Toronto blacks embrace black food co-op

Image copyright iStock Image caption A Toronto neighbourhood will be home to a food co-op focused on black food for the first time

A neighbourhood in Toronto has adopted a radical plan to develop a black food co-op, one of the first of its kind in North America.

It will focus on high-quality, creative and affordable food that reflects the unique food traditions of black communities.

Only two other communities in the US have launched their own food co-ops in the past decade.

The move has ignited debate among residents and received global coverage.

The opening of the co-op in Yorkville, Toronto, is expected in 2021.

City council in the affluent and multicultural suburb adopted the plan for Yorkville and Scarborough Africatown as “black food sovereignty”.

The plan was first proposed in 2012 and passed at a neighbourhood meeting on Sunday. It will involve the co-op buying land and establishing a supermarket.

The executive director of the Hyde Park Community Council in US has described the plan as “a big moment in history”.

The co-op plan is part of a larger effort by community organisations in Toronto to support black communities, establish the idea of black food sovereignty, and develop a greater sense of pride for black people.

First established in 2011, the community’s Hyde Park Community Corporation supports Hyde Park and Prospect Park in making strong African Canadian identities.

Photo: Facebook

While in neighbourhoods such as Yorkville and Scarborough Africatown, black neighbours are coming together to improve the health of black families by boosting their diets, health outcomes, and the resilience of communities.

Photo: Facebook

The co-op is designed to build and strengthen the resilience of the communities, creating new or better food, inviting new customers, giving them a place to meet other people from the same communities and giving them a sense of place.

The plan drew on the rise of food sovereignty in European countries.

Organisations from countries such as Canada, France, Switzerland, and Germany have begun to act based on the strong EU directive on food security, the International Food Policy Research Institute says.

“Just like communities in the US have been through many struggles, you look at social movements there as well and their struggle for black liberation, black self-determination, black pride. We’re going through a similar thing in Canada,” says Angela Lowe, co-founder of A Sense of Place, which has had the plan adopted by her community in Canada.

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