Why Food & Farming?

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2011 Election Facts: Reasons to Vote on Food and Farming

A Vote ON Food and Farming is a Vote ON Jobs, ON Health, ON Environment, ON Kids, ON Community, and ON Farmers.

1. Good food creates jobs

  • Food and farming is the #2 employer in Ontario and #1 in the GTA
  • Food processing contributes $32.5 billion to the Ontario economy each year
  • The number of jobs in the food sector is growing 5% each year

…but we are not investing in our local economy

  • Between 2007 and 2009, 6 major Ontario fruit and vegetable processing facilities closed
  • The number of abattoirs in Ontario decreased from 267 in 1998 to 152 in 2010
  • Ontario buys 115 million meals per year for its health facilities, most of which is not Ontario-grown

We’re asking candidates to:

  • Help public institutions buy local and sustainable foods
  • Support regional and small-scale food processing
  • Support market development for Ontario-grown and processed foods

See our Good Food Policies for the Economy for more details.

2. Good food saves lives

  • A healthy diet prevents 80% of heart attacks and strokes;
  • 90% of Type 2 diabetes;
  • 33% of cancer

…but we are not linking good food with good health

  • Diet-related diseases cost Ontarians over $657 million a year
  • We spend 37% of our budget on healthcare; only 0.35% of this is spent on health promotion
  • At our current rate, Ontario will spend 80% of its budget on healthcare by 2030

We’re asking candidates to:

  • Make healthy eating and food access a health care priority by:
  • Investing in programs that encourage healthy eating and food access
  • Increasing the health promotion budget to 1% of all health care spending
  • Providing healthier, local food options at health care facilities

See our Good Food Policies for Health for more details.

3. Good food protects the environment

  • Good farming practices such as composting, green manures and crop rotation protect and regenerate topsoil
  • Good farming practices such as livestock fencing and wetland conservation help protect and filter our drinking water
  • Good farming practices such as wildlife corridors provide important habitats for pollinators, birds and other wildlife

…but we are losing farmland and all it protects

  • Ontario has lost 42% of its farmland to developers since 1942
  • Ontario has lost 72% of its wetlands
  • Over 190 species of wildlife and pollinators are at risk of extinction in Ontario

We’re asking candidates to:

  • Support environmental stewardship on farms
  • Support on-farm green energy projects

See our Good Food Policies for the Environment for more details.

4. Good food grows kids

  • Kids who eat a healthy breakfast have better results in math and reading
  • Kids who establish healthy eating habits when they are young, eat healthier foods as adults
  • Kids who help plant and prepare healthy fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them

…but kids no longer learn how to grow, cook or eat healthy food

  • Only 14% of 9-12 year olds eat enough fruits and vegetables
  • Horticulture, ‘Home Economics’ and Nutrition classes are no longer required courses in the Ontario curriculum
  • Canada is one of the few G8 countries with no National Student Nutrition Policy

We’re asking candidates to:

  • Fund Student Nutrition Programs
  • Teach kids about food by including it in the Ontario curriculum
  • Build healthy food into schools by investing in kitchen and garden facilities and restricting junk food advertising

See our Good Food Policies on Education for more information.

5. Good food builds community

  • Community gardens revitalize public spaces, increasing neighbourhood safety and lowering crime
  • Community kitchens and community gardens promote healthy lifestyles by encouraging healthy food skills and physical activity
  • Community food programs are an important poverty-reduction strategy that reduces social isolation, builds community and improves the quality of life of Ontarians
  • Poverty costs Ontario $32 to $38 billion a year

…but many Ontarians can’t afford healthy food

  • The purchasing power of social assistance benefits is now 60% of what it was 15 years ago
  • 400,000 Ontarians use food banks every month
  • 37% of food bank users are children

We’re asking candidates to:

  • Support the development of Community Food Programs and Community Food Centres
  • Ensure all Ontarians can afford healthy food by:
  • Developing programs to make local and sustainable food more accessible
  • Setting social assistance rates based on the cost of healthy food

See our Good Food Policies for Social Services for more details.

6. Good food ensures the future of farming

  • Investing in local, sustainable food keeps Ontario farmers in business and working their land, contributing to the health of rural economies and communities
  • People everywhere are more concerned about the environmental and social impacts of food, making local and sustainable farming an attractive option for both new and established farmers
  • Farmers who sell their products locally and directly to consumers often capture more of the food dollar and are less vulnerable to the whims of international markets.  This means that they are more likely to stay in business and on their land.

…but we are losing farmers and farmland

  • Ontario Farmers have made an average of below $0 for most of the last decade.
  • Over the next 10 years, 75% of our farmers will retire, and 60% of those do not have a successor
  • Many new farmers can’t afford the high cost of machinery or land

We’re asking candidates to:

Support the next generation of farming by:

  • investing in new farmer training and agricultural extension
  • making capital available to new farmers; and
  • preserving prime farmland

Support the current generation of farmers by:

  • Changing subsidies to support sustainable farms of all sizes and scales, limiting government payments to any one large farm or business
  • Support local and sustainable farms by balancing our trade policies with strong domestic production and distribution policies
  • Investing in research and development for better farming practices and sustainable technologies

See our Good Food Policies and Programs for a Summary of our Food and Farming policy ideas.

7. Good food connects us all

  • Food and farming crosses many sectors including economy, health, education, social services and agriculture

…but we’re still not talking to each other

  • Agriculture, health, economy, environment, education and social services are divided into separated ministries that work in isolation from each other

We’re asking candidates to:

  • Create opportunities for ministries to collaborate on food issues
  • Support regional and municipal food networks

See our Good Food Policies and Programs for a summary of Food and Farming policy ideas.

Download these ideas in the  Why Food & Farming? (pdf)

What’s Food Got to Do With It?

Still not convinced? Here are some answers to common critiques of local food issues.