Wayne has had an illustrious career and is a visionary in the field of food policy. Here are a few examples of what some people are saying about Wayne and his work.
It has been a privilege to have you as a public health colleague for the past 10 years and to have been one of the Toronto Public Health beneficiaries of your wisdom, knowledge, and passion in the world of food. Oh…and I must add, your amazing sense of humour.
The Toronto Food Policy Council remains a model for other jurisdictions across North America, and is a testament to your vision and leadership. Your brilliant thinking, together with creative, yet practical approaches, helped us to think about food and health from multiple perspectives. Your understanding of the “convening power of food” situated our health promotion work with communities in a unique and transformative way. Wayne, you also played a pivotal role in moving our collective thinking to embracing a food systems approach, where environmental sustainability, economic development and social justice contribute to a health-focused food system.
As you embark on this next career phase, Wayne, I wish you health, happiness, and a sustained healthy appetite for great food and fine wine!
Director, Policy and Planning, Toronto Public Health
I feel compelled to respond right away on Wayne’s alleged retirement. The urban food movement owes him a huge debt of gratitude because, of all the people doing inspiring work around the world, he has done more to raise the profile of urban food policy than anyone I know. Ever since we met at a breakfast table in Kingston, I’ve come to realise that Wayne embodies three things that play well in the world of food politics:
1. Intellectually, he totally understands the convening power of food. This means that people come to food politics from an infinite variety of backgrounds, especially from public health, social justice, ethnic, cultural and environmental backgrounds. In the nightmare world of postmodern politics, where diversity and difference are extolled over commonality and solidarity, the convening power of food can bring people together like nothing else;
2. Politically, he knows better than most people that good ideas are not enough, that they don’t sell themselves. He helped me to understand that every department in a city government needs to be part of the solution; otherwise it’s part of the problem. Every department has a food policy, it’s just that some practice it by design (and get values for money by celebrating its multiple benefits) while others practice it by default (and end up with the worst deal of all because low cost has been allowed to masquerade as best value). Wayne also embodied what I would call the new food politics: instead of advocating a new food dept in every city government, the old politics, he realised that it was much better to persuade existing depts to incorporate food in their plans because food could help them to meet their targets. In this way, every dept became an ambassador for food. The TFPC is an exemplary exponent of this way of thinking and doing and it is a tribute to Wayne and his colleagues, that it is now a beacon for food policy councils in North America and Europe;
3. Socially, he’s fun company. Drawing on a heady mix of passion and knowledge, his presentations are always leavened by humour, a quality that is often missing in mainstream politics (except when the hubris of our political leaders renders them inadvertently funny).
If these three qualities could be bottled it would make a potent potion that could be sold to city governments around the world. Wayne should consider this idea because, while he may be stepping down from the TFPC, I don’t believe retirement is in his DNA. Have a great party.
Warm wishes from Wales
Kevin Morgan teaches City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University in Wales; he is the author of several books, including Local and Green, Global and Fair…. and The School Food Revolution…
Wayne possesses a natural curiosity for how people come together to solve life’s challenges and demonstrates a deep and genuine concern for building truly sustainable food systems - from the farmers that grow the food right through to the families sitting down to a meal. Wayne draws from examples from all over the world and from right in your community to create thought provoking and entertaining food presentations on what we are doing wrong, how we can start to get it right and best of all how solutions are not just doable but in many ways natural answers to many of our problems. Wayne is the type of speaker who will not just give you an hours information and entertainment but will leave you thinking for days.
Wayne rubs shoulders easily in a farm crowd and he loves to share in a laugh at himself and the occasional absurdity of our world. After hearing Wayne present folks are keen for a chance to sit down with him for a coffee or a beer and continue the conversation.Don Mills, National Farmers Union , vice-presidentDon Mills
I’ve heard you speak many times now, but last night was far and away your best. Not only was your message thoughtful and full of years of observation, but your delivery was excellent.
Well done and thanks for coming to our hills.
Nicola Ross, Alternatives Journal
After many years of work with Wayne Roberts I can attest to the fact that he
is a true leader in the field of food – from policy and research, to
programs and partnerships. Wayne has been an author, a public speaker, a
facilitator, a convener, an advisor, and a mentor. Wayne is a great
listener, and deeply understand the importance of context is any situation.
