Food Security, Food Sustainability, Local Food availability

Backing Up the Truck

There are so many issues around making local produce production and supply work.

I’ve been frustrating myself looking at how to get local produce to consumers. Maybe I need to rethink this? My issue at the very start of this project was distribution and I think I’m coming full circle. First of all, what is local? That is a thesis question on its own, but I think working with a 100-mile circle around Vancouver is good start, and Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon already broke that ground. As a reminder, I’m not advocating going without oranges and pineapples if you want them,  but simply not buying food that has been grown thousands of miles away when we can grow it here. It hurts our economy and it hurts the small farmers who grow local food at significant personal cost. It puts that food in trucks which dump carbon into the atmosphere and the time it takes to get it here leeches nutritional value from the food.  ‘Nuff said about that.100 Mile RadiusI want to make local food more accessible and more affordable. So what does accessible mean? Is it convenient? Is it available close to home? And what about affordable? Compared to what? Imported tomatoes from Chile? Subsidized produce dumped here from thousands of miles away? Is that affordable? To a low income family — damned straight it is! On the hierarchy of needs, it’s eat first and worry about the world a little later.

ThinkingSeptember14OneAccessing local produce in North America is — tragically — a first world problem. But I don’t think that should make it a choice only for higher income families. So, how do I connect these local farmers with markets without adding costs to them?

What pre-existing distribution models can I borrow/piggy-back on to make this work? I’m working on that…

ThinkingSeptember14Two

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Food Security, Food Sustainability, Local Food availability

Narrowing the Field

I’m learning so much, just through secondary research on this project. It’s really overwhelming. There are so many people doing so many good things here in the Greater Vancouver Region as well as throughout Canada and the U.S. It helps me better understand where my work might fit and help. I’m so impressed with organizations like Fresh Roots, the Truck Farm, Victory Gardens, Vancouver Fruit Tree Project, The Sharing Farm and Urban Edibles for doing things large and small to get people closer to the sources of their food. I get excited about backyard chickens and locally, organically raised meats, but I want to focus on my core goal: find a way to make locally grown produce more affordable and accessible in Metro Vancouver.

People like Fresh Roots and the Truck Farm are finding unique ways to grow food and connect the community. Others are making sure that more and more locally (and when possible, organically) grown produce is available. I have over eighty responses to my survey (and I hope you will take the time to do it as well) which tells me that people are very motivated to buy local produce, but it can be inconvenient to either find it or get to it, and it is often more expensive. If it can be made more available and more reasonably priced, people in Metro Vancouver will buy it.

Many have told me that they would choose organic over local, which is an ongoing struggle for a lot of people, including me. When I think about the needs of people on fixed or limited incomes, however, I feel that local has to come first as growing organically costs farmers more and by default must cost more at the point of purchase. At best it’s a nice-to-have for lower income families. The nutritional value and freshness of local produce should be available to all families, regardless of their income and that is my goal. I’m not specifically focused on lower-income, but my goal is to have this be inclusive.

I’m making lists of the people I want to interview now. I will also ask some of my subjects to allow me into their homes to talk about food and cooking as well as to tag along with them on a shopping trip to document their process to put nutritious food on the table. I will keep you posted as I work through this discovery process.

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I thought it might be helpful for you to meet me and hear what I’m doing. I should add that I have nothing in particular against importing food if it’s something we don’t grow here. But why do we: put trucks on the road; using fossil fuels we’re running out of; that are eroding the ozone layer and changing the climate on the planet, when we can grow those things right HERE?

I want collaboration with anyone who cares about local food and I invite you to contact me at mhrynkow@cca.edu.