Filed under: Local Food | Tags: domestic fair trade, education, Local Food, University of Toronto
By Ian Hussey
Local food. Hot topic nowadays. Most of my activism has been around international fair trade and labour issues. In the last year though, I’ve been thinking more about and becoming more active in local food initiatives. Partly on my own volition and partly because opportunities have presented themselves. The latest one is why I’m writing this post at this time.
I was asked to participate in a discussion on the student fair trade movement in Canada for a senior seminar of the Equity Studies program of the University of Toronto this Thursday. So what does that have to do with local food? The facilitators of the course are Lori Stahlbrand of Local Food Plus and Wayne Roberts of the Toronto Food Policy Council.
Ya think that’s cool? Here is how the seminar works. Lori and Wayne have faciliatated this course for six or seven years now. It’s called a Research Practicum on Food Security. Each year eight senior students get to participate. The students pick the issue relating to food security they want to focus on, they do research on the topic, come up with a list of readings and a list of ‘key informants’, read the stuff, talk to the ‘informants’, and write a paper, I think together, and submit it to the administration of the university. Ya see, kids, school, like learning, can be fun and applicable to ‘the real world.’ Sometimes the people that run schools forget that.
[Sidenote: Derrick Jensen has written an amazing book on popular education, writing, and revolution. And I’m not talking crusty ‘Marxist’ revolution. I’m talking a revolution in the way we educate, run schools, and so on. The book is called Walking on Water: Reading, Writing and Revolution. Pick it up. You won’t regret it. I read it in two days and couldn’t put it down. Then I went and bought another book of his, The Culture of Make Believe. Still working on that one in my spare time. Gimme a break, it’s like 600 pages. And now I’m participating in this social forum in my spare time. Life. It doesn’t stop. Jensen was just in Toronto and I had to miss the event because I was at the Canadian Student Fair Trade Network’s Ethical Purchasing Policies Activist School. I’m shaking my fist at you CSFTN].
So anyway, one year the students chose to do an audit of how accessible U of T’s food venues are for people living with disabilities, another year they did an audit of the ethnic diversity of the food offered on campus, and another year they did an audit of the amount of food sold on campus that’s grown locally. That last one lead to the university adopting a local food policy.
This year the students decided to concentrate on fair trade, as in the traditional, international sense of the term ‘fair trade.’ Pretty cool. They are reading the CSFTN’s Ethical Purchasing Policy Action Guide for this Thursday’s seminar. The guide was written by students with experience in advocating the adoption of an Ethical Purchasing Policy at their schools. I edited it. It’s being revised right now. Who knew university students could write university curriculum and policy? Peer learning. It works.
So why am I writing this post right now? I’m doing research. And I’m done for the night. Peace.
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