Food: Community, Culture, and Prosperity

My family and I recently relocated to the beautiful Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia; a province located on the far East Coast of Canada. The county resides on the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq Nation – indigenous peoples that have inhabited this land for at least the past 11,000 years.  

Running between two mountain ranges, the 125-kilometer valley has produced an incredible agricultural sector that is envied for its diversity and productivity. Fertile lands are fed by rivers from the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world, reaching as high as 53 feet, or as tall as a semi-truck stood on its end! If you looked down on The Valley from above, you would see a brilliant patchwork in shades of green and brown representing more than 1000 orchards and farms and 12 wineries (see for yourself). 

Local food has been one of the best ways to get familiar with our new home. Meeting vendors at weekend farmers’ markets, tasting wines at local wineries, shopping at the many produce stands, talking to seasonal farm labourers, tasting the culinary creations of local chefs, and sampling fresh fish and lobster by the ocean has introduced us to our new community.

The food history in the area was also important to us when getting acquainted with our new home. A diversity of techniques and cultures converge in The Valley. From the Mi’kmaq concept of Netukulimk that embodies sustainability and the relationships between people and nature, to the French settler’s construction of dykes in the 1600’s to hold the sea back to create agricultural land. I’m only beginning to learn about the intricate relationships between community, culture, heritage, prosperity, and food in the area. I’ve been reflecting on the universality of these connections and how integrated we are to our local food system. Or how integrated we should be. But around the world, food systems are not thriving. Populations are not always benefitting from agricultural development and prosperity. Agricultural growth is depleting soil fertility and climate change is shifting growing patterns which requires significant adaptation. Small-scale producers are often left to carry this burden alone.  

Saturday, October 16th marks the UN’s World Food Day. This event follows September’s UN Food Systems Summit which MEDA participated in and contributed to with a Central American Food Systems Dialogue.  

This year’s theme is ‘Our Actions are Our Future’. It’s timely. This year has seen a multitude of discussions, events and research addressing the need to transform global food systems. But we all need to walk the talk and turn commitments into action.  

MEDA is ready to act. Some of our actions are outlined in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. Others are emerging as we work harder to take the lead in food systems transformation from local and indigenous communities in the countries we work. And we’re prioritizing work that supports sustainable food systems which generate not only positive economic impact, but social and environmental impacts as well. From Nova Scotia to the Philippines to Ghana, I believe that the actions we each take today will shape our food future.  

Here are ways you can support your local food systems:  

  • Join a community-supported agriculture program 
  • Choose products with no or less packaging 
  • Look for local brands in your grocery store or supermarket 
  • Support vendors at your local farmer’s market 
  • Learn about the agricultural history of your region
  • Purchase fruit and vegetables that are in season 
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