VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Things like the 100 Mile Diet have turned the spotlight to eating local, but despite all the benefits there are still many challenges to getting that food on your table. In day one of our week-long special report, we look at what is standing in your way.

“Probably the biggest challenge is the economic challenge,” says Former Vancouver city Councillor Peter Ladner. “How do you make us pay? Local food tends to have a higher labour content to it and therefore it ends up costing more. If it’s done in an organic, or near-organic way, it’s more costly and people are resistant to paying more for food.”

Ladner wrote the book The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities and is on the Vancouver Food Policy Council.

“People are waking up to the attraction of local food and the benefits of local food and they create jobs in the local economy, which people like. They are much more accountable for safety,” explains Ladner. “You can find out where that food was grown, how it was grown and be more confident that it’s safer for you. It tends to be fresher and fresher food is more nutritious. It’s worth more, it tastes better.”

But the appeal goes beyond just knowing who grew that potato, Ladner thinks there are many reasons why we will have to switch our way of thinking, “The traditional sources of our food are under grave threat for a variety of reasons starting with shortage of water, high prices for oil, high cost of producing food, the cost of pollution that it creates, aging farmers and it goes on and on.”

And it doesn’t have to be just on rural lands claims Ladner, “It’s tremendous for cities. It’s a great community builder, it beautifies areas, it provides something useful for people to do, it saves people a little bit of money on their food costs and it can even improve property values. If you have a dirty old lot turned into a community garden, studies show the property values go up. So with all those benefits, now politicians are quite attracted to it.”

Ladner thinks one of the reasons local food is popular is because it’s something almost everyone can do, “It’s very simple to throw a seed into a flower pot on your balcony and watch food grow. Lots of people have yards, gardens, front lawns that are turning into something where you can grow food. People are lining up for community gardens. Schools are putting gardens in. Parks and boulevards too. All of these things are very accessible, quite affordable and immediately rewarding.”

Tomorrow we’ll look at the challenge of local farming. The average farmer in BC is over 50 years old, meaning there will be a need for young people to enter that career.

On Friday we looked at how important agriculture is and will be to the BC economy.