5. Food Systems in British Columbia

Introduction

What is a food system? What type of food systems promote food security? What is the geography of food security? What food products are produced in British Columbia? Where do food products from British Columbia go and why? Why was Atlantic salmon British Columbia’s main agricultural export for 2013?

The study of the geography of food systems attempts to answer these and many more questions.

This chapter focuses on the concept of food systems. A food system encompasses cultural foodways in addition to the production, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing, exchange, consumption and disposal or post-consumption treatment of food and food-related items.

Food systems encapsulate some of the most basic ways in which humans interact with their environment, including a range of historical agricultural practices. A food systems approach thus allows us to reveal the socio-spatial relations that contextualize practices around food.

The British Columbia (BC) food system encompasses diverse cultural foodways from its immigrant populations, some of the most prolific salmon runs in the world, a growing seafood sector, a large animal husbandry sector and a diverse agribusiness food (agrifoods) industry that is highly integrated into the global marketplace. The contemporary BC food system plays a critical role in both regional food security and globalized food regimes characteristic of 21st century agribusiness.