Menu 2020: Ten Good Food Ideas for Ontario, a Metcalf Foundation report published in June 2009, suggests that food can be a solution to social, cultural, environmental, and economic problems. Ontario currently is a hotbed of good ideas, and this report presents some which would help create healthier people and positive economic changes along the food chain.
The report includes potential solutions to what the authors see as Canada’s “broken food system”, which includes many farmers struggling to make a living, and a lack of local foods and even healthy foods.
The authors (Lauren Baker, Philippa Campsie and Katie Rabinowicz) suggest that the current food policy suffers from a lack of good management and coordination. Rather than studying issues separately, they believe that all the key stakeholders need to be at the table and mutually find solutions. As the Globe & Mail wrote, this would include all levels of government, farmers, environmental groups, social services and economic-development groups.
The report was driven by Sustain Ontario – The Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming and the Metcalf Foundation.
The proposed solutions include an emphasis on locally consumed fruit, vegetables and meat. While some export would still occur for food that is produced as a regional specialty, the current focus on exports would be reduced.
Similar to the current calls by some UK groups who want all available spaces to be ecologically used, the Metcalf report suggests planting urban Ontario and having community food centres and local food infrastructure. Just yesterday I drove by several vacant lots near Vancouver, with overgrown grass making the unused lot a home. They seemed to offer an opportunity of providing a temporary home for either wildlife or specific plants. Perhaps a temporary community garden. I agree with the people who point out that with our current world situation, all opportunities need to be considered.
The report also calls for education around the link between good food and good health, and for planning to consider the future of farming and food. Both of these solutions are needed.
Overall, the report makes for some educational and important reading. I hope they take it to the next step and continue to work and improve our food system.