Archive for July, 2011

The entire Toronto Urban Agriculture Program is under attack.

Last week, consultants, hired by the Mayor as part of the City Services Review, reported their findings in determining which services need to be reduced or cut entirely.

What they found was that 90% of services are in fact core or essential. Unable to find savings, the consultants are recommending cuts to recycling and environmental programs — including the Urban Agriculture program, which allows residents and community groups to grow healthy, fresh and affordable food on excess City parkland.

When did investments in our future become costs?

Hundreds of people went to City Hall last week to ask the committees to reject service cuts. But councilors have refused to take anything off the chopping block.

So now we have to wait for September, when the Mayor and his Executive Committee will decide if recycling programs, urban forestry goals and urban agriculture programs are ‘gravy’, or the building blocks of a progressive, sustainable, world-class city that this town wants to become.

Happy face

Hoo … ray!

City Council has voted nearly unanimously to keep Toronto’s local food procurement policy. This means city child care centres and long-term care homes can continue to provide locally sourced food in the meals they serve.

“This is a win for the City’s food movement, the environment and Toronto food sector jobs,” said Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward. “In deciding to support local food, Council sends a clear message that it cares about local farms and healthier food for its residents.”

This is a victory for Ontario on economic, environmental and nutritional levels, and goes to show that emails, letters and petitions from the public can make a difference.

EU Organic Logo

EU Organic Logo

Can’t afford to go to Europe this summer? Not to worry, Canada is bringing Europe here.

Canada and the European Union have reached an agreement on an equivalency in organic products. The agreement comes after almost four years of negotiations involving a long review of each other’s rules for organic food production and control systems.

The idea is to increase trade on both sides of the pond, no to mention boost Canada’s organic sector.

Suppliers can now import and export certified organic products between Canada and the EU without the need for additional certification. This means new markets for organic farmers and much less paperwork.

This is a good thing, right? More organics means more land is being used to produce food in a responsible and sustainable way. So yes, this is good. But I submit that local organic is still the way to go when possible.

Our Canadian market is already inundated with US-based organic products that often mirror mainstream food’s infrastructure in its packaging and transportation practices. Even non-organic local food, when in season, with its absent or minimal packaging and small carbon footprint, makes a better argument for sustainability.

So yes, buy EU organic. Let’s have a healthy, competitive organic market. But don’t neglect your local market — because if you want tasty, healthy food, fresh is still best.