After many months of research, interviews and discussion, the much anticipated first step towards what will hopefully become a regional food system alliance for the West Kootenay is now complete.
In April of this year, funding and support was secured to carry out research into organizations in Canada and the United States which are seeking to improve their communities’ access to local, healthy and responsibly produced food by bringing together stakeholders within their local food system.
The West Kootenay is already home to a diverse community of individuals, businesses and organizations who contribute to the production, processing and distribution of food for local consumption. All combined, these efforts, their accompanying relationships, and the very act of eating, make up what can be referred to as our ‘food system.’ In recent years, the contribution of local food systems to health and well-being, the environment, the economy and culture has become widely accepted to be of critical importance. But how do we define this ‘system’ and how do we identify the relationships within it to make sure that the system is functioning in the best interest of the people it serves?
To better determine the function of a food system alliance focused on regional economic development, the committee proposes a number of initial strategies, which include, among others, coordinating and initiating a local food market economic analysis, and researching best practices and feasibility for an annual West Kootenay local food guide for both the public and businesses and institutions.
The results and recommendations generated through a local food market analysis would be followed up with region-wide consultations to narrow in on what within the local food economy is in need of the greatest attention. At that point, the form which a regional food alliance could take to carry out those strategies could be determined. The Towards a Regional Food System Alliance report will offer a strong direction on how to proceed with that stage.
“The next step is to encourage groups throughout the region to endorse the recommended next steps,” said organizer Jon Steinman, “I plan to forward a copy of the report/recommendations and invite support from the Nakusp Chamber and the Nakusp and Area Development Board.”