Life of Bryan: Working the magic of sustainable food’s sweet spot

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Brian Gilvesy is one of Canada’s most-recognized farm innovators, as well as one of the country’s best-known leaders of the food movement. That combination is unusual in any region or country—one of the ways that Gilvesy exemplifies both the hallmarks of the food movement in Canada, as well as the unique components of agro-ecology as [...]

Students, Activists Tackle Body Size and Equity Issues at New College Panel

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Katie LeBesco was the main course at the New College Global Food Equity initiative’s public lecture on obesity politics, but the pièce de résistance was the panel that followed. First to speak was Asam Ahmad, coordinator of It Gets Fatter, a body-positivity project serving people of colour dealing with fat issues, who launched with a zinger: he said he [...]

‘Ugly fruit’ finally breaks through to supermarket shelves

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There’s a lot to learn from Loblaws decision to sell less attractively shaped fruit and vegetables for 30 per cent less than their more stylish counterparts on the other side of the produce runway. Loblaws is not only the leading supermarket in Canada. It’s also a retailing pioneer that draws on the marketing knowhow of [...]

The Bogeyman of Obesity: Katie Lebesco Talks Fat Activism and Body Politics at New College

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When I was a kid growing up in the “happy days” era, anyone who was the slightest bit different – I mean slightly, as in having freckles, a cowlick, glasses, a limp, a speech impediment, a twitch or accent, or being shy, skinny (me), fat, or even queasy if someone put a frog put down [...]

Africa’s women-driven agriculture movement a blueprint for a brighter future

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Few areas of the world live up to this year’s International Women’s Day theme to “Make it Happen” as well as the isolated villages of eastern Africa  — where most women grow, process and cook food, often as the sole head of the family. This may surprise people who think of the women’s rights movement [...]

The Brazil Food Guide: Look at food differently in 2015

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This is the year we can all look to Brazil’s Food Guide for tips on how to consider what we eat in a new light. Brazil is best known in the food and health worlds for its Zero Hunger program, launched in 2003 in what was then known as the most unequal country in the [...]

Five Ways to Watch Your “Wasteline” and Get Creative with Food Waste

Despite minimal publicity, students had to sign up weeks in advance to reserve a seat for a packed food event held on November 24 in the cavernous William Doo Auditorium at the University of Toronto’s New College. Was the huge crowd lured by a professional event organizer offering samples of exquisite delicacies and a chance [...]

Food activists celebrate gains at Halifax conference

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One of the oldest of essential human needs, food energizes Canada’s newest social movement, which entered the scene long after the labour, human rights and women’s movements — all of which predated the global rise of neoliberalism. If the 500 food advocates attending six plenaries and 50 workshops at the Halifax conference of Food Secure [...]

Agroecology at New: World Food Days, Part 3

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This year, several United Nations identified agroecology as a strategy of food production that is central to dealing with hunger, human rights and environmental crises. This October, New College added to this discussion by hosting a mini-conference to celebrate World Food Day and ask if agroecology is pushing out agriculture as “the next new thing” in food [...]

Agroecology at New: World Food Days, Part 2

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Dr. Filiberto Penados gives new meaning to the term, “visiting professor”. He travels regularly from his Central American home in Belize to lecture at New College and elsewhere at U of T for the Equity Studies, Aboriginal Studies, Caribbean Studies, Human Biology and New One: Learning Without Borders programs. In Belize, he directs the Institute [...]

Rejoice! Toronto’s civic system may yet save the city from itself

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On October 27, Toronto voters reverted to type by electing one middle-of-the-road (or is it subway?) mayor, and a grand total of seven fresh faces on a City Council of 44 members. Some candidates lose elections, but the government always wins, cynics may be tempted to say. But the deeper causes of such political stability [...]

Collaborating On Food: An Interview With Wayne Roberts

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Sustain Ontario spoke to Wayne Roberts, food policy expert and author of The No Nonsense Guide to World Food and Food for City Building: A Field Guide for Planners, Actionists & Entrepreneurs (2014). For 10 years, Wayne was the chair of the Toronto Food Policy Council, a group internationally renowned for being the first food policy council embedded within a major [...]

