Ontario’s food system is in crisis, but also can provide solutions for many of the challenges facing our province today. Farmers are not able to make an adequate income farming, while eaters aren’t able to access the food that they need to be healthy. We have a farm income crisis, an obesity crisis, a chronic disease crisis, and challenges in the food-processing sector. At the same time, food and farming is the single largest employer in the province with tremendous potential for further expansion and growth, and dietary improvements could end our health crises.
Groups across Ontario are implementing solutions to our food system challenges and are generating many other benefits in addition to economic growth and improved health; benefits like environmental improvements, safer communities, and better education. These groups are ready to scale-up their solutions, and have identified barriers to other solutions that they would like to develop.
Many civil society groups, businesses, and government players agree that with planning and coordination we could not only fix the food system, but help solve many of Ontario’s economic, environmental, and social problems as well. That is the purpose of this strategy.
While the team working on the strategy hopes that it will be adopted fully, in the short-term we will use it to provide guidance to the Ontario Government on current and new initiatives. For example, we encouraged the government to integrate local food recommendations from the strategy into the Local Food Act*. We will also encourage the initiatives resulting from the Healthy Kids Panel* to integrate recommendations related to children and youth. We encourage other groups to similarly use the strategy to help inform other strategies and processes.
*The Local Food Act celebrates, supports and promotes local food.
**The Healthy Kids Panel provided recommendations that have the goal of a 20% reduction of the childhood obesity rate within 5 years.