2 – The Food Charter

Food for All

January 2014 

  Download a leaflet copy of the Charter here: Food for All

To sign up indicating your support to the Charter go to the Support The Hamilton Food Charter page or download the Endorsement form for Hamilton’s Food Charter here and submit it to the Food Security Committee by fax


Hamilton’s Food Charter envisions a healthy, sustainable and just food system. It seeks to guide municipal policies and community action.  Hamilton will make the vision a reality through commitment to action based on the principles set out below.


1. A healthy food system will:

  • Enable the overall health and well-being of Hamiltonians
  • Help to reduce the risks of chronic diseases
  • Reduce the risk of food-borne illness
  • Allow for nutritious and personally acceptable foods in all places where food is available, such as home, workplace, school, retail settings, community centres, and entertainment complexes.

2. A sustainable food system will:

  • Ensure the economic viability of the Hamilton food sector for producers, processors, distributors and retailers
  • Preserve and protect Hamilton farmland, watersheds and the species diversity of animal, plant and seed stock
  • Allow for the development of urban agriculture
  • Use processes that sustain or enhance  the natural environment in both rural and urban settings at every stage of the food system
  • Lessen the impact of variations in the food supply
  • Celebrate food that is grown locally

3.  A just food system will:

  • Provide opportunities for all residents to acquire safe, nutritious and personally acceptable food
  • Give a voice to people marginalized by the present food system
  • Reflet the real cost of food production
  • Support a living wage economy to allow everyone to buy food


Education is key

Education about food and food systems is important.  It will form an integral part of programs and policies developed as a result of this Charter.

This Charter will support initiatives that develop food knowledge and skills over the entire food system from growing to harvesting, buying, storing, cooking, eating and disposing of food.

To sign up indicating your support to the Charter go to the Support The Hamilton Food Charter page.

19 responses to “2 – The Food Charter

  1. A food charter will result in a shared vision of a food system and point community food policy in a positive direction.

  2. Melissa Parent

    I support this proposed Food Charter and believe it is an important system to put in place for the community and city of Hamilton.

  3. I support this initiative – since this is a draft I offer the following comments

    Would suggest you break the first two statements into 4 or five
    ie support over health and wellbeing of all Hamiltonians
    Reduce the risk of chronic disease due to lack of nutritious food
    Reduce the risk of food borne disease
    provide for healthy nutritious food that meets the dietary restricitions of all

  4. I agree with Susan’s comments and love that these dedicated volunteers are continuing to get community feedback on this important project.
    Keep up the great work!

    I also fully support the Food Charter, especially the part about Appreciating the value of food and farmers. I think that education around this would help create forward motion for a Hamilton Food Charter.

  5. This is a very timely food charter.
    I have just returned from the grocery store where I was infuriated to see canned peaches only from China!
    Sandra Pupatello gave the contract to China rather than to the newly formed farmer’s co-op in the Fruitland area when the existing cannery closed. I am so frustrated with our decision makers thar commit us to long-travelled food supplies! Hurray for this local food initiative.

  6. What exactly do you mean by: “Gives a voice to people marginalized by the present system”? Perhaps a little more expansion on that statement might get more people involved too. I see you have Visions and Values (principles) stated above but I dont see a Mission Statement. Is there one?
    It does sound great though what you’re doing!

  7. Good work on this. I especially appreciate the emphasis on ‘processes . . . that sustain or enhance the natural environment’. Perhaps that will help bring some attention to the fact that the industrial-scale farming of chickens (among other animals) in our region is envrionmentally irresponsible.

  8. Great work, glad to see this happening. I have two comments:
    – you jammed several different ideas into the bullet about preserving farmland, protecting wildlife etc. It isn’t clear what this all means and perhaps two bullets would be better. Are you saying natural areas have to be protected from farming?
    – the charter appears to assume that food is produced by farmers on farmland. What about urban agriculture esp. on vacant lands and the rights of urban residents to grow their own food?

    • I think mary Ellen makes a good point. In that section where it talks about urban and rural setytings why not change the wording to read “Urban and rural agriculture”

  9. Regarding Mary Ellen’s comment, and why education is so important.
    Agriculture and natural environment are dependent on each other – otherwise neither are sustainable. Just one example here: natural hedgerows between fields provide wind shelter, moderate temperatures, moisture, and erosion. They provide shelter for beneficial insects, and other wildlife. They also can provide wild herbs, and fruit for harvest. Another example: my parents never drained the natural wetland that was part of our farm. I believe one of the reasons why they never needed irrigation was because of the nature of the soil on the farm and the residual moisture surrounding the fields of raspberries. While nearby farmers were draining wetlands in order to have more fields to plant, my parents kept on producing in the old ways. During a drought in the 1960’s my parents were one of the few raspberry growers able to continue supplying raspberries. The drought was too sudden for farmers to deal with the infrastructure of installing large scale irrigation, so most just watched as their crops failed.

  10. Kudos to Mary Ellen for bringing up urban agriculture. The right to grow one’s own food is really important, and would need community understanding that a tidy yard and food production do not necessarily go together. Plus, with support, roof top growing could become a common reality. Look around at all the flat roofs in the city. Why do we use land for greenhouses? Why not use architecture to support agriculture that is already grown in structures?
    My previous statement should have a correction :The natural environment is sustainable – if there are no people. Incorporating agriculture and environment allows for corridors of natural areas, that can connect natural preserves.
    Plus I cannot state how important it is for the charter to state the right to save seeds. The right to save seeds is under threat. Not only is this about justice – but also about biodiversity, and therefore about food security. You could repeat the right to save seeds under Health, Secure and Just Systems.

  11. This response received via personal email is worth posting here.

    I have just hung up from talking to a friend – a farmer – who was saying, “Why should I protect farm land. Our society does not protect farmers.” He was down and I am having trouble continuing the fight – The Food Charter, Aerotropolis, and all the S words.

    A Healthy, Sustainable and Just Food System in Hamilton –
    I am writing with the words, ‘Healthy, Sustainable, Just’ shouting at me because I have just now talked to a producer, an organic farmer who was saying, “What about me! I produce nutritious, food using responsible methods but my reward is not healthy for my family. Where is the justice to me?” Our food system is archaic. Farmers are as vulnerable as the impoverished person in the city that the charter is written to protect.

  12. That is an interesting point about who’s supporting farmers. Halton Region has a farm fresh program that promotes local agriculture with mapping and a once a year farm tour. Perhaps one of the first steps to supporting the Agricultural community is to go back to basics and create broad awareness of where food comes from, what happens when it’s processed, and how is it grown. Food awareness can also be addressed at different scales – within the urban environment, at the edge, and within the rural community.

  13. Melissa Parent

    I agree entirely.
    I believe the main (possibly the only) way to make real change is through education. It should be the first step of the process, and community involvement and activism will follow.

  14. Education is Key. In fact, an entire page of the Draft Food Charter ‘leaflet’ is dedicated to this priority. Education will form an integral part of all programs and policies that come from the charter. It is anticipated that the charter will support initiatives that develop food knowledge and skills over the entire food system from growing to harvesting, buying, storing, cooking, eating, and disposing of food.

  15. “Farmers are as vulnerable…”
    Well said.

  16. I’m pleased to see the feedback addressing and informing the draft Food Charter. I wonder about the issue of access to food, which may be different than “food supply” for those living in areas under-served by retailers or other vendors. I think our “food system” must consider access points to ensure the Charter’s principles and intentions are reaching and benefiting all. I support the Charter, and hope to see a formal link between the Charter and the City’s policies and priorities in order to ensure that the Charter informs policy decisions and serves as the touchstone it’s intended to be into the future.

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