Food Security

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    • #2088
      Robert Dixon

      Food security has an official definition. It basically says give everyone what they need to eat all the time in a culturally appropriate way. This is a broad statement with good sentiments. Everyone should have what they need to eat.

      Is the food secure if you have to import it to give to low income people? We define food security as growing most of the food people in a region will eat, within that area. Imports do not build food security.

      We spent 20 years in Kelowna, BC and I worked part time as an organic inspector. Now we live in the Calgary region and are just getting to know it. Can people in these two regions help each other become food secure?

      Talking helps everyone develop a shared vision of what food security looks like. No actions can be effective without a shared vision. We built this web site to create a place where consumers and farmers can meet and talk. Where else can these 2 groups have a conversation with each other?

      Talking about food security leads to understanding the link between carbon-capture farming and healthy eating at the personal level.

      Do you want to do something about the climate – crisis? Eat to support carbon capture farming and influence farming practices responsible for up to 23% of GreenHouseGas (GHG) emissions.

      Help us answer the food security questions. We need your voice and ideas and volunteer efforts.

    • #2379
      Robert Dixon

      Grade 12 students in Kelowna, BC Canada helped answer our food security questions at a face to face presentation I did in February 2020. This was just before COVID – cancelled the world economy and travel and personal interactions.

      Let us dig into one of their very pragmatic answers to the WHO food security question. WHO actually does the work to increase the food supply?

      The students noted that farmers build food security and one group added that consumers influence food security with their food choices (see link at the bottom of our food security page to answers). That is a very practical answer but consider this – industrial farms focused on exports are disappearing right across the country (see 2016 census of agriculture). Most vegetables eaten in Canada today are imported (87% in BC and maybe even more in AB).

      In BC and Alberta (AB), the number of young farmers (under 35) increased and many of these are vegetable growers selling directly to consumers. That is what the 2016 census found in BC. A similar trend seems to be occurring in Alberta, from what I can see so far.

      How many small and medium sized farms are needed to provide 50 – 60% Vegetable food security within the Calgary to Kamloops bioregions? What can we do to support young people who want to grow vegetables to sell directly to Canadian consumers?

    • #2439
      Robert Dixon

      A short thought on answering the last question. It would probably take thousands of small vegetable farmers using carbon capture practices to produce any kind of vegetable food security in the Kamloops to Calgary linked region. Right now there are just hundreds so, there is room for improvement.

    • #2713

      I want to zoom in on the point you’ve made, Rob, about many young farmers currently selling directly to consumers. I wonder if this is a more profitable model for farmers to use because they retain the profits of their product (food), rather that markups going to large grocery chains?

      Personally, with the most recent flooding and impact on food availability where I live (Kelowna), I can understand the resilience of this locally-focused model. There is a big contrast with how grocery stores fared in the face of supply chain disruptions due to the flooding, and how local supply chains were (not as) impacted. When there was no fresh produce in large chain retailers in my neighborhood, there was still fresh local produce to be found both through local growers, as well as through locally-focused distributors (like Farm Bound, Urban Harvest, and similar) that buy from local growers.

      Being that I do not drive a car, having these services fill gaps in supply chains for people like me who don’t do “big” grocery runs to retailers was key to maintaining my food supply security in the flooding aftermath…and also points to ways to mitigate the impact of transportation barriers on food accessibility (i.e. driving a car to a grocery store). I like my car-free lifestyle, not only for environmental reasons. I just also want to be able to have access to good, nutritious food (and I don’t think I should have to drive a car to do that). I think distributors support the WHO builds food security, when they focus ‘local’.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by jane.
    • #2716
      Robert Dixon

      Yes, growers get more for their food products when they sell directly to consumers. The downside is that it takes up a lot of time away from farming and much of it they do not get paid for. You like the convenience of getting local food delivered and that is very helpful. Is this profitable? I am not sure.
      We consumers might have a chance to invest in the young farmers besides just buying their food. They might be a better place to put savings then in a bank. I really like what YYC Growers are doing here in Calgary. It would be good to talk with them more on how we can work together.

    • #2717
      Robert Dixon

      Jane, your point about the resilience of short supply chains is good. The challenge is to synchronize a bunch of small operations to produce like one big biological machine. This is called supply chain management. That is what we are interested in doing. The venture capitalists I pitched to in the New Ventures BC business competition called this ” like trying to herd cats “, funny and perceptive. How do you get a lot of small and young farmers to work together as an organic, carbon capture production unit?

      The pros internationally have supply chain managers. It’s not an easy job to learn and you sort of have to have the experience… We can provide these services to farmers and help get consumers engaged with regional food production efforts. Building a regional vegetable and fruit supply network has lots of moving parts that need to be co-ordinated. That is what YYC Growers has been doing in the Calgary region.

      Are these small young farmers following the latest carbon capture ecological practices on their farms? Does this make any difference to the nutrient density of the food (consumer issue) or farm profit (farmer issue)? WE can help answer these and other questions.

      Food is a great way to have a positive impact on the climate crisis And a great way to have community owned economic development. Right now, much of food production is a climate change problem. Can we use consumer demand to change that?

    • #2978
      Robert Dixon

      Food security makes more sense when you look at it by individual food item. Alberta or AB, has over 100% beef food security since there are 4.5 million people but over 5 million cattle. BC has 100% food security in milk since not much is imported. Vegetables and Fruits has only 13% food security, in BC, as most is imported from California or Mexico. AB is even worse off, but has great potential to increase production. Could AB help BC with food?

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