Why cities are the future of sustainable food

Vancouver Observer


It’s undeniable. We are living in the midst of an urban food renaissance. From farmer’s markets to craft beer to restaurants featuring local ingredients, we as a society care increasingly about what we put in our stomachs.

People are starting to see how much the way we eat affects our bodies, our social structures, and the planet. Cities, where most people live and where much of the world’s economic action takes place, are leading a charge of healing and connection, driven in large part by local entrepreneurs. It’s a trend that persists even though most of our food is not grown in urban centres.

October 16 was World Food Day, a global day of action against hunger. The event commemorates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945, and this year was special: for its 70th anniversary, the FAO created the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, signed by over 40 cities around the world, including Vancouver. According to the City of Vancouver’s press release, “The Pact will commit cities to develop sustainable food systems that are inclusive, ensure access to healthy and affordable food, and strengthen urban agriculture practices.”

It is powerful to know that our city is taking a leadership role in food policy. While access to nourishing food is a basic human right, the reality is that healthy, fresh meals are a luxury available only to some. Not all of us are instagramming our organic salads.

I recently had the opportunity to attend RIPE, an annual harvest celebration event hosted by Vancouver Farmer’s Markets. The event was a literal smorgasbord of local food. Chefs from restaurants partnered with local farmers to offer gourmet bites, along with a variety of local libations. These ingredients showcased the unique character and ingenuity of our community’s food entrepreneurs, be they farmers, chefs, winemakers or beyond.

When you look beyond the hype, there is something simply magical about sharing delicious food with a room full of people who care. Food events can have a way of instantly breaking barriers down. In a life where many of our meals are rushed and eaten alone in front of a computer screen, or consumed with the anxiety and guilt that can come with a diet-obsessed culture, eating a big beautiful meal with others is instantly healing. The gala event raised money for the Vancouver Farmers Markets, which runs nine markets around the city, supporting local business and improving food access for many people.

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