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Achieving Resilient Agricultural Systems: Innovation, People and Partnerships
November 13 and 14, 2008

Local food systems and urban-rural linkages - Description of Sub-Theme

In Canada growing numbers of consumers want to purchase and support food that has been harvested and produced locally. There are many dimensions to the benefits that local food systems can provide. Social and economic benefits include connections between rural and urban communities, the capacity for consumers to build direct relationships with farmers and better understand the origins of their food, increased local food security, and local economic growth. Rooftop gardens, community gardening, and urban gardening can foster a closer connection to food and an appreciation for food’s freshness and seasonality. Canadian consumers are also concerned about the contribution of long-distance food travel to climate change and see a local diet as a means to cut carbon emissions. In light of periodic reports of contaminated imported food, as well as Canada’s relatively strong food safety and environmental regulation and enforcement, local food may also be safer and may have had a less significant adverse impact on the environment than some imported products. It is becoming more apparent that local food systems can provide many social, economic, health, and environmental benefits. Faced with the global food crisis, one part of the solution may be to develop sustainable local food systems around the world to provide local food security. To ensure the resilience of Canada’s food system, policy makers will likely need to find a balance between local markets and markets dominated by international trade.

Participants at CIELAP’s workshop will share and discuss case studies to explore what elements and practices can strengthen local food systems and urban-rural linkages and, ultimately, foster resilience and advance sustainable development.

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