Kaslo's Food Charter is posted can be downloaded as a pdf here.
What is a food charter?
- Food charters are statements of values, principles and priorities used to point community food policy in a positive direction.
- Food charters are developed by bringing a diverse group of citizens together and enabling them to share their concerns and desires around food and agricultural issues in order to reach a shared vision of food security.
- Food charters take the voices and visions of community members and put them to paper. The end result is a community-owned and locally focused action plan to build greater food security. Both the document itself and the process used to create it are important to opening the discussion on food security issues, and mobilizing our political will to advocate for change.
Why does Kaslo need a food charter?
It is difficult to summarize why Kaslo needs a food charter, the reasons are really quite infinite. One glimpse as to where and what are food system is based upon and most people would be horrified to understand that which is intended to equate healthy and nurturing is fueled by some very dangerous details. However, I will keep it simple. There are three main reasons why Kaslo needs a food charter and they are as follows:
One in five people in Kaslo live in poverty. People whom live in poverty have little to no access to food that is healthy, mostly accessing only processed food full of chemical additives and filler calories that deteriorate any ability to improve their lifestyles. Most significant in this group is children. Without proper nutrition at growing stages, learning, self-confidence, and achievement is significantly more difficult to attain. With any community members experiencing lack of proper fuel for functioning, the whole community suffers as unemployment rises and economic stability diminishes. Within several principles of the food charter, we are able to address the human right to food, no matter one's economic stability.
Most recent statistics from the 2007 “Cost of Eating in BC”:
- Poverty is a reality for many British Columbians, despite a booming economy.
- The province has the highest child poverty rate in the country.
- More than 76,500 British Columbians used food banks in 2007; almost 28,000 of these were children.
- For recipients of income assistance considered employable, shelter and support allowances have remained virtually the same since 2001, even though some individuals and families saw a $50 increase to both in 2007. This increase only returned some, for example the lone parent family, to the support rate of 2001. In 2002, the support allowance was reduced by $51 a month for this family.
- Minimum wage has remained at $8 since 2001, while the costs of living have risen.
The most startling fact I have ever heard regarding our food system was when I was farming in the lower mainland. Living in one of the most agriculturally rich areas of BC and over the radio I hear; “If the borders were to be closed down for any reason, Vancouver has three days of fresh food available to its residents”. This was during a conversation regarding all the implications of the terror attacks on the US. I was stunned to learn that a) they were referring to what could feed Vancouver- what about the rest in the various suburbs and Fraser Valley? b) How can such an abundant valley hold so little food? And c) I'm a farmer and even I wouldn't have food!
What does this mean here in Kaslo? The vulnerabilities of the trucking and transportation system that feeds us are huge. If there were forest fires, avalanches, floods- all realities in today's climate change world, Kaslo is the end of the line in trucking terms and I am sure we would have less than the three days Vancouver has shelved. We would be lucky with two days.
The other more important and pressing issue that will affect the trucks that feed us is cheap oil. In the past month alone, we have seen the rise of bread costs by a dollar. This is not because of a producers want to raise prices, but because the global cost of grain has almost doubled in less than six months. Most recently, Justin Roller of The National research Council of Canada estimates we have 42 years left of cheap oil. Cheap oil fuels the food system from seed to plate. Seed to harvest uses 1/5 of all oil used in food production; the rest is used getting that meal to our shelves with an average of 3000 km traveled. As fuel goes up in price, so will our food.
The beauty in the reality we are painting here is that it presents some wonderful economic advantages to Kaslo and North Kootenay Lake residents. Building a local food system is full of benefits, there are no side effects! The most important benefit is that as the food system builds, so does our economy by creating more jobs that are sustainable keeping families here, healthier residents, local dollars staying within the region, a robust and protected environment all while creating a resilient community that will keep Kaslo strong.
- Poor nutrition = Poor performance
- The trucks that feed us
- The Blessed Obstacle
- The charter is needed to bring the fragility of our fuel dependent food systems close to people's mind so we may create a food system dependent on our own hands.
- It's to remember that not everyone in our area can afford to eat well, 1 in 5 families live in poverty
- It's to note that obesity is a growing problem
- It's to recognize that we are all responsible for other human beings and our leaders are mandated to be responsible
- It's to recognize that food that is grown in an industrial chemical; way is deficient in nutrients
- It's to re-enforce that we have options in developing our own food and that food systems and small food producers are good for the economy and the environment.
Food Policy across Canada
(January 2007)Municipal governments in Canada that currently have food charters include: Toronto, Sudbury, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Kamloops, and Merritt. The Saskatoon Health Region recently adopted a Food Charter. Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, the Capital Regional District (Greater Victoria, BC,) the Province of Manitoba, and the Province of Saskatchewan are currently developing and exploring the adoption of food charters. As well, a proposal was recently presented to the House of Commons to adopt a Canadian Food Charter.
Most charters were brought forward through working groups that consisted of local food security networks, city councils, professionals in health and community citizens. How they are carried out varies on the community. Toronto and Vancouver have food policy councils that have been added to city councils. Others are food security groups that share the responsibility with councils.
Outside of Canada, Oakland California adopted a food policy that mandates by 2015 the growing within a fifty-mile radius of city center of 40 percent of the vegetables consumed in the city. The vast array of food policy and charters are coming up faster than the weeds in farmer fields because of the pressing issues are food systems are facing.
Jacques Diouf, head of the FAO, said in London early this month, “If you combine the increase of the oil prices and the increase of food prices then you have the elements of a very serious crisis. . . .” FAO statistics show that grain stocks have been declining for more than a decade and now stand at a mere 57 days, the lowest level in a quarter century, threatening what it calls “a very serious crisis.”