By Cynthia Routhier, Community Connection’s Food Security Team
Dialogues on food are endless amongst Revelstokians and often resonate into passionate and fiery opinions. We have daily food talks with each other on topics such as cooking, gardening, food prices and food quality, simply because we all need to eat.
Global warming concerns are becoming exponential along with the wake of international economic crisis. Conscious of those alarming issues, Revelstoke is striving for a sustainable local food system.
“Food sovereignty,” a term associated to local food systems, means that consumers and small-scale producers work together to take ownership of their food from its source to the plate. By making responsible choices, our beautiful mountain town could benefit from a healthier economy, a flourishing environment and a stronger community altogether.
The Ten Percent Shift campaign was introduced in 2011 by Barry O’Neill, the former President of CUPE BC. The goal of this initiative was to show business owners and consumers from all over B.C. how critical purchasing decisions are to local economies. A study by the Canadian Union of Public Employees suggests that if the entire province made the Ten Percent Shift of spending our money from corporate retailers to local independent businesses, 31,000 jobs would be created and $940 million in wages would be added to the B.C. economy.
To keep it simple, the idea is to multiply interactions between producers and consumers, and direct sales by farmers to restaurants, retail stores, hospitals and schools. In Revelstoke, this system is already in place, with producers like Greenslide Cattle Company, Terra Firma Farms and BA Sausage providing fresh products to our tables.
By integrating the Ten Percent Shift into our lifestyles, we could observe a significant increase in food dollars circulating within our community instead of leaving it in the hands of big chain suppliers and corporations.
How can you access local products? Consider the Farm & Craft Market, Terra Firma Farm’s food box program, or try looking for Revelstoke or B.C. products amongst the myriad of imported ones in our local stores. You could be surprised by the variety of B.C. food products sold all over town.
Greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, extra packaging — you name it! Long distance transportation of food remains a real threat to our environment. When shopping local, positive environmental impacts are considerable. In 2005, a study done in Waterloo, Ontario, revealed that by replacing items in the food basket with products grown in Southwestern Ontario, greenhouse gas emission reductions of 49,485 tonnes could be realized —the equivalence of taking 16,191 cars off the road.
Consuming local means eating fresh, flavourful, healthy food with maximum nutrient content. Crops are picked at their most ripe stage when they are transported only a short distance.
Shopping for food grown around us is worth the little extra effort if we care for our community and our quality of life.
It’s never too late to invest into building our local economy by taking ownership of our food system. Plenty of other successful communities devoted to eating local exist all around us. Little efforts and actions taken by all of us in our consumer habits can lead to major positive results.
There are many ways to start getting involved and taking action in the community. The Revelstoke Local Food Initiative (LFI) is a nonprofit working to empower the community to increase local food production and utilization. Join their community gardens, attend their food events, or use their tools and resources. The benefits are endless. Check out www.revelstokelocalfood.com for up to date garden and event information.
Thinking of becoming a producer in the area? Community Futures, an agency for entrepreneurs, strongly supports these types of initiatives and they can be a major help when it comes to funding. Young Agrarians is a B.C. collaborative network working to help new farmers starting in agriculture. They provide all the necessary tools for the ecological farmer to thrive as well as great land access resources.
All of this might seem like a mouthful! These ideas are simply stepping stones towards making a change in how we look at food and how we become a lush and blooming Revelstoke for present and future generations.