Clean water and water conservation
Access to clean water is important for people, animals and plants and is hence and important part of food production. A variety of Northlanders are working as kaitiaki of your waterways extensive waterways. This involves monitoring and riparian plantings to protect waterways from sediment and nutrient incursion. There is also concern about the sale of water to foreign interests. more>>
Here’s Isobel, one of Biddy Fraser Davies four cows. Biddy makes about $40,000 of cheese from her four cows. Her cheeses have won super gold and silver at World Cheese Awards. She milks the cows herself and makes the cheese. But The Food Safety Law Reform Bill may increase compliance costs to the extent that Biddy may no longer be able to sustain her craft and passion. We prefer to see scale appropriate legislation that reflects true levels of risk, rather than legislation that is designed for large scale operations. This are similar issues around access to unprocessed milk and meat processing. more>>
While it can be hard to get hold of unprocessed milk, sugar is everywhere. It is advertised to children, highly addictive and the basis of most non-communicable diseases. Mexico, Hungary, France, New York and South Africa are taxing sugar, but as yet there is no action form our government. Part of this initiative may be to take action on curbing the proliferation of food outlets that sell highly processed foods.
The Northland DHB resisted Government moves to supply meals from out of region kitchens and have insisted that meals are prepared in their own kitchens. They also have enacted policy to require minimum quantities of local food, but these contracts are held by foreign corporations and their sophisticated systems make it difficult for local businesses to compete. Over time we will work to strengthen the hand of local providers and level the playing field.
There is an increasing trend for central Government to wrestle control from Regional and Local Government on food related issues. Examples include placing the decision around fluoridation in the hands of the DHBs (and by proxy the MoE) and working to achieve central control over decisions about GMOs. The science for these two issues are contested, but generally, Food Policy Councils support policy making being close to the people.
Climate change is already impacting on food systems as adverse weather events become more common and more extreme. Per head of population we are in the top 10 globally for global emissions. Locally, policy makers are making a difference. The WDC has adopted a notice of motion to adopt an “electric first” vehicle policy. It joins other organisations such as the NRC and Northpower in getting us off oil.
Science, decision-making and the commons
The profit motive distorts science. A lot of funding for research comes from public sources, but is then captured for corporate interests. Distortion happens by corrupting the science and influencing public discourse. There is a growing movement to develop creative commons and visionary leaders, such as Elon Musk are sharing intellectual property for the public good. How the commons might manifest in Northland is up for discussion, but at least we can raise awareness of the issue.
We want all Northlanders to have access to healthy, fresh, minimally processed food. This might involve policy supporting organisations such as the Fresh Food Collective in Whangarei, or Kiabox in Kaitaia. Other initiatives include food recovery and waste reduction policy.
Soil is a finite resource that is often taken for granted and yet we depend on it for our food, feed, medicine, ecosystem services and fuel (FAO). It is non-renewable within the human lifetime and New Zealand is losing it at the rate of 3 million tonnes per year (landcareresearch). As Whangarei and the rest of Northland experiences growth in both development and population, its soil will experience increasing pressures from urbanisation, cropping, pastures and forestry, as well as general degradation due to poor management practices.