Agroecology at New: World Food Days, Part 1

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Agroecology doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but there’s no doubting it’s this year’s buzz word at conferences and publications from multiple UN agencies dealing with food, hunger, human rights and the environment. Lori Stahlbrand, New College Food Systems Coordinator and organizer of the College’s World Food Days events, held  from October 15-17, says this fall [...]

Wayne ROBERTS – Fixing food not only solves food problems

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On July 5th, 2014 International Urban Food Network (IUFN) interviewed Wayne Roberts about his latest book Food for city Building, A Field Guide for Planners, Actionists & Entrepreneurs. The original article can be found here: http://www.iufn.org/en/iufninterview/interview-wayne-roberts/ Part memoir, part manual, part manifesto, Wayne’s latest book Food for city Building, A Field Guide for Planners, Actionists & Entrepreneurs, [...]

Wayne Roberts on the Food Movement 2.0

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On June 27th, 2014 Colleen Kimmett interviewd Wayne Roberts for Farm to Cafeteria Canada.  Wayne Roberts  describes himself as the “Mr. Magoo” of municipal food policy; often stumbling and frequently saved by luck (the kind that comes from years of practice.) Roberts has decades of experience as a community organizer, and from 2000 to 2010 served [...]

A Q&A with Food Policy Analyst, Writer and Visiting Scholar Dr. Wayne Roberts

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There is no denying it: New College cares about food equity and sustainability. Food equity has long been a theme in our course offerings; our Audrey Taylor Dining Hall offers local and sustainable fare; and during the most recent academic year we hired a Food Systems Coordinator, Lori Stahlbrand, to promote food scholarship and plan related [...]

Sharing the School Meal Potluck

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Before I knew what was happening, an information-sharing meeting of 50 people that I was moderating at FoodShare, Say Yes! to Good Healthy Food in Schools,on November 28 turned into an info potluck – the best thing to happen to my understanding of school meals in a long time and an example of what a [...]

MealExchange asks: How can you summarize Wayne Roberts?

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By: Sarah Archibald How can you summarize Wayne Roberts? With great difficulty - Wayne is a wealth of information about all things food. But I’ll try to relay the highlights of last week’sFoodShare event that also featured speakers and inspiration from food movement leaders and thinkers Debbie Field of FoodShare, Jeff Westman of California Farmlink, and Tony Winson from [...]

‘The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food’ is Food Tank’s “must read” books of Fall 2013

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Four times a year, Food Tank handpicks a selection of books that have recently educated, inspired, and informed their organization.  This fall, Food Tank chose my latest publication, the second edition of the No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, to be on their ‘must read’ list! Check out their insight into my book as well as [...]

Whose land? The displacement of the Mississauga has left Toronto with a major cultural deficit

Toronto is developing a new tagline that’s much more appealing than Hogtown, Toronto the Good or the big smoke. Now we have “Toronto, traditional territory of the Mississauga,” a phrase that opens political meetings these days as speakers remind participants whose land and legacy we are standing on. Even Premier Wynne says it. But new [...]

The Case for Food Hubs

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By Wayne Roberts and Lori Stahlbrand Each week during the school year, students and staff at the Palgrave Public School dig into a lunch of fresh, healthy food. On a recent Thursday this past June, the $5 “healthy crunch” salad bar featured an array of lettuce, carrots, zucchini, orange slices, sweet potato quesadillas and strawberry [...]

Quebec City Uses Food as Pioneer Species of Urban Revival

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By sheer luck, our family stumbled on a little-known urban success story while looking for a place to crash in Quebec City that offered direct access to the throughway to northern Quebec, where our daughter was going to learn French. Right next to Quebec City’s famous central core, preserved as a walled monument of an [...]

Getting to the Right Question on the Nutrient Benefits of Organic Food

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The international media had a field day headlining a Stanford university study dissing the nutritional benefits of organic food. I hope it’s not too late for me to ask a few questions that might steer the debate in a more useful direction. I would like the media to explain why a study that was not [...]

Green Infrastructure and Food

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I started my research by typing “crumbling” into Google, and as soon as I hit the first letter in the second word,  up popped “crumbling infrastructure.” I think that shows a lot of people are tracking what is often called a silent crisis of aging sewage and water pipes, bridges, filtration plants and the like. [...]

