The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) is pleased to inform you that the video recording of our “Know Your Food” event is now online!
The day proved to be enlightening for our presenters and over 100 in-person and online attendees. Read on for a summary of the event including points of interest that emerged during the discussions.
Stay tuned! We will be posting more detailed blogs about the event’s panels in the coming months.
GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND
On November 5th, 2022, MLFPC welcomed representatives from the agrifood sector, food literacy advocates, and the public to The Grove at Western Fair for a day-long event to explore and exchange ideas about the food system.
The event featured an array of guest speakers and panels addressing three key themes of food literacy: GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND.
Ray John of the Oneida Nation, a Knowledge Sharer and Cultural Advisor to the London Catholic School Board, set the tone for the event. He asked us to think about and be thankful for the food we eat and the many hands that put their energy into producing and distributing it for the people of Middlesex-London. Our food is the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who work in agri-business in the area.
As moderator Lella Bloomer observed, agri-food accounts for more than 1/4 of all businesses in Middlesex County and has a $1.2 bill annual impact, with 7,800 jobs and $290 million in wages and salaries.
The themes GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND allowed presenters and audience participants to examine the breadth of the food system, exploring developments and challenges in agri-food production and processing; food distribution and retailing; urban agriculture and local food markets; food access and education; as well as raising difficult questions about sustainability and those underserved by our current food system.
The recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising energy costs, along with rising food prices, emerged as important concerns during the event, as did the continuing legacy of colonialism and colonial food practices on the traditional Indigenous lands of the county.
While food systems and politics have become increasingly global in scope, the event was a rare opportunity to engage with stakeholders and issues directly linked to Middlesex-London—one we hope to repeat in the future!
“Know Your Food” would not have been possible without the work of MLFPC members and volunteers who put the event together over the course of eight months, with funding provided by the London Community Recovery Network.
The other essential ingredients for the event were the space and resources provided by The Grove and Growing Chefs! Ontario. The Grove is located at the Western Fair District in a facility once earmarked for demolition, but which has now become an agri-business hub and incubator. Growing Chefs! Ontario is one of many organisations that make their home there. Not only did Andrew Fleet, Executive Director of Growing Chefs!, deliver a compelling talk about the importance of food access and literacy for youth and their families; the organization also provided a nutritious lunch for participants and guests. It featured traditional Indigenous and locally-produced foods, including bison chili, kale salad, and apple crisp.
We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this event a success and for the collaborative spirit fostered at The Grove by our moderators, panellists, and attendees!
“Know Your Food” was a unique event, exploring important issues and asking important questions about food literacy.
One of the most challenging questions was: how can we honour and continue to pursue reconciliation with the traditional Indigenous peoples of this land through our food system?
We must continue to ask ourselves and our regional governments these challenging questions. We hope the MLFPC will be a driver of conversations and action that make our food system resilient, sustainable, and inclusive for everyone.
The MLFPC’s goal is to foster connections and knowledge exchange among stakeholders of the local food system. We want you to know your food system and to become invested in it.
Written by Siobhan Watters