Localize the food system.
The creation of a regional food system would begin to address many of the problems of the existing food system. The term “food system” refers to all of the processes that are a part of providing food to people (Maan Miedema & Pigott, 2007). It includes the growing, harvesting, transportation, processing, marketing, selling, consuming, and disposing of food (Maan Miedema & Pigott, 2007). To establish a healthy regional food system all of these processes must be integrated. This will enhance the environmental, economic, social, and nutritional health of a geographic community (Maan Miedema & Pigott, 2007). Benefits of a regional food system are:
- Reduced dependence on long-distance food transportation, and fossil fuels;
- Strengthened local agricultural economy, including small-scale enterprises;
- Strengthened local food economy;
- Greater food availability, particularly fresh produce and meats;
- Preservation and protection agricultural lands;
- Strengthened food-related knowledge and skills among consumers; and
- Creation of new food sector jobs.
Currently in Ontario there are hundreds of people who are actively working to promote local sustainable food (Metcalf Foundation, 2008). Unfortunately, because many of these people and organizations work at a grassroots level and our busy with their own initiatives, the needed interconnectedness between them is absent (Metcalf Foundation, 2008). There is a need to connect and integrate their efforts, as it will strengthen the movement towards a regional food system and bring about system-wide change. The project outlined in this paper is an example of how to bring these components together to advance a regional food system.