Food Connects Us All aims to contribute to a broader understanding of food system dynamics in Ontario. It is intended as a backdrop for discussions on how the province could move toward a truly local sustainable food system through collaboration and the identification of key leverage points for food system change.
Three key findings of the paper are: there is a need to connect the dots between the key actors and to capitalize on the pool of energy available in southern Ontario to bring about system-wide change; with a food system as large and complex as Ontario’s, change will come about by pushing simultaneously and incrementally in a number of directions and discovering “unexpected realignments and new synergies;” and, while we are starting to see the long-awaited fruition of the efforts of those who have been working for years and even decades on advancing a local sustainable food system, this is not enough. Now is the time to seize the moment.
The paper is based on open-ended interviews with 39 people working in the area, as well as a survey of recent research and policy papers on the subject. The paper is organized into two parts. Part One is a general introduction to the landscape of sustainable local food in southern Ontario – the issues, the policy gaps, and the potential for collaborative efforts. Part Two contains a sampling of some current initiatives, drawing on the experience of the participants in the original meetings, and those of people in their networks.