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Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing Our Food System
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non-governmental organizations

Slow Food Canada - non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people?s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

Kootenay Organic Growers Society

Farm Folk City Folk - one of the most well-connected groups pushing for more sustainable food systems. A non-profit society based in Vancouver. Check out the "Knowledge Pantry" for a wealth of information.

Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia

Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN)

Council of Canadians - perhaps the most established of citizen-based advocacy.

Food Secure Canada - a new Canadian organization which works to unite people and organizations working for food security nationally and globally.

Beyond Factory Farming Coalition - promotes livestock production that supports food sovereignty, ecological, human and animal health, local sustainability, community viability and informed citizen/consumer choice.

Canadian Organic Growers - national info network for organic farmers, gardeners & consumers

Organic Food Council of Manitoba - a provincial chapter of Canadian Organic Growers (COG)

EarthSave Canada - - non-profit, educational organization promoting awareness of the health, environmental, and ethical consequences of our food choices.

FoodShare - Toronto-based group founded to provide emergency food services to those in need, and has now extended its arm to provide a wealth of information on the "entire food system - from field to table."

GRACE Factory Farm Project - Canadian info and resources from the New York-based initiative to eliminate factory farming.

GRAIN - international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity.

Institute of Science in Society - very informative site from the London, England based organization that promotes sustainability from a scientific perspective.

Sierra Club Sustainable Consumption Campaign - launched in 2003, this resource provides a great backgrounder on the impacts of consumption.

David Suzuki Foundation - Since 1990, has worked to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us.

ETC Group - dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights.

BC Food Systems Network - links people all over the province involved in community-level action related to food.

Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals - dedicated to promoting the welfare of animals raised for food in Canada through public education, legislative change and consumer choice.

Polaris Institute - to enable citizen movements to re-skill and re-tool themselves to fight for democratic social change in an age of corporate driven globalization.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) - promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world.

The Oakland Institute - increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues.

SeaChoice - seafood program with the primary goal of realizing sustainable fisheries in Canada and abroad.

Post Carbon Institute - assist communities in the effort to Relocalize and adapt to an energy constrained world.

BALLE BC - imagines an intricate web of locally focused, fairly trading, economies covering the globe.

ATTRA - the latest in sustainable agriculture and organic farming news.

news / magazine / journals

The Ram's Horn - monthly Canadian journal of food systems analysis.

100 Mile Diet - web site for the acclaimed series featured in The Tyee

City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Notes - comprehensive Vancouver-based resource on the web since 1994

Making the Links Radio - broadcasting on CFCR Saskatoon, Making the Links is committed to reporting on international and local issues in a way that is informative, indepth and offers coverage not normally found in the mainstream media.

Organic Consumers Association - grassroots non-profit public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability

Energy Bulletin - a clearinghouse for information regarding the peak in global energy supply. They publish news, research and analysis concerning: energy production and insight into the implications of peak oil across broad areas including geopolitics, climate change, ecology, population, finance, urban design, and health.


British Columbia InfoBasket - resource of agri-food information

BC Agriculture Council

Buy BC - government and private industry initiative launched in 1993 to increase the exposure of BC products to consumers via the Buy BC logo.

BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

City of Vancouver Food Policy Council

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC)

BioPortal - Canadian biotechnology resource

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Health Canada - Food and Nutrition Resource


Falls Brook Centre - New Brunswick sustainable community that aims to demonstrate and promote sustainable practices in foresty and farming.

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Land and Food Systems - grounded in science, the Faculty is a leader in integrated research and education that addresses global issues surrounding health and sustainable land and food systems.

University of Guelph - Organic Agriculture - leading Canadian research and studies in organic agriculture

Ryerson University - Centre for Studies in Food Security - a cross-faculty centre created to facilitate research, community action, and professional practice to increase food security through focusing on the issues of health, income, and the evolution of food systems (including attention to ecological sustainability and sociocultural diversity).

Simon Fraser University - Centre for Sustainable Community Development - works to support and enable the sustainable development of communities through research, education, and community mobilization .

University of Victoria - BC Institute for Co-operative Studies - a catalyst for research, learning, and teaching about co-operative thought and practice.

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture - leading American institution on sustainable agricultural research

The Rodale Institute - located in Pennsylvania, they work to study, prove and communicate the soil health=human health connection.

Power of One Humane Education - Vancouver Humane Society - programs offered free of charge to secondary-schools. the programs examine the connections between animal protection, human rights, environmental ethics and consumerism.

Kootenay Permaculture Institute - formed in 1991 to develop a model for research and education in the field of sustainable living in British Columbia


Stewards of Irreplaceable Land (SOIL) - acts as a liaison between the farmer willing to take on apprentices and those wishing to sork and learn on a farm which uses sustainable practices.

Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) - get firsthand experience with organic farming. work on organic farms anywhere in Canada.

Farm Fresh - find out who sells what where on Vancouver Island

Fraser Valley Farm Fresh - find out who sells what where in the Fraser Valley

Good Food Directory For Vancouver Island & The Gulf Islands - where to buy local!

