5 things you need to know about food security
Most of us probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our food, but there’s an underlying concept that goes to the very heart of our food system. Food security (or insecurity) is a global issue faced by communities around the world, including here in Nova Scotia.
Food security is based on some basic principles – equitable access to healthy food, sustainability, and food systems that give people dignified access while treating producers fairly. It’s about communities helping look after the needs of the people in their community.
One common thread in food security is the critical role played by a strong local food supply in changing things for the better. Here’s where we can all play a part. Every time you buy something local, you become an active participant in addressing food security in Nova Scotia. How?
1) You turn the food model around – Local is deeply rooted in community. Food is grown by locals, sold locally and consumed by locals. Local farmers earn a living and local communities have easier access to a variety of nutritious foods. Thanks to local farmers growing outdoors and through indoor greenhouse operations, we have even more locally produced options available more of the time in our communities.
2)You grow local capacity – As more people buy locally, farmers see increased demand for their products, creating an opportunity to expand their offerings and grow their business, which in turn puts more food into the local system where it can be accessed by even more members of the community.
3) You strengthen self-sufficiency – Did you know that if Nova Scotia was cut off the from rest of the world, we’d run out of food pretty fast? In a matter of days actually. The reality is, we do need imported food. Almost every place does. But the more we can produce ourselves, the stronger and more self-reliant we become.
4) You promote fairness – In some parts of the world, farmers don’t own the land, corporations do. Farmers are often not paid a fair wage. In a local system, more money goes directly to the farmers and they spend it in the communities they live in. Here’s one other bit of food for thought. Even when you purchase food that isn’t produced locally, you can still contribute to food security in other parts of the world by looking for fair trade products where you shop.
5) You support safety and sustainability – All food sold in Canada is subject to federal or provincial inspection and regulations, but food grown here is easier to monitor through production and distribution. Local farmers also have a vested interest in protecting the land they produce on and growing in a sustainable manner. Government regulations control pesticides, fertilizers and other methods that can be used. When food is grown somewhere else, those controls are not guaranteed.
Food security is everyone’s business because quite simply, it affects everyone. Buying local when you can, builds peace of mind that you are contributing to a solution, not perpetuating a problem.
Special thanks to Manfred Egbe, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Food Action Research Centre (FoodARC), Mount Saint Vincent University for his contributions to the writing of this blog. Find out more about food security in Nova Scotia at foodarc.ca. The Province of Nova Scotia also provides community funding initiatives. Find out more by visiting the Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage website.