A food system includes growing, producing, processing, distributing, accessing, eating, and disposing of food. A healthy food system is one that helps people access safe and nutritious foods grown in a way that is healthy for the environment.
Poor nutrition and access barriers to healthy food are important risk factors contributing to the alarming health, economic and social burdens of chronic disease in Ontario. Chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the leading cause of death in Ontario, accounting for 79% of all deaths in the province.
Eating five or more servings of vegetables and fruit a day can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by roughly 20%. However, only 35% of people in Brant aged 12 and older report eating 5 or more vegetables and fruit a day. It is also estimated that 10.2% of Brant households are food insecure, meaning they have difficulty getting enough healthy food, or worry about getting enough healthy food, due to low income. This has an impact on individual and family’s health status as well as the healthcare costs.
In May 2017, 65 people from across Brantford and Brant County came together to tackle food system issues facing our communities at the Brant Food Forum. Six important themes around the local food system were discussed, including: food waste, food education, expanded access to food, markets around town, seed saving, and food policy.
Attendees included people from health care, education, social services, the City of Brantford, the County of Brant, agriculture, neighbourhood associations, religious organizations, and interested members of the public. This forum was held in partnership with Grand River Healthy Communities and the Brant Food System Coalition.
Small groups were formed to discuss each of the topics and create a plan of action to meet intended goals, guided by the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy,
Tactics of the plan already implemented include, pop up food markets six of which took place across five community neighbourhoods from September 29 to October 25, featuring fresh fruit and vegetables sold at wholesale prices. Based on their significant popularity, more pop up markets will be planned in the near future.
Another key element of the plan is establishing a food charter, which is a statement from the community about what is important to them and what they want their food system to look like. Engagement with the community is currently underway in the County of Brant and the City of Brantford. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to provide your input.
We look forward to sharing the community’s food system vision in the near future.