BC Association of Farmers' Markets

retail / producers

Kootenay Co-op: Natural Organic Foods & Products - 30 years in Nelson!

Salt Spring Seeds - Canadian seed company focused on sustainabitlity. Online catalogue includes heirloom tomatoes, quinoa, amaranth, seed garlic and a new "zero mile diet" kit.

Organic Food Delivery in BC

Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) - the industry association representing 130 Canadian-operated businesses that make and market retailer and national brands sold through grocery, drug, convenience, mass merchandise and foodservice distribution channels.

Co-op America's Responsible Shopper - alerts the public about the social and environmental impact of major corporations. - great guide to ethical eating.


Sustainable Table - very informative intro and resources on sustainable agriculture with a focus on meat production. a GRACE project.


Make Trade Fair (Oxfam) - campaign targets politicians, corporations and the public at large in 21 countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America to transform trade into part of the solution to world poverty, instead of part of the problem.

Chicken Out - educating the public about the conditions under which egg laying hens live. a project of The Vancouver Humane Society and The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA).

Quit Stalling - goal to see sow stalls banned throughout Canada. a project of The Winnipeg Humane Society and CCFA.

Ban Terminator - seeking to promote government bans on "terminator" technology (genetically modifying plants to render sterile seeds at harvest). initiated by Canadian-based civil society organizations (ETC group, Inter Pares, National Farmers Union, and USC Canada).

GE Free BC - committed to making Canada free of Genetically Engineered Crops


The Meatrix - award winning animation presenting factory farming in a different light.

Grocery Store Wars - funny short produced by the Organic Trade Association.

Agronomy The challenge for the agronomist is to understand, manage and protect earth's vital resources as well as using science and natural resources to sustain food supply and environmental issues. The interesting thing about Agronomy is that just about everyone is aware of it, yet most people have no idea what it is called. Agronomy is the science, economics, and application of soil and plant production with a strong emphasis in land management. More and more people are going back to farming and agriculture, thus studying Agronomy in school to earn the appropriate degree. Typically, the field of Agronomy focuses on agriculture and its processes.

Biodynamics is a method of organic agriculture with three key principles: 1) the farm is a sustainable ecosystem in itself, 2) the use of biodynamic preparations enhance activities in the compost and 3) soil, and the sun, moon, planets and constellations' dynamic forces on the plants nourish humans physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Bioregionalism is a philosophy in which human behaviour is based in, focused on and appropriate to its regional ecosystem.

Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering (GMO) is the deliberate manipulation and alteration of genetic materials without respect for natural boundaries or the integrity of the organism, at whatever level or stage. The intent of biotechnology is to force an organism to do or become something it otherwise would not. In current practice, the aim is to increase the profit of the corporations owning the processes and the products. In reference to food, GE has primarily been used to engineer widely grown crop plants (canola, corn and soy) to be resistant to the herbicides sold by the corporations owning the transgenic seeds. These plants, and all products produced from them, are thus guaranteed to have been sprayed at least with the designated herbicide in addition to being genetically engineered.

Certified Organic denotes products that have met strict guidelines, set up by government approved certifying associations, when grown, processed and handled. The term organic tends to refer to foods that are not produced using synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, and cannot be irradiated or genetically modified. Organic meat comes from animals that have been fed organic feed and in some cases have been raised in an environment that allows for normal interactions with other animals. Organic can also refer to more humane methods of slaughter.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs enable farms to share the risk and abundance of producing food with the consumer by selling consumers a share of the season's harvest in the springtime and then supplying the consumers with weekly produce rations throughout the harvest season.

Cooperatives are businesses owned and run jointly by their members. They exist in many forms, however, members generally pay a fee to belong, have special buying privileges and receive annual shares of the profits.

Dumpster Diving This technique involves rummaging through the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and other facilities for useful goods. Despite our society's stereotypes about garbage, the goods recovered by freegans are safe, useable, clean, and in perfect or near-perfect condition, a symptom of a throwaway culture that encourages us to constantly replace our older goods with newer ones, and where retailers plan high-volume product disposal as part of their economic model.

Fair Trade is a commitment to social justice in which employees and farmers are treated and paid fairly, sustainable environmental practices are followed and long-term trade relationships are fostered.

Food Miles (or Kilometres) are the distances food travels from the farm to your plate. The concept is used to underline how far many foods are transported through global trade and the costs of this transport, in economic, social, and environmental terms. When foods are transported long distances, they tend to lose taste and nutrient value because of the time and conditions in transit. Transport also consumes fuel and releases pollution. Freight transport is a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, which are a cause of global warming. more

Food Security as defined by The BC Food Systems Network is a community in which all people, at all times, have access to nutritious, safe, personally acceptable and culturally appropriate foods, produced in ways that are environmentally sound and socially just.

Food Sovereignty is the human right of all peoples and nations to grow food in ways that are culturally, ecologically and economically appropriate for them.

