Food and You

We want to encourage a broad community conversation about food in the city. So every week until our Food in the City conference (May 25-26, 2012) we are going to offer up a “juicy” question about food and agriculture.

This week’s question starts the conversation by asking about the importance and value of food in our lives.

In discussions about our work on the Food and Agriculture Project, we are often asked why we are doing this work. There are many reasons of course, but one obvious reason why this work is so important is because food is so fundamental to our lives.

Beyond this basic truth we have also learned that food can be complex. To some, food is a cultural expression or a way of life; to others food is tied to household or business finances; for many the priority may be on how food nourishes their bodies and provides nutrition for their children; and yet others will value how food brings them together with their friends and family socially.

So, our question to you this week is:   What’s important about food, to you?

Join the conversation, post your comments, and share what you are thinking with others!


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About the Author
Larry Retzlaff
Larry Retzlaff is a Senior Planner with the City of Edmonton.
  1. Ruby Durango
    7 years ago

    I’m human and will admit I can’t always say no to the salty, crunchy cravings. I will give in and have a plate of french fries or a bag of chips and dip. I can’t deny myself completely. Overall, though, I want healthy, organic foods 90 % of the time. Eating out is very rare. I’d rather cook at home. And I’ve been known to eat vegetables and salads for days because that’s what I enjoy the most. And that’s why I love the farmer’s market and my neighbourhood H & W Produce store. Family members have even been known to run in to buy me a basket of veggies because they know that’s my treat. So, overall, I want more vegetables and local meats (over processed foods scare me). And everything tastes better with lemons! I panic when there’s no lemons in the house.

  2. Backyard Coops please
    7 years ago

    I want my food to come from local, sustainable and environmentally safe sources. In 2012 we’re way beyond hairy-fairy notions of being one with the earth. The benefits of urban agriculture are economically and scientifically proven. Let’s get a plan together that promotes urban agriculture in a fair and safe way. We want chickens!

  3. 7 years ago

    To me, food is key to health & culture. It’s too bad the coming conference will be excluding so many in that important discussion via the high ticket price. But I’ll be there – looking forward to it.

  4. Kathy
    7 years ago

    It is important that food is local and organic. It should also be affordable for everyone. GMO’s and pesticides should be a thing of the past. It is important that I am as self sufficient as possible with my food. I want to grow, harvest, can, freeze, dry whatever I can. I want to be able to grow my own protein as well. Backyard chickens for their eggs and/or meat should be the right of every human being. Not everyone can afford a farm.

  5. 7 years ago

    When talking about food a lot of different ideas come up ranging from food we eat at home as well as out. Generally food at home is always better for you income wise, and nutritionally but often can become a little boring if your creative juices aren’t working while in the kitchen. Often this may be why a lot of people go out. I have just recently tried out a number of places in the Edmonton region to experience new foods as well as the culture that goes along with them. Where I have found amazing results, and suggest to edmontonians to look in and around to find there new undiscovered gem in albertas heartland.

  6. 7 years ago

    To me food is tied to my culture and to an expression of self. Growing up in a Ukrainian household I learned how to turn simple ingredients into something delicious. I also learned that the best food comes from your own backyard or that of your neighbor. So food is also about being neighborly and relying on one another and creating a community.
    Being passionate about food, it is a huge part of my life and defines who I am. Any additional ways that the city can allow me to grow and raise more of my food is something I would be very happy to see.

  7. 7 years ago

    What’s important about food, to you?

    Access by all citizens, regardless of income, social status or political beliefs. A right to food for all.

  8. Robert Kirchner
    7 years ago

    I want control of our food production and distribution system taken out of the hands of the 1% and put back in the hands of the 99%.

  9. joan gagnon
    7 years ago

    you’d love Yuma, where lemons are $2.00 for 10 lb bag.

  10. Laura
    7 years ago

    What is important about food, to me, is that it be nourishing, secure, and minimally demanding on the environment and on other humans. I would like to see Edmonton embrace more efficient use of its urban space through increased community gardens, edible landscaping, and backyard bee and hen-keeping. I would like to see Edmonton retain prime growing areas in the vicinity. I would like to see Edmonton make nourishing foods more readily available to people who have fewer resources, perhaps through school gardens, education programs, and development that favours entry of grocery (as opposed to convenience) stores in poorer neighbourhoods.

  11. Jennifer
    7 years ago

    Local food is better – better for global ecology, better for local economy, and better for me personally – I am reassured of the quality of a product or produce e.g. local honey when I can have a conversation with the producer or someone close to the producer.

