Finding food security through Vancouver's winter

Photo by United Way of the Lower Mainland. 


The change in weather usually triggers a change in appetite; colder days equal more soup and chili for many of us. But even though we are likely to eat fewer salads and fresh berries, many of us still expect a similar amount of choice and availability for produce in the winter as we do in the summer.


Even in Canada we demand and can expect to eat papayas in January. But how would we feed ourselves if say something happened to our ability to transport food from one end of the earth to the other?


More people are valuing local and seasonal food after realizing the footprints of some of our demands available in the global economy. The conversation around food in Vancouver is healthy, partly because there are lots of health-conscious citizens here. Also because in 2003, the city created the Food Policy Council, a mix of government and local food-related professionals like nutritionists, restaurant owners, distributors and farmers.


The council’s vision is to “support the development of a just and sustainable food system … that fosters sustainable equitable food production, distribution and consumption; nutrition; community development and environmental health.”


In 2008, the council commissioned a study to look into the question: How food secure is Vancouver in a changing world? (The answer: it’s complicated but there’s definitely room for improvement.)


The council is important because it looks at all aspects of the food cycle, from production to distribution to waste management. And it holds monthly public meetings called Talk Food With Us, the next one will take place on November 9 from 6:30-8:00 (check the website for the TBA location).


If you’re looking to join a community garden (next year!) you can contact them. Want to become a hobby beekeeper or have backyard hens? Go through the Food Council. You’ve likely noticed and hopefully visited some of the 17 new food trucks in the city or the increasing number of community gardens popping up (like the one big being cultivated in the tent city lot on Hastings)—the Food Council helps with all of these.


Vancouverites are lucky to have a platform to discuss their concerns and ideas for a safe and secure food network. It’s good for people to know the impact of the things they eat, not just on our own bodies but on the greater health of the planet. The council is also preparing to have public consultations in order to develop a citywide food strategy.


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