Victoria, B.C. – A new report says B.C. relies too much on food products imported from other parts of Canada and other countries.
The report, called Climate Change and Food Security in British Columbia, says British Columbians shouldn’t assume that food supplies will continue to be easily accessible in future.
It advises that more steps be taken to improve food security as climate change and other pressures evolve.
In the report, the authors – from the B.C.-based Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions – examined how climate change is expected to alter B.C.’s current system of food production, import and export, along with non-climatic pressures on food supply such as population growth and the world trend toward agriculturally intensive Western (and less healthy) diets of meat, dairy and fats.
The Times Colonist reports that about 70 per cent of vegetables imported into B.C. come from the U.S., primarily California. And about half of B.C.’s imported fruit also comes from California.
This reliance on California, which itself is prone to drought, shows where B.C. is vulnerable. The authors say diversification away from that state should be a priority.
“B.C.’s own fruit bowl, the Okanagan, is also facing likely drier growing conditions and the province’s greenhouse vegetable industry is mainly export oriented,” says Aleck Ostry, the lead author and Canada Research Chair.
“Self-sufficiency will be a key issue for our future food security.”
The report makes several recommendations:
• Facilitate more agricultural and health sector partnerships to ensure more effective food policies.
• Encourage people to choose healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets.
• Promote local agriculture to reduce BC’s dependence on imports.
• Develop a better policy evidence base, especially for analyzing GHG emissions at each stage in food supply chains and for assessing the economic implications of different production, import and export strategies.
• Determine the likely impacts of different climactic scenarios on crops that are important to B.C. to maximize limited land production capacity.
• Ensure that current initiatives underway in B.C. to manage GHG emissions from the meat industry and from manure are effective, as these are the agricultural sector’s biggest emitters.
• In a world of rising food prices, develop policies to cushion the impact of reduced food availability and access for those with low income.