As families gather to celebrate another year of bountiful harvest, the Ontario government is celebrating with a Local Food Act.
The bill, introduced on Thursday, is a step forward welcomed by many members of Sustain Ontario, the alliance for healthy food and farming.
“It’s exciting to see Ontario’s government taking initiative to support the food and farming sector,” says Sustain Ontario Co-Chair Bryan Gilvesy. “Our members have been talking over the last year about how to reap opportunity from Ontario’s food system. This Act is a big step in the right direction.”
The sector has an economic impact that rivals the automobile industry for top employer, and is growing. Even in a struggling economy, the organic, local and specialty sub-sector has showed a whopping 15-20% in annual growth over the last decade. Supporting local food seems like something that all Ontarians can get behind.
The purpose of the Act is to foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems throughout Ontario and to build markets for local food. The act focuses on getting Ontario public sector institutions like hospitals, schools, and departments buying local food. It also gives the Minister new powers to create programs.
Sustain Ontario members hope that it will be about more than just the local food economy, however. “Food has the potential to improve Ontario’s economy, health, environment, communities, and to create a better future for our kids,” says Karen Hutchinson, Sustain Ontario Co-Chair. “As this bill makes its way into law, we hope that our law-makers keep the full potential in mind.”
“We’re really happy with this first step, and we’re looking forward to working with government and other stakeholders over the coming years,” says Sustain Ontario Director, Ravenna Nuaimy-Barker. “Ontario’s food systems are far from perfect, with on-going hunger, diet related illness, and a farming crisis. To get to where we need to be, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Sustain Ontario supports policies that improve access to healthy food, help to equipe Ontarians to make healthy choices, and ensure our food production system is resilient, diverse, and healthy.
For more information on food policy recommendations made by Sustain Ontario please see http://sustainontario.com/initiatives/policies.