Food Forward Toronto

Food Forward plugs away at improving our food system

Calling all food lovers and food activists — have you connected with Food Forward yet? I first heard about the group recently when I attended one of their events, which are held monthly across the GTA. The event I went to, called "Future of the Food Sector" brought together food entrepreneurs and the "who's who" of the non-commercial food sector in Toronto, including founders and/or representatives of Alternative Grounds, Real Food for Real Kids, Green Earth Organics and the Evergreen Brick Works.

The speakers at this event were Mike Schreiner, former food entrepreneur and current leader of the Green Party of Ontario, and Celina Agaton, former social media manager for Joe Pantalone and general communications maven. Schreiner discussed the ways in which the food industry could address larger social and political political issues in the province (sustainability, labour market, climate change, obesity, happiness, etc.), and pointed to the growth of the local-food movement as evidence of Canada's participation in raising global awareness about food politics.

Agaton focussed on developments in social media, which have brought a landslide of attention to local food issues. The food at the event — vegan, delicious! — was provided by Earth and City, a favourite of local office markets, and the drinks by local bewery Black Oak Brewing Co.

But Food Forward is the real star here. Founded two years ago by Darcy Higgins, this incorporated nonprofit focusses on food advocacy and food policy in Toronto. Among other projects, Food Forward, together with The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, is working to improve hospital food, advocating for healthy, non-processed foods and modified policies around local and sustainable procurement.

At the forefront is also the Toronto Street-Food Project, launched last week, which advocates for more variety of food and less red tape around Toronto's street food. For each food discussion event, Food Forward looks to educate and to draw attention to all areas of the GTA where people are doing amazing and important things with food.

Each event is hosted in a different location and Food Forward has already held events in Scarborough, Thorncliffe Park and Parkdale, celebrating local restaurants, producers or suppliers of local food, and discussing topics relevant to food policy. Speakers are all part of the local-food movement and include entrepreneurs, farmers and those working in food policy. The next "Foodie Drinks" will be in the Eglinton-Lawrence area and is set to feature Councillor Josh Colle. For more details, check out Food Forward on Facebook.

Writing by Sheetal Lodhia

Photo from a previous Food Forward event

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