We’re seeing the cracks: Creating better food systems post-COVID-19

May 26, 2020

“The vulnerabilities in the food system have basically been revealed through the crisis.”

“COVID-19 is a dry-run for climate change… Through this crisis we have seen where the vulnerabilities in our food system are, and we have an opportunity to address them,” says our executive director, Jane Rabinowicz.

She spoke with Sophie Tarnowska from WeDoSomething Montreal about building resilient food systems across the country.

We need to approach post-COVID-19 recovery in the food system in a way that’s also going to build resilience to climate change. The food systems we had in place pre-coronavirus already weren’t working, says Jane.

We’ve all seen this recently in our lives. Empty store shelves, food banks scrambling to keep up with demand, and farmers forced to dump stores of milk they can’t sell are just a few examples.

How do we create a better, more resilient food system?

“[We need to be] integrating a much stronger emphasis on resilience – specifically climate resilience – into the system, so that we are able to weather future shocks,” Jane says.

“[And we need to] stop thinking that that comes with an economic trade off. The reality is, the system already wasn’t working. Less than one per cent of Canadians farm, the average age of a farmer is 55, the total accumulated farm debt in Canada is $106 billion. And there are so many supports that go out to farmers from the government to help them make ends meet. So the whole viability of the sector from the environmental point of view – and also from the livelihoods of the people involved point of view – it already wasn’t working.”

A good food system is sustainable and equitable

Food doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. When industry promotes farming practices that undermine soil health, pollute waterways and kill pollinators, they’re promoting false solutions.

As well as being unhealthy for the planet, the way food is grown and distributed today means exploitation, displacement and hunger for nearly 1 billion family farmers.

Food is at the centre of competitive global trade. Multinational corporations exert a huge amount of control over seed, land, water and markets. The decisions they make, with governments’ approvals, put profits ahead of our health, the environment and social justice.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Now is our chance to build new systems in the wake of COVID-19.

We partner with farmers around the world to support sustainable farming practices. Their leadership is guiding us towards better food systems.

Watch the full interview above.