Food sovereignty

By Simon Nattrass, September 2013

Upping our 2-3 day food supply

Victorians have been repeatedly warned about The Big One, the apocalyptic earthquake which threatens at any moment to engulf our fair city and send it sliding into the sea. But while engineers and safety-conscious citizens are busy building life-line bridges and packing granola bars into their emergency kits, it turns out the rest of the Island is in no position to deal with even a minor catastrophe—that is, if it affects our food supply. 

For over half a century, the amount of food produced on Vancouver Island has steadily decreased in proportion to the population. In 2011, a study by the Local Food Project stated that 85 percent of food was imported, leaving locals with only enough to support ourselves for two or three days in the winter season.

This month, organizers from the grassroots activist group Social Coast will be launching a campaign to bring food sovereignty into the public eye. According to Social Coast Coordinator Eric Nordal, the organization aims to move beyond food security and examine the ability of communities to provide for themselves. “Food sovereignty takes a deeper and more holistic look at the way we consume food; it considers our global impacts while restructuring a food system that should be grown from the earth beneath our feet.”

While events like Taste and Feast of Fields have been around for years, Nordal says this campaign aims to foster a more permanent approach to eating local. “Food sovereignty is an issue year-round, and we need to find sustainable solutions and realistic alternatives to how we currently eat.”

During the campaign, Social Coast will take city-dwellers on regular trips to local farms to purchase fresh produce and learn where Island-grown food comes from. “People can also look forward to some guerilla gardening, dumpster-dive dinners and community apple pressing and cider-making events,” says Nordal. 

Following their successful campaign to reassert the traditional name PKOLS to Mt Douglas, Nordal says Social Coast plans to offer support for indigenous communities during this campaign. “We have a lot to learn from the original people who continue to fight for a sovereign food system, and that is going to have a huge effect on how this campaign shapes up.”

Nordal asks folks looking to volunteer, suggest event ideas, or attend events to visit www.socialcoast.org.