Alphabet City Discussion Three:
Food as a Right
The last discussion in our Alphabet City series
focused on “Eat Local”
. Now we want to examine the economic factors that underpin many of our edible decisions, whether it’s eat local, eat organic, or eat Kraft Dinner.
Living in an urban or suburban environment in Canada means you have any type of food at your fingertips nearly any time of year. The awareness of food seasonality seems to fade away. But among this bounty, nesting within our larger urban and suburban centres are “food deserts” where no restaurants or grocery stores have taken root, or where the nearest source of fresh produce is a long bus ride away. Below is a map of such deserts in the Greater Toronto Area (food desert areas depicted in yellow).
A common tool to compare the prices and thus, in essence, the availability of food in a geographic region — whether urban or suburban, Canadian or Burmese — is the “food basket.” A food basket is nothing more than a collection of typically common food products and their prices. We’ve dug up examples of food baskets from around Canada to help illustrate the differences in cost of food. See below:
Food Basket in Northern Canada
Food Basket in Saskatchewan
Food Basket in Toronto (PDF)
Food Basket in Rural Ontario
We want to know more. For instance, what happens when you add organic produce to the equation? Can eating organic, and presumably healthier, actually work across Canada, or even across neighbourhoods in a single city? How do the specifics of where you live determine what is going to be served at your dinner table tonight?