In recent months, the price of raw food commodities, including wheat, grain, and rice, has risen dramatically. This has driven up the cost of food across the globe – making it more expensive for families to put meals on the table. Ensuring we have quality, affordable food means taking action to bolster local food production.
Protecting and enhancing local food production begins with our agricultural land. As our population grows, there is always pressure to break through our urban containment boundaries and encroach upon agricultural lands. But developing agricultural land to accommodate growth is killing the goose for its golden egg. It compromises our food security and makes a mockery of our land-use plans (and the citizens’ input into them), while contributing to car-dependent sprawl.
Instead of paving our farmland for housing, we should be looking for more ways to support our local farmers and their food production by keeping farming profitable. There are lots of options: creating “pocket markets” to sell local foods, encouraging local governments and businesses to bring in a “buy local” policy for events, and working with senior levels of government to create incentives for grocers to offer local food choices.
Buying local food doesn’t just support our farmers, it’s good for our health and environment too. Local food is fresher and has a much smaller carbon footprint. Since it arrives fresh, it needs less (or no) preservatives.
We can also look for ways to grow our own food. Let’s encourage community gardens on public and private open space. We can require green roofs on new and newly-renovated projects with large square-footage, and encourage their use as community gardens. Saanich recently acquired Panama Flats to protect and preserve the floodplain. It also secures arable land for new and small-scale farmers to produce local food.
Let’s make local food affordable and abundant by protecting farmland from urban development and creating spaces to grow and sell food. Our food security depends on it.