Jul 19, 2020
Technology is changing all aspects of the food system, including how smaller-scale farmers and food producers connect with different markets. In this episode of Handpicked, Dr. Theresa Schumilas describes her work as the Director of Open Food Network Canada, an open source software platform designed to help producers and eaters build better and more sustainable food systems. You’ll hear about how justice and fairness can inform an activist approach to coding and how non-proprietary software is contributing to food sovereignty in Canada and beyond. Using Open Food Network as an example, Dr. Shumilas explains how software platforms are helping smaller scale producers reimagine their operations by centring community, open source legal protections, and peer-to-peer learning.
Co-Producers & Hosts: Amanda DiBattista & Laine Young
Sound Design & Editing: Adedotun Babajide & Laine Young
Research Assistants: Chiamaka Okafor-Justin & Jake Bernstein
Click the links to learn more
Support & Funding
Wilfrid Laurier University
The Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
Balsillie School for International Affairs
Moving Beyond Acknowledgments- LSPIRG
Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
Open Food Network Canada
The Open Food Network Global Project
Open Food Network Global Discussion Community
Building Back Better: Infrastructure investments for a greener, more resilient and sustainable country
Racial Justice and Food Systems Resources
Justice in June
Black Women on Black Food Sovereignty Panel, presented by FoodShare Toronto
“When you’re Black, you’re at greater risk of everything that sucks”: FoodShare’s Paul Taylor on the links between race and food insecurity
Seed Change Words From Our Chair: We cannot talk about food without talking about racism
Black Food Insecurity in
Canada, Melana Roberts
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Glossary of Terms
Cultural and natural resources that belong to everyone and that are not privately owned. The Commons can include resources that are in physical and/or digital space, are non-proprietary, and are cared for by a community. The Commons is an important concept in many disciplines, including political ecology, economics, philosophy, law, and the humanities, among others. The Commons can be legally protected, as in, for example, Creative Commons or Open Source licencing
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a food sharing model in which people buy a share of a farm and then pick up their dividend as a harvest share every week. Consumers make a commitment to take their share, which could be anything from a particular farmer/producer, and to share the risk of the harvest with that farmer.
The right of people to have access to and power over the data and information associated with their lives, work, or communities.
"Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems."
Natural, cultural, and digital resources shared with a global community of food actors. For example, Open Food Network includes a global community of coders creating and sharing code and educational experiences to better their platform.
Informal Economy of Food
Economies of food that emphasize “personal relationships, trust, and non-market values, which are inherently challenging to define and often impossible to quantify.” Informal economies of food are “spaces for non-traditional forms of innovation as well as opportunities for deep insights into social relationships, cultural meanings, and environmental values . . . and challenge us to think of economic systems in far more complex ways than mainstream economic theory would propose.”
A non-proprietary legal protection that ensures ownership in the commons. Data, information, code, genetic code, etc. may be deemed Open Source.
A legal protection that ensures that data that is owned and available for use to everyone in a particular community. In the case of Open Food Network, all users have access to all code associated with the platform but must make any alterations or new code available to all other users.
Informal learning among members of a community, often based on the concepts of sharing and justice. Peer-to-peer learning may take place through forums, mentorship, or other means.
Digital infrastructure or framework for different kinds of exchange. For example, Open Food Network is a platform that enables digital food hubs, shops, or farmers markets.
A food enterprise which makes, grows, bakes, cooks, or produces food which it can supply to other businesses for sale.
The management of goods, knowledge, technology, employees, money, etc. associated with being a producer.
“An umbrella term that describes a wide range of economic activities that have been made possible by technology. Two well-known digital platforms have captured markets in transportation (Uber) and short-term accommodations (Airbnb), but sharing economy businesses are emerging in nearly every sector of the economy. . . . The common element is that they enable individuals to “share” their personal assets or skills. This sharing involves renting personal assets or providing services for a fee through an online application.”
All of the components of a system—including organizations, producers, suppliers, people, resources, activities, information, and infrastructures—that get a product to a consumer.
Food systems that are “socially just, support local economies; are ecologically regenerative, and foster citizen engagement.”