Unfolding Story


The “Unfolding Story of Food in Toronto” Resource Page lists information sources to help you dig deeper into the themes and ideas related to Toronto’s regional food system.

This resource has been developed by the Toronto Food Policy Council in collaboration with Hypenotic. It introduces readers to challenges and opportunities in our food system at four scales; individual, neighbourhood, city and region.

If you’d like printed copies, please get in touch with us at tfpc@toronto.ca



Facts and sources: Individuals

People in the GTA made 1,123,500 visits to food banks in 2011, an 18% increase since 2008 (Daily Bread Food bank, 2010)

To pay for basic food and living expenses, the average single person living on Ontario Works requires $421.54/month more than they receive (The Stop Community Food Centre)

Over 50% of adults do not eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies per day. The recommendation is 7-10. (Health Canada , 2009/2010).

The majority of food advertised to children is unhealthy, with fast food meals being the most common type (City of Toronto Report, 2010)

42.8% of Torontonians are obese or overweight (Statistics Canada 2011)

Healthy food plays a central role in disease prevention. A poor diet costs the Canadian economy $6.6 billion a year (Health Canada 2003)



Facts and sources: Neighbourhoods

Access to affordable healthy food is limited in many low-income neighbourhoods (Food Asset Maps, 2011) (Statistics Canada 2008).

31 farmer’s markets (The Toronto Farmers’ Market Network, 2011)

128 community gardens (Food Asset Mapping, 2009)

12,512 lbs of fruit picked from urban orchards (Not Far from the Tree, 2013)

141,000 students served nutritious meals and snacks daily (FoodShare, 2011)

2,500 allotment garden plots (Food Asset Mapping, 2009)

4,000 Good Food Boxes delivered (FoodShare, 2011)

Food Desert Map (Food Asset Mapping, 2009)


Where We Live Impacts Our Ability to Make Healthy Food Choices 
A Vibrant Food & Farm Sector is Critical to Nourish our City

Facts and sources: Region

Between 1976 and 1996, 150,000 acres of farmland across the GTA were paved (Greenbelt Foundation, 2008) .

This region is home to 1/3 of the Class A agricultural land in Canada (Greenbelt Foundation, 2008).

The Ontario Greenbelt protects 1.8 million acres of agricultural land, pristine environment and hundreds of rural towns and villages (Greenbelt Foundation, 2008)

If every household in Ontario spent $10/week on local food, the local economy would have an additional $2.4 billion and 10,000 new jobs at the end of a year (MacRae, 2011).

More than 80 food processing plants in Canada have closed in the last 5 years (CBC 2012)

Toronto is the 2nd largest food cluster in North America, employing 58,460 people (Greenbelt Foundation, 2008)

In an emergency, Toronto would only have enough fresh food for 3 days (City of Toronto)

A new crop of farmers is growing in Southern Ontario, thanks to new farmer training efforts. Many farmers are diversifying their crops to reflect a growing public interest in global cuisine (Vineland, 2011).


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 2012. “Canadian food processors fear massive job loss: Ottawa’s deregulation of food packaging sizes could open the border to more American imports

City of Toronto Staff Report, 2010.  Food Advertising to Children: Update.  February 1, 2010

City of Toronto Website “Emergency Prepardeness – Food”  accesed March 13, 2013

FoodShare Toronto – Student Nutrition and Good Food Box

Greenbelt Foundation 2008. Breakdown of facts and figures in the greenbelt

Greenbelt Foundation 2008 “Ontario’s Wealth Canadan’s Future 

Health Canada, 2006. Cycle 2.2

Health Canada 2003.  Economic Research Analysis Section, Policy Research Division, Strategic Policy Directorate, Population and Public Health Branch. Custom tabulations

  1. MacRae, R. (2011). Globe and Mail article “Local food Movement Goes National” by Jessica Leeder Friday, Jul. 01 2011
  2. Not Far From the Tree, 2013 
  3.  Statistics Canada, 2011 “Body mass index, overweight or obese, self-reported, youth, by sex, provinces and territories
  4.  The Stop Community Food Centre.  “Do the Math 
  5. World Food Crop


Baker, L. 2014. Unfolding Story of Food. Toronto: Toronto Food Policy Council.
For the background report on the Unfolding Story of Food, please contact tfpc@toronto.ca.