Canada confronts a global problem: Food Insecurity

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Food security goes beyond farming or international trade.  Sustainability Practitioners bring a systems approach to the table to fight the “dumbest problem” in the world.

“Hunger is the world’s dumbest problem,” says Komal Ahmad.  Toyota’s 2016 “Mother of Invention” founded Copia which has recovered over $4.6 million in food savings.  Hunger is also a problem sustainability practitioners can help solve.  Whether land management, agriculture, food production, water protection, or distribution, across disciplines and industries requires a systems thinking approach – integral to the training received by certified sustainability practitioners.

In the US, government policy focuses on food security.  In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau established a broad-reaching mandate considering the economy, environment, sustainability and global leadership. Solutions range from sustainable agriculture/aquaculture to public/private partnerships to local solutions.  Healthy food should not be a perk of the rich or those conveniently living in Vancouver or Toronto. Canada and the United States are top food exporters who can feed their own populations.  They have the luxury of tackling food issues head on.

Despite lower food prices common to net exporters, there is wide disparity with Canada’s northern most regions paying $13 for a bag of flour while the rest of Canada pays $5.  In other regions, “ethical” food is often out of reach for lower income individuals who cannot afford or don’t have access to ecologically sustainable foods.

Canada’s mandate from Trudeau is to develop a food policy that “promotes healthy living and safe food by putting more healthy, high-quality food, produced by Canadian ranchers and farmers, on the tables of families across the country.” Ethical food is often considered the purview of the small farmer.  PepsiCo (which has relied on the Sustainability Academy) is trying to change that perception with its mission to “Leave No Trace” throughout its entire business and supply chain.

Food policy must be interconnected and rooted in health, equity and sustainability, informed by sound research.  While Trudeau’s mandate is directed at the Minister of Agriculture, Canada is also integrating the mission into the science-oriented department of Fisheries and Ocean, emphasizing a strong certification and inspection program.

A systems approach requires input from many stakeholders.  The Canadian government has launched an online survey and “A Food Policy for Canada” consultations throughout the country.  They are uncovering the same food security issues faced worldwide: foreign influence on farming, urban food deserts, racial inequality, injustice to temporary farm workers, poverty, climate change, environment protection and diet-related diseases, to name a few.

As sustainability practitioners, a systems approach comes naturally.  But what are the key components?  Stakeholders?  Materiality considerations from industry to industry?  Even mining, affecting water resources, influences food security.  Sustainability practitioners, with their integrated understanding, are uniquely suited to address these concerns.

CSE covers these topics in its Certified Sustainability Practitioner Program (Advanced Edition 2017).  The two remaining North America dates are Toronto, Sept. 26-27, and San Diego, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2017.

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