As health problems pile up, Toronto creates a new urban food strategy

As health problems pile up, Toronto creates a new urban food strategy

Dr. David McKeown (Photo by Toronto Emergency Management Symposium)

The board of health is proposing a new food strategy that hopes to provide families across the city with better access to food. The public health department released its consultation paper this week and hopes to have some solid ideas presented to city council by the end of the spring. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health, told the Globe:

The food system that we have now, broadly, was developed in the postwar period and was really designed to keep prices low and maximize the amount of food that goes out there. But that food, despite the fact that food prices are relatively low historically, is still not affordable for people who are of low income.

Among the other food-related problems that Toronto is going through: child obesity, families unable to feed themselves, neighbourhoods that don’t have access to quality food, and farmers leaving the Greenbelt to work in fields with a bigger yield. McKeown suggests such initiatives as “food programs, community gardens and communal food education.”

Though admirable, this sounds a little like a beauty pageant contestant saying she wants world peace. Still, we commend the city for taking positive steps (today’s municipal budget shows some enthusiasm for children’s programs). The Globe lists three other cities whose food initiatives did make a difference: London, Vancouver and Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Here’s hoping Toronto will make it onto a similar list in the future.

Urban food strategy unveiled [Globe and Mail]
• City takes aim at ‘food deserts’ [Toronto Star]