Food for the Masses

Author: 
Tanya Malcolm
In: 
Community

Regardless of your cultural background, preparing food and sharing meals is a tradition we all have in common with one another. But food is much more than nourishment; it is the gesture through which we communicate sentiments, express our creativity and create memories. And it is the sharing of food with others that keeps us connected.

Food is a basic human right; yet we are subjected to a food system that does not function to support humanity, quite the opposite it functions to make money. We first heard the term 'food sovereignty' at the Earth Day 2016 Eco-speaker series. Kerri Wall, Community Health Facilitator with Interior Health, argued the case that the food systems we live under are unfair to many people. “Food systems” are the chains of commercial and non-commercial players – from suppliers to consumers, regulators to advocates for system change – who collectively determine how we grow, process, distribute, acquire, and dispose of food. In a time when we're fighting to end inequality and celebrate diversity, one of our most culturally meaningful traditions - sharing food - has been left on the back burner. 

In the Wildsight Elk Valley branch we’re passionate about food justice and strong advocates for food security. The Elk Valley has a lot of work to do before we come close to meeting the widely-used definition of food security: Local, Healthy, Affordable and Culturally Appropriate Food For All!

How can we move forward to change a food system that is so widely accepted that many don’t know it exists? Policy. We need our municipal and regional leaders to become food system thinkers themselves. We need community champions to form a Food Action Committee, and we need a Food Security Strategy customized to our geographical region and community demographics. How do we encourage our leaders to become local food thinkers? We translate our food system challenges into municipal priorities. Wildsight Elk Valley branch wants to feed local people with local food. Food for the Masses.

If we want regional and municipal policies to be implemented the question to ask is: how can food systems thinking help municipalities achieve their goals? Municipalities are not going to undertake food policy work to feed themselves and that’s okay. The fact that shifting the dynamics among food system players to improve environmental sustainability, health promotion, and economic development will address many local priorities.

Unfortunately, municipalities have limited jurisdictional authority over the food system, yet they are faced with the consequences of the loss of agricultural land, the local effects of pollution, farmers’ financial struggles, residents’ uneven access to food and affordability, public health problems associated with inadequate or poor quality diets, shrinking local food infrastructure, and reduced employment and tax revenues from food related businesses.*

What can you do to support Wildsight Elk Valley’s branch vision of a thriving, resilient, knowledgeable local food culture? Here are a few ideas.

Become a Wildsight EV Member – Join a community of individuals dedicated to sustainable communities.

Write a Letter – Let your local, provincial and federal leaders know that food security is important to you.

Buy Local – Whenever you can purchase food produced and grown locally. Access the East Kootenay Local Food Guide to connect with local players. wildsight.ca/localfoodguide

Grow Local – Wildsight Elk Valley is offering a series of educational and hands on workshops across the Elk Valley focused on growing food in cold climates. Visit wildsight.ca/keepingfoodreal to join in and contribute to your local food system

Raise Your Hand – Passionate about Local Food? Get involved. elkvalley@wildsight.ca

*capi-icpa.ca/pdfs/2013/Municipal_Food_Policy_Entrepreneurs_Final_Report.pdf