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What it is…
- Accessing food
- Food safety
- Sustainable food production (agriculture)
- Self-reliance (local food systems and food skills)
- Culturally acceptable food
- Social justice
Food security is a global issue, and due to the increasingly global nature of our food system, what happens in one part of the world affects people from around the globe. Therefore, food must be considered in both the broader context and the local context, to truly understand and appreciate how connected we all are through food.
Food Insecurity happens when:
- Families and individuals lose food skills such as cooking and eating together
- Food producers (farmers, hunters, gatherers, and fishers) can’t make fair and sustainable wages
- Healthy food choices are not available
- People do not have enough money to buy healthy or even enough food
- People do not have grocery stores in their neighbourhoods or communities
- Communities rely on food, an essential item, that has to be transported long distances
- Food production systems are unsustainable
- People cannot get foods that are culturally appropriate
Is Manitoba Food Secure?
Manitoba has a strong agricultural industry that produces many food products for both Manitobans and people across the world. Manitoba’s agriculture industry provides one out of six jobs in the province, and our agricultural exports alone contribute more than $3 billion to our economy.
However the population of Manitoba is heavily concentrated in the south, with the majority of agricultural producers and suppliers also located there. Northern communities have food and other necessities shipped in, which is expensive and not always possible during the winter months. The result is that our Northern communities find themselves without healthy foods available everyday. Because of the high cost to transport these products to remote communities, Northern shoppers end up paying more to subsidize the cost of transportation. Many Northern communities pay more than $12 for a 4-liter carton of milk—two and a half times what the rest of the province pays for the same product. The high markup on food and supplies means that many Manitobans just don’t have the resources to buy the foods that they need.
Food Insecurity doesn’t just happen in Northern communities though. Winnipeg Harvest provides emergency assistance to 64,000 people. For thousands of low-income Manitobans a lack of transportation prevents them from reaching grocery stores and farmer’s markets, and accessing healthy foods.
The agricultural industry may produce big dollars, but the people who produce our food—our farmers—aren’t necessarily seeing it. Farming is a business that costs a lot of money to run. Farmers across the country face steep increases in production costs (fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides), but are making less and less profit off of what they produce. The average income for Manitoba farmers is lower than it is in any other province, and one in three farm families have second jobs off of the farm to support themselves. In the last 25 years there has been a 42 percent decrease in the number of Manitoba farms—and more than 3000 Manitoba farms disappeared between 2006 and 2011. Farmers are finding it harder and harder to stay in business, and fewer young people are going into farming. Our Food Security is directly linked to the farmers that produce our food.
*Statistics from MAFRA, Winnipeg Harvest, the Manitoba Government and Statistics Canada.