My dirty secret

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Weird as it seems, this summer’s scary news stories about drought and global water crisis took a load off my shoulders – and allowed me to come clean with a dirty secret I’ve kept from neighbours and friends for almost 20 years. It goes back to an article I wrote during the early 1990s about [...]

No water, no crops: how this year’s North American drought will impact you

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I can’t figure out why Mark Twain is considered such a smarty pants for noticing that people always talk about the weather but never do anything about it. If people talk about the weather – this summer’s drought, and its likely impact on runaway food prices and forest fires – that’s deep folk wisdom recognizing [...]

Forest Gardens in Honduras make the best of two worlds

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The drought parching harvests in several of the world’s most productive food baskets is the summer’s hottest global food story. Eerily, it’s matched by the season’s hottest archeological finding, which comes across as a cautionary tale. Benjamin Cook, who sifts through mountains of computerized data rather than dusting off shards of pottery like old-fashioned archeologists, [...]

Book Reviews: Avant Gardeners Awake! Food systems affect everything from pollution to mental health.

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Food pairs well with writing. Writerly minds are attracted to the food and agriculture scene, and the food and ag scene comes across well on the printed page. It may be because food, agriculture and writing occupations all rely on compulsive-obsessive passion as the substitute for a financial motive for staying in the—pardon the pun—field. [...]

Can Main Street shops stop the traffic jam blues?

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Going for a drive along a nearby street isn’t my usual idea of a good conversation starter or a way to get to know someone, but it was all for a good cause, so I gave it a try—and ended up seeing the internal workings of my main street for the first time. My assignment [...]

How Food Will Make Edmonton: check out a recent talk I gave in Edmonton, Alberta

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I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation at Edmonton’s Food in the City Conference.  Check out my video below!   http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/how-food-will-make-edmonton-a.aspx?doAutoPlay=true. 

New City Moves Help Wipe Away Tears After Rio +20

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Suppose they held a United Nations  conference on sustainability and nobody came? As much as leaders of global citizen groups have tried to rally world opinion around the June 20-22 Rio + 20 conference with a petition called The World We Don’t Want — a cute slam at the official declaration called The World We [...]

Mental Health Report Shows Need for Screening Questions on Food

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Crazy as it sounds, the Mental Health Commission of Canada – appointed in 2007 by Canada’s Conservatives and received respectfully when its report was released last week – has just tabled Canada’s first- ever mental health strategy. There’s a good chance that a prominent group’s rethink on  mental illness can also provoke some public discussions on how [...]

Human Rights Investigator Hits Sore Point in Review of Canada’s Food Scene

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Nothing befit Olivier de Schutter’s tour of Canada’s food security situation as his leaving it. Two senior federal cabinet ministers heaped scorn on this soft-spoken, mild-mannered and unfailingly-polite Belgian law professor’s May 16 report on inadequate human rights protection in Canadian food policy. The insulting and dismissive response galvanized Canada’s typically localized and health-focused food [...]

Japan’s Earthquake

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The world is still reeling and shaking from afterthoughts of what happened in March, 2011 when Japan was hit by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, which exposed how vulnerable all basic institutions have become when Nature acts up—something bound to happen anywhere or anytime in this era of climate change and global transmission of hard-to-treat [...]

Mental Health Report Shows Need for Screening Questions on Food

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Crazy as it sounds, the Mental Health Commission of Canada – appointed in 2007 by Canada’s Conservatives and received respectfully when its report was released last week – has just tabled Canada’s first- ever mental health strategy. There’s a good chance that bringing that a prominent group’s rethink on  mental illness can also provoke some [...]

Green Roof Schools

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The conflict between sound financial axiom and ludicrous financial dogma will hit the roof at Toronto city council sometime between May 11 and 13  — appropriately enough on the issue of whether schools will be exempted from the city’s much-celebrated green roof bylaw – the first in North America. As with any roof, there’s a [...]

