Discussing Food

Food policy: City of Melbourne contemplates food security

What do you do to ensure a city doesn’t run out of food? I threatened to post from time to time on vaguely food related urban planning and policy, and here is one such example: the just-released City of Melbourne food policy discussion paper. The time for submissions is past, but I find it interesting that the City of Melbourne municipality is contemplating questions of food security and nutrition.

There’s an element of navel-gazing in all of this if you think about other countries in the world without access to clean water or adequate food, but the way I see it if you’re going to eat and drink delicious food it bears thinking about the system that got it to you and how it can be distributed fairly now and into the future.

Some interesting facts in here, like that over 50% of the state of Victoria’s vegetables are grown within 100km of the city, and 17% of the fruit. That’s pretty good – I was unaware we were eating so locally.

The discussion paper touches on six key topics:

  • Barriers to accessing food
  • Nutrition and availability of healthy food
  • Preserving Melbourne’s food culture
  • Food busines and enterprise (particularly relevant for the CoM which would account for a huge amount of restaurant and cafe business both in the CBD and in inner areas)
  • Food safety
  • The environmental sustainability of the food we eat

Suitably for a discussion paper, it raises more questions than answers, but it will be interesting to see what outcomes come out of the discussion and submissions they are sure to have received. I think it’s a great endeavour, but happening at too small a scale – the municipality of Melbourne only covers the CBD and the inner, inner suburbs. I admire the leadership role CoM are taking, though.

I can’t see online whether the growth municipalities such as Casey and Cardinia in the south east which contain the suburbs encroaching on Melbourne’s most accessible fertile farm land) have written their own food security policies, but they do participate in the VicHealth Sprouting New Ideas project, based around access to nutritious food.

A little light googling led me to the Food Alliance site which has some very interesting papers on peri-urban agriculture in Melbourne and Victorian food security. I might do a follow up post later if I have a chance to digest them all (pun intended).

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