News & Events

COVID 19 Reveals Gaps in our Food Systems

Alison Blay-Palmer, UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies 

It feels as though the world has been turned upside down and shaken by COVID-19. In just a few short months, the novel coronavirus has impacted daily life in profound ways as the pandemic has thrown the systems and institutions that we take for granted into crisis and exposed how things actually work. We know more now than we did a few weeks ago about how health care and other essential services get delivered. People on the front lines of our hospitals, grocery stores, and city services are suddenly more visible. So too are the chains that get masks, respirators, and food to where they are needed. We can see, first hand, the strengths and weaknesses of ‘business as usual.’

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Women Building Thriving Communities: Food, Nutrition, and Sustainable Practice

Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer speaks at Laurier’s IWD2020 Luncheon

On Thursday, March 5th, Alison Blay-Palmer, Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies, participated in Wilfrid Laurier University’s annual International Women’s Day Luncheon. The event, “Women Building Thriving Communities: Food, Nutrition and Sustainable Practice,” focused on the role of food in addressing poverty, health and sustainability at the community level. The panel also included Kathy Absolon, Director of the Laurier Centre for Indigegogy, Wendi Campbell, CEO of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, and moderator Mary D’Alton, Director of Strategic Initiative, Nutrition for Learning.

Panelists were asked to reflect on their experiences as women leaders working on community-focused research and advocacy and to talk about why food is central to that work. An edited version of Alison’s remarks and the moderated Q&A that followed has been reproduced below. 

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“Knowledge is the Key to Adaptation”

FLEdGE researcher and community partners talk about Indigenous food systems research on Handpicked podcast series.

March 2020

If you ask Andrew Spring, FLEdGE researcher and associate director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, about the value of community-driven and collaborative research with the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation in Kakisa, NWT, he’ll tell you that “the relationships that we’ve built together are the most important part of this work.” For Andrew, “working with the community has been a wonderful experience where we support each other and make sure that the products of our research are tangible and visible in the community.” Community gardens, an online tool to track changes to the landscape, and a community-run recycling program—the only program of its kind in the Northwest Territories—are just a few examples of the kind of work Andrew is talking about.

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FLEdGE: Works Cited

February 2020

Select Publications from Fall 2019/Winter 2020

Several FLEdGE members put together and contributed to a special issue of Canadian Food Studies on the “Social and Informal Economy of Food.” This special issue is open-access and available online at: https://doi.org/10.15353/cfs-rcea.v6i3

Andree, P., Coulas, M., and Ballamingie, P. (under review) “Canada’s National Food Policy: The political basis for coordination and integration,” in Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, Angela Lee & Nathalie Chalifour, eds, Food Law and Policy in Canada (Carswell Publishing, 2019).

Blay-Palmer, A., Conaré, D., Meter, K., Di Battista, A., & Johnston, C. (Eds.). (2019). Sustainable Food System Assessment: Lessons from Global Practice. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429439896

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Sustainable Food System Assessment: Lessons from Global Practice – Now Available and Open Access!

FLEdGE is excited to announce the release of an edited collection that emerged out of our International Working Group on Sustainable Food System Assessment. Sustainable Food System Assessment: Lessons from Global Practice is an open-access edition that shares insights from global, multi-scalar sustainable food systems research and explores the use of indicators and assessment metrics within these projects.

Download the full book for free here: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780429439896

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Confronting settler colonialism in food systems: Exploring food movement organizations in Australia and Canada …Reflections on field work abroad

December 2019

By Michaela Bohunicky, RD, MHSc Candidate, Lakehead University

Supervisor: Dr. Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems

Settler colonialism is described as a structure, rather than a past event, that aims to systematically eliminate Indigenous peoples and replace them with a settler society (Wolfe, 2006). Canada’s existence today, including its spaces, systems, and stories, is built from and around this structure, whose one key element is land (Lowman & Barker, 2015). In Canada, agriculture was (and remains) the primary method of securing and controlling Indigenous land for settlers. In this way, settler colonialism is intimately connected to food and agriculture. Considering this, we cannot strive towards more sustainable, healthy, and just food systems without addressing settler colonialism. Yet, the issue has received far too little attention in food system literature and practice.

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