I was honoured recently to be invited to speak at ‘Together at the Table’, the Toronto Food Policy Council’s 20th anniversary celebration. For anyone interested in food and cities, Toronto is something of a lodestar, since its much-emulated Food Policy Council (FPC), a community organisation embedded in the city’s Board of Health with the remit to advise the city on food policy matters, was the first of its kind.
The event, held in the city’s magnificent St. Lawrence Hall, was both inspirational and educational. A succession of speakers told of the FPC’s early formation (inspired by a visit to Tim Lang and the London Food Commission), of how its unique position had allowed it to transcend the boundaries between community activism and local government, how a single issue (the fight against bovine growth hormone) had raised matters of national and global importance, and how, above all, food can connect ideas and people.
I have rarely heard a more inspiring and insightful series of speakers, or learned more in a single day about the transformative power of food. I could – and indeed shall – write more about it, but for now, I can heartily recommend the many ground-breaking reports by founder-members and former co-ordinators including Rod MacRae, Brewster Kneen and Wayne Roberts, available on the FPC’s website: Toronto Food Policy Council