The Toronto Society of Architects presents Food in the City

This discussion assesses the health of the city through examining the cycles of its food: the growth, sourcing, production, buying, selling, cooking, and eating of food in the city. Taking place on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto, the event is moderated by Phil Goodfellow, TSA Vice-Chair, and guests include: Chris Hardwicke , Associate, &Co; Kathryn Scharf, Program Director, STOP Community Food Centre; and Lauren Baker, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.

A city without food is a city without soul. Many of our favourite urban spaces in the city are places where we buy food: think of St. Lawrence Market, Kensington Market and Dufferin Grove Park. Many of the city’s great festivals are about food, such as the Taste of the Danforth or the various food festivals at Harbourfront in the summer. All of our great cultural neighbourhoods are defined by their flavours, like Corso Italia, Little India and Chinatown.

But the distribution and purchasing of food also shapes our urban form. Large supermarkets on the periphery of our communities have decimated Toronto’s history of vibrant neighbourhood corner stores. Chain restaurants in the parking lots of “power centres” threaten the family-run ethnic restaurants that have made Toronto a culinary destination. Even our street food policies provide us with the sole non-choice of a bland hot dog dressed with processed condiments.

The food that the city consumes affects not only its inhabitants’ health, but also the health and vibrancy of its very culture. Recent initiatives in urban agriculture, community gardens and inner city farmers’ markets have begun to assess the health of the city’s food supply. We need to start thinking about cities from a new vantage point. Our discussion will begin to assess the health of the city through examining the cycles of its food the sourcing, production, buying, selling, cooking, eating and waste disposal of food. At its very essence, the city is what, where and how it eats.