Policy Brief: “Building Food Security in British Columbia in 2013″
The Network has created a Policy Brief based on core principles of food security. The intent of the brief is to inform the policy making work of the provincial political parties as they prepare for the May 2013 provincial election. It it also intended to be a tool that Network members and others can use in dialogue with key decision-makers in the political parties, to draft editorials, and to guide discussion at All-Candidates meetings. The Network hopes that, by introducing these ideas well in advance of the election, British Columbians can engage in a thoughtful and productive exchange of ideas on how we ensure that we are all well fed, that indigenous communities can access the food and medicines that have been part of their traditions for so long, and that those involved in the production and provision of food are respected and adequately compensated.
All are welcome to download this Policy Brief from here.
What is Food Policy?
Policy is the framework within which decisions are made. Our current food policy supports the industrial food system through regulation, subsidies, and a host of initiatives from local removals of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve to federal agreements on trade and genetic engineering. The B.C. Food Systems Network advocates a food policy which places community food security as the highest priority.
Why put food first in all policy decisions?
- Because public as well as personal health depends on access to good food;
- Because the only secure access to food is local;
- Because we can only have real control of the quality, integrity and safety of food produced here;
- Because no-one has the right to experiment on the public or jeopardize our food supply;
- Because honest cost-accounting shows that local, small-scale and ecological agriculture is cost-effective;
- Because in principle we should preserve capacity (land, water, seeds), skills, and tools (including infrastructure such as processors) to feed ourselves;
- Because everyone has the right to food;
- Because we don’t want to take advantage of people in other countries.
POLICY: Put Food First
The Network insists on a democratic process for policy development and encourages public policies that foster economic viability, ecological health, and social justice.
This means that B.C. must “put food first” – the creation and maintenance of a robust, ecologically sound agriculture and the provision of healthy food for the entire population must become the central objectives of the provincial government, so that policy in all areas would have to be seen through the lens of food security.
Many communities across Canada are using the concept of a Food Charter to raise awareness and develop food policies at the municipal level. The Charter is a statement of principles upon which policies for community food security can be based. They may include statements such as the following, from the food policy adopted by the Thompson Health Region in B.C. A similar statement was adopted by the City of Merritt, and incorporated into the City of Kamloops’ Social Plan:
- safe and nutritious food is available within the region for all residents;
- access to the safe and nutritious food is not limited by economic status, location, or other factors beyond a resident’s control;
- there is a local and regional agriculture and food production system which supplies wholesome food to the region’s residents on a sustainable basis;
- all residents have the information and skills to achieve nutritional well-being.
Communities in British Columbia are starting to create and adopt municipal Food Charters. Vancouver adopted the Vancouver Food Charter in February 2007; the Village of Kaslo in February 2008; and the town of Salmon Arm in June 2008. Across Canada, read the Food Charters from Manitoba; Prince Albert; Saskatoon; and Toronto.