Promoting local food protects against global price spikes

It could get more expensive for Saanich families to put food on the dinner table this summer. The worst drought to hit the United States in nearly 25 years is threatening to drive up food prices around the world.

Corn prices will likely rise dramatically as mid-western farmers suffer enormous crop losses due to dry, hot weather. Corn is used in hundreds of products, affecting everything from the price of cereal to meat.

By supporting local producers and buying local food we can avoid sudden price increases on the grocery bill.

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 (UCB) and encroach upon agricultural lands. It compromises our food security and contributes to car-dependent sprawl. Saanich Council must continue to defend the UCB.

Instead of carving up our farmland as real estate, we should look for more ways to support our local farmers by keeping farming profitable. In Saanich, we’re changing out-dated bylaws to allow for more “pocket markets” to sell local foods. We have a policy to “buy local” for our recreation centres and special events. And, a Food Security Task Force will recommend actions to support local food growers.

We’re also looking for ways to grow our own food. Using public and private open space for community gardens gives urban residents a space to produce their own food. We’re looking at opportunities to use green roofs on new and newly-renovated development projects as community gardens too. The Saanich-owned Panama Flats could be used for new and small-scale farmers to produce local food.

We can defend ourselves against global food price increases. 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.

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor