Guest blog by Florence Lefebvre St-Arnaud, Owner, Campanipol Family Farm
Food: a central theme of contemporary life and a priority issue for agricultural producers. The food system appears to be rediscovering the importance of local products, the quality and traceability of products, and the family farm. However, the system seems to be at a crossroads.
As a member of a family farm that has been a certified organic producer for nearly 30 years, it goes without saying that I would like our food system to be more focused on innovation and our rich array of local products. Above all, I hope that all the initiatives taken by the generations that have come before will continue to evolve and help change society’s overall vision of farming and food. Whether by carrying out collective marketing initiatives, sustaining small farms specialized in niche productions, or promoting and providing information about urban agriculture and self-sufficiency, I continue to believe that we should strive to have multiple options, as a community, to allow us to eat responsibly.
It seems obvious to me that the education spearheaded by farmers and stakeholders involved in the development of organic agriculture in the past 25 years has borne fruit! Customers are more aware, better informed and more eager to know where the food they are eating comes from. Or at least they appear to be. I believe that food has not escaped society’s inclination to focus on image. Is the consumer food-conscious and looking for local organic products because of their real added value – or because of the social status enjoyed by such products? And what about tomorrow? Will the trend toward home-grown products continue, or will price win out over quality, freshness and proximity?
What values will sway future generations of consumers when they are faced with a display of organic produce at the supermarket? Will they choose the local product, sold at a price that allows the Quebec farmer to survive, or will they turn to the imported “industrial” product that is available at a lower cost?
Several questions remain – and will probably remain – unanswered for some time yet. But isn’t that the beauty of our ever-evolving contemporary food system? It would be hard to deny that, if the same type of thing had been written 25, 30 or even 50 years ago, the issues would be similar, but the focus and vision would be different. We live in truly amazing times! The possibilities are endless and the issues thought-provoking! We should make use of them so that the food of tomorrow becomes an opportunity for us to grow not only as individuals, but, first and foremost, as a society that supports its farmers and is committed to the development of its agri-food industry.
My favourite comfort food dish?
A nice hot bowl of vegetable soup made with locally grown vegetables!
Who can we look to for inspiration on the future of sustainable food?
Those individuals who have been working tirelessly for decades so that business models that initially seemed marginal (organic baskets, roadside farm stands, organic farming, etc.) become profitable and recognized companies!
About the author
Florence Lefebvre St-Arnaud has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a certificate in public communication. Along with her two brothers, she is facing the challenges of agricultural entrepreneurship by taking over the family’s organic garden business founded 25 years ago in Ste-Geneviève-de-Batiscan in the Mauricie region (www.campanipol.com).
This blog is part of the Future of Food series. We wanted to know: what will food in the future look like? Where are we going, where do we want to be going, and what can we do to change the course? Over the next six months, we are handing the microphone over to 12 leading food thinkers in Canada to help answer these important questions.