Toronto: Late this morning a City of Toronto committee refused to adopt a policy that would direct City staff to buy local food, when appropriate, instead of imported food that may come from thousands of miles away. (TEA Press Release)
The policy will now go to City Council in two weeks time for debate.
“While the rest of the world is moving towards supporting local food, Canada’s largest city is poised to kill its support,” said Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) which has been advocating for local food for over 4 years. “Here in Ontario, all the political parties at Queen’s Park support a ‘buy local food’ policy. Do we really want to be the city that says no to fresh, local food and yes to food that is jet-lagged?”
The City of Toronto spends about $11 million a year purchasing food for city-run daycares, shelters and seniors’ homes. Back in 2008, City Council agreed to a 50% “buy local food” target. Since then, staff have been working on ways to meet this target and figuring out what the Province can do to change regulations that work against supporting local food.
“It makes no sense why Councillors would vote against supporting local food,” said Hartmann “Why would anyone vote against a policy that aims to get fresh, local food to people in city-run daycares and seniors’ homes? And why would anyone vote against a policy that helps local farmers and the environment without costing Toronto taxpayers more?”
Hartmann said that TEA will be working with its members and all those that support local food in Toronto to get Council to adopt the policy that supports local food.
“Today’s decision sends the wrong signal to our farming neighbours and to food processors here in Toronto who use local food,” said Hartmann. “By voting against the policy, they are effectively saying fresher and in-season cheaper local food is not welcome in Toronto.”