Most recently Wayne was an expert advisor for an urban transportation
session we organized called “MOVE”. He served as a resource for a group of
young designers Evergreen, George Brown College Institute without Boundaries
and Metrolinx pulled together, and the group prepared a brilliant showpiece
on the future of food and transportation. He is a terrific resource for any
workshop and I’d recommend him to anyone putting on a strategy workshop.
Executive Director, Evergreen, Centre for Green Cities, 550 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, ON, M4W 3X8 Phone: 416-596-1495 ext 229, Mobile: 416-560-3774
Wayne’s work in food policy has been an inspiration to me for a long time. However, the most valuable part of his mentorship has been his ‘zen-master’ approach to building relationships that are authentic and effective. His message is being a good partner is as important (maybe more important) as working with a good partner. Through acknowledgement and honesty, we improve communication and build trust. Understanding his approach helps to explain how he has been so successful. He doesn’t share tricks of the trade but rather teaches a mindful, goal-oriented approach that emphasizes kindness and collaboration.
Julia Bryan, Director at Loving Spoonful
Wayne Roberts is the best speaker and writer on food (and lots of other) topics that I know. I can’t take a bite of my dinner without reflecting on the many things that Wayne has taught me about what that food is, how it got there, who benefited and who suffered in the process, and who, and who does, not share in the bounty. Wayne is simply the best communicator about the social context of food.
Walt Palmer, Sustainable Aviation Advocate & Retired Air Canada Captain
I invited Wayne to be the keynote speaker during the ‘Day of Urban Farming’, the first nationwide conference about this topic in The Netherlands for city planners and food enthusiasts. I invited him, because of his worldwide reputation as a food policy analyst and especially because of his pioneering work for the Toronto Food Policy Council. Wayne made the expectations I had more than true and he was one of the main reasons the event (with 350 people attending) became a huge success. I was impressed by how seriously Wayne studied up on our local situation. During the two days of tours with me in and around the cities of Almere and Rotterdam, he showed a lot of warm, sincere and professional interest in the projects and the people involved and I was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm he spread. In the morning part of the conference, he had a one hour keynote which has been evaluated very well by the participants and which had an impact throughout the entire day. In two hours of Questions and Answers (one hour for government officials and one for food organizers), he showed a remarkable, impressive knowledge of and experience about urban farming and urban food issues in general. We could easily have filled many more hours, because the participants had so many more issues they wanted to hear Wayne’s opinion about. During and after the conference, more comments on Twitter were made than for any other talk I have organized. Perhaps the most important thing: Wayne is a very charming, enthusiastic, easygoing, interested and warm person, always with a smile and with a great sense of humor. That makes him easy and a lot of fun to work with
Guido Van Rijkom
Thank you so much for your wonderful talks at our event on Saturday!
They were perfect, and I am glad that you were able to tie them so well to
our situation. I have had a lot of good comments about the event and I think
people really enjoyed it.
Brian Wiley,REACH Huron
Community Food Centre Project Coordinator
I assign Wayne Roberts’ No-Nonsense Guide to World Food in my large introductory Environmental Studies class (the class is organized around food). The students very much enjoy it. Last semester I contacted Wayne to see if he’d be able to join our class via Skype. The students loved having the opportunity to ask him questions directly. Wayne is a knowledgable, engaging, and inspiring presence (and very funny to boot!). Students noted Wayne’s e-visit as one of the absolute highlights of the course.
James K. Rowe
School of Environmental Studies
University of Victoria
Wayne Roberts is a dynamic and persuasive speaker with an unparalleled knowledge of food and food systems. In small workshops and seminars, his dialogical approach engages the audience in open-ended discussions of all facets of food. Drawing on his deep experience in the field of food, Wayne thoughtfully addresses issues and problems that audience members raise, while adding insights into questions they may not have known about. He always leaves people inspired, informed and in touch.
Jennifer Sumner, PhD
Director, Certificate Program in Adult Education for Sustainability
OISE/University of Toronto
Metaphor Woman meets Metaphor Man! Live doesn’t get much better! Did I mention how inspirational you are? or what fun?
Carolyn Steel, Author, Hungry City: How Food Shares Our Lives
“You Keynote address was inspiring, educative and entertaining. You gave us clear direction about how we can make a difference and left us all feeling motivated to work hard for positive changes…”
Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition