Rising Cost of Food and the Role Local Food Plays

Welcome! This is the panel discussion being
hosted by the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia. We’re here to have a conversation about the
rising cost of food and how a local food system fits into all that. Let me give you a bit
of introduction about where the conversation is going to go and then I’ll introduce our
panelists and then we’ll jump right in. Maybe you’ve seen it in the news lately, or maybe
your looking at your latest grocery bill and wondering how it is that your food costs are
so high. You know that cauliflower that costs $7 that we keep hearing about. It’s no secret,
food costs are rising in Canada and in Nova Scotia as well. The weak dollar as well as
environmental changes are affecting crops in countries where we import food. Climate
and environmental changes are contributing to unpredictable shortages. The rising cost
of cauliflower, the sharp recent cost, was a combination of the lowering of the Canadian
Dollar and a supply shortage as California experienced a severe draught. According to
the Food Institute at Guelph University, 81% of all fruits and vegetables in Canada are
imported and the numbers in Nova Scotia are much the same. In Nova Scotia it was found
that 13% of the food consumed in Nova Scotia is produced locally, and our reliance on imported
food leaves us highly vulnerable to currency fluctuations and that’s what we’re experiencing
now. The rising cost of food prices is affecting all Canadians, particularly those living on
low incomes. Certainly the lower the household income, the higher their risk of food insecurity.
So where do we go from here? Over the next hour we’ll look at the current situation,
its causes and impacts, as well as what we can expect in the coming months. We’ll also
look at the role of local food, and the impact of localizing our food system here in Nova
Scotia. There are three terms that you’ll likely hear throughout the evening for the
purposes of this panel, and I thought they might be worth just spelling out quickly.
So again, for the purposes of this panel when we use the term “Local Food”, we’re generally
speaking about food that is grown, caught, raised, or produced in Nova Scotia. And when
we’re talking about local food systems, we’re talking simply about the path that food takes
from field to fork, so growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, marketing, transporting,
consuming, and even the disposal of food. The dominant food system is often called the
Industrial Food System, and it’s a global system in which Canada and Nova Scotia import
and export food. A more localized food system in contrast is more rooted in a place and
serving of that place. And lastly, the term Food Security will certainly come up throughout
our conversation this evening, and we’ll dive in much deeper, but as a starting point, food
security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient,
safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs, their food preferences, and are able
to in that way live a healthy and active life. So let me give you a quick introduction to
our panelists. First we have Ann Huntley. Ann and her husband Joel operate Moon Tide
Farm, a small-scale, family run mixed farming enterprise in the beautiful Scot’s Bay Nova
Scotia. Moon Tide Farm sells at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, they operate a community
supported agriculture program, and they maintain an on-farm produce stand. Their farm is based
on principles of healthy and sustainable rural landscape and economy. Andrew Bergel is an
instructor at the College of Sustainability at Dalhousie, he is a PHD Candidate in the
Department of Political Science, a Killam Scholar, and a Doctoral Fellow at the European
Union Centre of Excellence. Prior to moving to Nova Scotia, Andrew worked in banking and
finance in New York City, and he is our resident economist on this panel tonight, welcome,
Andrew. And then we have Aimee Carston. Aimee is a Community Food Coordinator with the Ecology
Action Centre and co-chair of the Halifax Food Policy Alliance. She works with individuals
and communities to build and expand local food infrastructure, and on other initiatives
that aim to strengthen the local food systems here in Nova Scotia. Aimee is also the owner
of Beanstalk Baby Food, a local company that makes frozen, hand-crafted baby food using
locally sourced ingredients. And lastly, I’m Keltie Butler, the Executive Director of the
Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative, and I’m thrilled to be hosting tonight! So
from there, I think we’ll actually jump right in and ask Andrew if he can give us a bit
of context to the conversation, maybe adding to why food costs are rising, what we can
expect to see in the coming months, and are food trends like this commonplace in our economic
system. Andrew Bergel: Hello, and good evening, everyone.
I think that you were really right to point out that it’s really a global system, and
I think in that regard, Canada sort of finds itself in a particularly difficult spot within
that system and that is that Canada is very heavily dependent upon a single trading partner,
and that tends to be the United States. In the recent year or two we’ve seen the US Dollar
rise pretty dramatically across the board, but especially strongly against the Canadian
Dollar. And one of the reasons for that really is that the Canadian Dollar was more or less
pinned to the price of oil, unfortunately. And as oil collapsed, so did the Canadian
Dollar. This sort of left a problem for Canada long-term, one of that is of course inflation
is that as your dollar grows weaker, then anything you import costs more, and when you
import something that costs more you have to pass that onto your consumer, which is
one of the main reasons why food has become so much more expensive. One of the problems
with food especially is that it’s a perishable good, so you tend to see the inflation come
a little bit faster than you do in durable goods, where you can fill your inventory for
six months, maybe even a year in some cases, at prices a year ago, whereas now you have
to replenish food relatively quickly, so you’re constantly at the mercy of that lowering currency.
That said, there are some things that are good for the food industry overall with the
lowering prices of commodities and oil, because oil is one of the main components for things
like fertilizer, and so, it’s kind of a, Canada is being particularly badly hit because of
its currency pinned to oil, but for other countries it hasn’t been quite as dramatic
because they’ve been able to reap the benefits of lower inputs. So this puts Canada in a
sort of particularly difficult situation, and perhaps one where looking to more local
industries would be advantageous. Often countries in the past have looked at the damage that
a lower currency has done to their economy as a way of using that to springboard into
relying more on local industry, and also for exports, because now products made in Canada
are cheaper to sell abroad, which is another option if local food industries here get even
stronger. It’s kind of difficult to say exactly what will happen in the coming months, it’s
always dangerous to try to predict these things, but I would say that we’re not going to be
seeing oil coming back anytime very soon, it looks like we have a lot of slowdown in
the global economy, which will pretty much lower demand and continue to keep that demand
low. We also have a lot of technology increases in the oil extraction which makes it cheaper
to pull out and more types of oil accessible. All that being said, I think what you’re looking
at in the coming months is probably a bit more of the same. One of the only possible
silver linings for food pricing coming from abroad will be if el nino does cause a lot
more rain in California and the American Southwest where a lot of these products come from, but
I don’t think in the case of Canada that it’s going to help nearly as much as it might elsewhere,
perhaps say the domestic US economy, it will be more of a help than it is here because
of those currency conversions. This does provide an interesting opportunity to look to create
local food industry that could be more resilient and could also be there in the future regardless
of market fluctuations, because I think that that’s really the key is that you don’t want
to build an industry around a market fluctuation, because they are fleeting and eventually that
industry will then get exposed. So I think the key is to use this opportunity to figure
out the best way to implement a local food industry here, and one in which is efficient
and effective long-term. Keltie Butler: So that sort of leads me to
wonder what the impacts of local food are here on the ground, and we’ve certainly been
seeing some of this in media coverage. Food secure Canada has been quite active on it,
but Aimee or Ann, could you add to that conversation in terms of what does it look like on the
ground for Nova Scotians? what does it look like for you as a farmer and a business owner?
And Andrew, feel free to jump in on that as well. Aimee Carson: Sure, I can go ahead. I think
the affects of rising food costs are quite varied, and one of the stats that Diana from
Food Secure Canada often quotes is that 1 in 8 households in Canada are still having
trouble feeding their families, and that’s roughly four million Canadians. And so I think
for these people who are already struggling to afford food and feed their families, rising
food costs impacts them a lot more. And so when we think about the affects on the ground,
those who are particularly vulnerable are those who are already affected by issues of
food security. So these are people living on low or fixed incomes, and social assistance.
People who live in rural and remote communities who already have difficulties accessing food.
I just want to state that, although the rising food costs do affect everyone, they definitely
affect a certain sector of the population more, and right now in Canada and in Nova
Scotia that is a very big portion of our population. I think that’s really important. And then
the other thing I would add – we’re also going to be seeing other trends, so I was recently
in a conversation with a restaurant owner, and he said, “well, you know, I’m changing
the things that I’m serving, because I just can’t afford to buy certain kinds of vegetables
anymore, so I’m actually shifting what I’m serving my customers.” So, there are repercussions
like that, and for me as a local business owner, I’m looking at, I mean I never did
buy imported vegetables, but now it actually reiterates the fact that purchasing from local
farmers makes a whole lot of sense. Keltie Butler: Great, and Ann, just before
you jump in, I’ll just add to what Aimee was saying. You mentioned that the stats are that
1 in 8 households in Canada, and stats that were released by the Canadian Journal of Public
Health describe Nova Scotia as having the highest level of food insecurity in the country,
with about 17% food insecurity in Nova Scotia and 20% almost in Halifax in particular. So
that would be 1 in 5 people facing food insecurity in Halifax. Certainly it’s a very important
piece of this multifaceted conversation and situation. Ann Huntley: I’m not sure that this is the
appropriate time to mention it, but I also feel that as a local farmer, sometimes we
have unrealistic seasonal expectations. People adjusting their diet or maybe perhaps not
“needing” strawberries in January or cauliflower in February may be a more realistic approach
as well. We do have frozen foods that are flash frozen when they’re fresh, and that
is a good alternative for a lot of people. I think sometimes our expectations are not
matching reality for folks as well. Keltie Butler: And for me, Ann, that really
speaks to the idea of what is the real cost of food, and what are those externalities?
Andrew, would you mind sort of giving us a bit of an understanding of externalities in
our economic system? Andrew Bergel: Sure. Unfortunately they are
actually looked at it that way, because we tend to just externalize them and not have
them affect the system, but the true fact is that the externalities affect a lot of
things, and a lot of them can be even a lot of the carbon footprint when it comes to food.
This can cause things like climate change and accelerate that, as well as cause damage
to the economy in general. Unfortunately the way that economists look at externalities
is that they are something that shouldn’t really be accounted for in that particular
system. In some cases, externalities are even kind of looked upon sort of favourably because
they create other cottage industries around them to help clean them up, and therefore
create more growth. So when we count everything in terms of absolute growth, sometimes externalities
can seem not the worst thing in the world, but the truth is that we live a closed system,
we all live on one planet, we don’t have, we can’t just get rid of stuff, so now they’re
coming back to really haunt us, a lot of the externalities we never counted throughout
the 20th Century, a lot of the using coal fire power plants, using various chemicals
and things like paper mills, the destruction and overuse of water in industrial agriculture.
All of these things are now coming back, and they’re part of the reason why we have things
like draughts, or we have issues like…California itself is almost kind of like a constructed
state, given how water was moved down to a desert to basically grow a lot of things.
So this now is coming back to haunt us a little bit. And I think that the point that was made
that we don’t just need to look at using local food and eating local food, we also need to
look at the idea of eating seasonally because that would also perhaps enhance the local
food market and make it more competitive than if it has to compete against strawberries
coming from California, which, have to be transported all the way over here. Unfortunately
one of the side affects was that transportation is also cheaper. That’s one of the things
that I think that the local food industry will have to gauge when it decides to compete
against a lot of these imports coming in. Especially if the Canadian Dollar begins to
strengthen again. Aimee Carston: Keltie, I would just add, that
was a list of a whole bunch of externalities that sometimes are quite easy to think about,
and one thing that is coming up more and more is, now we’re even seeing social externalities
in the form of the obesity epidemic, healthcare costs, things like that, that are actually
furthering this issue around embedded costs in the food system that are not showing up.
I just wanted to add that those are also some of these externalities that are actually showing
up in the human population, which are sort of feeding into this issue. Keltie Butler: And so this for me sort of
brings up a bit of the conversation that happens around the idea of should food be cheap? We
often.. currently it’s very popular to use the language of rights, so a right to clean
water, a right to clean air, and things like that, and sometimes food gets brought into
that as well, and in some ways I think it paints a picture that yes, there is one thing
to say that good food, affordable food, or healthy food should be a right, but what does
that mean in terms of affordability. Is there a difference between affordable food and being
able to afford food given our current socio-economic situation? How do we sort of bring those two
into play? Because there are people like Ann who are growing our food and so cheap food
is certainly not a way to sustain our agriculture industry or our farmers in our rural communities.
Ann, would you have anything to say about that? Ann Huntley: I guess from a farming perspective,
or as farmers, the one thing that we encounter a lot with our customers is that we would
like to make a living doing the profession that we have chosen to do and have spent time
educating ourselves and working at and getting better and better with each growing season.
Generally I would say with small scale farmers, all of us work for less than minimum wage.
And we’re talking about food insecurity, but I think even sometimes amoung farmers we’re
food insecure, because we’re competing against grocery stores which are working on such large
volumes with such large companies with such cheap transportation, our seed costs are going
up also with the dollars, our input costs also go up. We don’t use fertilizers so we
don’t reap that benefit. We’re also trying to make a living, and so for us the cost of
food is based on our cost of production, and what does it actually cost us to produce this
food, making a wage of not anything exorbitant, but $12 an hour would be nice as a wage, I
don’t think we’re asking for anything exorbitant here. Some of that is efficiencies within
your own business, you get better at things, things get more expedient, or leaner on your
own farms, but should food be cheap? I don’t think it should be a whole lot cheaper than
it is right now because I think many local farmers struggle to make ends meet as it is. Keltie Butler: In putting a few background
thoughts together for tonight I did come across a couple of stats around how much Canadians
are spending on food. I’ve heard it a few times in terms of while food costs are rising,
the percentage we spend on food is not rising, or it hasn’t risen. One from media coverage
from back in 2011 where it was said that food prices have consistently trended higher over
the years, but the percentage of household spending devoted to food has fallen significantly.
And another piece which is from Oxfam Canada which said that Canadians spend less than
10% of their income on food. So to me, that’s sort of an interesting piece to bring in as
well. Andrew, do you have any thoughts around that? I’m sure some of that relates to, as
we move away from spending the majority of our income on our basic needs, but maybe you
can add a bit more to that. Andrew Bergel: I think that this is the constant
battle between the consumer and the idea of local production. It may be initially a little
bit more expensive to buy locally, but I think that over time you reap the benefits of that
because you keep the money also locally. It begins to circulate that way and you, your
neighbours, people on your street, your community, your city, and even your province reap the
benefits of that. There is sort of this idea, it’s kind of like the first law of microeconomics,
is that consumers are self-interested. And so they’re going to always want to pay the
cheapest price. So if the supermarket can import things from abroad, industrial scale
that are highly commoditized and that supply chain is very cheap that can bring it to that
supermarket, they may very well go and buy that instead, because it’s in their self-interest
to pay less. Unfortunately what we are seeing, when we were discussing a moment ago about
externalities and things like obesity, a lot of that is because of buying cheaper sort
of less nutritious food, because we think, well, as long as we have the calories we need
to get through the day then that’s fine. And I spent less money. But that has an externality
later on, and one that impacts the local economy quite dramatically because the health care
expenditures are huge. So the trick is to figure out something that is far more holistic
of an approach and to try to convince not just the local government to come on board
or local industry to come on board, but it is really about educating the consumer and
getting the local consumer to come on board with this idea that yes, maybe you will pay
a little bit more buying something locally, but that money will stay within the system
locally and therefore will benefit you and offer more economic opportunity within that
system, as well as probably be a lot more nutritious. Keltie Butler: And Ann, so from a farming
perspective, are you seeing some rising costs for you as a farmer? Are there certain inputs
used in your way of farming that you can expect to have increases in price? Or what can we
expect to see in the local food system compared to in our grocery stores and in more of the
industrial food system? Ann Huntley: We’ve just done our crop planning
for the year, and ordered seeds and that sort of thing, and we do use non GMO seeds and
we use small seed houses and then some larger ones, but we do have our specific favourites,
and we do use one seed house that is local and Maine Johnny Selected Seed, and they’re
in the US. And so our seed prices are significantly more this year for those things, and then
we will have to sort of distribute that out. In addition, we’re also seeing our growing
mixes are more expensive this year and I don’t know exactly why that is, but the companies
are owned by multinationals in many cases, and the Canadian Dollar isn’t strong, and
so even though we get growing mix from Halifax Seed, or New Brunswick Cardwell Farms, it’s
still impacting that. How much will we see things go up? Not terribly, we don’t like
to shock our customers any more than we like to be shocked when we shop for things, we’ll
try to keep things within reason certainly, but I would say maybe five or ten percent
just because we’re experiencing those costs and a farmer can only eat so much loss. Keltie Butler: I think we’re headed more and
more into the conversation of how a localized or a more localized food system can help us
out in our current situation, and sort of paint a different picture and a more resilient
picture for Nova Scotia. What strategies or approaches can we look at to enhance our individual
and our collective resilience in the face of this complex situation of rising cost of
food, import reliance, food insecurity? Does this situation make the case for more investment
in a local food system? Aimee Carston: Yeah, absolutely. I think it
builds the case for a lot of things and this shift away from imports is a really big one.
First of all, I will mention something that often gets missed in this conversation, and
that is the notion of conservation. Food waste is a massive issue in the food system, and
I think the amount of food waste that happens at a household, at a retail and at an institutional
level is insane. I think I read a stat that was around 31 billion dollars a year, and
that was from 2014. The issue of food waste has to come up in this conversation somewhere.
It is a really important consideration when we look at how to rebuild a more sustainable
food system. Secondly, I would say it really comes with a shift or a switch to diets and
local food infrastructure that is more regional. So as Ann was mentioning earlier, generally
consumers awareness and understanding about what it means to shift our diets to a more
regional diet and understanding what foods are produced locally, what we can expect to
find from local farmers, showing up at the farmers’ market and actually validating that
assumption that the farmers’ markets are more expensive, which as we know in many cases
they are not. I think we make a lot of assumptions about local food, which actually aren’t tested
in our day-to-day lives. The other area I think sits a little more within Government,
whether that be municipalities or provincial governments, and that really is investing
in local food infrastructure. And when I say that, I mean everything from protecting agricultural
lands, preserving our watershed, to building that local food infrastructure that we absolutely
have lost over time both in Nova Scotia and in Canada. We’ve seen both distribution and
retail being consolidated. There are certain situations where Nova Scotia we’ve maintained
some diversification of crops and things like that, but fundamentally distribution and retail
are becoming more and more consolidated and so I think efforts need to be focused there.
We’ve lost a lot of processing facilities, the ability to process and manufacture goods
here in Nova Scotia is slowly dwindling, and there are other issues like farmers are getting
older and not being replaced. So I think investments in all of those kinds of things are absolutely
critical and I would say finally the third strategy is around public policy. We talked
earlier about the tension between affordable food and people being able to afford food,
the root cause of food insecurity is poverty. So in order to address people being able to
afford food, we need to critically examine the social policies that support people in
having enough income and being able to afford food. There are also policies related to food
and agriculture, local procurement policies, healthy eating guidelines, all of these things
that can be applied to institutions and things like that. I would say within those three
buckets, there are a lot of ways that we can address this. Keltie Butler: Ann or Andrew, I just want
to welcome you guys to jump in if that spurred any thoughts. And if not I’m happy to put
out another question. I think I saw Ann noting a few things down. Ann Huntley: I am thankful for the opportunity
to have even an hour long panel to discuss some of these things because it is such a
complex issue, and those buckets are overflowing. There’s so many ways, really, that we can
get more local food to support and sustain and build a local food system. There’s so
many ways to sort of address these issues. From a farming perspective, as a small farmer,
I absolutely see the need for infrastructure development. Even to comply with health codes
and traceability, things that the government wants us to do, but for small farmers it’s
really really difficult to comply with. To have help from the Government as you’re navigating
those systems, or also financial help to just re-setup the processing plants or the lines
to freeze food. We don’t have that sort of infrastructure in Canada, or in Nova Scotia
at this point anymore. If we want to talk about a real viable local food system, I would
love to see 30 small farms rather than one big industrial farm growing lots of food for
folks, and if the infrastructure were there to help us do that, that would be great. Currently
the public policy, at least coming from the department of agriculture, doesn’t seem to
be geared towards that, however their ears are somewhat opening and they are listening
to small farmers. I’ve seen steps going towards that direction. That’s a good thing. Andrew Bergel: I would agree with all of that
100%. I think that you need to look at the downstream activities even beyond the farms
to make sure that this can be a holistic approach. As an American I am going to say something
now that might get everyone a little bit upset, but I think one of the biggest problems that
I’ve really encountered getting to know the Canadian market a lot better since I’ve been
here is that Canada seems to be a place where everyone is really happy to give all their
resources away and not get anything value added out of it. Things even like the obsession
over the Keystone Pipeline to get all the oil down, that was all to get all the oil
down to the states to refine it there and give all those good cushy refining jobs to
Americans, and the Canadians didn’t want to do it here. It’s very happy to give away their
resources, but not happy to actually make the money on the value added industry. That
also needs to be approached within the system. Because if you just have the farmers, you
don’t have all of the industry, and the smaller industries around it that create tons of jobs
and can actually create the economic engine that you are looking for and can make that
a really powerful component of your economy. And that can be such a powerful aspect of
it that at that point farmers here in Nova Scotia may not even have to just depend on
Nova Scotians for their only market, that they can begin to export out. And that would
be quite wonderful, especially given that we have all these free trade agreements coming
up, whether it’s with Europe or Asia Pacific, and if Nova Scotia isn’t ready for those,
they could be overwhelmed by products coming from externally – imported in. However if
the industries here can be made more resilient and be made more integrated, we could have
a very powerful economic engine within the province. This is really a problem that is
a bit Canada wide, but is especially acute here in the Maritimes and Nova Scotia. Keltie Butler: On that note, does anyone on
the panel have a perspective on Nova Scotia in terms of how we have some strong points
or where we do have good footing to build our local food security? I can certainly think
in terms of the Farmers’ Market sector, as I love to sort of proudly share, we have the
highest number of Farmers’ Markets per capita in Canada, and in our farmers’ markets across
the province, there are over 1500 individual businesses operating. And some of those are
certainly on a very small scale, and some of them are on a much larger scale. We have
businesses selling out of the farmers’ market that are making a living, that are making
their living and are also employing other people. And whether that’s in primary production,
or as Andrew was mentioning, this value added aspect, and that is certainly a piece that
we are hearing from the provincial government, from the department of Agriculture is wanting
to do more value adding. But value adding requires infrastructure. Aimee Carston: I think the only thought that’s
coming to me is that… and I can’t speak to it definitively, but I have no doubt that
our agricultural capacity is entirely under utilized. Yes, we have a short growing season,
but there are a lot of season extension techniques that farmers are using, and also, there is
a lot of land that is currently un-tapped that could be used for agricultural production.
So when we look at, I think we are producing a good, diversity of crops here in Nova Scotia
given the weather that we have here and the shorter season, however I don’t believe from
what I’ve read that we are tapped out in terms of the amount of food that we could be producing
and setting up, as Andrew says, for potential trade. I know that we are seeing redundancies
in trade in Nova Scotia, you know we’re bringing in apples while we export some of these world
renowned varieties, and I think that is a major, major issue, like let’s feed local
populations before we start exporting massive amounts of things, however I still think something
comes back to the amount of land that we actually have under production and how we can start
to increase that and build the infrastructure to be able to support that value add stuff. Andrew Bergel: I think you’re always going
to need to import some things, but I think that, what Aimee is getting at, is totally
true. It doesn’t need to be at the level that it is right now, and it can also be much more
of a give and take instead of pretty much just a take overall, which is what it seems
to be in a lot of categories. Keltie Butler: Ann, as a farmer on the ground,
do you have a sense of both resiliency from our farming community? I know you’re certainly
very passionate about that, and also do you have hopes for certain things to turn around? Ann Huntley: I think that there’s a resiliency.
The United Nations has said that small farming is really the most sustainable way for people
to be eating food. It’s not the big multinationals, thats when things kind of can go awry very
quickly. That’s where we see all the lysteria outbreaks, and the food safety concerns, they’re
not coming from the little guys, they’re coming from the big ones. Nova Scotia also has this
fantastic track record. In the last Census, it was the only province in the entire country
where we are growing small farms. So more people are entering small farming in Nova
Scotia than anywhere else in the country and I think that that needs to be supported and
heralded. I think it’s a great thing. I do see more young people coming on board. The
skill set may be not at the caliber and the capacity to grow the volumes of food that
we need, but give these folks 10 years and they’ll be there. They will have the skill
set to be able to grow as is needed I think. I feel that the future is bright, but we do
need some help, certainly in terms of infrastructure and changing the culture even in institutions
– why are hospitals not serving fantastic food from local folks, universities… there
are lots of inroads certainly that could be made but it’s a chicken and egg situation.
The volumes of produce isn’t there because no one is buying it, and you can’t ask producers
to ramp up if there is no contract to pay them. Keltie Butler: That’s a great point, and I
think it is going to take us very nicely into the next question which I think is a question
we have all heard before. Just before I unveil it, I just wanted to say that one other piece
that gives me a lot of belief in the local food system here in Nova Scotia are the many
stories coming from the businesses selling local foods, selling value added local foods,
and one local initiative which you are likely all familiar with is the FarmWorks Investment
Cooperative in Nova Scotia. FarmWorks Investment for those listening is a cooperative and it’s
quite unusual actually, it’s technically a CDIF. Aimee, can you give me what those letters
stand for? Aimee Carson: Community Development Investment
Fund Keltie Butler: Thank you. So it is a Community
Development Investment Fund, which means that each of us as Nova Scotians can invest in
this fund and it is a fund in which so far people have been getting a return, and with
that money its specifically going to support local producers. Ann, I don’t think that your
farm… have you guys interacted with Farm Works? Ann Huntley: We’ve interacted and supported
and done things with FarmWorks, but we’re not currently clients of FarmWorks. Keltie Butler: But there are certainly lots
of great local businesses that are, and certainly many within the farmers’ market sector, that’s
for sure. So I think it’s one example that also speaks to what has been talked about
here, which is that there is a culture change as well that has to come along with it. When
you think of Nova Scotians that are choosing to buy local and also to invest in local,
that’s something. So that question that we were talking about, is it possible for Nova
Scotia to feed itself? Can we all start eating local food? And then to make the conversation
a little bit more realistic, where do we start? Nothing happens overnight. Ann Huntley: I guess the first point maybe
that I would say when you do small scale farming, sometimes you have the pleasure of talking
to a lot of old timers picking people’s brains, and the one thing that I can say is that two
generations ago, 85% of the food that Nova Scotians ate came from Nova Scotia. So is
it possible? I’d say darn tootin’, it is possible. It has been done before. So, yeah. Maybe not
bananas and mangos and oranges, but certainly meat, vegetables, dairy, our basic staple
foods certainly could be coming from Nova Scotia. Aimee Carson: I would just add, I mean I like
that optimism, and I’m going to go with “I agree”. I think that the change is going to
come incrementally, obviously, and I think what is surfacing here tonight is that there
are so many of these underlaying factors that contribute to this. I think that just as we
have opportunities to purchase local food, I think more and more as consumers and as
members of society we have more opportunities to be touched by local food, so I think with
this surge in rising food costs, what we’re also seeing is a rise in urban agriculture,
a rise in community gardens, a rise in Farmers’ Markets, more community supported agriculture,
more bulk buying programs. We’re seeing things that are indirectly exposing us to local food
and to the joy that local food brings and to meeting our farmers and all of those things.
So I think that that shift that’s going to happen with consumers is very possible, and
as that slowly happens we can slowly start to up the supply. We slowly meet demand, we
put in place institutional procurement policies, our hospitals have local food, our schools
have healthy food programs, so all of these things working together will help us get there,
whether or not it’s going to be 100%, part of me I think Nova Scotia and Canada is always
going to be a trading nation, but ultimately how close can we get to food resiliency and
sustainability? Andrew Berger: I would whole heartedly agree
with Aimee there. Just moving the needle I think is where it needs to start. I don’t
think we’re ever going to be 100% to be perfectly honest, and I don’t think the economy here
is built to be 100%, but I think it can be a lot higher than it is now, and I think that
the combination of both the social and the political will is there, or at least beginning
to be on the political side from what I’m beginning to see or at least they are trying
to find new ways and new industries, but I think that on the social level the will is
definitely there to engage more during this. And I think that if you are looking at the
economic situation right now it makes perfect sense to push forward. I think that there
is a very very good argument to say that this is… you’re not going to get that much better
of an environment right now to push for local food than when everything imported from the
United States is 40% more than it was three years ago. Just on a currency currency level.
So that alone is huge. But I also think we need to account for some of the things at
Ann mentioned, and that is that input costs are also a lot higher for local farmers in
many ways and so that also needs to be figured out and looked at by the government and how
can we maybe figure out better ways of fixing that situation and perhaps giving this industry
a bit of a boost and incentivizing this industry. I believe in markets and all that kind of
good stuff but I also think that when you have an industry that is just about to grow
and rise I think you do need to offer it some level of incentive and protection before it
is ready to fully compete, and I believe that when it comes to local markets I think that
is just the same as it is on huge national markets as well. I think that if this is an
industry that the government wants to back and wants to assist, I believe there are ways
of going about that. And there are ways of making it easier, and infrastructure is pretty
much the start. Keltie Butler: For me what Andrew was just
saying just reiterates and brings to mind the point that our provincial government has
actually set a target for local food consumption here in Nova Scotia. So under the environmental
goals and sustainable prosperity act, our provincial government has made a commitment
that by the year 2020, 20% of the food consumed in Nova Scotia will be produced in Nova Scotia.
So that would be an increase up from 13% which was the stat in 2011. And then interestingly
the Ivany Report it had something as well to say about agriculture, and in fact parts
of the Ivany Report emphasize the importance of our agricultural industry on our economy.
I think it was goal 17, if anyone wants to look it up in the Ivany Report, states that
we should be aiming to double our domestic agricultural products here in the province,
our provincial domestic. So not 20%, but 50%, so that sounds pretty appealing to me. So
what about going into a bit more specifics about I’ll throw two parts out to you at the
same time and see what grabs your attention. One is what is the next step in terms of local
food infrastructure here in Nova Scotia, and also what is the role in terms of infrastructure
and culture change and incentivizing all these pieces, what is the role of our government?