Cities May Look Left to Protect Their Future as Centers of Innovations and Development

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It was called “re-imagining our cities,” but the summit was just as much about re-imagining Canada’s social democrats — the New Democratic Party, now positioning itself as a national government in waiting. At one of its first public events since electing Tom Mulcair federal leader, an invitation-only conference hosted by the federal NDP and York [...]

Resource Revolution

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Did you hear the one about a physicist, a chemist, and an economist who were stranded on a desert island without any food, when all of a sudden a can of beans was washed ashore? The physicist identifies the pressure points in the can and proposes pounding it with a rock until there’s an opening. [...]

Revolting Food Trends of 2011-2012

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Four uprisings of global significance surprised the world in 2011, and the spirit of all four will surprise those who manage the food system in 2012—which leads to my choice of year-end and year-beginning  indicators that pick up the colors of these uprisings in emerging habits related to eating. North American sales of local food [...]

Assets in the Dirt: Even if bank economists like Drummond can’t add them up, Ontario has lots we can bank on

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The people of Ontario have taken two weeks of being kicked in the assets following the release of bank economist Don Drummond’s report on government overspending. The document is one-third wake-up call (we’re spending a lot of money very inefficiently), one-third call to arms for some bold eco-economic thinking and one-third shock therapy designed to [...]

Designs on equality: City planning is a mechanism of discrimination – it mainly serves the able-bodied

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Okay, I admit it, the Canadian Urban Institute’s new report doesn’t exactly have a catchy title. But don’t be deceived – Repositioning Age-Friendly Communities: Opportunities To Take AFC Mainstream, far from being a staid policy tract, is actually counselling a radical shakeup in the way cities plan. The operative phrase is “universal design,” and the [...]

The waist in Rob Ford’s Weight Loss Challenge: Mayor Ford’s 2-pounds-a-week ambition casts will power in a heroic role that can’t prevail

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Whatever happens in his 330-pound challenge, Mayor Rob Ford has a lot to gain or lose politically from the big publicity splash of his pledge to cut 50 pounds, the halfway mark for his long-term commitment to a healthier weight. The problem is, any effort to cut 2 pounds a week for six months can’t [...]

Have a Gratitudinous New Year

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One of the first lessons most of us learned at our mother’s knee about table manners. Hold back before gobbling the grub, and share a moment with everyone at the table to say “grace,” or some toast for all there is to be grateful for. At the end of the meal, at the very latest, [...]

Revolting Food Trends of 2011-12

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Four uprisings of global significance surprised the world in 2011, and the spirit of all four will surprise those who manage the food system in 2012—which leads to my choice of year-end and year-beginning  indicators that pick up the colors of these uprisings in emerging habits related to eating. North American sales of local food [...]

Fairly Good Success Story Hits a Snag

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Fair Trade sales have skyrocketed to 70 times what they were a decade ago, but  – here comes the bad news – Fair Traders are now suffering from their first serious food fight. Fair trade practices have been especially helpful for coffee farmers around the world. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack) Fair Trade is the best-known [...]

Food’s a trip, Actually a Baker’s Dozen of Trips

photo credit; http://www.naturallygoodfood.com

By Wayne Roberts Citywatch: Whether it’s action or traction in the food world, cities are stepping up to the plate. The world is fast going urban, as are challenges of social, economic and environmental well-being. Citywatch is crucial to Worldwatch. Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the world-renowned Toronto Food Policy Council, has his eye out for [...]

Processing Methods May Move Nutrition to Food Movement Center Stage

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Take a pass on food guides, ingredient pyramids, and with any diet books that feature pro-carb, anti-carb, low-fat or packaged solutions of any sort. The emphasis of the food movement may be shifting towards nutrition and the fight against heavily processed foods. Go fresh! The whole field of nutrition – all the way from basic [...]

How City Food can Bridge the Urban-Rural Divide

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It’s a given that better food habits can help cure what ails individual bodies that are overweight or undernourished, but what if better food habits on the part of city governments can just as effectively help cure what ails the body politic. Our current urban-rural divide needs to be addressed if we want to truly [...]

A Tribute to My Loving Sister Dale Roberts

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Wayne’s November 19, 2011 memorial tribute to Dale Roberts: Welcome, and thank for you coming to this celebration of Dale Roberts.  I hope we can share many happy memories together, and support each other through our sorrow. Dale wanted this gathering to enjoy one of her favorite views, which I think offers a lovely picture [...]

