Thursday, September 27, 2012

BC Healthy Living Alliance: Local Food Production & Self-Sufficiency @bchealthyliving

Local or Organic? What about none at all?
Many British Columbians are still going hungry...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (September 27, 2012) - Seven dollars for a yellowing head of broccoli? 47% of your income on food? Sounds crazy, but for people living in small, rural communities or for families on Income Assistance this is the reality.

On Wednesday, September 26th the BC Healthy Living Alliance brought people from around the province together in an on-line forum to discuss the persistent issue of food security in BC, and some ‘in the box’ solutions that may be outside of the norm.

The high cost of housing and low wages squeeze the food budgets of low income British Columbians, according to Kristen Yarker, Executive Director of Dietitians of BC. “A provincial poverty reduction plan, more affordable housing and living wage policies are part of the solution that the government should be pursuing.”

Corine Singfield, Coordinator of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project in Bella Coola, explained that small markets, longer distances and higher shipping costs mean produce that makes it to small remote communities using conventional distribution is of poor quality at higher prices.

But those disadvantages can and have helped to stimulate local food production and self-sufficiency. Corine says with a small population, demand in Bella Coola can be met using small scale agriculture offering competitive prices for a higher quality product.

Across Northern BC, remote communities face similar challenges but with a shorter growing season. Greg Halseth and Marleen Morris from UNBC described what may be the future. Using waste heat from bio-energy projects to heat soil and extend the growing season or to power hydroponic systems in portable trailers.

Scott McDonald, BCHLA Chair and CEO of the BC Lung Association said, “Mom was right about eating your veggies. Diet plays a big role in decreasing risk for many chronic diseases. If we’re serious about disease prevention and reducing healthcare costs then we need to make it easier for more people to eat healthier.”

According to the latest Statistics Canada numbers, less than half of British Columbians (42.3%) reported eating fruit and vegetables at least five times daily. Just one extra serving of vegetable or fruit per day is linked to a 20% reduction in all causes of mortality.

The BC Healthy Living Alliance includes: BC Lung Association, BC Pediatric Society, BC Recreation and Parks Association, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division, Canadian Diabetes Association, Dietitians of Canada, BC Region, Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon, Public Health Association of BC, and Union of BC Municipalities

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