Chewing over local food issues

  • Jan. 21, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Submitted by Jennifer Dysart-Food. It nourishes our bodies. It brings people together. It provides income. It influences culture. It connects us to our environment. Food is a topic that touches everyone regardless of social status, nationality, or geographic location.My name is Jennifer Dysart, and I’m currently working with MIEDS to help develop a strategy around food on Haida Gwaii. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about food and its relation to people, the environment, and the local economy. Several questions came to mind: How much of the food that we consume is obtained from Haida Gwaii itself? What are the barriers to eating more locally? Is there a way to acquire more food from the island in a sustainable, responsible manner? What does that look like? Are people even interested in eating more local food?Needless to say, these questions (and more) still occupy my mind, but there have been steps taken toward finding the answers.Since September, MIEDS has been conducting research into food consumption and production, and has produced an agriculture strategy discussion document (available on the MIEDS website: www.mieds.ca). Through December and January, MIEDS held seven public meetings, one in each of the communities in Haida Gwaii. The purpose of these meetings was to gain ideas and opinions from local people about their relationship to food and their vision for the future of food on the island. After reviewing the notes from the discussions, certain recurring themes were noticed. These included education, land use and availability, harvesting of wild food, access to markets, among others. A more comprehensive analysis of the issues that arose will be conducted and presented in the following weeks.So, where does the process move from here? A substantial amount of information has been gathered, and it is time for ideas to be transformed into action. MIEDS sees itself as a facilitator, and has arranged an island-wide workshop in February to support those who want to address issues around food on Haida Gwaii. The exact date and location will be communicated within the next week.If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at community@mieds.ca. I look forward to hearing from you.