The food industry emits a large amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Agriculture in Canada accounts for about 8% of the total GHG emissions nationally. With large scale food production, factors such as monoculture defence, transportation and distribution, fertilization and water use, all contribute to emissions. Food found locally, near Edmonton, emit less due to the proximity of the farm and ability of the region to naturally support the food type. And local foods grown in the region require less energy to transport to market.
We sat down with Dustin Bajer, a co-chair of the Edmonton Food Council and local food advocate, to discuss his thoughts on the importance of local food. Edmonton’s food identity is something Dustin is passionate about.
“I want to know what this place tastes like, I want to find those varieties of apples or apricots or goji berries that were developed and are from here because then I think it becomes part of the identity of this place.” With greater access to local goods, “restaurants are going to be different here than what you are going to get in Calgary.” And as Dustin portrays, “that can have a really positive effect on how people view and embrace where we are from.”
Dustin, who was also a school teacher, created a food forest in the courtyard of his school. He planted 80 different and local, edible perennials as part of his school’s permaculture club. The idea was to “try to mimic what happens in an ecosystem so that you have multiple stores of plants, you try to build in diversity so that no one pest will kill the whole thing, you use things like the natural leaf fall of your taller species to mulch the integrity of the soil over time.”