EcoUrbia Network

a sustainability network

Print E-mail

about food

by Margaret Broughton & Karen Morton

Climate change will bring enormous, and unpredictable changes to agriculture which will affect global food supplies - combined with rising oil prices that will have a profound effect on transportation costs and increases in the cost of importing food - resulting in a disproportionate impact on those living on low incomes. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture, largely from intensive systems, contribute significantly to global warming. Worldwide, millions of small-scale food producers, organic growers, and researchers have demonstrated that biodiverse systems of production provide opportunities for mitigating, and adapting to climate change. These methods sustain, and replenish the natural resources that are essential for food production.

For our health, and well being we all need a variety of safe, nutritious, and affordable food available throughout the year. Until now, our complex system of food production, storage, and distribution has largely met this need, but climate change is starting to threaten the ongoing sustainability of that food system. Addressing the growing threat to our continued food security will not be easy – it will require the awareness and support of government, business, community groups, and individuals. We have a strong dependence on food imported from agricultural regions in other countries, and any threat to the productivity of those regions could threaten our continued food security.The importance of local food and our ability to grow it in our region, and throughout our province, is critical to our food sovereignty, health, environment, and economies.


about food security

Food security exists when all citizens obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes healthy choices, community self-reliance, and equal access for everyone. Food security initiatives promote the growth of healthy and sustainable food systems where the healthy choice becomes the easiest choice. In BC, community nutritionists support food security initiatives, and a community capacity building approach is used to ensure that communities have the knowledge and skills to move food security initiatives forward on their own behalf. Community food charters support food security initiatives.  The PHSA (Provincial Health Services Authority)'s mega-booklet, Food for Thought:  The Issues and Challenges of Food Security serves as a good introduction to this topic.

food security happens & fishers can earn a fair income for their is produced in a way that is safe for people & the environment...local, regional & community food production is justice & inclusion are priorities...all people are empowered to work together to create positive change

food insecurity happens when…there are no farms or grocery stores nearby...our food travels great distances to get to us...there isn't enough money...healthy & safe food is not available...healthy foods cost more than unhealthy foods...our rivers are polluted so fish don't survive...our traditional foods are not available or accessible


about organics

"Going organic is the single most critical (and most doable) action we can take right now to stop our climate crisis. Every acre of ground that's farmed organically has the potential to pull thousands of pounds of warming greenhouse gases out of our air." (Organic Manifesto, Mario Rodale, Rodale Institute). Organic agriculture enhances soil structures, conserves water, mitigates climate change, and ensures sustained biodiversity. Organic farming integrates wild biodiversity, agro-biodiversity and soil conservation, and takes low-intensity farming one step further by eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which is not only an improvement for human health and agrobiodiversity, but also for the associated off farm biotic communities. Alternatively, agricultural contaminants such as inorganic fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides used in conventional agriculture are a major concern all over the world, and a source of "eutrophication" - the suffocation of aquatic plants and animals due to rapid growth of algae, referred to as "algae blooms" that are literally killing our lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. Based on ethical principles to inspire action, The Principles of Organic Agriculture affirms the contribution that organic agriculture can make, and includes the principles of health, ecology, fairness, and care.

Source: International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM)

the economics of organics...organically produced foods must meet strict standards and regulations, is more labor intensive, and tends to be on a smaller scale. There is mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production - cleanup of polluted water, replacement of eroded soils, costs of health care for farmers and their workers - were factored into the price of all foods, organic foods would cost the same or be cheaper.

Source: The Organic Trade Association (Canada, USA, Mexico)

MMany EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. In the long run, organic farming provides a safer, more sustainable environment for everyone.


about urban agriculture

Urban agriculture (UA) is an umbrella term that refers to growing food, and related activities within cities. It includes urban farms, community and backyard food gardens, edible landscaping, food producing rooftops and balconies, farmers’ markets, food composting, and the policies that allow these activities. UA programs can reduce a community’s reliance on imports, and increase access to a local supply of the freshest and most nutritious foods. Urban farming can also generate local jobs and an important quantity of food, stimulate local economies, and support biodiversity.

Communities, and municipalities themselves, are actively initiating, and supporting citizen engagement in the development of local food programs. Food security is supported through local food policy councils, inclusion in OCPs, urban agriculture boards, the creation of municipal agricultural land banks, as well as the many learning programs, and opportunities for multigenerational engagement. The recently founded Institute for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen, and EcoUrbia’s community farming initiatives on the north shore are some of the ways in which municipalities, organizations, and individuals are working together to make this happen.

urban agriculture can...

improve the local, regional, provincial for local food production and ways to connect local consumers to local suppliers, helps build a stronger & more sustainable local economy

improve the environment...closer-to-home production reduces “food miles” – the distance that food travels to reach the table - it can also reduce packaging, increase composting & reduce waste going to local landfills

improve the well-being of the community...people naturally congregate around food - supporting opportunities to connect around food at farmers markets, community gardens, etc., strengthens society

improve the health of the population...promoting access to healthy food can combat rising rates of obesity & chronic illness such as diabetes


did you know

  • In BC we currently produce under half of the food we consume, including just 45% of vegetables, and 25% of the fruit we eat - we also produce 70% of our meat. The remainder of our food is imported.
  • About 60% of BC’s food imports come from the United States; we are especially dependent on our southern neighbour for our winter supply of fresh produce, with 70% of our imported vegetables, and 60% of our imported fruit coming from the U.S.
  • A further 20% of our imported vegetables come from Mexico, while China, Mexico, and Chile together account for 20% of our imported fruit.
  • BC has 442 organic farms, accounting for 2.2% of all BC farms (compared to 4% in Europe & 1% globally).
  • The cost of oil and related food import costs will rise; to maintain food self-sufficiency at current levels, we will need to increase local food production by 30% by 2025.

Source: Vancouver Coastal Health


north shore initiatives


other initiatives


agricultural impact

"Out of all human activities, agriculture has arguably been the source of greatest human impact on the environment.” (Post Carbon Institute)

Follow EcoUrbia on Twitter

food topics

-agriculture & farming
-backyard chickens(also homes)
-beekeeping (also homes)
-biofuels(also climate change)
-bio-intensive farming
-compostable containers (also waste)
-composting (also waste)
-edible landscaping (also homes)
-food security
-guerrilla gardening
-health & nutrition
-pesticides & fertilizers
-organic farming
-organic landscaping (also homes)
-urban agriculture




ALTERNATIVE... worm farms for organic food waste composting! check it out

LEARN... what are Roundup Ready & Bt pesticide crops? with Dr. David Suzuki

NEW STUDY... finds organic farming can meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population 

WATCH... GMO Myths & Truths report excerpt

FOLLOW... @code9campaign in support of organic apple farmers

BE INSPIRED... GPS technology helps farmers control weeds

GAME CHANGER... the seeds of a new generation

SIGN... Declaration for Seed Freedom 

Follow EcoUrbia on Twitter