Four Billion New Reasons Why Food Will Become a Local Government Issue

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Last week, the flashbulb explosion met the population explosion, as news cameras clicked at several newborns identified as the seventh billion humans in the world. Now that the global birthday party is over, it’s time for new thinking about preparing food for a party of seven billion. As our population continues to grow, improving urban [...]

Occupy Movement Identifies Food Movement Common Inspiration and Options

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This week’s blog comes to you via World Watch: Nourishing the Planet. I have been posting my articles on their site for some time and am hoping that it will encourage my readers to check out their site and vice-versa. This week I offer my view on why Occupy grabs attention and starts a new [...]

Cold Cuts: Maple Leaf Butchers Jobs and Food Security, but No-one Speaks Out

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There will be no hogs in Hogtown’s future, but neither does there appear to be any squealing. Toronto’s pre-eminence as a food processing center — the city has long been second only to Chicago in North American food manufacturing – took a hit last week when Maple Leaf Foods shed 1550 jobs from its Canada-wide [...]

Cultivating Conservatism: why radicals in farm country went ‘PC’

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A lot of people gave the middle finger to Ontario’s political system last week. Leaving aside any feelings of joy, relief or disappointment about specific election results, these fingers are the signs of a full-fledged democratic deficit that may prove as ominous as our runaway financial and environmental deficits. I’m worried that half of all [...]

The Taste of Cohesion

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This week’s blog comes to you via World Watch: Nourishing the Planet. I have been posting my articles on their site for sometime and am hoping that it will encourage my readers to check out their site and visa-versa. So without further adoo, Click Here http://bit.ly/rmNngz to read about how cities can eat their way [...]

Jack Layton’s Afterlife Will Keep Us All Busy

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The way things look now, it will be as much work keeping up with Jack’s afterlife as it was keeping up with the pace he set in his all-too-brief life down here. His death on August 21 kindled an extraordinary national wide outpouring of sorrow, love and spiritual reflection that will go down in history [...]

What’s Not Infrastructure About Social & Environmental Infrastructure?

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Economic geeks tell a joke about Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates that goes a long way to explaining why so many cities face a budgetary crisis that can result in serious tears in the city’s social fabric while undermining its ability to invest in projects that beautify and restore the environment. Gates was crossing a border [...]

Tribute to Jack Layton I gave to Toronto Board of Health September 13, 2011

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Thank you for organizing this time to show appreciation for Jack Layton, a central figure in the success story of public health in Canada. Jack gave us many gifts during the many vibrant days of his lifetime, and left us with a monumental gift during his fatal illness, when his generous and giving spirit was [...]

Brain fried? Try a Real Food and Outdoors Tonic; Why Local Food is Key to Calming Frayed City Nerves….

Wayne after 8 days of nature tonic

Before I outline how this could be done, I should explain why I didn’t hand in this article last week, as originally promised. I faced computer problems that Bell Telephone’s exasperating voicemail machines couldn’t respond to, on the very same day I was trying to pack for an eight-day canoe trip while writing a complex [...]

See Why Jack Layton is So Beloved by Checking out The Humulity and Humor of His Roasting of Me on My Retirement From the Toronto Food Policy Council, which he initiated!

Jack was always a supporter of my work and friend. Take a look at why he is so beloved.

Why Cities Need a Fresh Serving of Brain Food

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I’ve waited patiently the last two months to see if some city government or health official somewhere might respond to Nature Magazine’s breakthrough article on urban stressors affecting mental illness. Regrettably, there is no gravy, corruption, hacking or sex scandal to make this a story. It’s just the same- old, same-old professional specialists and government [...]

Jack Layton’s Winning Spirit

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You don’t really get to know some people until you know them when they’re down. That’s a problem for anyone who wants to write about Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, who’s taking a medical leave while he delas with some health setbacks. Even during his media conference announcing hard news on [...]

Citywatch: Slow Money

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A lot of people blame fast buck artists for bringing on the 2008 economic crash, but few have yet looked to slow money artistry to get the economy moving in a better direction. For social investment promoter Woody Tasch, however, the crash was an aha moment that led him to take his stand: the buck [...]

