- Our Town
Food issues draw a crowd
It’s time for the Shuswap Food Action Co-op to take action.
The newly-formed agricultural body is now working on a report, documenting the input provided during its Food for Thought community forum held Tuesday, March 7 at the Salmon Arm United Church.
“What we have to do now is gather the information from last night, get it into a database, and then take the next step – and that has to happen soon,” said Shuswap Food Action Co-op president John McLeod.
The event lived up to its name, with the Shuswap Food Action Co-op’s volunteers feeding the more than 200 attendees who, in turn, served up a cornucopia of ideas surrounding food security and possible actions that could be taken to support and promote existing and new forms of agriculture.
The evening kicked off with a speech by Laura Kalina, whose credentials include being an Interior Health community nutritionist, founder of the Kamloops Food Policy Council, food sovereignty advocate of 25 years and author of several books.
Kalina clarified that when people talk about being food secure, they’re really talking about food sovereignty, where people have a right and a means to define their own food system, and where they control and take part in how food is grown, processed and cooked.
This is opposed to relying on what she called the “industrial food system,” and the abundance of processed foods it produces.
Kalina noted how reliance on the industrial food system makes people dependent and vulnerable and, to stress the point, argues that if an earthquake were to occur in Hope, supermarkets in Kamloops would be without food within three days.
“In B.C., we only produce basically 48 per cent of the meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables consumed in this province,” said Kalina. “And when you look at a place like Salmon Arm, we, in the past, produced all of our own and now we’re so reliant on outside sources of food.”
Kalina pointed out what can be done locally with examples of what has been done, and is being done in Kamloops, such as the creation of the Kamloops Food Policy Council. Now in its 19th year, the council has spearheaded policies and projects in the city that have resulted in the growth of community gardens, a horticulture training centre and, more recently, a community orchard in Riverside Park.
For this to be a successful partnership, Kalina emphasized the importance of having a local food policy organization such as the Shuswap Food Action Co-op, as well as a policy or charter with an action plan.
Following Kalina’s presentation and a supper of locally sourced food and beverages, attendees broke off to brainstorm on a variety of topics, their comments being recorded in the process for the upcoming report. Some of these were:
• Edible landscapes: working with the city to identify and endorse space for edible landscaping projects; using downtown flower beds, planters for edibles; community composting.
• Farmers markets: open on weekends; make more accessible for families; permanent, year-round location; a free lot from city, perhaps fairgrounds.
• Food co-op/hub: identify locations for possible co-op; encourage and create opportunities for farmers, giving them a place for them to sell seven days a week; focus local but not necessarily organic.
• Micro/small farms: equipment sharing; mentoring for micro lots; lobby to change regulations around farmgate sales.
• Agricultural Land Reserve: mixed feelings with arguments to reform ALR; do not expand Salmon Arm’s urban containment area.
• Make Shuswap a GMO-free zone; push for laws requiring GMO labelling.