Envisioning a Nutrient-Secure and Just Food System

By Nathalie RĂ©mond, for the Food Issues Committee

A member of the Board at Karma Co-op recently ranked food accessibility as their primary concern among a number of other food issues. Many people in the world and also in Toronto still struggle to acquire adequate food. Karma Co-op used to donate food to two food banks in the neighbourhood through the help of Karma members, and now has a weekly pick-up from the Parkdale Food Centre. The stay at home order during the pandemic has further exacerbated food insecurity. This has been a subject of attention for the Food Issues Committee.

In a conference that he gave in Toronto in September 2017, Ralph Martin, a professor at the department of Plant Agriculture of the University of Guelph, challenged the way we generally think of food accessibility and suggested that we envision what he called a “nutrient-secure and just food system“. This is an adroit way of reminding that not all foods have the same value in sustaining human life.

Professor Ralph Martin also stressed that, in Canada, what is often voiced as a food accessibility issue is in fact just one of the many aspects of an overall poverty issue, in which families with low budgets generally tend to “go calories first” when making choices among available foods.

In the light of the above, cheaper food, the solution that usually springs to mind first, may in fact increase the difficulties associated with food accessibility . It encourages systems that promote low-nutrient foods, thereby making it more difficult for farmers struggling to offer nutrient-rich products.

A few very interesting alternative approaches with a greater emphasis on sustainability and health were presented in this conference. They have been a rich source of inspiration to the Food Issues Committee. If you would like to listen to the conference and view it online, please follow the link below. The Food issues Committee would love to hear back from you if you are ready to share your reactions.

Link to the video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2c1YH_C2HQ