According to the Worldwatch Institute, the value of global trade in food has tripled since 1961, and the tonnage of food shipped between nations has grown fourfold, while population has only doubled. In North America food typically travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate, as much as 25 percent farther than in 1980. Cheap oil, subsidies, corporate consolidation and technical innovations have tipped the balance in favour of large scale production agriculture. Many people argue that there is no alternative for our rapidly expanding global population.
What happens when this shifts?
In Canada, a new non-profit certification program called Local Food Plus (LFP) is now helping shoppers separate sustainably grown apples, canned tomatoes, eggs, milk and meat from mass-produced, processed imports. According to Rod MacRae (agricultural consultant and Professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University), Local Food Plus is dedicated to rebuilding local, sustainable, supply chains from farmer to consumer. This is done by introducing farmers who produce locally grown, sustainable foods to the food processors, supermarkets and food service companies operating at universities and in cities.