council term
  • Read the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council's endorsement of Food Nation
  • Read Councillor McMahon's comments on Food Justice Day

 

Jul
14

Food Nation is here

Help us change the channel from Ford to Food!

Can you attend our Food Nation meetup and volunteer training Tuesday, July 15th? Learn more. Hundreds of Torontonians have already signed on as part of Food Nation. Help us reach even further.

Explore where Food Nation has been, endorse our platform, and share our proposals for change:

foodnationTO.com

A campaign by Food Forward's Food Justice Committee.

Mar
18

No time to wait on food policy - how everything's coming together

It's quite a time for food security, as the provincial government speaks to several ways of moving forward, criss-crossing policy reports, legislation, and ideas on food policy. We've also never had a civil society so engaged in working towards food policy change.

The government is finally planning to move forward on social assistance through the results of its review, which had key recommendations on employment and rates of support. We've participated in advocacy on raising rates from the Put Food in the Budget campaign, and hope it moves forward.

Meanwhile, a government commissioned report was titled "No Time to Wait"... it's a strategy released for policy actions for healthy kids, with a preventative health focus. and food is the main and most extensive set of its recommendations. One of the proposals is to ban marketingof junk food to children. Something already proposed in a private member's bill by NDP MPP Rosario Marchese.

Another of its proposal is to provide incentives for food businesses to support community-based food programs, which has been proposed in a private member's bill by PC MPP Bob Bailey.

Minister of Health Deb Matthew agreed that we they need to move now as the title suggests. 

The PCs last week released an agriculture strategy with some excellent ideas on supporting food processors and local farmers with a new food hub, and a review of regulations, something we're also working to advance.

Further still, we are expecting the re-release of the Local Food Act, something Premier (and food+ag minister) Kathleen Wynne has committed to strengthening.

This approach to food policy coming from here and there and everywhere isn't new for governments at all levels, which respond to food through all sorts of departments and policies. 

The benefits of integrating food policy however have been touted at all levels, by Food Secure Canada and Sustain Ontario, and has been done to an extent at the municipal level, with a Food Strategy for the City of Toronto.

Bringing the pieces of food policies on the table under a broader provincial food strategy would help streamline the solutions that could support everyone from farmers to eaters to develop a healthier province. It would also recognize the ability of one policy to have multiple benefits for several desirable social outcomes.

It's an excellent time to move on food policy for several reasons:

  •  New food policies meet Premier Wynne's objectives and throne speech, like supporting job growth in rural Ontario and supporting small businesses to create jobs in the City and suburbs, while also creating a more socially just province.
  •  Everything's coming together - food policies are making headway through all of these recommendations and the government understands the benefit of fast action.
  •  As parties begin to cooperate more (it's actually happening, a little!) in this minority government, we can take look to food policies that will get support from multiple parties like the ones we're advocating for. And all MPPs will see the differences these policies can make in their communities.
  •  A Local Food Act is to be launched from a Premier who says she is ready to listen to Ontarians... the more ambitious the Act, the more results we get for jobs and health outcomes.

Three policies we've landed on that would create jobs in good food have shown growing resonance from workers and entrepreneurs, organizations, and the people of Ontario who have signed on from across the province. We think these have great a chance of support from different parties in the Act and in the budget:

  1. Public institutions purchase of local, socially and environmentall sustainable food;
  2. A review of regulations that hamper small food and farm enterprises;
  3. Support and funding for community food programs and social entrepreneurs in low income communities.
 
Food Forward and folks from around the province are ready to promote legislation that can get these things done, to show examples of good food policy in action and hopefully in a more connected and strategic way.
 

Darcy Higgins is the Executive Director of Food Forward. You can contact him at darcy@pushfoodforward.com

Oct
21

Drawing a line in our land

Celebrating Soupstock, we're remembering the impact of Foodstock, as well as thinking about the impact that a united food movement of the scale we're enjoying in Woodbine Park could make in creating the type of food system we envision.

Please enjoy and share this re-posted blog.

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If there’s something big we learned from our province’s 30,000+ person contribution to World Food Day – FoodStock – it’s that Ontarians (both urban and rural folk) strongly value our farmland, local food jobs, and the delicious dishes we make from it all.

This shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

Not long ago, we didn’t have the type of food culture and economy we do today.  Indeed, we had many more farmers.  But it’s unlikely we would have found tens of thousands to make the trek out to a chilly farm to make a donation, enjoy good grub and take a stand on local food.

In the past, a proposal for a giant open-pit mine would have brought out environmentalists concerned about water quality and land degradation with locals worried about the threats to their community.  And while those from the affected area have again led the charge, they have today found their broadest support from a burgeoning movement who consider food reasons the primary ones in which to put their booted feet down.

And while foodies had an enjoyable protest demanding their voices be heard against an American hedge fund buying up land for the mega quarry, another type of foodie joined forces with Occupy to set up camp in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and many other cities for many of the same underlying reasons. 

The present system has led to the ability of corporations, speculators and hedge funds to make growing profits from higher food prices, land ownership and destruction of the commons, while farmland loss, levels of food bank use and atmospheric carbon continue to skyrocket.  As the food movement grows, links are being made among issues, from farm work to urban poverty, as are the connections within their common causes and potential solutions. 

Farmland protection is but one issue to which a busy movement must keep its attention focused.  The “stop the mega quarry” team has the strength behind it to be a winning one.  To halt the loss of farmland once and for all, this large group must also lend its attention to ongoing local battles , no matter the jurisdiction, and demand new plans to expand and strengthen the Greenbelt and make provincial legislation win ahead of gas plants, mines and sprawl.

But it also needs to create new winning alliances with farmers, farm workers and food processors to create policies that work for all different parts of the chain.  The Greenbelt, though good for the land, hasn’t brought much benefit in and of itself to the farmers.  It should also look to whom good food must feed and connect with those poorly nourished by the present food system.

A mix of good ideas (currently proposed by Sustain Ontario and its partners) could help farmers feed cities, while helping to counter the economic forces that make it valuable for farmers to sell their land.

A movement of tens of thousands will not only shift the political tide on an issue.  It can, if well-organized, demand the democratic and policy changes that will preserve farmland, and create programs to create good jobs (and to better the existing ones) that could feed local, sustainable Ontario food to all.

The cue has come from the food sovereignty and food democracy movements of the Global South, to take the food power back from the towers of greed, and into the hands of the people.

With newly elected governments, local and global sentiments for change and a food movement burgeoning onto the scene, there could not be a better time to draw a line in our land, raise our voice and say what we stand for.

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Darcy Higgins is the Executive Director of Food Forward. Originally posted Oct 17, 2010. Join Food Forward today.

darcy@pushfoodforward.com