by Anne Jardine
Local Food Security & Kootenay-Columbia Part 1
The concept of local food security is important for a number of reasons to Wayne Stetski, NDP Candidate for Kootenay-Columbia.
“From an environmental perspective, I was initially struck by the way a diverse local food supply can reduce the world’s carbon footprint. If you can grow food close to home, there is less need to ship it across great distances, resulting in lower fuel costs and less strain on planetary transport systems,” says Stetski.
“Looking at the geographic features of our region, we do not have any major shipping centres in the Kootenay-Columbia. There really are only the two main highways and two small airports. If we were to get cut off from those access points, in a disaster situation - say in a fire, flood, or major storm incident, the Kootenays would be stranded. In such circumstances it becomes a matter of survival to have diverse and abundant local food sources,” he adds.
As this summer has shown, disasters are a frightening possibility, but one that people who serve in government must be prepared for. Therefore, it is no surprise that Stetski would mention this as one of his first considerations, as he has worked as a public servant and elected official at all three levels of government.
Since food is essential to our physical, social, cultural, and economic health,
our food supply is not just a matter for times of emergency. Still thinking in terms of the public good, Stetski continues, “Food production is part of the economy. There are economic benefits to having a strong local food and agriculture sector.”
“The farm market contributes greatly to local communities, by providing jobs, by enlivening local and regional commerce, by the multiplier effect of dollars earned and then spent in the region. In Cranbrook alone, the productive local farms, ranches, and gardens bring over a million dollars into the economy,” says Stetski.