Monday, September 26, 2016

Health Authority finds link between healthier communities and local agriculture

How we build our communities —land-use and transport systems— have a profound impact on our health. Walkable communities are healthier communities. Over the last several years, our provincial health authorities have started publishing toolkits and data to encourage governments to build communities that enable people to have positive health outcomes.

While there is a good amount of information available about the link between walking and healthier community, not as much has been said about the link between local agriculture and our health. The Provincial Health Services Authority released a study call “Agriculture’s Connection to Health: A summary of evidence relevant to British Columbia.

There were around twenty findings in their report including:

  • Farmland preservation helps to maintain a level of food production that contributes to food self-sufficiency
  • Greater availability of locally produced fruits and vegetables may increase their consumption
  • Food self-sufficiency supports healthy eating
  • Indigenous foods, foodlands, and waters contribute to healthy eating and physical health and are core parts of culture and identity for Indigenous populations
  • The availability of culturally appropriate or traditional fresh fruits and vegetables can be an important part of healthy eating for immigrant populations
  • The availability of local food can help people to feel connected with their environment

In the South of Fraser, a large amount of land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve. The continued protection of this land is critical not only for food security, but also to support better health outcomes for people in our region.

The Provincial Health Services Authority noted in their study that there is opportunity for further research on the link between local agriculture and human health. I wouldn’t be surprise if on-going research finds even stronger connections between health and local agriculture.

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