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.

Food Security, Food Sustainability, Local Food availability

Eat Your Own!

Ilana Labow and Marc Schutzbank are such an inspiration! They know about the hidden connections between the things we consume and the people who provide them. They have personally been in places like the Congo — home of the longest running war in history and where violence and rape are the norm — where the metals that run our phones and other gadgets are mined. They shed light on the farms in North America where the workers are unfairly paid and work in poor conditions. Marc says,

“We can change the way the world functions by changing the way we eat.”

There is a ripple effect in every choice we make as consumers. When 74% of students in a survey didn’t know that tortilla chips contained corn, we need to better understand what is in our food and where it comes from. Locally grown food brings the chain of production down to a human scale and allows us to see exactly how what we consume is produced.

Ilana and Marc are Co-Directors of Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society. They have created urban school farms in Vancouver with the help of VanCity and many, many hands. They have created neighbourhood food assets in the places that most need them in the city. They have helped create living classrooms and awareness of where our food comes from.

I invite you to watch the first 30 minutes or so of this video where Ilana and Marc speak at Creative Mornings Vancouver. They are such inspiring leaders and I thank them for helping to inspire me. (And thanks to Mark Busse for his incredible energy in making events like this happen!)