Opportunities to Strengthen Southern Ontario’s Food System
Report Highlights Ways to Bring More Local Food to Province’s Dinner Tables
A groundbreaking study identifies ways Ontario can make changes to its food system to increase the supply of local food, create jobs, and support healthier lifestyles.
Encompassing the first research of its kind in Canada, the report, Dollars and Sense: Opportunities to Strengthen Southern Ontario’s Food System, produced in partnership by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, looks at a number of scenarios. Key findings include:
- Reducing the top 10 fruit and vegetable imports by 10 per cent and expanding local production would help create 3,400 jobs and boost the province’s GDP by nearly a quarter billion dollars.
- Ontarians adopting a healthier diet leads to higher consumer demand for fruits, vegetables, and some grains. For example, if consumers moved to an ideal level of oat consumption in their diets, 241 jobs would be created and the province’s GDP would grow by more than $14.2 million.
- Transitioning 10 per cent of food consumption to organic would improve farm incomes and reduce the environmental impact of food production, but require imports of many products unless local organic production was increased.
The report also provides an overview of the food surplus or deficit positions of counties and regions across Southern Ontario. The findings point to opportunities for the province’s food system to better match domestic consumption, increasing the amount of food grown locally.
“The authors estimate that more than half of Ontario’s $20 billion in imported food could be produced right here in Ontario,” says Kathy Macpherson, Acting CEO, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “The alternatives highlighted by the report’s scenarios point to the tremendous potential for Ontario’s food system to create even more jobs and strengthen the viability of agriculture across the province.”
“New local jobs, improved environmental practices, and increased access to healthy food. All of these benefits would come from greater investment in Ontario’s local food system,“ says Sandy Houston, President and CEO, Metcalf Foundation.
“The report makes the case for investing in the development of regional food systems and providing the supportive regulatory environment, infrastructure, and distribution networks required for these systems to flourish,’’ says Beth Hunter,
Program Director, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.
Dollars and Sense: Opportunities to Strengthen Southern Ontario’s Food System summarizes more extensive research from the Economic Impacts of Regional Agriculture and Food Systems in Southern Ontario and the Environmental Impacts of Regional Agriculture and Food Systems in Southern Ontario background reports.
For more information:
Rod MacRae, PhD
Faculty of Environmental Studies
Phone: 416-736-2100, ext. 22116
Dr Atif Kubursi
Professor Emeritus of Economics
Phone: 905-525-9140, ext. 23809
Econometric Research Ltd
Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
Phone: 416-960-0001, ext. 306