Edmonton’s Food and Agriculture Policy Hearing – A Food Blogger’s Adventures in Live TweetingPosted: November 1, 2012
In May, I attended the Food in the City conference, hosted by the City of Edmonton. The goal of the conference was to engage the local food community, to discuss the future of food and agriculture in Edmonton and to create a local Food and Agriculture policy for Edmonton. I had the opportunity to engage with many local food heroes and discuss topics near and dear to my heart, like food sustainability within city limits through rooftop and backyard gardens, backyard chicken coops (I am SO getting one at some point), and supporting local farmers.
Since then, the city has created and released it’s Food and Agriculture policy strategy, aptly named Fresh. The city held a public hearing on Friday, October 26, to allow for the public to voice their concerns and support for the strategy. I had the opportunity to attend the morning session of the hearing, representing and live tweeting for Slow Food Edmonton. The hearing allowed for another fantastic and rich discussion on the future of food and agriculture in Edmonton.
Throughout the hearing, as speakers began to go up one by one, I began to notice a distinct divide between local food advocates and developers. Local Food Heroes like Jessie Radies and Kevin Kossowan could not support the document in it’s current form because it did not go far enough to support Food and Agriculture in the city (and wasn’t that the point of creating the policy in the first place?). Developers seemed to love the document because it was just vague enough to include possible developing opportunities. I feel that Mack Male sums it up perfectly in his comments at the hearing.
As I was live-tweeting for Slow Food Edmonton, I had to keep my tweets neutral and have them reflect the Slow Food message. This was incredibly difficult at times, because I found myself agreeing 100% with the foodies (and wanting to pump my fist in the air every time they spoke) and agreeing not-at-all with the developers. I had to take the neutral ground and describe, rather than editorialize. At one point, though, I was able to tweet that @Slowfoodyeg believes that the preservation of the local food culture in #yeg is paramount (to development, of course!). It felt pretty good to add to the discussion! To see the live-tweet stream, check out @slowfoodyeg on twitter.
Photo Courtesy of MasterMaq.
Since I wasn’t able to editorialize throughout the discussion, I am bringing my opinions to my blog. Here they are, uncensored:
My biggest problem with the discussion was the “either, or” tone. There was very much an either food sustainability or development feel to the whole discussion. I am fairly confident that the city doesn’t want to take sides in that debate, or they wouldn’t have written a Food and Agriculture policy in the first place. I personally feel that, while incomplete and still needing work, the document provides the city with a place to start and to work from. While we could debate the fine details of the strategy ad nauseum, I am definitely in the “lets get this train rolling” camp. City Council will need to take all sides into account, and I am happy that so many people came out to have their say at the hearing. In the end, we will have to wait and see what City Council decides to do with strategy, whether it be to revise it or scrap it and re-do it before implementation.
Other local food heroes have highlighted their thoughts and opinions on the issue, so I wanted to share a few links here: A Random Sampling does a great job of recapping the hearing on Friday. Eat My Words has a great post too. Here’s an interesting Editorial from the Edmonton Journal, and an interesting article on how the policy will not preserve farmland. (Agreed!)
I am fortunate to be part of the discussion, and look forward to future opportunities to get involved in the future of food and agriculture in Edmonton. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the hearing. Please add your comments below!