Once Upon a Tomorrow – how growing food can empower and nurture children as active agents in sustainable communities
Nicole Holzapfel, PhD student
Food systems (FSs) play a significant and powerful role in shaping our health, the livelihood of our communities, and the ecological well-being of our planet. While they can help create healthy and resilient communities (Blay-Palmer, 2010; Seyfang, 2009; Marsden, 2008) our current FSs “exists within the general framework of the industrial economy” (Kirschenmann, 2008, p. 109). With Kirschenmann’s statement in mind, I am particularly interested in the question of how a FS impacts children and how it can empower them.
I am curious to explore the empowering potential of Sustainable Food Systems (SFSs) for positive social change and mental healing for a community of traumatized children living in residential care. Children’s participation in their community is key to their empowerment (Matthews, 2003). In agreement with Morrow (1999), food is identified as an eligible vehicle of participation for children of all ages. With a focus on children, I will explore the empowering and healing potential of food and its intersections with SFSs, sustainable communities, social justice, social capital, therapeutic landscapes, and care ethics in theory. A case study will serve to scrutinize my theoretical findings and to gather original data on the research matter.
Exploring Dimensions of the Community Nutrition Worker Program in Region of Waterloo
Paula Bryk, MES
With obesity rates in the Region of Waterloo surpassing the provincial average for obesity in each age category and a foodscape colonized by added-value processed pseudo foods, the need for nutrition knowledge and food skilling is evident. Cooking skills and food knowledge are most often learned from mothers and from cooking classes at school. With the absence of cooking skills in the Ontario school curriculum, and the deskilling of the population at large by the agro-food industry, it is not surprising that many eaters neither understand the complexities of the food system nor know how to cook from scratch. A survey of self-rated food skill levels in Waterloo Region revealed that confidence varied with the type of skill being assessed and it was generally found that simple food preparation techniques were fairly prevalent, whereas skills involving more complex food knowledge such as adjusting a recipe to make it healthier or preserving fruit and vegetables were limited. Not knowing how to cook can limit food choice and can make it more difficult to maintain a nutritionally complete diet.
Evaluation of Sustainable Marine Product Labels and Eco-Certification Programs
Mike Nagy, MES
Multiple stresses experienced by community based wild fisheries have resulted in dramatic declines in fish stocks. Much of this has been a result of poor fishing practices that result in, for example: overharvesting, habitat destruction, and non-target species mortality. Compounding these ecological challenges, there has been a dramatic decline in global small-scale fisheries for several decades due, in part, to policy shifts and economic drivers that favour large-scale resource exploitation. In an attempt to revitalise this industry currently seen as environmentally unsustainable by many critics and a growing percentage of the general population, (Worm et al 2006), eco-labels and other types of environmental approval certification programs have emerged. A key goal is to offer consumers real or perceived sustainable fish products. This thesis will evaluate the relevance and legitimacy of such certification programs with the overall goals of determining whether these programs are: 1. Effective in preserving fish stocks; 2. Endorsed by community supported fisheries; and, 3. Themselves legitimate and adequate. In simple terms, the fundamental question is, are these labels ‘greenwashing’ activities or are they actually delivering benefits to both fishers/fishing communities and the related ecosystem/fish stocks as well? This question will be answered not only from an environmental perspective but also from a social justice/socio-economic aspect. More detail and specific questions are outlined further in this proposal however it is important to note that this thesis will be approaching this issue from a Canadian perspective and seeks to determine what resources if any should be invested in current eco-labelling programs or if an alternate course of action is more appropriate.
An Apple A Day: Exploring Food and Agricultural Knowledge and Skill among Children in southern Ontario
Shannon Kornelsen, MES
While the literature on food has somewhat addressed rudimentary food skills and their importance in the creation and maintenance of a healthy population, there remains a serious lack of research into the importance of food and agricultural skills and knowledge transference to children, especially given the rise in diet-related illnesses. This study focuses on the perceived importance of food and agricultural education initiatives, as well as the opportunities and barriers that exist within the elementary school classroom to incorporate food and agricultural topics, in the context of southern Ontario, specifically Wellington County. Drawing on Wilkin’s concept of ‘food citizenship’ as a desirable end goal of alternative food movements, food and agricultural education presence in the curriculum is researched for its potential contribution to healthy, active communities.
The research highlights experiences and insights through key informant interviews with teachers, parents, School Board employees, nutritionists, and people involved in relevant community organizations, to determine the current role that formal secondary-level public educational institutions, and the educators within them, play in the dissemination of food and agricultural knowledge and skill. More specifically, the questions asked focus on what opportunities exist for teachers to enable and assist their students in becoming food citizens, and specifically: in what ways does the provincial curriculum as it currently exists, lend support to teachers, who can then enable students to become food citizens? And perhaps most importantly, do food skills and knowledge contribute to the holistic development of young people?
This study used a qualitative approach, through the use of key informant interviews and curriculum analysis. Research findings indicate that food and agricultural education is seen as important to respondents, and that there are a number of complex opportunities for and barriers to including these topics in classrooms and encouraging greater food citizenship in young people.
Food Insecurity in the Land of Plenty: the Windermere Valley Paradox
Alison Bell, University of Adelaide, MA Gastronomy
The shift in thinking about land use, from its importance for both its rural beauty and food production, to its attractiveness for purely recreational purposes, has brought about a marked change to the sustainability and social fabric of the Windermere Valley in South-eastern British Columbia. Those looking for a place to “get away from it all” are arriving in droves and the sudden increase in population and the seemingly unchecked growth in the area has been far-reaching. It is the transformation from agri-culture to recre-culture in the Windermere Valley and the resultant impact on local food security that was the motivation for this paper.
Urban Agriculture in Kingston: Present and Future Potential for Re-Localization and Sustainability
Sunny Lam, MES, Queen’s University
Urbanization and the globalization of the food system are causing social, environmental, economic and political problems worldwide. Rapid urbanization is increasing environmental degradation and food insecurity. Urban agriculture is one tool for sustainable development that has the potential to provide food or related services within or on the edges of urban areas. The goal of this research was to determine the current situation and the future potential of urban agriculture in Kingston. A literature review, questionnaires, interviews and case studies were used to determine the perceptions of relevant stakeholders, barriers and ways to overcome those barriers. Conservative estimates of urban agriculture's value to Kingston's environmental, social, community health, food security and economic dimensions were made through modeling. Study participants demonstrated a relatively greater awareness of environmental and community benefits of urban agriculture compared to food security, health or economic benefits. Modeling and calculations indicated that urban agriculture could contribute at least $190 to $860 million per year in positive environmental, health and economic benefits. Modeling indicated that sourcing more local urban produced foods could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 1300 to 14000 tonnes annually for 39 common fresh fruits and vegetables. Urban agriculture could meet the fresh fruits and vegetables needs of up to 76% or more of the Kingston CMA population. There appeared to be 5600 ha of area in the inner-city that could be used for food production. Major challenges identified were perceptions of limited space, limited resources and education. Recommendations to address these challenges are also provided. Overall, urban agriculture has potential to contribute to sustainability in Kingston.