Of our municipal governments, our provincial governments? If anyone wants to take a stab
at either or both of those… Aimee Carson: I mean the first thing that
I would say is that food is a cross cutting issue, so whether you’re looking within the
municipality or within the province, at the level of the province it doesn’t sit within
the department of Ag or the department of education, it is a business issue, it’s agriculture,
it’s education, it’s all of these things, and so I think communication between departments
is extremely critical if we’re looking at solutions that are going to solve this thing,
and I would say that also applies for municipalities as well. Food is a planning issue, its a transportation
issue, it’s an issue connected to affordable housing, so all of that sits within municipal
jurisdiction and I think that there are many ways that the municipality can actually work
on those issues. So just the notion that food is a cross cutting issue I think is a really
critical one. Within the municipality, first I just want to say that I think Halifax is
doing really great. I think fortunately we have a mayor who is a great champion for food
and food security has been identified as a key priority for Halifax and so a number of
programs are emerging to support food across the city including a great community garden
program, and other programs like that. I think municipal food party councils are… (laughter)
I am just hearing a baby. Keltie Butler: Real life on the farm Ann Huntley: Sorry! Aimee Carson: That’s alright! Yeah, I think
so looking at the ways in which cities are designed, making sure transportation is in
place so that people can access grocery stores and food outlets, making sure there are green
spaces for people to enjoy and install community gardens, all of these sort of things exist
at the municipal level. And I’m going to end it there, I’m going to let someone else talk. Andrew Berger: I think that what is key I
mean the best way to really figure out how to make this industry as effective and resilient
as possible is for the government to continue to sit down with the local farmers and figure
out what is most needed within the system, and then try to create those kinds of incentives
for them and for other businesses to work with them. I think that is the most critical
factor. And for those industries to really be nurtured at this point, at this sort of
critical phase, so that they can be more effective and really scale up, to push that needle up
to 20 even 50 percent at a certain point in the future. I think that it’s very, very difficult,
I’m sure that Ann could probably back this up, it’s very difficult for small scale local
farmers to compete with the industrial food industry in certain aspects and getting some
type of incentives in place, especially for the type of needed infrastructure that they
would have to have. And also perhaps to set up agreements with a lot of local government
run (to a degree) industries, like hospitals and schools and universities where the government
does have an influence. To make those deals and to figure out more ways of getting local
food into the system. And making it more everywhere, not just at the farmers’ markets, which I
think is an excellent start, and is an excellent system, but in order to get to that 20 or
50 percent, we need to move beyond those particular ways of distributing it. Ann Huntley: I guess my comment.. as a farmer
I would love to see more infrastructure assistance. Also we’re… I’m actually with a group of
folks here in the Annapolis Valley who are looking to start a producer co-op so that
we can come together and solve some of these distribution issues because we’re all driving
to the city in each of our individual cars and we’re doing our own invoicing. It doesn’t
make sense. So if we can spend more time farming and less time doing some of that and consolidate
some of those pieces, I think all of our businesses will be better. However, obtaining money to
do that, or to buy a building, or to have consolidated cold storage or freezing rooms
or processing lines is going to be a challenge for us, certainly. It’s something that I would
love to have help from the department of agriculture. As a farmer, that’s kind of the first place
that you start, however I will also say that FarmWorks has sort of at least verbally said
“yeah, yeah we’re happy to support these sorts of initiatives, so just come to us and we’ll
kind of make it happen”. Which is interesting that the private sector is the one stepping
up to the plate. In addition to that, another thing that I did want to say is that in a
comment to what Andrew was saying I did attend one of these back-and-forth sort of conversations
with department of agriculture about six weeks ago where they are doing some focus groups
with small scale farmers and they’re trying to listen to what we really do need. Infrastructure
and some of the red tape associated with food safety concerns are on the top of the top
five list that are things that are holding folks back, in addition to access to capital.
The department is sort of getting on board with that, and that’s a good thing. I wanted
to sort of just cheer on Aimee’s comment that these are complex issues and that it does
involve interdisciplinary, interdepartmental conversations with people, even something
as simple as starting a community garden will involve many different areas even within municipal
government to get the land, to get the permits, to be able to do it, to get somebody to say
okay. These are complex issues, so, yeah. I’ll stop there. Aimee Carson: Keltie, the one point I’ll just
add is our newly elected prime minister has indicated that a National food strategy is
in his plan which is he first time that we’ve ever seen that, and I think a huge step. He
had even said that he is relying on his staff and provinces to feed up the messages and
the needs and the desires from those provinces to inform this National Food Strategy, and
so I think as working at the Ecology Action Centre and all the constituents that we touch,
and as a member of society that cares deeply about this, these messages do need to be brought
up and filtered to our politicians and to the people in respective positions of power
so that ideally this National Food Strategy does come to fruition and is truly informed
by provinces across the country. Andrew Berger: And I would add that I think
that what Ann was saying about doing things like creating the infrastructure and creating
things like streamlining the process and a lot of the red tape, if that can be done then
that’s one of the biggest things that government can really do. Government doesn’t have to
throw money at this, the government of Nova Scotia is relatively broke… (lost connection) Keltie Butler: I think we lost you for a second,
Andrew… I think we lost you for a second right after
you said our province is a little bit broke. Andrew Bergel: The province is a little bit
broke, but a lot of places are a little bit broke, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If
these things can be streamlined and the infrastructure can be there, I think that private money will
follow if they can see a more transparent, a more profitable way of getting involved,
and one that won’t run into all of these road blocks. What government can really do there
is facilitate and incentivize that industry for private money to come in. Keltie Butler: And I think it would be pretty
fair to say that farmers are very hard workers, so it’s not too often that farmers are looking
for a hand out. They’re usually looking for a good opportunity and they’ll take full advantage
of that, and they’re willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to run
a business. Well I’m going to… I’ve got a couple of questions here from folks through
social media. We’ll start with just two, and for those who are watching live, please do
feel free to put a question out on facebook or twitter. We will wrap up within the next
15 minutes or so, but we’ll take a few questions in the meantime. So the first question I think
relates a bit to the whole question of seasonal eating and also if Nova Scotia can feed itself
and what that diet might look like in that case. So this is from Gary Hunt, and I’ll
sort of pull parts of the question, but he says “We all know the cost of produce is high,
currently because of the Canadian Dollar, and many things are not in season, so to purchase
a cauliflower at a retail grocery store, let’s say for discussion sake is $5. With new technologies
for power, lighting, etc, could we grow non-traditional crops here in Nova Scotia that would be more
expensive than the crop would cost in summertime in Nova Scotia, but could it actually be less
expensive than the national chain prices? He also adds a comment that there is a huge
market here in Nova Scotia that does support local as much as we can whatever the season.
For himself he’d rather purchase a pepper from a local producer in winter and pay more
than purchasing it as an import, where, in his experience, it lasts a day and then it’s
rotten. Ann do you want to speak to some of this sort of possibilities around season extension? Ann Huntley: The long and short to make that
sort of thing happen is a lot of greenhouses, and consequently heating greenhouses to produce
crops that are completely out of our traditional season. My husband and I did grow broccoli
successfully with some non-expensive season extension options and we were able to have
broccoli through Christmas. Now that’s not February, but it’s at least through Christmas,
which is, you know, that’s okay! Beyond that you’re getting into heating greenhouses. It
could be done, to be honest I just have not crunched the numbers, and that’s what it would
take is crunching numbers, it would also take just building a lot of acreage under glass
or plastic and then heating it with either biofuels or there are some grain burners and
that sort of thing, so there are some creative ways to heat greenhouses. Have I crunched
the numbers on growing cauliflower in January? I have not. But Den Haan is growing cucumbers
under glass. They grow english cucumbers that you find in the grocery store. I think they
start coming out with those in about March or April. I think they don’t grow through
the dead of winter in January and February, but then they start back up again and you
do start seeing things, so we are really challenged in January and February. It takes a lot of
heat units to make food grow at that time of year. However I think we could be a little
more creative and do some trial and error, and that’s where Dalhousie Ag School could
come into play doing some trials on season extension. It’s definitely worth looking into. Keltie Butler: And Ann, one other question
that just came in from Gregory Smith is just around hydroponic production, and my understanding
is that the two major greenhouses that I think of in the province, Den Haan and Stockdyke,
are they both, they’re producing cucumbers and peppers and tomatoes, are those both hydroponic
systems? Do you know much about hydroponics? Anything you would add on that? Ann Huntley: I don’t know much about hydroponics.
