Notes from Sept 15
The focus in these notes is on recurrent themes and interesting ideas regarding resolving our core questions. A recurrent theme is one that occurs regularly but is not necessarily named by a majority. But it has to be directly or indirectly referenced by many participants
Q1: How could the food system sustainably produce, process and distribute food and also generate resilience in the face of climate change?
Theme 1: We’re not being smart enough about the way we use our resources
Examples: soil, nutrient inefficiencies, crop rotations, land use and land ownership, energy inputs, dietary choices, food waste
Theme 2: We often emphasize technological solutions over design and management ones
Examples: inputs vs. crop rotation,
Theme 3: The structure of our economy often makes it more difficult to succeed when doing something related to environment, health and justice
Examples: Growth model, supply chains favour scale (limited incentives to support small suppliers), low farm income restricts risk taking, farmland economics
Theme 4: it’s not always clear who is accountable for assuring desirable change
Examples: Soil sustainability, technology development
Theme 5: we need better metrics, though data alone will not solve our problems. A lot of our challenges are emotional
Theme 6: not all food system actors are well respected and well treated by other parts of the supply chain and by the public
Theme 7: we’re not really paying attention to our vulnerabilities and the need to build resilience
Theme 8: Creating and maintaining public trust is challenging. Demographic shifts and international forces will affect food system function and trust dynamics, but we’re not really on top of that
Q2: Can we produce food sustainably and keep it affordable for low income people?
Theme 1: money isn’t well distributed, a significant part of the problem is income security system in Canada
Theme 2: social injustice is connected to climate change and other problems
Theme 3: what’s the balance of structural forces and individual behaviours that need shifting?
Ideas on solutions:
Do a better job of analyzing the life cycle of things, drawing the connecting threads
25% of every farm in perennial forages
Add .1%/yr/ac of soil organic C to take up 7-8 5 of atmospheric carbon, pay farmers to store carbon; change technology / management combinations like roller crimper in organic no-till; create greater nutrient use efficiencies
Vertical farming for specific crops in and around urban centres
More effective incentives to diversify farming – we have some, but they don’t appear to be sufficient to significantly drive change, uptake is modest
Have to build on land use planning improvements, including the Greenbelt
Agricultural Impact Assessments as part of growth plan review
Many examples of conflict resolution to create win-win scenarios
How to create more cooperation within supply chains, rather than competition, to address sustainability across the supply chain. Already examples of firms sharing plans, so what else might incentivize this kind of positive behaviour? How do we make these values we’re discussing relevant to the bottom line?
How do we create disincentives for the less desirable activities?
We need to rationalize the regulatory environment to support good things and suppress bad things
How do we access (often private) data for human betterment?
4-day work week to spread labour and ensure greater income
Guaranteed Annual Income
Distributed economic development
Changes to marginal tax rates to support higher income for low income people and increase taxation on high income earners