Resetting the Table: A People's Food Policy for Canada
The Story of the People's Food Policy Project
Have you ever wondered what happened behind the scenes of the People's Food Policy Project (2009-2011)?
Read Cathleen Kneen's (former chair of Food Secure Canada) account in,
Summary: The People's Food Policy Project (2008-2011) mobilized approximately 3,500 people across Canada in a grassroots process to develop a food sovereignty policy for Canada. It was remarkable not only for the number of people involved, but because it effectively introduced the concepts of food sovereignty in a Northern, wealthy country. Critically, it “walked the talk” through a process of participation which reflected food sovereignty principles of respect and inclusion of people, traditional knowledge, and the natural world. As a result, even where the term “food sovereignty” is not used, the essential notion that people can assert control over the decisions which guide their food systems is now widespread across the food movement in Canada. The project has also had a profound effect beyond the food movement, forcing public discussion of food policy in a very hostile political climate.
We hope that by sharing the story of the PFPP and its particular history and context, readers will see similarities and potential for using – not replicating – our experience to further the movement towards food sovereignty in their own locations.
The Context: Canada urgently needs a national food policy. Close to two and a half million Canadians are food insecure. Farmers and fishers are going out of business, our natural environment is being pushed to the limit, a quarter of Canadians are considered obese, and we are the only G8 country without a nationally-funded school meal program. The status quo is no longer an option.
The need for change is widely recognized and plans to develop national food policies or strategies are being advanced by many sectors, including all five federal political parties and influential industry groups. The People’s Food Policy is significantly different from these initiatives. It is the first-ever national food policy to be developed by the food movement itself – a diverse and dynamic network of organizations and individuals working to build a healthy, ecological and just food system for Canada.
The People’s Food Policy embodies a wave of concern, interest and action by citizens who are increasingly questioning how our current food system is organized. From connecting directly with food producers, to reclaiming indigenous food systems, to setting up food policy councils, people across Canada are taking actions daily that are transforming our food system from the ground up. These actions need to be translated into policy.
The Process: Over the course of two years, over 3500 Canadians participated in a groundbreaking grassroots project to define paths towards a food system that can provide adequate amounts of healthy, acceptable, and accessible food for all. The People’s Food Policy is based on ten detailed policy discussion papers. These discussion papers were generated through an extensive process that included three hundred and fifty Kitchen Table Talks, hundreds of policy submissions, dozens of tele-conferences, ongoing online discussions, and three cross-Canada conferences. These discussion papers include both whole-of-government policy recommendations and concrete guidelines for how the proposed changes can be put into action.
The Proposal: The People’s Food Policy is rooted in the concept of food sovereignty. This is an internationally-recognized approach where food is viewed as a primary foundation for healthy lives, communities, economies and eco-systems. Key elements include:
- Ensuring that food is eaten as close as possible to where it is produced (eg,: domestic/regional purchasing policies for institutions and large food retailers, community-supported agriculture, local farmers markets, etc.).
- Supporting food providers in a widespread shift to ecological production in both urban and rural settings (eg, organic agriculture, community-managed fisheries, indigenous food systems, etc.), including policies for the entry of new farmers into agriculture.
- Enacting a strong federal poverty elimination and prevention program, with measurable targets and timelines, to ensure Canadians can better afford healthy food.
- Creating a nationally-funded Children and Food strategy (including school meal programs, school gardens, and food literacy programs) to ensure that all children at all times have access to the food required for healthy lives.
- Ensuring that the public, especially the most marginalized, are actively involved in decisions that affect the food system.
For detailed policy recommendations and analysis, please refer to Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada (1.6 MB pdf) as well as the ten accompanying policy discussion papers below.
Policy Discussion Papers
The following 10 policy discussion papers capture the many ideas and conversations that came out of our Kitchen Table Talks (2010-2011). They are living documents, recognizing that we are constantly evolving and expanding these ideas.
Resetting the Table: A People's Food Policy for Canada captures the top policy priorities from each of these papers.
A huge congratulations to the many people who contributed their time and wisdom to these papers.
The People's Food Commission, which took place between 1977 and 1980, was part of the inspiration for the People's Food Policy Project. Its final report was called The Land of Milk and Money.
|The Land of Milk and Money small.pdf||6.69 MB|
- 1. Indigenous Food Sovereignty
- 2. Food Sovereignty in Rural and Remote Communities
- 3. Access to Food in Urban Communities
- 4. Agriculture, Infrastructure and Livelihoods
- 5. Sustainable Fisheries and Livelihoods for Fishers
- 6. Environment and Agriculture
- 7. Science and Technology for Food and Agriculture
- 8. International Food Policy
- 9. Healthy and Safe Food for All
- 10. Food Democracy and Governance
- About Us
- What's New
- Get Involved
- Northern Food Network
- Provincial / Territorial Food Networks
- Local and Sustainable Food Systems Network
- Children and Food Network
- YOUTH CAUCUS
- Community Academic Collaborative
- Learn More
- Become a Member