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

Southern Ontario Food System Case Studies are Now Available!

In the summer 2017, four graduate students in the Southern Ontario FLEdGE Research Node worked with FLEdGE community partners on three action research projects. These projects explored the tensions, compromises, and opportunities inherent in the scaling up and out of sustainable food system initiatives. FLEdGE is happy to announce that case studies from those projects are now available to the public on our websiteContinue reading “Southern Ontario Food System Case Studies are Now Available!”

Cultivating Connections: Alberta Regional Food Systems Forum 2017

Conference Proceedings Now Available!

Find Forum Keynote and presenters’ slides, resources, and summary notes here:

On Feb 3-5 2017 Alberta Food Matters and FLEdGE—Food Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged – hosted a very successful Cultivating Connections 2017 Forum about Alberta Regional Food Systems. The purpose of this Forum was: 1) to bring together individuals and representatives from public, private and non-profit sectors in Alberta to share information about innovative initiatives; 2) to identify opportunities; and 3) to collaborate in building socially just, economically viable and ecologically sound and sustainable local/regional food systems in the province. The Forum provided a venue for those interested in forming partnerships, coalitions and action-oriented working groups toward this end.

Continue reading “Cultivating Connections: Alberta Regional Food Systems Forum 2017”

HOW DOES YOUR LOCAL FOOD GROW?

Wayne Roberts reports from Montpelier, France (also posted on Wayne’s Medium blog)

Part 2 (read Part 1 here)

HOW DOES YOUR LOCAL FOOD GROW?

CAN WE BUILD A LOCAL FOOD WEB INSTEAD OF A GLOBAL AGRI-CHAIN?

Wayne Roberts looks at all the ways local food webs are already growing, ready to become the Next Big Thing in creative disruption.

Several weeks ago, I went to and wrote about an exciting international conference in Montpelier, France, on sustainable “agrichains” — which is geekspeak for food supply chains that are socially, economically and environmentally responsible.

I now want to propose the idea of going beyond the one-way and linear supply chain thinking of agribusiness, and make the case instead for civic food webs — based on partnerships among local governments, local public and community institutions (universities and co-ops, for example), social movements, citizen groups (such as the marvelous Equiterre of Montreal), community-oriented businesses, neighborhood groups, and engaged individuals and families.

Continue reading “HOW DOES YOUR LOCAL FOOD GROW?”

“AGRI-CHAINS” AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Wayne Roberts reports from Montpelier, France (also posted on Wayne’s Medium blog)

Part 1 (read Part 2 here)

THE FRENCH CONNECTION:

SUMMING UP THE FIRST MAJOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON “AGRI-CHAINS” AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Some 250 food and agriculture researchers, teachers, community and business leaders from 40 countries met in Montpelier, France, this December to discuss how food system reforms can contribute to meeting 17 bracing Sustainable Development Goals — perhaps the most ambitious, compelling and engaging global project yet adopted by the United Nations.

The conference on Agri-Chains and Sustainable Development took place in the last weeks of 2016, but the quality of presentations rang in the new year with some exciting prospects for research and action projects.

I attended and presented at the conference as a representative of FLEdGe, based at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, which supports Canadian scholarly work and practice to promote Food that is Locally Embedded and Globally Engaged.

Continue reading ““AGRI-CHAINS” AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS”