By Wayne Roberts
Citywatch: Whether it’s action or traction in the food world, cities are stepping up to the plate. The world is fast going urban, as are challenges of social, economic and environmental well-being. Citywatch is crucial to Worldwatch. Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the world-renowned Toronto Food Policy Council, has his eye out for the future of food in the city.
My first job, every Saturday from grade 7 to grade 10, was as a bicycle delivery boy for Joe Caruso’s grocery store in – I still groan at the memory – a hilly area of Scarboro. The job paid 50 cents an hour plus tips, so this is when I learned that working people tipped more generously than rich people – still a good backgrounder for any interpretation of modern neo-conservatism.
On average, our food makes 13 trips before it reaches our plates, according to food policy analyst Wayne Roberts. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)
As the world turns, bike delivery jobs may be heading for a retro revival like vinyl records. They remain one of the best ways to handle the trickiest and thorniest of what delivery and logistics experts call – with a groan that reminds me of my hill-biking days – “the last mile.”
My trip backwards in time was occasioned by a two weekend assignment (for less pay than I made as a delivery boy) as the “food expert” for a dozen bold and brilliant designers-to-be working on a plan to reduce heavy traffic. The project—co-sponsored by Evergreen Foundation (recently reinvented to promote green cities), George Brown College’s Institute without Boundaries and the regional transportation giant, Metrolinx—will become a showpiece in a transit expo attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to Evergreen’s Brick Works next spring and summer.
To come up with bright new ideas, our team (one of ten) worked in a “charette,” with a medley of designers unburdened by vested interests or formal training, several free-floating food producer and consumer groups, and me holding the reins on any runaway plans that got too wild.