Stodyke I think is using some kind of hydroponics but I really can’t, I don’t know those businesses
well enough to just say. The style of farming that we do, I don’t really like hydroponic
food but that does not mean it can’t be done, or that somebody couldn’t do it, for sure. Keltie Butler: Am I right that you guys on
occasion use a horse? It could be hard to bring a horse into a building that does hydroponics. Ann Huntley: Yes, we do use a draft horse
for cultivation and some farm work so we’re kind of at the other end of the spectrum and
we actually really like dirt. We think dirt is a good thing to grow food in. We’re not
so keen on hydroponics because it’s basically water and chemicals, whether they’re natural
chemicals or not, but that’s how food is grown hydroponically. Again that’s not to say that
there’s anything particularly wrong if folks want to do that, it won’t be me, that’s all. Keltie Butler: I think in Nova Scotia we have
quite a diversity of farms and farming practices and we have lots of innovative farms, that’s
for sure. This time of year at the farmers market I’m still buying my spinach and mash,
which is a green I had never heard of in the past and it’s now sort of my new winter favourite
lettuce, and kale. I mean we have farmers producing food right now with limited daylight
hours and cold temperatures, and some of that is heated greenhouse, some of that is without
even heating a greenhouse, so it’s pretty amazing what is happening here in the province.
Andrew I’ve got a question that I think might be great for you. I know we keep slotting
you in very seriously as the economist here. This question is from William Zimmerman and
he asked if someone can comment on the impact of the TPP on buy local programs and government
efforts to promote local food. So I have heard this a little bit in terms of does the TPP
limit what the government can actually put into place in terms of incentives or legislation
– buy local first, for example. What does it mean for us? Andrew Bergel: I’m not an expert on the TPP
per say, but I would say that from what I have seen, these agreements can be a little
tricky, and CEDA was also a little bit tricky I think in some ways I’m a little bit more
familiar with that one with the european union. I think that one of the problems with a lot
of these agreements is in order to gain access to these markets in terms of reducing tariffs,
governments and sometimes middle powers tend to give up a bit too much at times and this
can often create a spill over effect regarding allowing competitiveness from exports to come
in. That said, I think regardless at this point the TPP hasn’t started and we are looking
at very very weak Canadian Dollar, even relative to some of the asian currencies, it’s not
just versus the US Dollar, the Canadian Dollar is pretty weak across the board, so the production
locally will still be very competitive… Keltie Butler: Andrew, I’m sorry we lost you
for a second again. I don’t have you back yet. Are you guys losing Andrew? Andrew we lost you for a second there. Let’s
try one more time. You were just mentioning, you were part way through, but not all the
way. Maybe jump back in. Andrew Bergel: I think I was saying, what
I was trying to say is that regardless of the TPP or CEDA with the european union I
think that right now, because neither is really in full effect, especially the TPP which was
just recently signed. The Canadian currency is weak across the board so anything being
imported in is going to be relatively expensive given the Canadian currency but I think that
right now is a good time to create this industry in a resilient way. Because you don’t want
to have an industry that you have to constantly subsidize either, that’s a slippery slope,
so I think that you want to create an industry that is competitive, both locally and globally.
And for the interim this is a good time and a good opportunity to get it off its feet.
Countries like Canada are sometimes a mixed bag because a lot has to be given up in order
to gain access to those types of gains. I think that we’ll see how it affects the buy
local economy but I do feel as if this is something that is more of a worry down the
road than it is really right now. I think we could take a good opportunity right now
in order to make this a more effective industry. Keltie Butler: Thank you, Andrew. Did either
of you want to add anything in on that? Aimee Carson: I don’t think so. Keltie Butler: (laughs) we’ll leave the TPP
talk to Andrew. Ann Huntley: I guess the only thing about
TPP from a local farming perspective is that if we took for example organic standards,
the Canadian and US standards or Mexican standards for organic aren’t necessarily the same, so
we are going to run into some, you know, once we start crossing boarders more and more,
and not just on certified organic produce but that’s just one example of where things
get sort of wonky or weird. Milk. Dairy certainly is another one. The United States does allow
growth hormones for the animals being treated, whereas Canada does not across the board,
Nova Scotia included, so for a lot of folks, milk products even coming in to subsidize
our recent milk or butter shortage was a concern even for my family because we don’t like those
growth hormones and we don’t really want them coming across the boarder into our butter.
So we’re going to run into some of those issues I think and that’s a concern just for our
food supply and what we think is safe. Andrew Berger: I will also note that China
is not a part of the TPP so a lot of the massive exports we get of certain things from China
whether it’s meat or produce would not be subject to that free trade agreement. However,
things like New Zealand Dairy and things like that which are huge industries is in the TPP.
We do need to gear ourselves a bit for being competitive globally. And again, as Ann pointed
out we have very different standards, though supposedly these trade agreements are suppose
to sort of standardize the standards, but they very rarely do that. Ann Huntley: I guess one thing I could say
would be hopeful – Andrew just mentioned New Zealand, but New Zealand got their stock for
lamb, actually started mostly from Nova Scotian lamb. So there’s hope there that maybe it
could go the other way, also. Or we could start exporting fantastic lamb from Nova Scotia
elsewhere. Keltie Butler: Well we haven’t really touched
on the fisheries in Nova Scotia but that’s certainly a piece of our local food system.
When it comes to the fisheries, my experience is often that it’s easier for people to access
Nova Scotia seafood elsewhere than it is here in our own province so there’s an important
role right now to play to bring seafood into the local food movement and the buy local
movement and the farmers market movement where it certainly deserves to be in and where it
contributes to our food security and our rural communities. So I’m going to at this point, I’ve got one
wrap-up question for everyone but before we go to that I just wanted to ask if anyone
had comments they wanted to add. Sorry, Andrew. Andrew Bergel: I was going to make a comment
on the seafood thing, and I think this is something to be a little wary of, and even
more wary now with a cheaper Canadian dollar. Having spent time in places like fish markets
in Tokyo, I’ve seen a lot of very beautiful Nova Scotia tuna but it’s never in Nova Scotia
and so a lot of our seafood is shipped out especially to places like Japan and that might
only continue more because it will be cheaper for them to purchase it given the weaker dollar.
