One of the best lessons my grandparents — all of whom lived through the Second World War and the Great Depression — taught me was, “Do the best with what you already have before you go searching for something new.”
This is a lesson that I know London could benefit from on so many different levels. We know our community faces significant challenges with food security, unemployment and income disparity. These challenges are not easy to overcome, but it is not impossible.
If we look at London, where we are geographically, we’re surrounded by some of the most prime agricultural land in all of Canada.
Farmland in Middlesex, Elgin, Oxford, Huron counties, to name a few, is where a lot of our food supply is created, yet it passes by London and travels Hwy. 401 to the food terminal in Toronto. It’s frustrating when I go to the grocery store and know that the apples in the bin have travelled a lot more than I have the past six weeks.
When we see this lengthy and needless transport of fresh food from Windsor to Toronto it’s just such a waste and it increases cost. I see there is a significant opportunity for local economic development and food security purposes in making London a food hub. One, because it will reduce food prices for everyone. Two, it will create jobs and help our local farmers because they won’t have to take their food as far away to get to market.
Over the past four years a lot of work has been done by the London Food Policy Council and the London Food Coalition to address human hunger and food waste in London. This work has built the foundation of what I think is an important move for our city to take, and that is for London to be a zero-waste community and the food hub for southwestern Ontario.
One of the things we know about fresh food is that once harvested, time is the enemy. So why do we let our food travel so much? How much food is wasted because a delivery truck waited in line to drop off a harvest? How much does the price of food increase because of how expensive this needless travelling is?
These are all reasons why sourcing our food from the terminal in Toronto is not helping the people who live here in southwestern Ontario.
The Forest City has many old industrial buildings, particularly in East London, which could fulfill this purpose perfectly. Historically, London was a food hub for southwestern Ontario. Farmers would bring their produce straight to market in London because they saw the need for getting it sold and on people’s plates quickly.
As mayor, I would work to create the opportunities necessary for London to become the region’s food hub and to be a zero-food waste community.
The community came together to save food from restaurants, grocery stores, etc., before it hits the dumpster, and actually gives that food a purpose to feed people. The creation of this remedy to eliminate food waste in our community is a big step forward.
When we make London a food hub, there are all sorts of opportunities for all Londoners to be a part of the solution.