B.C. group wants to talk food security as election nears
With the May 2013 provincial election approaching, a B.C. nonprofit group wants to place the issue of food security on the political agenda.
The B.C. Food Systems Network has released a paper that highlights the food system-related problems facing the province and lays out a range of recommendations.
The eight-page document says British Columbians face a combination of high costs for food and poor growth in wages. Meanwhile, it says, many farms in the province are struggling because of a range of financial challenges like climate change and high property costs.
The B.C. Food Systems Network is calling on the government to take steps to improve access to food, boost local agriculture, promote sustainability, and ensure ministries work more efficiently.
Group spokesperson Abra Brynne said while the document is not intended to provide all of the solutions to the food-insecurity problem, it is designed to kickstart discussion on the issue.
“The whole idea is just to try and get food and food systems onto the public discourse as we head into an election,” Brynne told the Straight by phone from Nelson, B.C., today (September 26).
“The months leading up to an election tend to be dominated by sound bites and…you can’t get into any kind of serious discussions or really dig into the issues in something as complex as food systems and nutrition when all you’re looking for is a quick sound bite to try and advance in the polls,” she said.
The B.C. Food Systems Network said it has submitted the paper to the main political parties in B.C.—the Conservatives, Greens, Liberals, and New Democrats. The group is encouraging the parties to consider incorporating the policy ideas into their official platforms.
Key recommendations in the paper include boosting funding to the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and several other ministries to support more food security-focused programs.
Brynne defended the proposal, saying, for example, that citizens who eat better and have improved access to food will put less of a strain on the health-care system.
“So we’re looking at this as an investment in the province, and the infrastructure, and the people, and the ecosystems that produce food that ultimately will be a cost savings for the province if wisely invested,” Brynne said.
Some of the other recommendations include reaffirming support for protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve and providing assistance to organic farms with marketing. They also include supporting school programs that encourage healthy food habits, creating a plan to fight poverty, and establishing designated areas for First Nations food harvesting.