Apr 222012

Food security: Why hunger is a farm issue »

I grew up in a (then) semi-rural suburb of Toronto now known as Mississauga, the sixth most populous city in Canada, watching some of the best farmland in the country being paved over to build a wasteland of seemingly endless tracts of hideously indistinct homes and shopping malls, owing their existence to the worship of the automobile. My childhood places of adventure have long since succumbed to the developer. The orchard in which I played at the end of the street was, even then, already sold-out and laying fallow waiting for the bulldozers. We'd romp about, climb the untended trees and pick a few apples or pears (and often throw them at one another as in food fight) but it wasn't long before it was gone, too. Later, I'd explore the county backroads by car and observed year after year how few active farms remained as more were quickly gobbled up by the rapidly encroaching metropolis. Now one must drive quite some way out of the city to find a working farm.

Canada is a nation that imports almost as much food as it exports. In many cases the same products go out and come in. It is a nation that has systematically encouraged food supply from long distances. It has discouraged mixed crop regionally based farmers in favour of large-scale consolidation of agricultural production, mostly for export. More than food security (everyone gets to eat) we need food sovereignty (where we retain control of our food supply). In 1969, the federal government announced that there were too many farmers. Policy,subsidies and programs since then have worked to rectify that “problem”. This article explores one link in the chain that has reduced Canada’s ability to feed itself: loss of farmland for established farmers and challenges in access for new farmers.

A nation that cannot feed itself is a nation that is inherently food insecure. Welcome to Canada, 21st Century. Canada is a nation that imports almost as much food as it exports. In many cases the sam…

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