Good Food Principles

This document is a living report which summarizes the work that FLEdGE has been involved in, organized into six “Good Food Principles”—principles which can guide people from all walks of life to work together towards sustainable food systems. Evidence from our research is provided in links within the document. The downloadable PDF can be found at the bottom of the page.

Good Food Principles

  • We need to help the people who produce our food adapt to changing economies by co-creating new opportunities for training, accessing capital, and connecting with consumers.
  • We need to encourage ecological farming because it supports diverse ecosystems and communities by regenerating the natural environment.
  • We need to support Indigenous food sovereignty by safeguarding traditional foodways that rely on the health of the land and intergenerational knowledge sharing supported by technologies, capacity, and infrastructure.
  • We need to work together with people along the values chain to make local, healthy, and culturally appropriate food more accessible to everyone.
  • We support community-driven research as a way of connecting people and food.
  • We need good food policy that involves cross-cultural collaboration, all levels of government and reflects the needs of people and their communities.
Good food solutions: Building sustainable food communities for all Canadians

We have all read the headlines —climate change is worsening, the health crisis is growing, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. But it is not all bad news. By working alongside farmers, fishers, hunters and gatherers, business owners, government officials and passionate communities members, our diverse team of researchers and practitioners has learned that food can be a big part of addressing these challenges. Together we are working towards building equitable, green, fair, healthy and sustainable community food systems that are economically regionalized and work with the environment, not against it. The projects we support offer a roadmap for change and points to levers we can use to build a different kind of future across Canada and beyond.

Communities throughout Canada use food strategies, food charters, food hubs, community gardens, food sharing programs, seed banks, and digital tools to provide the people that produce, harvest and eat food with more control over our food systems. These innovative solutions connect urban and rural places, provide fairer wages to food workers, improve access to healthy foods, celebrate cultures, and help make sure farmers, fishers, hunters and harvesters can earn a living from the land.

What follows draws together the findings from over 30 reports more than 100 public presentations and 35 workshops. We are excited to share insights from these amazing community-based sustainable food projects from across the country and how they are scaling-up their work to establish networks of sustainable communities for all Canadians.


Transformation through food – stories and findings from Canada

Let’s start with the people growing our food. Given there are 30% fewer farms in Canada than in 1961and the average age of farmers is 55, we need to think not only about how to make farming more viable for existing farmers but also more attractive as a career for prospective entrants. Our research provides some directions forward:

  • Our research into new farmer training across North America identified opportunities to expand internships, farmer-to-farmer and formal training and self-directed learning – all important steps for growing the sector.
  • In Nova Scotia, FarmWorks, a Community Economic Development Initiative Fund is rebuilding the local food sector one farm and business at a timeby leveraging more the $1.7 million in common shares supporting $8 million in annual gross business revenues and provide a fair return to investors.
  • Our Pan-Canadian report card Food Counts, gives the lay of the land and provides benchmarks and points to gaps in what we know about sustainable food systems across Canada. It helps us understand what we are doing now and how we can do better.


Our community-based research tells us there are grounds for optimism in better connecting farmers, harvesters, and fishers to regional markets. As we documented in eastern Ontarioand with increasing relevance across the country, there are more and more thriving connections between consumers and local producers with the growing availability of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, game, poultry, grains, wines, craft beer and spirits:


In Canada, the health care system is increasingly burdened with the results of poor eating options and alack of access to healthy, affordable food. Our research highlights these solutions:
  • In eastern Ontario, Project SOIL identified ways to use food gardens on hospital and long-term care facility land for therapy, improved mental and physical health outcomes and to grow food. Through nine projects, they identified evidence for the co-benefits of gardens and developed tools to support these initiatives including resource databases.
  • And in Ottawa, researchers documented the role of Just Food as a model not-for-profit that uses a food systems approach focused on sustainable production and access (e.g. community gardening, farmer training, promotion of local producers). Just Food acts as a coordinating body in Ottawa with projects including a regional food hub (to facilitate aggregation and distribution of local food), incubator kitchen, food literacy and community action to address poverty and hunger.


Many Indigenous peoples practicing traditional foodways are dealing with ongoing impacts of colonialism and changes to the climate and changing landscapes:
  • In Northwestern Ontario, researchers supported the development of the Indigenous Food Circle – a collaborative food policy platform to support food related initiatives developed by and for Indigenous organizations in the Thunder Bay region.
Environmental relationships are enriched by preserving biodiversity, developing regional approaches to food, and supporting ecological farming initiatives that protect and conserve precious resources for future generations:
  • Raising the profile and clarifying the value of seed banks and seed saving networks is central to work in Atlantic Canada. Building on food movement needs, these seed initiatives are central to preserving and ensuring access to seed heritage and biodiversity needed to preserve food system resilience that has developed over thousands of years.
Policy at all levels needs to be contextual and rooted in place based knowledge and experience to support sustainable food systems. We work across sectors and levels of government to support and create food policies that move towards the future we want. We’ve learned about a range of policy initiatives, from local to international, that aim to shift thinking and priorities in promising ways.
  • We have contributed briefing notes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals consultations.
  • Our team was invited to present a panel on Building Resilient Food Systems at the ICLEI World Congress 2018, helping to shift the discussion of urban resilience to include food systems.
  • Several of our researchers were invited to participate in the National Food Summit in 2017 and testify before the Standing Committee on Agriculture to contribute to A Food Policy for Canada.
  • Many have contributed to municipal and regional policy development including facilitating the work on the Yellowknife Food Charter.
  • Our team co-wrote a book about how sustainable food systems nourish communities.
  • In northwestern Ontario researchers participated in a project to develop a regional food charter.
Food connects people and communities. Through our community-driven research we enable and foster better food systems across the country. Let’s make food sustainable, accessible and healthy for all Canadians.