Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Made In Alberta Food Sustainability Model

ARSAN (or Alberta Rural Sustainability Alternatives Network) is a non-profit grassroots organization with the purpose of demonstrating possibilities of a new sustainable way of life and a focus on the development of a sustainable local food system. ARSAN’s specific commitments, when combined together, make ARSAN unique in its exploration of sustainability.

ARSAN Key Commitments

Exploring alternatives
ARSAN is committed to exploring and building examples of new, sustainable alternatives that have the potential to contribute to the future wellbeing of our society. Being committed to alternatives means doing things differently from what is done now. The intent is to provide new perspectives and options for how things can be done in these changing and challenging times.
Education by demonstration
ARSAN’s has a fundamental commitment to education by creating examples of possible alternatives. This approach applies to everything we do: the food we promote, our projects, the organization’s structure and how we refer to our partners and supporters. This presents a challenge because providing practical examples requires a great and complex effort. At ARSAN we believe that such an effort, even on a small and imperfect scale, may have a highly educational value for many.
Principles of sustainability
ARSAN believes in the true, broad and deep meaning of sustainability. Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For that, we must find ways of living within the limits of Earth’s ecosystems today and for generations to come. Food is central to sustainability. How it is produced and what we eat has very strong links with the natural environment, use of energy and other natural resources, climate change, water availability, rural economic sustainability and most importantly, our health.
Authentic foods
Within the food system, sustainable food processing alternatives are equally important to farming alternatives but very seldom addressed. To understand what makes food processing sustainable we look for guidance in methods used in the pre-industrial times. For food to be sustainable, it must be locally produced. Since Canada is a young country with no preindustrial food history, ARSAN explores food traditions from countries with similar climatic and cultural zones and that is Europe and particularly its central, eastern and northern parts.
Wholistic approach
To understand the challenge of sustainability we need to learn and promote a different, wholistic (systemic) way of thinking and perceiving the world. Holistic farming and permaculture are examples known to many, particularly those interested in exploring sustainability and alternative agriculture. At ARSAN, we take this wholistic approach beyond farming and extend it to all other parts of our collective lives such as organizations, the food system, human health or any project that we are undertaking. All these represent different but interconnected systems when at the same time are also parts of the common wholistic concept of a new, sustainable way of life.
Building urban - rural connections
Development of a new, sustainable local food system must involve both urban and rural representations. Given that most food production occurs in the rural areas and that the majority of the population lives in cities, one cannot succeed without the other. In addition, urban communities offer capabilities and resources that may not be readily available in rural communities. However, there is a cultural gap between these two parts of our society; they may not understand or connect well one with another. To help bridge this gap ARSAN actively seeks involvement of both rural and particularly urban people in all aspects of our organizational activities. All projects, while primarily located in rural areas, are clearly focused on potential gains for urban people. ARSAN’s projects can only succeed by attracting their involvement, but this, in turn, will also be beneficial to rural participants and will support rural development.

-excerpt from the ARSAN website -http://arsan.ca/about-us/beginnings.html