The Future of Local Food

This op-ed appeared in the Moncton Times Transcript as an introduction to local food and a talk by radio host Jon Steinman (of “Deconstructing Dinner” fame)

“For climate change; for water; for energy; for all sorts of reasons our diet is going to change. Consumers are not going to like it, although it is probably going to be healthier and definitely more sustainable,” says Tim Lang, a Professor of food policy.

Later this month, we’ll be talking about food in greater Moncton. It’s one of the essentials for life, along with housing. It’s part of our daily social interactions. Yet, we take for granted the existence, quality, and cost of our daily sustenance.

Most of us have noticed the decline of agriculture in New Brunswick over the past century in favour of factory farms and corporate concentration in the processing sector. This is a global phenomenon. Should food be just a commodity like all others? Did you ever wonder why there are 850 million people in the world without sufficient food and over a billion who are obese?

Is there a way to provide a fair living for farmers, improve the economy of our province and increase food security for the people who live here? What is community supported agriculture? What is the effect of processed food on our health? Should we be worrying about the food that we put into our mouths? These are just a few of the questions intriguing to many consumers.

Leading the presentation and discussion at the Dieppe Market will be Jon Steinman from Nelson, British Columbia. His remarkable radio program entitled “Deconstructing Dinner” serves as a sounding board for his belief that “food deserves far more attention than it currently receives and that we owe it to this planet and each other to fully understand the implications of our food choices.” His broadcasts bring together farmers, journalists and researchers who “deconstruct the issues” to provide deeper context to consumers.

Those of you with an internet connection can access past programs at any time via podcasts. A podcast is simply a file found at a website that can be opened by your computer to play an audio recording. In other words – radio when you want it. A wide ranging list of food related topics is covered by this unique program that is heard on 34 radio stations.

The Fundy Biosphere Reserve, the New Brunswick Food Security Action Network and Post Carbon Greater Moncton are partnering to bring Jon Steinman here. Jon brings innovative ideas that may generate community interest to meet the increasing demand for locally produced food.

While we presently see the widest variety of food at our local supermarkets from all points of the globe, Post Carbon believes that food security will become an important issue in coming years. Today’s global market is only possible with cheap and accessible fuel, a prospect that will be changing in the near future.
Your food travels thousands of kilometers to get to your plate – for example, lamb from New Zealand, vegetables from Mexico, or water from Fiji, if you can believe it.

Such a long chain needs a considerable energy footprint, and leaves us vulnerable to transportation glitches or economic damage in the producing countries that will be caused by price spikes following a permanent decline in world oil production. An “oil crunch,” to put it politely, is expected in the next few years by the chief energy economist at the International Energy Agency.

Based on the wonderful Deconstructing Dinner programs that I’ve heard on the internet, I’m looking forward to a very interesting talk by Jon entitled “The future of local food.” It takes place at the Dieppe Market on September 28th at 7:00 pm. A bilingual discussion period will follow. Admission is free.