Conestoga news

December 3, 2007 11:51 AM

Food System Roundtable Brings "Local" To The Table

If some unforeseen disruption in our food supply chain were to come about, would we have a local food source system in place to ensure that our communities had enough to eat? This isn't merely "worst case scenario thinking", we have entered a new era of global warming and climate change and these are exactly the type of questions we should be pondering.

Moving Forward Into The Past

On Wednesday, the Waterloo Regional Food System Roundtable was launched at the Conestoga College Waterloo campus. The group has been created to champion a vibrant and healthy local food system in the area and to increase awareness of systemic issues through a common voice of action. It was fitting that the launch took place in the Conestoga Room of Conestoga College. 200 years ago, another group of people with a common purpose (settlers) arrived from Pennsylvania in Conestogo Wagons looking for a place where they could settle-in and farm the rich soil of Waterloo County. They stopped, stayed, tilled and toiled, and have created an agricultural legacy which is famous clear across the country.

Modern logistics has made it possible to bring kiwi fruit from New Zealand to our kitchens here in the Region, but what about putting sweet potatoes or organic lettuce from Linwood on our tables? How are we doing at that?

Well, from this week forward, I trust we will be doing very well, thank you.

Representatives Of Roundtable Outstanding (In their "Fields")

Choosing committee partners is an important process. There must be diversity, knowledge, and ultimately there must be harmony if a committee is to survive and move forward. After spending my formative years on the farm out near Breslau (that’s the place where they have the international airport...well, and, they also grow great tomatoes and sweet corn out there too...) I realized just how special, knowledgeable (dare I say--smart?), caring and competent the group of people on the Roundtable Board (as well as all the community partners) really are.

The group singularly and collectively are true visionaries in every sense of the word. It's the "what ifs" that bring about change. It involves asking difficult questions and seeking real sustainable solutions which will benefit many. The bounty will be shared and made accessible to persons throughout the Region -- across every income bracket.

Great Minds Can Think Alike

We should never under estimate the power and influence which is generated by working together. It becomes even more effective when areas of expertise have been carefully considered so that a group acts as one with the strength and wisdom of many. Present at this week's launch were community planners, public health experts, urban agriculture and land use specialists, food distributors, restaurant and institutional purchasers, organic food growers, farmers, food banks and many more. This is a very encouraging, comforting sign. There is no doubt that the right heads have come together and will be put together creatively to see the vision through to fruition on a multitude of levels. It is a plan, brilliant and correct in its infancy and I look forward with great excitement to see where it all leads.

We Ate Like Kings and Queens

The meeting was great, but-"Holy Smokes!"- you should have tasted the food. Conestoga College’s own Hospitality Management Students (chefs, managers etc.) prepared local food of every description that was "to die for". The networking and conversation was scintillating but the the food was... MmWhaaa!!! And yes you could taste the difference freshness makes, and I ask "Why wouldn't you be able to???" Fresh, local, food is not a new concept and the sooner we bring it back...the better we all will be!

Foodlink Has A Voice At The Table

I spoke with Peter Katona and Katharina Von Hugo from Foodlink Waterloo Region (the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! people) and they are extremely excited about the future role local food will play in the nutritional requirements of our communities and the profound impact it will have economically for local farmers.

So the future looks bright, fresh and local. Who could ask for anything more? Er, well, "Could you pass the St. Clements potatoes please???" (SEE what I mean? It's catching on already...)

Local consumers can already buy local and support a small ecological footprint by purchasing produce and food products produced locally. CLICK Here to see locations where you can pick up a map of local farms

Story originally appeared in Cambridge NOW by author Thomas Hagey