Hop High For Local & Sustainable Craft Beer

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I met a beer whisperer at a party last week. She helps beer with real personality express the good times it’s had, the food it wants to pair with, and its place in the proletarian taste division of the local and sustainable food movement. Her name is Tracy Phillippi, and she’s a high-level beer hound [...]

Why Energy Tax Breaks Harm Food and Environment

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One nice thing about early posting of the fixed date for Ontario’s upcoming election (October 6, don’t you know?) is that all parties have the same lead time to drop early platform stupidities without too many people noticing. The NDP would be smart to use this headstart to bury promises to phase out harmonized sales [...]

One Track Minds Can’t See the Food for the Traffic Jams

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By Wayne Roberts There’s only one issue that gets all right-thinking North Americans yelling out of the far left side of their mouth. Roads. It’s almost universally believed that roads should be built by the state, from each according to the government’s ability, and to each according to their need. Some political junkies think medicare [...]

The World is Watching: Worldwatch Checks Out Wayne Roberts on Food Councils

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To read more about the challenges of Toronto food policy in the past and where food policies are heading see how my interview with Supriya Kumar from Worldwatch unfolded here Part Two of the Same Interview can be found here

How government food policy got in your face but not in your heart

Trimming the fat, but how about those sevices?

Cuts to Government Services, But not to Double Standards By Wayne Roberts Politicians at all levels are promising more cuts to government expenses without any cut to services. For politicians, this is better than a gift that keeps on giving. It’s a promise they can keep on promising. For most of the past 40 years, [...]

Plastic Bags

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PLASTIC BAGS By Wayne Roberts The looming Toronto council debate about ending the five cent fee required for disposable bags from food retailers wastes almost as much energy as plastic bags made from fossil fuels. No matter what this council decides, the war on plastic bags has barely begun. From a global perspective, Toronto’s decision [...]

Imagining Sustainable Food Systems – Free Chapter

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I was fortunate to be asked to contribute to Alison Blay-Palmer’s new book, Imagining Sustainable Food Systems. It’s a terrific read — I encourage you to pick it up. For a sample of what you might expect, you can download my chapter for free. A review of the book appeared in the May 2011 issue [...]

Foods of Locality: Food With a Place in Your Heart

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Food is a many-splendored thing, so the more we learn about it, the more we discover new ways to look for it, and come to appreciate why the centre of gravity for food thinking keeps lurching in different directions. This year’s Earth Day is time to name and celebrate a signpost on the latest lurch [...]

Wayne Roberts at Alberta Pathways 2 Sustainability Conference

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Wayne’s spoke in Red Deer, Alberta, at their exciting Pathways2Sustainability conference; a reporter’s preview of the talk is available here: http://permaculturebc.com/Wayne-Roberts-Food-Security-Organic Watch Wayne’s Keynote:

Time for Ontario’s Neo-Liberal Innovators to Innovate

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A new report on Ontario’s economic problems has been released just in time to invite comment and debate from the leadership candidates of both Ontario’s and Canada’s Liberal Party. In one neat package of 75 pages, the government-funded Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress provides an excellent summary of almost everything that is [...]

PRACTICING FOOD SOVEREIGNTY: PUTTING LIBERTY AND DEMOCRACY ON THE BONES OF A RENEWED FOOD SYSTEM

Here is the text of my keynote address to Food Secure Canada conference in Montreal, Saturday, November 27. It can be discouraging to learn how far we need to go in such a short time to set the world right, and the the world’s burdens can weigh heavily on our puny shoulders. It can also [...]

New Category! Foodbooks for Thought

Wayne is now reviewing books about food policy, food security, the environment under a new category, Foodbooks for Thought. Simply enter Foodbooks as a search term below, and the latest posts will pop up!

Corporate Knights’ The Killer Kernel

Wayne was recently interviewed by Toby A. A. Heaps from Corporate Knights Magazine regarding the link between food policy and our health care system. Please read The Killer Kernel.

