Let's follow up on those World Food Day greetings below, to explore what's come of the Local Food Act. A pointed blog from our colleague Hayley Lapalme popped up quickly after the Premier's announcement to look at what's happened to the Act and to ask some key questions we must pose to MPPs. See Recess on the Local Food Act? (Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable).
Hayley shares my view that we've got more time to improve the Local Food Act by asking tough questions, and creating more dialogue and demands on government while the Legislature's on hold (which itself of course is a tough sell for many of us as democracy activists). This is particularly true because the Act will have to be re-introduced again in its entirety (see updates & explanations from TVO and The Star about the situation). This one was introduced just before the Legislature was prorogued, so it didn't get very far anyhow. A bill must pass three readings + committee meetings to become law - the Act had just passed first base.
What I'm saying is, for better or worse, it was still just a bill (...is there a Canadian version of this??)
We're sitting in a time when good jobs are hard to access, causing poverty and social determinants of health to worsen. But we also have entrepreneurs clamoring to create opportunities in good food by growing businesses that are creating new systems of food production, distribution, and sales. You need only to look at our Business Hub to find Toronto examples which are largely sourcing from, and enriching our countryside, while providing good food in the City and region.
Burgeoning food business in Toronto - streetfoodto.com
So to Hayley's second question for MPPs. Why does this act leave out new opportunities for small-scale farmers, processors, and other businesses to make a good living and create more jobs? Food business incubators, canneries, community-based caterers, urban growers, chefs, tech developers, new markets, and non-profits like ours are working to make an impact in this work, but largely without support - and often enough with a lot of hassle - from government. A Local Food Act is a wonderful opportunity to build in smart regulations that support other scales of food and farming, and programs that level the playing field for those struggling to sell healthy green products to Ontarians in a highly subsidized food market.
Share this if you think its worth discussing, post a comment, and get ready to talk more on about what a Local Food Act could be.
- Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org