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Susan’s Provincial Update October 20, 2011

Posted by gfsa in Community Stories.
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I feel the urge to share with you some of what I have learned over the last month that shows things are really happening around food and opportunities across our province. By the end of this month I will have attended or presented at eight different gatherings, celebrations, panels and dinners all about food, and there are more coming up in November! The topics include: marketing of food to kids, cooperatives, enterprising non-profits, healthy eating and active living, students and food, permaculture, urban agriculture, food from a global perspective and GFSA and S.E.L.R.S. The tidbits I have swallowed and am digesting suggest some epi-centres for future GFSA and S.E.L.R.S. action and advocacy across the province including:

  • Food corporations marketing of unhealthy foods to children must be stopped! A Café’ Scientific of the CIHR – Institute of Population and Public Health, clearly showed that food corporation marketing of unhealthy foods to children must be stopped. Dr. Kim Raine (U of A), Dr. Charlene Elliott (U of C) and Dave Colburn of the Edmonton Public School Board gave those attending some valuable insights on how pervasive unhealthy food marketing is to kids. The panel shared research findings, ideas for solutions and left the attendees with a clear understanding that change must happen. Stay tuned for more CIHR Café scientific sessions across the country. Have a look at www.consommateur.qc.ca/union-des-consommateurs/docu/agro/MarkJunkFoodChildren.pdf
  • Co-ops and enterprising non-profits approaches are viable business models for the regenerative food system we envision.
  • The term ‘Healthy eating” is not as simple as it sounds and as some make it out to be.Alberta Health Services’ “THRIVE” and ARPA’s Communities Choosewell are opening the door a crack for change. Healthy eating is far more than an eating behaviour change or a health and chronic disease issue. It has implications for economics, equity, peak oil, food system regeneration and sustainability, the environment and as a key to building “community”. If I eat healthy, I believe I will help achieve food sovereignty in Alberta. Eating healthy non-processed food and food closer to home will build my community and my health. Eating ‘non-processed’ and ‘closer to home’ food means we will learn/relearn how to cook and garden, and we will build relationships with providers/retailers and understand the origin and composition of food. I do believe THRIVE and Choosewell Communities are open to this broader dynamic of healthy eating.
  • Post secondary and secondary school students interest in seeing change in the food system.The McConnell Foundation has recently provided some funding for a Farm to Cafeteria project. There is a keenness among U of A students who are holding a Farmers Market and also mounting a panel and discussions about Food Security locally and Globally this week!
  • Urban agriculture movement is growingUrban Ag vis-a-vis Permaculture is becoming a stronger force. The City of Edmonton held a display on the potential of Urban agriculture – www.edmonton.ca/FoodandAg. Dustin Bajer, a teacher at Jasper Place High School, presented to a group attending in Edmonton’s City Hall about the vitality of connections in the plant and animal world that are so vital for community. In JP High School Dustin and students have lots to share about permaculture in schools and beyond. Visit www.permaculture.jasperplace.ca/.
  • GFSA and S.E.L.R.S. – watch for the blogs and the updated web site, there is lots going on! Rene Michalak has stepped in for Angie Dedrick as the GFSA co-Coordinator with me, Susan. Welcome Rene! Angie is now with the City of St Albert in Community Development. Thanks to Angie for all her great work and all the best as she moves ahead in her new job. Rene will handle some administration, social and technological media, and communication for GFSA. As well, he is a community facilitator along with Brenda Schroeder/Barritt with S.E.L.R.S. News! The “R” in S.E.L.R.S has recently been amended to “Regenerative” instead of regional! Stay tuned for S.E.L.R.S and GFSA updates on the web site at www.foodsecurityalberta.ca

Please let me know if this information is useful, I am fortunate to have had these opportunities. I am sure many of you have others to share. Please do!

Forthcoming in November:

  • Nov 1 in Edmonton – Dairy Nutrition Symposium;
  • Nov 2 in Edmonton – Alberta Rural Sustainable Alternative Network (ARSAN) event;
  • Nov 3 in Edmonton – Verge Permaculture event;
  • Nov 8 in Edmonton – Short Film Premier and reception REAL BEEF – Cows and Fish;
  • Nov 17 and 18 in Toronto – Food Secure Canada strategic planning;
  • Nov 22 in St. Albert – Meet your Maker – Capital Region Local Food Initiative;
  • Nov 29 location TBA, Explore Local discussions. 

I am sure there are many more. Why not share what you know that is up-coming?

Submitted by Susan Roberts of Growing Food Security in Alberta

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