So that’s something we also have to keep track of in the system is, how much of certain products
that this province was known for for a long time, and the maritimes in general, might
be fleeing to global markets because they have more buying power to have it which means
that we don’t have it locally. Keltie Butler: Alright, so with that ‘m going
to ask each of you if there is anything, as was said earlier we’ve just taken about an
hour, I guess closer to an hour and fifteen minutes now to talk about a very complex,
sometimes scary, also inspiring conversation so if there is anything that was maybe missed
from the conversation tonight that comes to mind still for you or if there is anything
you’d love to reiterate while we’re wrapping up. Aimee Carson: I think this conversation was
great. We touched on a lot of things, multiple issues that are related to this, it’s a really
complex issue and not one that can be solved overnight or by any single individual organization
or government. I think just continuing this dialogue, continuing to surface the issues
from multiple perspectives and bring those forward is going to be critical to finding
a path forward and I think that a path forward is absolutely possible. It’s just continuing
to work on that and yeah, keep doing that. Amy Huntley: I guess I’m really encouraged,
specifically because I’m not an economist and don’t run in those circles, nor a lot
of analysis, but on a gut level I feel like the buy local movement is growing, our customers
are growing, we see more people coming to the farmers markets so to have also an economic
back that our dollar isn’t so great right now so let’s take advantage of this opportunity
is really an important message, that we can build a great, resilient system, and the time
is now. Let’s do it! That’s sort of how I’m feeling about this. I think that’s great,
and that’s what I have to say. Thank you. Andrew Bergel: I would just echo both, and
I had a really fun time, thank you for inviting me on the panel. This is sort of fun for me.
I would add that I think that there are a lot of good indicators here, a lot of good
momentum here, and I think that opportunities are only opportunities if you don’t miss them.
I think that we should take advantage. There is the right type of momentum I think it is
really bringing it all together at this point in figuring out good, effective best practices
and policies. Keltie Butler: I’m going to wrap us up in
my personal favourite style. Well, you guys just kind of did it with a bit of inspiration
but I planned a question to pull a little more out of you. So we’ll just have to go
with it. I’d love to wrap up with your final thoughts on why Nova Scotia should focus on
local? Or you may want to go more personal, in terms of why you have a passion for local.
And I’d love to hear people on social media sharing their reasons as well. We did have
one person earlier today, Linda Murphy shared a message on our facebook page to that affect
so I’ll start with that one while you guys gather your thoughts. Linda Murphy had said
” Support more community gardens, provincially support more self-sustainability by using
greenhouses to grow our own for Nova Scotia First mindset. Fruits and vegetables and promote
government investment in these initiatives.” Do you guys have anything else to add to that?
More inspiration to pile on there? Ann Huntley: From the farming perspective,
people are hopeful and we have a really good and growing group of small scale farmers who
are ready to grow food. And they’re ready to grow more if there was only somewhere for
it to go that was, where people would pay a fair price for it and they could get it
there relatively easily. I feel that the capacity is much more than… we have more capacity
and the demand is there so its aligning those two. But we have a really great group of really
hard working, creative, innovative folks here who grow food. And that’s a heck of a good
start when you want to start local food systems. Aimee Carson: I’ll just speak personally.
For me the first answer that pops into my head is I can’t see very many reasons not
to buy local food. For me, local food, it has a different level of quality. It’s fresher.
For me there is a whole experience that comes with buying local food and there’s a very
specific element of trust. I’ve always cared about knowing what goes into my food and I
have a different level of trust for food when I know who has grown it, where it comes from,
how it’s grown, things like that. And that actually makes me feel a lot better and so
for me buying local food is really tied to my personal values and that notion of being
able to support my neighbourhood, my community, the people living in my province, I think
all of those things tie into it. So personally, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Andrew Bergel: I would say for me, my final
thoughts on this is that, whenever you have the opportunity to really build some kind
of a new industry like this and it actually makes sense, I think that it’s silly not to.
Te economic spillover to the rest of the community and the province could be very very high and
create a lot of good, diverse, decent paying jobs over time. And I think that this is really
one of the main keys, we sometimes get so obsessed with making things as cheap as possible
so the consumer has more money, but even if the consumer has more money but the only place
they can work is Walmart, well in the long run it doesn’t usually work. And so we’ve
seen this effect hit a lot of different places and we’re always using the excuse, well, it’s
cheaper for the consumer so it must be good for the economy, and initially I think that’s
fine, but when you get yourself into a situation like now as Ann was pointing out, the local
producers can compete with the imports, especially if they’re given incentives. And I think that
creates a far wider economic spillover. Even though I’m an American, I would say why would
you want to be creating an economic effect in California when you can create one right
here? Keltie Butler: That’s great, thank you Andrew.
And certainly the term that comes up for me as you’re talking is around import replacement.
What can we be growing and producing here in Nova Scotia so that we don’t need to import
it from elsewhere so we can have that economic ripple effect here in Nova Scotia as opposed
to elsewhere. So with that, I’ll just share two messages that came in on social and then
we’ll wrap up. So the first is from G.Compton and she says “We can grow food in our cities
as well. We can grow food in our homes and on our properties, on rooftop gardens, in
greenhouses, balcony gardens and in our parks.” And I think that’s all part of it, too. So
individuals experiencing dirt, as Ann enjoys experiencing dirt. Or soil might be a better
term for it. So I think that’s a great point as well. And then the last thing is that someone
made a point to tell us that Den Haan, that’s one of the greenhouses we were talking about
in Nova Scotia, their cucumbers are available now. (laugher). It’s true! Okay well thank you very much, and thank you
to everyone listening and for the fantastic media in Nova Scotia that has been covering
the rising cost of food and the many multifaceted affects that it has on our community and that
took the time today to talk about it as well in relation to this panel. And also a big
thank you to our tech person who’s behind the scenes, you don’t get to see her, but
Gillian Wesley who does the social media for us at the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia
and much more, and she really was the one that put this all together. So a big thank
you to her. And as we let people know, this recording of this conversation will be available
so if you know someone who might be interested, if you want to share it with your local politicians,
please go ahead and send them the link. We’d certainly appreciate it, and it’s one more
step towards a more local food system and a stronger Nova Scotia economy. Thank you!

Stephen Childs

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