  12. 7 years ago

    I’m very edited that the city has embarked on a food and agriculture strategy and am pleased to hear about the upcoming conference. I believe that food is medicine and it is also what connects and builds strong communities. Building stronger, healthier connections to our food, benefits everyone. I’m disheartened at the high cost of this 1 day conference as it will exclude many important voices that should be there to share in the celebration of food becoming a bigger part of our urban environment.

  13. Nancy Siever
    7 years ago

    What is important to me about food is that it be safe, nutritious, and sustainable. I believe that locally grown and produced food is better for our environment (less fuel needed to ship long distances), puts more dollars back into our local economy, is safer and higher quality, and last but not least – tastes better!

  14. Molly
    7 years ago

    Food is important to me because it forms cultural identity. I believe local food is best as it helps our economy, is most likely to pay farmers a fair living wage and because local food has not lost many of its nutrients in transport it is better for our bodies and in the long run will decrease medical expenses. I strongly feel that healthy nutritious food should be readily available to all segments of society regardless of socioeconomic status and because of this also believe the opportunity to attend the “Food in the City” conference should also be made available to all interested citizens . The price tag of this event really limits the attendance to a small segment of our population and with limited attendance comes limited perception.

  15. […] be unable to attend because it is a market day. You can let the City know your thoughts about this here. Tagged food, notes Posted in food, notes […]

  16. Mary-Anne Janewski
    7 years ago

    What has been added to our food and how it has been grown is very important to me as I have food allergies especially to preservatives and chemicals. My children also have these sensitivities so I need to know that my food has been grown in a safe manner. Already my children like to go buy fruit and vegetables at the farmer’s markets. At 13 and 15 they get on their bikes and ride to the market over going to the local grocery store. My son prefers to only eat carrots from the farmer’s market. They have been taught to read labels from an early age and have been learning the value of nutrition and eating healthier foods.

  17. Dave Siever
    7 years ago

    I have been involved in psychology for a few decades now, and can honestly say that the majority of psychological conditions begin with poor nutrition, in which the brain becomes unstable and then destructive behaviours follow.
    Clinicians have a tendency to focus on the destructive behaviors because they don’t understand the role that nutrition plays in the brain. Just look at just how many many medical doctors are on psychotrophic meds for depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. They are victims of their own “education” for not understanding the power of nutrition.
    Food is not what we see, it’s what we don’t see! A carrot, tomato, potatoe, broccoli, etc., that is bought from the supermarket typically has about 1/5 the nutrition of an organic vegetable. So even when a person thinks that he/she is eating well by eating supermarket vegatables, if they don’t come directly from a local organic farmer, they may actually develop malnutrition and all the psychiatric disorders that accompany malnutrition, herbicides and pesticides.

    For the sake of our bodies and minds, we need as much local (and preferrably organic) farming as we can get! The government will also benefit from reduced medical costs to citizens at large.

  18. Butch Nutter
    7 years ago

    Food has been a central part of my life. My first important duty was to make sure all the chickens were in the chicken coup and then close the coup door every evening. I was 4 years old and knew this was an important job because there were weasels, mink, coyotes, skunks, and bob cats that might kill the chickens if they were out at night or the coup door not closed. I didn’t much enjoy weeding the garden or digging and washing carrots and potatoes. Harvesting beans and peas was also a chore I thought I could do without.
    When my twin sister and I were six years old, Dad taught us to milk our two milk cows so he could keep combining grain during harvest. Ruth got to milk the cow that didn’t kick. We always knew who we were eating because it was a milk cow’s calf or a calf that we had to hand feed because it’s mother died or couldn’t supply it with milk, or a 4-H calf that we had named, fed, taught to lead, and groomed to show at the Tri-County Fair. Virtually all our food was personal including the jams, jellies, and syrups we made from wild service berries, goose berries, and choke cherries we picked in the coulees. I paid part of my way through university by working in the dormitory cafeteria – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
    Although I have now been a city dweller for 50 years, I have not lost my respect for food, the people who grow, harvest, and prepare my food, and the land and water that are absolutely essential to the food I and all humans eat.
    Food is a human right because no human can live without food. We have in Edmonton some of the very best food producing land in Alberta. If we fail to protect this land from ruin by covering it with asphalt and urban housing sprawl, we will be a curse to future generations.
    Edmonton has the land, water, and human resources to develop a very vibrant, resilient, and economically important local food sector. This cannot happen if we are so foolish and short sighted that we do not protect the best of our lands. We, the many, have a huge stake in protecting our most productive food lands. We must do the right thing and preserve our wonderfully productive agriculture land.

