IN 2009, the CBC ran a series called The Great Food Revolution. If you doubt that something as simple as what we choose to put in our mouths can have a revolutionary effect, listen to episode four: "Food of the Future." In it, the CBC notes, "How we cook, what we eat, the decisions we make will come from chefs, teachers, activists, scientists, and farmers." Not, please note, from government, agribusiness and the organizations that represent them. The power in food and agriculture lies with the people.
The response we received to our call for articles for this food issue backs up the CBC's message. We were overwhelmed with inspiring, thoughtful and sometimes revolutionary ideas about the future of our food system. People, as the great ideas put forward in "Revolutionary Fodder" illustrate, are more aware than ever that food is about more than calories, health and corporate profits. It involves our economic, social, environmental and spiritual lives.
Community food security – what is sometimes translated as food sovereignty – is drawing rural folks and farmers together with urbanites, environmentalists and those involved in public health and social justice. Such powerful new alliances are being replicated globally. In "Sovereignty Now!," Annette Desmarais and her colleagues describe a global movement that is intent on putting food back into the hands of the people who grow and eat it. Canada's complementary effort, as Margaret Webb, author of the 2008 book Apples to Oysters describes, is an initiative called the People's Food Policy Project (PFPP). Two and a half years in the making, the PFPP's recommended national food policy will hit federal government offices this spring.
In "Taking It All In," Wayne Roberts, one of Toronto's most imaginative foodies, stirs the pot with his description of the surprising results when food, health and the economy are linked, and the focus is on outcomes rather than process. After two years as Sustain Ontario's founding director, Lauren Baker opts for a collaborative approach if we are to see our way through the thicket of barriers that stymie a shift to local and sustainable agriculture by 2020. I pick up on the theme in my article, by describing how the Metcalf Foundation and Sustain Ontario are encouraging a holistic food system.
Overwhelmed as we were with submissions, does what's taking place add up to a food revolution? York University's Rod MacRae gives the idea a twist. He says that changes to the food landscape are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Either way, can our food system be wrangled from multinational corporations and returned to the hands of the people?
With this question in mind, consider how Malcolm Gladwell concludes his mega-bestseller, The Tipping Point. He writes, "Look at the world around you. It might seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped."
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