World Food Day – taking a global idea and making it local

a poster about a winter vegetable box available through YYC growers and distributors

World Food Day is a U.N. sanctioned “day” to bring awareness of their goal of #ZeroHunger in the world by 2030. We have a long way to go. One in nine people in the world are still going to bed chronically hungry each day.

The Facts

A report by Brookings Institute states that, “As of 2017, over 150 million children remain stunted, roughly 820 million people are undernourished (a number that has increased for each of the last three years), and over 2.5 billion people responded that they lacked the resources needed to buy food at some point in the last 12 months, again a sharp increase.” They believe governments need to “focus on policies to raise yields and build efficient and inclusive markets, and on public and private investments needed to achieve these outcomes.” That seems like overwhelming stuff. I’m glad that there are experts in global health working on this. But, instead of feeling powerless, I feel empowered to ask what I can do on a personal and local basis?

YYC growers and distributors members
All 20 farms of YYC Growers and Distributors


In matters of food and sustainability, I often turn to my ultimate food hero, Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food International, for his guidance. He is a European Ambassador to the U.N. for #ZeroHunger. He says, “True change can happen at the food table every day, if we use our purchases to support agricultural models which show concern for the land and those who cultivate it.” Now this is something I can sink my teeth into.

After spending almost two years travelling across Alberta to interview farmers and food artisans that practice and support sustainable and regenerative agricultural models for the book Food Artisans of Alberta, I can readily think of models to support and on this World Food Day, 2018.  I’d like to share on of my favourites.

YYC Growers and Distributors

YYC Growers and Distributors is a farmer owned producer cooperative that offers a year round weekly harvest box. According to their website there are currently 20 farms (both rural and urban) that partner to:

  1. Through production, aggregation, and distribution; provide local, organic food to customers at a price that is fair to consumers and producers.
  2. Strengthen market presence for member-growers and reduce marketing costs for individual member-growers.
  3. Demonstrate that urban farming is a viable use of land in Calgary.
  4. Exemplify the functionality of partnerships between urban and rural farms.

The group are currently trying to supply 450 families in the Calgary area with a year round weekly subscription vegetable box. Sounds great right? Well, it would be, if they could sell all those subscriptions. Sadly, this week, past president Dennis Scanland reached out to let me know they are “woefully behind on sales.” He shared that, “This winter we are moving towards a year round harvest box and would like to have an amazing family of customers. People can just sign up for a quarter of the year at a time for $29.95 per week. If they sign up for the full year, it’s only $28.95 a week. And if they pay for the whole year in advance, we will discount a full $2 a week and set the price at $27.95. ”

A winter harvest box MAY have items like:  Beets, Parsnips, Potatoes, Carrots, Radish, Lettuce, Cabbage, Mustard Greens, Garlic, Basil, frozen saskatoon berries, Winter Squash, Pumpkins, Onions, Turnips, Horseradish, Collards, Sun chokes, Honey, Preserves, Micro-greens, Basil, Mushrooms, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, pepper, Sauerkraut and more.  To sign up, you simply head over to the registration page. Delivery starts the week of November 5, 2018.

Are you eating enough vegetables?

If there is one thing I learned in writing Food Artisans of Alberta, it’s how dangerously close we are to losing our farms and farmers. If we want fresh, fabulous, nutritious food, we’ll need to us our purchasing power to support innovative cooperatives like YYC Growers and Distributors. The alternative is to be at the mercy of a global food system that will lead us vulnerable to pricing extremes and blindsiding “shocks” to food systems.

Subscribing to a weekly vegetable box has perks. You’ll have less grocery shopping to do. You can challenge yourself to cook with more vegetables. And, you’ll be eating food with greater nutrition at affordable pricing.

Happy World Food Day. Buy what you need. Eat it up. Decrease waste. And, think about how powerful you are with each and every food purchase you make.

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