Local or Organic? What about none at all? Many British Columbians are still going hungry



October 2, 2012 – Can you imagine paying seven dollars for a yellowing head of broccoli? Or paying 47% of your income on food? For people living in small, rural communities or for families on Income Assistance this is the reality if they want to eat a nutritious diet.

On Wednesday, September 26th the BC Alliance for Healthy Living brought people from around the province together in an on-line forum to discuss the stubborn issue of food security in BC.

According to the latest Statistics Canada numbers, less than half of British Columbians (42.3%) reported eating fruit and vegetables at least five times daily.

The high cost of housing and low wages squeeze the food budgets of low income British Columbians according to Kristen Yarker, Executive Director of Dietitians of Canada, BC Region. She adds that “a poverty reduction plan, more affordable housing and living wage policies are part of the solution that the government should be pursuing.”

“With small markets, longer distances and higher shipping costs, getting produce to small remote communities using conventional distribution results in poor quality at higher prices” explained Corine Singfield, Coordinator of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project in Bella Coola.

But those disadvantages may be the very factors that stimulate local food production and self-sufficiency. Corine says with a small population, demand can be met using small scale agriculture offering competitive prices for higher quality product.

Across Northern BC, remote communities face similar challenges but with a shorter growing season. Greg Halseth and Marleen Morris from UNBC described what may be the future. Using waste heat from bio-energy projects to power indoor hydroponic systems and heat the soil, thereby extending the growing season.

Scott McDonald, BCAHL Chair and CEO of the BC Lung Association said “Diet plays a big role in decreasing risk for many chronic diseases. Remember what your Mom said about eating your veggies – she was right. If we’re serious about disease prevention and reducing healthcare costs then we need to make it easier for more people to eat healthier.”

Just one extra serving of vegetable or fruit per day is linked to a 20% reduction in all causes of mortality.

For more information please contact:
Rita Koutsodimos, Manager Communications and Policy
Telephone: 604-629-1630 Mobile: 604-989-4546

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