I was kind of baffled the first time I heard of “food security”. I thought it might be related to some innovative methods which could help humans avoid food poisoning ─ then I realized, food poisoning (or food sanitation I should say) is just a tiny part of food security. The concept of food security is a lot more complicated than we think. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, there are four pillars of food security; availability, access, utilization and stability. Also, there are four different definitions under each category. I don’t believe definitions really help you understand what food security is; only practicing does. That is the main reason I wanted to work with Burnaby Food First, and by attending different kinds of events, it has helped me understand the concept of food security in a practical way.
After attending a few events, it amazed me that Burnaby residents really do care about food security and that they even want to come out to food forums, which were being held on weekdays, to voice their opinions on food-related issues and try to come up some potential solutions to predicaments in their society. Sitting in a classroom and listening to case studies about local areas is really different than when you are actually part of a local community and understand what’s going on, what local people think, or what local people actually need.
Aside from working with Burnaby Food First, I also work with Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC). There are several activities we do in SCEC. We remove invasive plants, which are plants not native to the environment. We also do invertebrate studies; we collect the samples from the gravels in the different creeks and take them back to our Centre to count the types of the creatures. There is another activity called fish trapping, where we put the trap down to the creek for 24 hours and then retrieve it to identify the type of the fish and estimate how many of them are in the creek.
I met SCEC’s chairman, John Templeton, at the Burnaby Environment Festival. I was being nervous when trying to introduce to him how exactly Burnaby Food First works. I believe I stuttered a little bit in the beginning, because I wasn’t used to talk to strangers, but a few days later when we chatted again, he assured me that I didn’t appear anything but confident to him that day at the event. To my relief, it seems that I did make a progress on building my confidence and was able to show it to other people. Being confident is something we need to learn aside from being knowledgeable.
I can’t wait to learn more from Burnaby Food First and SCEC, and I’m looking forward to devoting what I learn to our environment.
Chieh is a cohort 4 Master of Development Practice candidate with a BA in French Language and Literature from Tamkang University, Taiwan. An avid traveller, Chieh started to develop the interests in Urban Planning and Tourism Policy by visiting and experiencing different locations and cultures.