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New website, app map Vancouver's food sources

Vancouver's food policy council launched the results of a two-year research project yesterday that tracks every grocery store, community garden and farmer's market in the city.

The resulting report titled "How Food Secure is Vancouver in a Changing World?" is intended to be a baseline for monitoring food security, that is, "sufficient household and community access to safe, healthy food" and a roadmap for improving food security in the future.

An accompanying website, makes sense of the data collected in the dense, 185-page report, showing where to find Vancouver's physical food assets, like community gardens, grocery stores, markets and community kitchens, as well as a detailed list of organizations and city policies that support food security.

The website also breaks down food availability by neighbourhood, showing where it's easiest to buy local food (East Van) and where there are the fewest food stores in the city (Shaughnessy).

Present at the launch of report and website, held yesterday evening at Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver, was Anthony Nicalo, who is taking the documentation of food sources to another level as the co-founder of, a social network that maps food origins and connections. Yesterday he launched FoodTree's iPhone application, which Nicalo describes as a "participatory platform" on which users can post information and photos about what's available and where it comes from.

"People in the mainstream already want more information about the food they're eating," he said. "An app in and of itself doesn't address lots of issues in the food system. . . but the data can become a meaningful and useful tool for policy makers."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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