McGuinty Era in Ontario Reveals Neo-Liberal Formula

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Premier Dalton McGuinty’s misfortune was to govern Ontario – and Ontario’s misfortune was to have him govern – at a time when the province faced three excruciating challenges. Unlike Empire Ontario that set prosperity in place a hundred years ago, today’s Ontario lacks strategic energy and mineral resources that automatically fetch high prices in global [...]

Ontario’s Local Food Act: More Maybe Than Act

(col­lated from assorted press releases)

To get a handle on the Promoting Local Food Act tabled in the Ontario legislature on October 4, it helps to know the difference between government support and government policy. If you choose door 1 and get support, you’re in luck. If you choose door 2 and get policy, that’s the booby prize. When occasion [...]

Raj Patel in Toronto: From the Ground Up

LECTURE   2:30 – 4 PM STUFFED & STARVED THE HIDDEN BATTLE FOR THE WORLD’S FOOD SYSTEM Gardiner Museum Terrace Room* 111 Queen’s Park Crescent *NEW VENUE $12 General Admission / $10 Students TICKETS AT THE DOOR LIMITED SEATING, ARRIVE EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT PS — It’s moderated by the lovely and talented Lori Stahlbrand [...]

The Four Rs: Retooling Schools as Community Hubs

By sheer luck, I got a quick taste of the linked future of food and schooling last week. At the last minute, I was invited to fill an empty seat on a charter plane and come see a meal program in a First Nations Cree community of a thousand people in Fort Albany, near where [...]

RURAL-URBAN CONFLICT CENTRAL TO CONSERVATIVE EXTREMISM AND LONG DISTANCE FOOD

The narrow defeat of Canadian Conservative efforts to de-register rifle ownership will produce a lingering hangover for positive political and social movements, as Conservatives gear up to foment rural-urban divisions. The urban-rural divide that emerged during the rifle registration debate has been manufactured by slick urban bluebloods as a political gift that they hope will [...]

It’s An Ill Wind That Shows Local Food Is No Longer Debatable

Driving from Toronto to Halifax last week to help move my daughter Anika into King’s College, I had a lot of quiet time to rehearse a rant against a recent flurry of attacks against local food systems by right-wing extremists across North America. I was pretty happy with some of my vitriolic lines until we [...]

The new edition of the “No-Nonsense Guide to World Food” has arrived!

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Wayne’s new book is here!! Wayne Roberts has been hard at work updating his 2008 publication “The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food” To get your copy of the book please visit this site! “Couldn’t be more timely, especially given the great deal of rubbish being served to a public hungry for answers about their food [...]

Northwest Territories Gardeners and Farmers Work Together For Local Food

Yellowknife and Hay River “We’re so far behind up here that we’re ahead,” Evellyn Coleman told me, explaining why her Territorial Farmers Association, the first in North America to consider accepting backyard and community gardeners as full members, was inviting me up to speak in the Northwest Territories. Just south of the Arctic tundra, where [...]

Agro-Ecology Is the Oldest and Newest Form of Bio-Mimicry: Count the F Words

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and the intricate form of food production practiced by peasants through much of Asia and South America still express that flattery in relation to Nature. In the Global North, all food production except hunting and gathering is commonly referred to as agriculture. But in the Global South, the [...]

Hole In The Wall Gang Wants A Room Of Its Own

Hidden away betwixt a currency exchange and variety store on the south side of Dundas Square — Toronto’s stab at a European-style piazza — is a hole in the wall that’s one of the few signs of a true public square to be seen at the intersection of Dundas and Babylon. A small chalkboard posts [...]

Quebec City Uses Food as Pioneer Species of Urban Revival

By sheer luck, our family stumbled on a little-known urban success story while looking for a place to crash in Quebec City that offered direct access to the throughway to northern Quebec, where our daughter was going to learn French. Right next to Quebec City’s famous central core, preserved as a walled monument of an [...]

Governments Spend More on Bombs, Not Food, Decades after Cold War and Atomic Bombing

Visiting Japan a few years ago changed the way I look at the difference between conventional and nuclear war. On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima became the target for the first atomic bomb dropped on civilian populations, a chilling example of the use of non-conventional weapons. That moment is now commemorated around the world every August. [...]