  19. Kirsten
    7 years ago

    It’s very important to me that I know who is producing my food. I want to know how my food is being produced and I want to access food that is as close to it’s natural state as possible and as fresh as possible. We have limited producing capability in this province due to our climate, rich land that can produce fresh veggies in June is an amazing resource I want to see protected for my children and my children’s children. Especially as truck transport becomes increasingly expensive and unreliable and as we realize the limitations of industrial agriculture.

    We have the resources we need to become significantly more self-reliant. It makes environmental and economic sense. For our planet, for our health, for the health of our economy and for our independence we need a comprehensive food strategy that starts with protecting food producing land and goes from their to create local food hubs, value added production, integrated distribution networks and access for all.

  20. Louise
    7 years ago

    I agree. I would love to go to the conference, but it is about double what I could reasonably afford. Hope that there are lots of people who share similar ideas to my own who are able to go.

  21. […] many of the comments from last week’s post we heard that nutritious and healthy food is important to people. What we often find, however, is […]

  22. Heather
    7 years ago

    Food is many things to me. It speaks of gathering, connecting & community. Wholeness and connectedness both to your bodies, people around you, the community and nature. It’s a chance to slow down and take a breath, a reminder for of that “this is what it means to be human” in a world a world that I find increasing dehumanizing, where convenience and ease is are driving motivators. It’s a chance to exercise my creativity, trying new flavours, playing with texture and colour. That’a little bit of why food is important to me!

  23. Janelle
    7 years ago

    I live in Northeast Edmonton and have my whole life, I am 30 years old. My family has been growing food here for 4 generations. For me growing food here in the city is my livelihood. Edmontonians have been eating off our land for who knows how long, there is no other place like it in Edmonton. I would like to see this gem preserved for food and not paved over for highway. Food is important to me on many levels. I would like to see the city become visionary about edmonton’s food economy, there is a large demand for local foods, and the potential of our local land is not being realized because of what I believe is speculative financial gain of developers. If young people had access to land for growing local food they would. Right now young farmers cannot access affordable farm land to grow food. The city has an opportunity to help create a local food vision, where there could be an education center for students!, there could be a local food processing center, there could be a number of market gardeners like myself, there could be u-picks and community gardens! The possibilities are endless…….if there is land to do it on. Would this cost money? You ask. No….. All of this, I know could naturally happen, IF, the land is available! Why isn’t this happening now?….. Because the land is in limbo. No one in their right mind is going to invest in these kinds of operations when you don’t have long term tenure. Reserve the land for the farmers and they will keep growing food, they will even help others grow food. Pave the land over and it all ends. Soon Edmonton will have less choice in where their food comes from. Save it, save it, save it. What will happen if you pave it over? It will be gone forever…… Seize the opportunity for food choice Edmonton! You have nothing to lose! I believe there is a way for everyone to win here!

  24. Brie
    7 years ago

    I would like to know if the food that is grown in NE Edmonton stays in Edmonton. How much food can these farmers supply to the people of Edmonton? If these vegetable farmers were so concerned about farming, may I ask why they sold there land to the developers. They could have preserved there own lands for farming.

    To the ladies final comment above “Seize the opportunity for food choice Edmonton” maybe they should’ve thought about that when they sold. Of course they’ve already won with the millions of dollars in their accounts. I don’t see how the rest of the community is going to win!

    Concerned landowner in NE Edmonton

  25. aLocalGirl
    7 years ago

    Sure eating organically is healthy, sure supporting local is great… but my question here is how can we secure land in the NE for farming, growing the food for all Edmontonians?
    Are these farmers going to be given the land at a discounted rate- because this land is designated farmland- or are they going to buy the land (that they have sold, for multi-millions) back for the price that they sold it for initially? Or are we, the middle class going to keep feeding the rich?
    Do we give industrial/commercial businesses discounted prices on industrial/commercial lots a “deal” because they are going to supplying the local residents of Edmonton with goods made here? Do we promote the businesses who create beautiful pottery so that we have dishes to eat off of, do we build fences for dairy farmers in the city- because they are local, as they are producing the milk we drink?
    It is like a Doctor You want to become one, you need to make the investment just like every other individual in this world trying to make a living.
    I know farming isn’t cheap- but either is Medical School.


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