Local food system responses to COVID-19: Toronto and its city region


  Toronto and its city region – known as the Greater Golden Horseshoe – is the most populous area in Canada, with nine million inhabitants. As in much of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy, leading to spiralling unemployment, increased food insecurity, and questions about what changes to the food system are [...]

Crisis Within a Crisis: COVID-19 Leads the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to Shine a Light on Food in Cities


UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization Calls Food and Hunger a “Crisis Within a Crisis” of COVID-19     Food often suffers from the problem that it can’t get no respect as a public policy issue. But the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has been quick off the mark to produce a flurry of food-related briefings reminding [...]

Seeding climate action on Canada’s farms


Low-input sustainable agriculture is helping farmers store carbon underfoot Like everybody else, farmers talk a lot about the weather without doing much of anything about it – likely because there’s not much they can do. But after a decade of wild swings in weather patterns, crop prices and farm debt levels, some Canadian farmers are [...]

Four ways COVID-19 will change food systems and food security

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It’s too early for precise answers to questions about the coronavirus pandemic’s long-term impacts on the ways food is produced, processed, distributed, eaten, recycled and appreciated. But my experience managing food policy issues in Toronto for one of the world’s leading city-based public health departments gives me some searching questions that can help us prepare [...]

5 Ways to Use Twitter to Promote Good Food for All

Winning friends and influencing people on Twitter is about earning. not winning, influence.

Can food tweets go viral amidst COVID-19? #coronavirus has been teaching us what viral means in terms of a scary communicable disease, not just the communicable media scene we’ve grown comfortable with. But a hyper-modern pandemic requires hyper-modern communications. The Twitterverse has come through the #COVID-19, #CoronaVirusUpdates experience with flying colours — providing a communications universe where health experts [...]

A Report Stirs the Agriculture Pot


Farms occupy half the landmass of Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe, and are the foundation of the biggest employment sector in the province – food, beverage and agriculture – a highly effective cluster that rates third in North America in terms of output. The central role that agriculture plays in society, the economy and environment rarely [...]

Food and Community: Complete Works


David Crombie was known as Toronto’s “tiny perfect mayor” during the 1970s, when he started turning the international reputation of a bickering place renowned as Toronto the Good into “the city that worked” — at a time when few did. Now a veteran elder statesman, he’s just served as the tiny perfect commissioner for Ontario’s [...]



One of many problems caused by global warming is that fewer people know what it means to say something “snowballs.” How will people understand how food works? When I was a kid, all of my friends loved starting with a small fistfull of snow and rolling it along as it gathered enough snow to become [...]

Food Meditations: Food Democracy Is All Greek to Me


Food and city policy advocates owe a lot to ancient Athens. Even someone as ill-informed as me knows we owe them the root word of policy, politics and metropolis, and the first example of city states. Most people also refer to Athens as the birthplace of democracy, at least for Greek males. But I just [...]

THOUGHT FOR FOOD: Bigger Than Both Of Us


The basic math of food advocacy is to put two and two together, and come up with at least 5. The secret of effective policy is to turn the solution to 2 + 2 problems into at least 5 benefits. That way, any quantitative efficiencies we lose by not binging out on scale and specialization, [...]

THOUGHT FOR FOOD: Finding Space for Food


In this digital age, our respect for the world we can’t see is greatly increased. We talk of the value of a company’s brand, not just its assets, for example, or we discuss soft power, as well as hard power. I think that applies to food in two ways. First, most of the important things [...]

THOUGHT FOR FOOD: Big Food Gets Bigger


The latest on food monopoly trends is that  2015′s merger and acquisition deals added up to $516.5 billion — 54.7 per cent more than in 2014, according to a report in Merger Sector Trend Report. This trend is hard on farmers and rural communities, according to a recent study by senior academic watchdogs of food [...]

THOUGHT FOR FOOD: Vote Food Democracy


If I say “food” and ask you to say the first word that comes into your mind, I expect it might be agriculture, or maybe health, or hungry, or yummy, or water, or maybe even diet. But I’ll bet you a dollar to donuts (notwithstanding donuts are probably worth more than dollars now, so I [...]

Food Meditations: Taking the Pulse of a New Food Trend


My dad often said he ate enough beans and rice pudding during the 1930s Depression and 1940s World War to last him a lifetime. If I never see them again, it will be too soon, he’d tell anyone thinking of serving them to him. Those habits have carried over until today across North America and [...]

Food Meditations: A Mysterious Object Lesson in Food

I often wonder about the mystery of the modern food movement, at least in the urbanized Global North. Why did it emerge so late in history — so long after the labor movement or women’s movement, for instance? And why do people care so much more about local food than about local cars or clothes [...]

Trudeau’s government to grab right end of the food stick


If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s instructions to his new Minister of Agriculture are followed, Canada will soon lead the pack of G20 economically powerful countries when it comes to food policy. Among the duties listed in Trudeau’s public mandate letter to Minister Lawrence MacAulay is one to “develop a food policy that promotes healthy living [...]

VIDEO: Winter Market at The Montgomery Inn


Wayne Roberts presents on Winter Markets at the historic Montgomery Inn. Click on the link below to watch the full video: Wayne Roberts on Winter Markets at The Montgomery Inn

USC Canada VIDEO: Seeds Grow More than Food

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Wayne Roberts — a widely respected Toronto food policy analyst and practitioner — visited USC Canada’s Honduras program in August 2012 with Tim Baker — the lead singer of Juno-nominated band, Hey Rosetta! This video features Wayne’s experience with the farmers there, and highlights the lessons he took away from this beautiful but challenging country. [...]

VIDEO: Wayne Roberts on Food

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Wayne asserts that the potential of food for solving societal problems can only be unlocked if viewed as a Rubik’s cube. You have to view all 6 sides of the cube at the same time, which demands integral thinking and working. Very helpful then is not asking the classical question ‘how do we make food [...]

Don’t jump to rasher conclusions. Pigs offer bacon of hope to sustainable food systems


Bacon may not be all it’s sizzled up to be, but it does explain a whole rasher of things about today’s food scene. I got to experience the bacon back story on August 8, as one of four judges at a BaconFest2015 celebration at east-end Toronto’s neighbourhood-based Leslieville Farmers Market. I was the spoilsport, asking [...]

VIDEO: Sustainable Food Policy

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Wayne Roberts, one of Canada’s leading food policy analysts and former manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council discusses sustainable food polices and the role they can play in creating a healthier Greater Sudbury. Watch it here: Sustainable Food Policy

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


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


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


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


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


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 [...]

VIDEO: Rummaging Through the Myth: The True Cost of Food Waste

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Canadian Food Policy Analyst, Dr. Wayne Roberts spoke at the Kawartha World Issues Centre’s KWIC World Issues Cafe on January 24, 2015 in Peterborough, Ontario. The Issues Cafe was held in conjunction with the ReFrame Peterborough International Film Festival’s feature film “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” Watch the full video here: KWIC World Issues [...]

The Brazil Food Guide: Look at food differently in 2015


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 [...]