Tag Archives: food

(317) Durham Region

OshawaThe Regional Municipality of Durham lies directly east of Toronto.  It’s almost a microcosm of Canada in that its 2500 square kilometers encompass serious suburbanization, some heavy industry, much commerical activity, farm land, rolling hills and areas where outdoor recreation including hunting and fishing is commonplace.  By and large the people of Durham Region are among some of the healthiest, best fed and most secure human beings in this unbalanced world.  Starting in the late 2000s, as the real estate/automobile industrial complex, so long the paymaster in Ontario, began to show signs of weirdness in terms of its future performance, a certain amount of poverty has come to be red flagged in Durham Region.

To take the understanding of suburban poverty beyond one-off profiles of people living in it requires detailed investigation and meaningful data attached to real experience.  That makes a recent document from the authorities in Durham of genuine interest.

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region looks at one of the major impacts on family and personal well-being and concerns elucidated here can be found elsewhere.  The report looks at the cost of a simple, metaphoric basket of nutritious foods for a week for a family of four.  The cost of that metaphoric basket since 2009 has gone up by about $45.  Luckily, Durham appears to be a cheaper place to live than the rest of the province, for which there is also some comparative data.  Either way, about 8% of households in Durham experience food insecurity which generally means lowered quality and amount of food in those households.

Recipients of government support and low wages are under extra pressure in this respect.  More widely, the entire region is vulnerable to increases in energy prices, especially gasoline for personal motor vehicles (oversized, truck-style models are seen in abundance in Durham), and uncertainty exists over the future direction of real estate prices and the encroachment onto farm land of residential development.

The latter might seem a little ironic, the ongoing conversion of agricultural land into subdivisions and commercial property, in a place where food insecurity is now, pardon the pun, on the table.  Certainly, the laws for doing so are quite strict compared to past decades but perhaps real estate development has captured a little too much of the imagination in Durham, as in other places touching the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area.  As with the country at large, Durham has too much child poverty and food bank use is a permanent feature of life for many, including people with jobs.

This particular report, and ones like it, merits attention and represents the detail needed to understand poverty.

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region
7-page .pdf file

Poverty report raises red flags for Durham groups
Durhamregion.com

Social Planning Network of Ontario: CDC Durham
Links to a variety of reports 2007-2011

image: Two vistas from near Oshawa, one of Canada’s rock capitals and commercial centre of Durham Region via SeRVe61 & Rick Harris – Wikimedia Commons

(280) Grow your city with a Vækstzonen

Nykobing FalsterA Danish architecture office has found some success turning a weakness into a strength.  An edible landscape converts the low intensity land uses of a post-industrial, suburban area into a rather inspiring tool of integration and enhancement. Lolland-Falster are islands immediately west of Nykøbing Falster, a regional capital with just over 16,000 people.  By expanding in this direction an opportunity to embrace the coastal, urban, historical and agricultural has presented itself.  Very nice!

‘GROW YOUR CITY’ Suburb of the Future Winning Proposal / Elkiær + Ebbeskov Arkitekter    archdaily.com

image: Nykøbing Falster in 1900 via Wikimedia Commons

(227) Mapping those meal gaps

Digital technology and the Internet have done great things for our ability to dynamically map and understand reality.  Feeding America has made use of such tools to present food insecurity information for every county in the country.  The dark cluster along the Mississippi River and the envelopment of entire states may surprise you, unless you are living it, that is.

Map the Meal Gap – Feeding America Interactive map

The face of hunger is changing in Mercer
nj.com looks at above-average food insecurity and food bank use in one county in the state of New Jersey

photo: Don O’Brien via Wikimedia Commons

(138) Left coast food deserts

Food desert is one of the jarring terms for describing the lowered expectations marking life in suburbia during a time of contraction and economic weirdness.  It refers to the difficulty in acquiring good, fresh, reasonably priced and varied food in a way not overly moderated by automobiles.  For lower income people and the elderly this can get kind of awkward.  Smaller towns outside the city and densely populated urban areas often host farmer’s markets and other food sources not found in suburbs where the groceries come home via the big-box-store-and-a-highway interface.  Another feature of life not much considered as the Great Recession rolls along and things continue to change.  At the link below there is an item relating to Vancouver, British Columbia.  The author’s concerns about food deserts can translate to many, many more places of course.

Poor and elderly stranded in westside food deserts Vancouver Sun

(72) Foodbankistan

Sorry Charlie, ...you had to use a food bank.
Sorry Charlie, …you had to use a food bank.

While consuming an overpriced coffee product this morning we accidentally read part of today’s Globe & Mail.  It was left behind on a table in a Barstuck’s coffee shop in Toronto’s financial district.  The usual doom-and-gloom and consumerism filled the paper but we were heartened to see one article: a double pager with no ads about food bank use in every province.  Maps and graphics made for factually solid reading.  At suburban-poverty.com we are torn by media coverage of poverty.  We are glad to see it and we hate to see it.

Ironically, we were on our way to Metropolitan United Church Community Services where  participation in the Out-of-the-Cold program is under way.  Thusly aligning the reality of the Globe piece with our own, however fleetingly.  Curiously, we were chatting with several of suburban-poverty.com’s board of governors the other day and we remarked that when we were in Grade 8 there were no food banks, but there was this Prime Minister named Mulroney…

Demand for food banks stubbornly high

(65) Humber College… lacking social knowledge

If gargoyles could vomit with disgust somebody would be hanging up buckets at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus next week.  The college, located in a converted Edwardian psychiatric hospital on the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto, is hosting two eating contests.  This is a place of education that trains social service workers and community service workers.  Suburban-poverty.com thinks this is wrong in so many ways.  There are food banks in every corner of the GTA now and there are people experiencing starvation in the world beyond. What kind of signal does this send to low income students or young women experiencing eating disorders and to the world at large about Humber?  Why does the Humber Student Federation think it’s okay to put on this kind of event, supported by student fees?  This is just more evidence, written in all caps in a font called Frat Boy Idiot, of just how low the level of mindfulness, social consciousness, and general discussion of poverty and other issues can be.  Shame on you Humber if you go ahead with this.  A growing number of students object to the eating contests and hopefully they will be heard by management in time to kill them stone dead.  Even a gargoyle can figure this one out.