June, 3, 2015:
Today we headed out to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market for the press release of the much- anticipated “Food Counts: Halifax Food Assessment,” a 2014 report developed through the Halifax Food Policy Alliance. This report takes a hard look at the state of our current food system here in the HRM, both in terms of strengths as well as challenges, for the purpose of better understanding the ways in which we can build a stronger food infrastructure. As the report states, the overall aim is “to identify potential areas for research and further policy development as revealed by the gaps, limits and strengths” of the current state of our food system.
Backed by both qualitative and quantitative research, the Food Counts report opens up the food question by looking at issues of access, affordability, and production. As it was noted in today’s event, HRM is a geographically-rich area when it comes to the potential for food growth, yet we continue to experience severe levels of food insecurity. One of the factors leading to this problem is that we simply don’t have enough food being produced locally – which leaves many of our residents dependent on the corporate, global food system (a system which does not take vulnerable consumers into consideration).
Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, one of the panelists introducing the report today, shared how – as a physician – it can be very disheartening knowing that the very foods that your patients need to be eating are simply not accessible to them, and that the reasons for this inaccessibility have much to do with the health condition of the overall food structure itself.
In asking the question “what can we do together?” the 2014 report focuses on the need for actual deliverables and innovative models that can tie our system together in a more cohesive, organic, and sustainable way. It does this by defining six specific determinants that capture the “complexity and diversity of our food system,” in order to promote a new version that is healthy, just, and ultimately sustainable. These six determinants are:
- Knowledge and Agency
- Local Food Economy and Infrastructure
- Public Investment and Supports
- Resource Protection and Enhancement
As the report points out, there is a strong energy here in the HRM that’s being geared towards building up our shared food culture, but more work is needed. For this reason, part of the way forward involves taking a look at the intimate connection between all of the determinants involved – from seed policies to a child’s snack time – and being willing to join in the conversation.
Each of us has an expertise in some form. Each of us has a certain degree of influence. Each of us has unique skills and talents. Each of us has a passion for sustainable and just food systems. Collectively, we can each play our parts in generating this critical conversation, and we can each benefit – in the long range – from having taken this issue seriously enough to walk it out.
You can find a copy of the 2014 report here: https://halifaxfoodpolicy.wordpress.com/