FLEdGE Affiliates Talk Food Policy in Europe

By Diana Bronson and Peter Andrée

We recently had and extraordinary opportunity to discuss what is happening on food policy with European experts and organizations, as well as colleagues from around the world, in events in Brussels (29-30 May), Budapest (30 May-1 June) and Brighton (June 4-5). Here are some of the highlights of those events with some of the resources for people who are interested in knowing more.

The first event was the EU Food and Farming Forum in Brussels, organized by IPES Food—the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food. IPES Food is, in some ways, the international counterpart of Canada’s Food: Locally Embedded and Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) research group, and one FLEdGE co-investigator, Molly Anderson from Middlebury College in Vermont, is an active member of both groups. IPES Food has published a number of thought-provoking reports since 2015 on the role of international governance mechanisms in the transition towards sustainable food systems. Continue reading “FLEdGE Affiliates Talk Food Policy in Europe”

Validating the City Region Food System Approach: Enacting Inclusive, Transformational City Region Food Systems

Open Access publication announcement

May 2018

This month, “Validating the City Region Food System Approach: Enacting Inclusive, Transformational City Region Food Systems,” was published in Sustainability. This open access co-authored paper offers a critical assessment of the value and utility of the evolving City Region Food Systems (CRFS) approach.

In this work, Alison Blay-Palmer, Guido SantiniMarielle Dubbeling, Henk Renting, Makiko Taguchi, and Thierry Giordano—FLEdGE researchers and collaborators from RUAF and the FAO—introduce the CRFS approach and reflect on how it compares to other recent ways of understanding food systems. They also highlight the potential of the CRFS approach to make space for collective action at multiple scales of the food system and suggest ways that the international community might take up the CRFS approach in practice. 

For more information, see the abstract below or access the full text hereContinue reading “Validating the City Region Food System Approach: Enacting Inclusive, Transformational City Region Food Systems”

Ontario Food Hub Infographics Now Available on www.fledgeresearch.ca

As part of an OMAFRA-funded research project that examined the role of food hubs in building food system resilience in community value chains, researchers at Wilfrid Laurier’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems conducted two province-wide surveys of local sustainable food hubs in Ontario. We surveyed food producers, processors, and distributors to find out how they defined local food, if/how they thought food hubs added value to food chains for producers and communities, where food hub funding is coming from, what kinds of expansion opportunities they could identify across the value chain, and how food hubs might increase local sales.

Continue reading “Ontario Food Hub Infographics Now Available on www.fledgeresearch.ca”

New national report card provides comprehensive snapshot of the sustainability of Canada’s food systems

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WATERLOO – Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University, Lakehead University and the University of Toronto have taken a first step toward producing a comprehensive report card on the sustainability of Canada’s food systems. Their new report, “Food Counts: A Pan-Canadian Sustainable Food Systems Report Card,” brings together 61 existing measures of social, environmental, and economic well-being to examine food systems at the national level. Unlike existing food systems report cards, which focus on isolated perspectives such as economic productivity or individual health outcomes, Food Counts builds on existing efforts to create an integrative set of measurements to assess whole food systems, taking a range of relevant factors into account, from ecological, economic, health, labour, and educational points of view. There are plans to update it regularly to track trends.

“The Food Counts report card highlights the limitations of existing indicators and the need to reassess the way we approach and advocate for social justice, ecological regeneration, regional economies and active democratic engagement,” said Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and an assistant professor at Lakehead University. “There is a lot more research needed to understand the path towards sustainable food futures and this report card is a vital step in that direction.”

Some areas where Canada is doing well, from a social justice point of view, include that agricultural wages are going up while fatalities among farm workers are going down. More farms are using water conservation measures and more households are composting.

Areas where Canada is not doing as well include that fruit and vegetable consumption is going down and is lower than average among Indigenous peoples. A set basket of food is becoming more expensive and household food insecurity is going up, with food bank use also on the rise. There are fewer, older farmers on fewer, larger farms and they are in greater debt. Farmers are using more chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are going up.

“Developing sustainable food systems is complicated,” said Alison Blay-Palmer, director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and an associate professor at Laurier and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. “We need to think about how our food is grown or harvested, who has access to healthy food, and how these things impact our environment and local economies. This report card helps us understand where we are doing well, where we can improve, and where we need more information.”

The report was produced with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada by the FLEdGE (Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged) research and knowledge-sharing partnership, which is hosted at Laurier. The report can be accessed online at https://fledgeresearch.ca/foodcounts/. Twitter: #FoodCounts.

CONTACTS

Charles Levkoe, Assistant Professor Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems Lakehead University 647-633-7447 or clevkoe@lakeheadu.ca

Alison Blay-Palmer, Associate Professor Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems Wilfrid Laurier University ablaypalmer@wlu.ca