Free Range usually refers to poultry and only means that the chickens have access to the outside. It does not necessarily mean that the chickens roam and forage freely outside.

Gene Flow the movement of genes from one population of plants to another, usually via pollination.

Grain-fed animals have been raised on a diet of grain and the grain could be supplemented with animal byproducts and other miscellaneous matter. Since mad cow disease is thought to be transmitted through animal byproducts added to cattle feed, cows raised on a strictly vegetarian diet are preferred by many consumers. Cattle are ruminants and eat grass; they cannot digest grains properly and can become sick if fed a diet of only grain. Although large-scale, confined grain feedlots enable industrial meat producers to fatten their animals quickly, they also foster disease within the cattle population, creating the need for antibiotics and increasing the risk of E. Coli contamination.

The Green Revolution was the shift in agriculture practices post World War II that made chemical agriculture the norm world wide.

Heirloom Varieties are types of vegetables and fruits grown from open-pollinated seeds and that have long standing records of good performance. Many have been passed from generation to generation for centuries and represent the diversity of produce that has been grown all over the world.

Hybrid Seeds result from the breeding of two different plants to produce a single more economically viable plant, eg. varieties with a longer shelf life. They are rarely stabilized, thus do not produce saveable seed of their own. This forces the farmer to buy new seeds each year.

Industrial Agriculture views the farm as a factory with "inputs" (such as pesticides, feed, fertilizer, and fuel) and "outputs" (corn, chickens, and so forth). The goal is to increase yield (such as bushels per acre) and decrease costs of production, usually by exploiting economies of scale... more

Irradiation is a process of food preservation using either electron beams or high-speed gamma rays to affect the food. It destroys some vitamins and enzymes in the food, creates free radicals which may react with cell membranes of the human body causing them to function poorly, and may leave a trace amount of radioactivity in certain foods.

Mono-Cropping is the planting of a single crop on a farm. This is common practice in modern agriculture, where large acreages of crops are grown for sale to other regions or countries. Monocultures deplete the soil, and fruits and vegetables become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays.

Open-Pollinated Seeds are the result of nature's own life cycle where plants naturally go to seed. The plants of these seeds will produce the same seed year after year.

Permaculture is the design of sustainable human habitats. It is based on the observation of natural systems and uses ecological principles to increase diversity and productivity of local human ecosystems. Permaculture designs incorporate food, energy, and shelter for people and animals while linking the needs and outputs of each element of the system. The result is a dynamic yet stable system that sustains itself. Permaculture designs can be developed for any climate and on any scale, from balconies to entire villages.

Sustainable Agriculture is defined as agriculture that meets the needs of the current generation while conserving resources for the use of future generations... more

Transitional refers to the first three years in which a farm is following certified organic guidelines. This period enables the farmer to develop a deeper understanding of organic practices, connects him or her to peers and resources in the organic community and enables the certifying body to build a healthy working relationship with the farmers. T1, T2 & T3 refer to the first, second and third year the business has been following certified organic standards.

"BC The Organic Way"
, Via Campesina,, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sustainable Table,, LifeCycles Project

Facts & Stats
  • For every human being on the planet, the world produces two pounds of grain per day - roughly 3,000 calories, and that's without even counting all the beans, potatoes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables we eat, too. This clearly enough for all of us to thrive; yet nearly one in six of us goes hungry. "Hope's Edge" - Lappé and Lappé

  • Worldwide, we're feeding more and more of this grain, now almost half to livestock, but animals return to us in meat only a tiny fraction of the nutrients we feed them. "Hope's Edge" - Lappé and Lappé

  • To get just one calorie of food energy from a steak, we burn 54 irreplaceable fossil-fuel calories, so producing one pound of steak - providing less than 1,000 calories - uses up 45,000 fossil fuel calories. "Hope's Edge" - Lappé and Lappé

  • To produce just one pound of beef takes thousands of gallons of water, as much as the average American uses for all purposes in several months - and this in a world in which two-thirds of all people are expected to face water shortage in less than a generation. "Hope's Edge" - Lappé and Lappé

  • Worldwide, topsoil is eroding as much as thirty times faster than it's being created. "Hope's Edge" - Lappé and Lappé

  • Globally, it takes the earth an average of 500 years to build a single inch of farmable soil. About 6 inches of farmable soil is needed to grow food, which takes about 3,000 years to produce. John Jeavons

  • For every pound of non-organically grown food eaten, about 6 pounds of farmable soil are lost due to wind and erosion as the result of the agricultural practices involved. With each person eating an average of 2,000 pounds of food each year, the United States for example loses an average of 12,000 pounds, or 6 tons, of soil per person per year. John Jeavons

  • On a global level, most fisheries are poorly managed and fish stocks have been fully exploited (52%), over-exploited (16%), or depleted (7%). SeaChoice

  • It takes 2-8 kg of wild-caught fish to produce one kilogram of farmed salmon. SeaChoice

  • Pesticide use has risen dramatically worldwide since 1961, from 0.49 kg per hectare to 2 kg in 2004. Canadian Organic Growers


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