1 in 5 Canadians reported going hungry at least once between March 2020 and March 2022 according to a new poll (CBC News).
Why are food prices continuing to rise and what can we do about it?
The reason our food prices continue to rise is because we rely almost entirely on a globalized, centralized food system. When food is imported from far away, such as California or Mexico, it depends heavily on fossil fuels to deliver that food to our grocery stores. And when gas prices skyrocket, like they are now, so does our food prices. Mass producing food in one central location also requires a lot of inputs, such as fertilizer. Those inputs are also imported from other countries where it is produced most cheaply. For example, Russia produces most of the worlds synthetic fertilizers. And because they are now at war, there is a global fertilizer shortage, which further increases food prices.
As the world becomes more unstable and more unforeseen events continue to happen, food affordability and food security are only going to become worse. What can we do to protect ourselves? We need to build a self-sustaining localized food system.
A self-sustaining local food system is an alternative food system where most of the food and inputs needed to grow that food are produced locally. By building a self-sustaining local food system, we insulate ourselves from global events that can effect our food prices and food security. Most of our farming inputs can actually be made locally or regionally for very little cost. And because locally grown food doesn’t need to travel as far to reach our plates, gas prices won’t effect food prices nearly as much.
How do we build a self-sustaining localized food system? It’s pretty simply really. All we have to do is to start eating locally and seasonally and buying the majority of our fresh produce, meat, dairy and grains from small local farms. The farmers will do the rest. By investing in local agriculture we give farmers the resources they need to grow and expand their operations to feed more of our community.
A thriving local farming community will keep food affordable and improve our food security. It will grow food in a sustainable and ethical way. And it will provide meaningful jobs to our community.
We don’t need mass produced food. We need food produced by the masses.