Wayne Roberts’ Secret Retirement Recipe for Successful Food Policy Councils

The following remarks were delivered by Wayne at a June 29 party of 130 people celebrating his ten years with the Toronto Food Policy Council and Toronto Public Health. Liz Janzen, the recently retired director of Toronto Public Health, who did so much to champion the Toronto Food Policy Council and many other bold initiatives, [...]

Iggy fails taste test: Libs new food policy breaks ground but is low on basics

Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff released his proposed national food policy on April 26. Policy-wise, the dish makes for slim pickin’s, mostly overcooked, a bit stale, loaded with artificial sweeteners and flavors, low on basic nutrients. But that’s not the point. Ignatieff is Canada’s first major political leader to stake out ground for the next [...]

The Stress of Food Bank Food

I was  fully prepared for several days of poor eats when I took part in the Stop Community Food Centre’s Do the Math media stunt earlier this April, when ten well-known Torontonians signed on to stretch a three day ration of food bank grub for as long as possible. But I was shocked by how [...]

Eating Your Pride on a Welfare Diet

(Adapted from NOW Magazine, 2000-1) When I went on a welfare diet last week, I didn’t realize just how quickly I would have to swallow my pride. At the request of Daily Bread Food Bank, about 20 politicians, journalists and policy wonks agreed to try eating on the same budget as people on social assistance. [...]

Governments Continue Tax Breaks for Junk Foods and Over-packaging

Most people think of food as tax-free, but it’s not. The issue is not so much the absence of taxes on food, but the lack of purpose behind them.  The general public calls such levies tax grabs. Among fans of smart public policy, they’re called dumb taxes. The federal government, with which most provinces will [...]

First Lady Obama Will Have Weightier Impact on Health Debates than Hubby

President Barack Obama’s efforts at reforming the U.S. approach to medical care won’t win many imitators in other countries. Indeed, he’s likely to be upstaged in global health debates by First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity. Lady Obama launched a Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign on February 9, and is already catching up with [...]

Science Does a Re-run of 1950s Modernism

The best publisher’s freebie on the ’Net these days is the February special issue of Science devoted to Food Security. But, as with all things gratis, it rolls out a welcome mat to something else that should raise more questions than gratitude for the free pass. It’s an indicator of the potential of the emerging [...]

The Edible City

Wayne will be speaking about his essay in The Edible City at the Hart House Library and Literary Committee meeting on March 1 from 7 – 8:30 in the Hart House Debates room. More details found here!

The Priceless Value of Nothing

A review of Raj Patel, The Value of Nothing: Why Everything Costs so Much More Than We Think (Harper Collins) I can barely contain my enthusiasm for Raj Patel’s book on the failings of market-driven societies, but at this stage of my and my younger daughter’s life, all I can think is: what a terrific [...]

BRITS START 2010 RIGHT BY RELEASING A FOOD STRATEGY

The British government raised the bar on New Year’s Resolutions on January 4 when it released its 20 years worth of pledges in Food 2030. Eat more fruits and veg, lose weight, buy local, sustainable and fair trade, grow your own, stop wasting so much, make full use of people power… the list goes on. [...]

Why did Harper Invite the Chinese Government to Buy Canada’s Tar Sands?

photo courtesy of topics.cbc.ca

Oil politics makes for greasy bedfellows, and that accounts for some odd and ominous slipping and sliding on the part of Albertan oil developers and their guy in Ottawa, prime minister Stephen Harper. Back in the 1980s, gas and oil tycoons were so ticked at prime minister Pierre Trudeau for creating Petro-Canada — a  government-owned  [...]

Will food and Ag Come out of the Shadows at Copenhagen?

Money talks, power whispers – it’s a norm of politics that may be challenged at the Copenhagen conference, which will decide if the world’s power brokers are ready to adopt a treaty in time to prevent irreversible climate pollution. For the dozen years since the Kyoto protocol of 1997 was adopted, someone or other has [...]

Nine Billion Ain’t the Start of It

Any number multiplied by 27 billion will be fairly big, so the prospects of the planet coming up with three meals a day for nine billion humans on the planet some 40 years from now has some people worried. The worrying went mainstream during 2007 when a sudden hike in the price of groceries fomented [...]