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5. Food Systems in British Columbia

Confronting the Frontiers

The contemporary food system has pushed the edge of agriculture in many ways. The expansion of agriculture in tandem with rapid population growth and urbanization has led to many agriculture-urban conflicts. The case study on the Agricultural Land Reserve details policy responses to these agricultural-urban conflicts.

In addition, recent concern over the geographic expansion of genetically engineered agricultural products (or genetically modified organisms; GMOs) such as alfalfa and the Arctic apple have led to protests for labelling foods and for applying the Precautionary Principle (a principle that should be applied to the use of genetically modified (GM) food crops concerning human health) to further adoption in order to limit impacts on organic farms.

The increased attention to food system issues in BC has led to a number of political and social trends aimed at changing our understanding of food systems:

  • The 100-mile diet,[1] which originated in the Lower Mainland, challenges adopters to eat locally (within 100 miles of their home).
  • There is increasing attention on providing better access to seed sources and a variety of seeds through local seed companies.
  • The number of organic producers has increased over the last 20 years.
  • Province-wide food organizations such as the BC Food Systems Network (BCFSN)[2] and more local food policy councils challenge municipal governments to adopt strategies and plans to support local food security – often through support for urban agriculture.
  • The movement toward urban agriculture has led to some innovative work in social justice by organizations such as Sole Foods  [3] and small entrepreneurs engaged in alternative production methods such as SPIN-farming (s-mall p-lot in-tensive).
  • Groups such the Young Agrarians[4] seek alternative ways for young people to access farmland in those regions where access is difficult because of the high cost of entry (due to both limited amounts of land and speculative dynamics of land markets).

  1. 100 Mile Diet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_100-Mile_Diet
  2. BC Food Systems Network http://bcfsn.org
  3. Sole Foods website http://solefoodfarms.com
  4. Young Agrarians website http://youngagrarians.org

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