UBC Okanagan researcher says Canadians too dependent on imported foods

A UBC Okanagan researcher is saying Canada’s food supply isn’t as secure as Canadians would like to think it is.

“Climate change is a big (reason). As we look at different weather patterns that affect food production, it’s very disconcerting,” said Joanna Taylor, a UBC Okanagan postdoctoral researcher on the social sciences and humanities research council.

Taylor studies the obstacles and challenges the agriculture industry and Canadian producers face.

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During the early stages of the pandemic, Canadians experienced a shortage of certain food items such as yeast and flour.

Taylor said the pandemic exposed further weakness in Canada’s food supply.

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“I think we’re so dependent on the industrial food supply and imported foods that if another crisis like this were to happen, especially with climate change, we might not have access to the food that we rely on,” Taylor told Global News on Thursday.

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The researcher says the early shortages of food items was caused by people realizing that they might have to become more dependent on themselves to provide food for their families — and because of COVID-19, stores were struggling to keep up with the demand.

Taylor said as a society we need to start relying more on ourselves and local producers.

“It’s telling, the signs right now. People should be turning to food production that’s local,” said Taylor.

“More people growing their own produce like in community gardens (could be an alternative).”

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Taylor says more shortages could be on their way as climate change coupled with the pandemic is making it hard for producers.

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“Could see possible shortages and even more concerning, huge price spikes in things we normally like to eat,” said Taylor.

Taylor says with these price spikes the marginalized people in our communities will be the most affected.

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One local gardener at the Lindal Community Garden in Kelowna says he loves being able to provide fresh produce for himself and his wife.

“It’s wonderful to have my own garden, to grow it my way,” said Joseph Szerepi, a 90-year-old immigrant from Hungary.

Szerepi says he loves his produce because he trusts where it comes from.

“I know what I’m growing, I know the soil is pure. I don’t know exactly (what’s happening) in the supermarket,” said Szerepi.

Taylor has said we can all learn from elders like Szerepi who are used to being more reliant on what they can grow themselves.

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