A food system is a network connecting food production, processing, distribution, access & preparation, consumption, and food waste recovery. Many cities are encouraging development of food systems that are sustainable and resilient as they contribute to quality of life through liveable neighbourhoods, meeting nutritional needs and health of citizens, social justice, economic vitality, and environmental sustainability.
Across Calgary and the region, citizens are aware that food is a key part of our daily lives and plays an important role in promoting health, building communities, protecting the environment and strengthening the economy. We are making personal choices to shop locally; farmers are connecting directly with local businesses; and governments are taking a leadership role within their local food systems and are partnering with communities as they pursue sustainability.
Based on the Calgary Food Assessment and Action Plan (published May, 2012) the Calgary Food Committee has developed this top 10 list for ways you can support a sustainable local food system for Calgary:
1. Eat Locally. Eat locally produced or processed foods from stores, farmers markets, restaurants, farms and local retailers who support local farmers.
2. Eat Sustainably Sourced Foods. Check the label for sustainably sourced food (e.g. Ocean Wise seafood) and look for ‘fair trade’ products that ensure producers in developing countries are paid fairly and treated justly.
3. Grow Something. Plant an edible garden, fruit trees and/or shrubs. If you don’t have a yard you can create a container garden of herbs or vegetables.
4. Eat Seasonal Foods. Eat what is in season for your region. This supports local producers and reduces the miles that food travels.
5. Learn to Cook. Learn to cook your favorite foods using local ingredients – it can really make all the difference.
6. Preserve the Harvest. Learn how to preserve food, organize a canning or preserving workshop – it’s a great way to eat locally in Canada all year long.
7. Join a CSA. Joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) makes eating locally easy and affordable and gives you a strong sense of community with both growers and other buyers.
8. Join Your Local Community Garden. Get to know your neighbours, support your community, get exercise and fresh air and take home a variety of fresh produce.
9. Support Calgary Food Projects and Organizations. Volunteer, take a tour, or donate to the Calgary Food Bank or a local food security organization such as Calgary Community Kitchens. Support the Urban Harvest project with any tree fruit you might have available or rent out your backyard to a local SPIN farmer.
10. Compost and Recycle. Composting prevents waste from going to the landfill and turns food waste into a resource that fertilizes and improves the soil.
For more information about the people, organizations and businesses that are contributing to Calgary's local food scene, join us at REAP's third annual Food For Thought event on Sunday, September 23 from 12-4 pm. Click here for details.