10 Fast Facts on Food Security & Food Justice & Food Sovereignty in Edmonton

  • There are market gardens, Upicks, nurseries and greenhouses in Northeast Edmonton that want to keep growing food, trees and shrubs for generations to come. Average net profit per acre: Edmonton average net profit per acre at $79.68 is over double of anywhere else in the Capital Region. NE Edmonton average net profit per acre is $270.72. Five Counties in Capital Region range in net profit per acre from $6.65 ‐ $38.07 (2).
  • Eating our fruits and veggies is good for us and the earth. 19% of our ecological footprint is tied to food consumption. “Purchasing locally produced food is the most significant way to reduce the food footprint”9 8 of 10 of leading causes of death in Canada is diet‐related. Obesity costs Canada’s health care system an estimated $ 1.8 billion annually(10).
  • Every hectare of farmland lost now increases future hunger. “We can’t afford to lose more farmland. Fifty years from now, every hectare of agricultural land will be crucial. As it becomes increasingly expensive to get food produced elsewhere to the people, it will become increasingly attractive to take food production to the people – i.e., the cities”. In the most intensively farmed areas, it takes 0.2 ha of land to support each person. By 2050, the world’s available cropland per person drops down to less than 0.1 ha per person. (1)
  • Farmland is far too scarce a resource to be squandered. Only 5% of Canada’s land is not hampered by severe constraints for crop production and only 0.5% of land is Class 1 soil(2). In Alberta, 17% of land is good for farming, most of that is in Canada’s most rapidly urbanizing Edmonton to Calgary corridor along with 75% of Alberta’s population (3). The Capital Region has 733,000 hectares of Class 1, 2, 3 farmland—none of this has been identified for preservation (8).
  • Edmonton currently uses 1.8 global hectares per person to meet its food needs.(9) Population is expected to rise to between 1.2 and 1.5 million in the next 30 years. This would leave 0.5 – 0.6 ha per person, less than half of what we currently use to feed ourselves.
  • The state of farmland in Edmonton. In Edmonton, the total number of farms reporting agricultural activities has decreased from 170 farms in 2006 to 73 farms in 2011, a 57% decrease over the five‐year time period. Total area – 66548 acres in 2006 down to 13011 in 2011 (80% reduction).
  •  “Increasing numbers of Canadians are experiencing food shortages. Food bank use in Canada was up 10% between 1999 and 2010, and in post‐boom Alberta it rose 61% between 2008 and 2010. This is often framed as an economic problem rather than a food system problem. The fact is the inequities experienced are in large part an artifact of the global food system. Land ownership increasingly concentrated in hands of a few, plus more and more parts of food system in corporate ownership exacerbates this”(4).
  • We are going to need a more locally grown food supply sooner than later. Economists and food system analysts are telling us that there is currently only a two to three day supply of food in our city’s grocery stores (5). Most of our imported vegetables and fruits are from areas highly dependent on a reliable water source, consistent weather temperature and cheap transportation. As climate change impacts are felt globally this in turn will impact both the reliability and the cost of the foods that we currently have relatively easy and cheap access to. The most important river to our current supply of fresh vegetables is the Colorado River and it is in peril.
  • Our fruits and vegetables are being bred to travel not for nutrition. At the Food in the City conference that the City of Edmonton hosted in May 2012, Jim Hole, one of the keynote speakers told us about the carrot test. He said that carrots are being bred to travel. You should be able to drop a carrot from the height of your shoulder and it should break. Imported carrots need to be durable according to him.
  • The world faces a new food economy that likely involves both higher and more volatile food prices, and evidence of both phenomena was on view in 2011. After the food price crisis of 2007–08, food prices started rising again in June 2010, with international prices of maize and wheat roughly doubling by May 2011”(6).
  • We are losing farmers at an alarming rate. Between 1991 and 2006, the number of young farmers (under the age of 35) decreased by 62%. In that same period we have moved from one farm in every four having a young farmer on it to today, just one farm in eight. This is largely because of the farm income crisis. While the total value of the grains and livestock and vegetables and other food products grown and raised by Canadian farmers since 1985 is three quarters of a trillion dollars, the total of farmers’ net income from the markets (farms support payments excluded) over that same time period is zero (7).

1. Montgomery, David. 2007. Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization. Berkeley: University of California Press.
2. City of Edmonton. June 23, 29, 2009. Background Report Attachment 1. Additional Information: Parts 1, 2, and 3.
3. Mah, Kevin. 2008. This land is our land. St. Albert Gazette. November 1.
4. Weibe, Nettie and Kevin Wipf. 2011. Nurturing Food Soveregnty in Canada. in Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Hannah Wittman et. al eds. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
5. Cockrall‐King, Jennifer. 2012. Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution. Prometheus Books.
6. Torero, Maximo. 2012. Food Prices: Riding the Rollercoaster.
7. Qualman, Darrin (2011). Advancing Agriculture by Destroying Farms? The State of Agriculture in Canada. in Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Hannah Wittman et. al eds. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
8.City of Edmonton. 2012. Agricultural Inventory and Assessment – Citywide Food and Agriculture Strategy.
9.Wilson, Jeffrey and Mark Anielski. 2005. Ecological Footprints of Canadian Municipalities and Regions. The Canadian Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
10. Statistics Canada, 2009.