Session 1

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