Food Safety – Why it Matters and What’s Happening Locally

Everyone deserves access to safe, nutritious, affordable food.

So the Algoma Food Network has given priority status to the task of developing and getting City Council to approve a local food charter.

Establishing a local food charter would decrease the necessity for those in need to resort to emergency food providers such as soup kitchens and food banks by upholding the right of access to adequate, nutritious food through income, housing, employment and transportation policies.

A food charter would also promote community partnerships, food safety and nutrition programs, advocate agriculture and environmental responsibility and support multiculturalism by fostering civic culture.

Suzanne Hanna of the Allard Street Community Garden, Birgit Knoll, chair of the Algoma Food Network, public health dietician Tracey Perri, and Mara DeFazio from the Red Cross Community Kitchens program (not shown) all spoke last week at a community cafe on local food security.

Held under the shade structure at the Allard Street Community Garden next to the Red Cross office, the public information session was presented by the Community Quality Improvement Environmental Task Force to share ideas and encourage public involvement.

While each speaker touched on varying aspects of local food security including sustainability, advocacy, education, agricultural and environmental concerns, and existing relief actions such as community kitchens, food banks and nutrition programs, they all reflected on one common long-term goal – to develop and present a local food charter to City Council.

Although a food charter may be some way off, there’ve already been steps towards local sustainable food solutions such as community gardens, community kitchens and the Algoma Farmers’ Market.

And the idea of supporting local producers is beginning to percolate among grocers, institutions and restaurants.

However, Birgit Knoll told the audience that we import 53 percent of our vegetables and almost 100 percent of fruit. “Ontario imports $4 billion more than it exports,” Knoll said. “And that includes produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and apples… all food that grows plentiful here. For every apple we export, we import five, and for pears it’s one out and 700 in. Our so-called fresh food can take days, maybe even weeks to get to our tables.”

Should these trends continue, they may eventually threaten our ability to produce nutritious foods.

As defined by the World Food Summit in 1996: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle.”

To provide a little taste of what the Algoma Food Network is all about, it’s hosting Edible Algoma, a local food dinner with numerous local producers and restaurants taking part.

The event takes place on Sunday, September 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club.

Tickets are $30 each and may be purchased at Stone’s Office Supply (529 Queen Street East) and the Algoma Farmers’ Market at Robert Bondar Park on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information, click here.

To become involved in the Allard Street Community Garden or help develop an Algoma food charter, contact Suzanne Hanna at (705) 759-2893 or

For more information about the Community Kitchens program, contact the Community Kitchen Coordinator at the Red Cross office at (705) 759-4547.

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