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The Food Train

I’m heading to Portland in May for what promises to be a great conference. But it’s how I’m getting there that is the most exciting. A group of us food folks are boarding the train together in Vancouver, each of us will be packing some great food to share during the eight hour trip. We have of course dubbed it the food train.

The conference, called Food Policy from Neighbourhood to Nation (apologies to US-ers for adding the u’s), is being put on by the Community Food Security Coalition from May 19th to 21st. I am keen to hang out in Portland again, it is always listed in America’s top ten most livable cities and is at the forefront of sustainable community development. I haven’t been there in a decade or more but remember my last trip there fondly, stopped there for a night before heading out to stunning Cannon Beach on the coast.

I attended another CFSC conference back in 2006. Vancouver was hosting and the organizers used some of the tours I had developed. So I tagged along on a couple. It was a wonderful conference, with plenty of side events and informal networking. I met some inspiring and memorable people there.

This conference will focus on city, county (regional) and state (provincial) food policy. As more of a project oriented type, I used to yawn when I heard the word policy, but apparently that’s no longer the case. Who could resist these workshops: Healthy Food on Wheels, all about mobile fresh food vending; or Healthy Corner Stores; or how about this for a snappy title: Zoning for Zucchini & Licensing for Lettuce: Policy Approaches for Healthy Neighborhood Retail.

I’ve also signed up for one of the pre-conference tours. It was a tough choice but I settled on the Farming Within the Urban Growth Boundary because a friend has been to two of the sites: Zenger Farm and Edgefield, and says they are must-sees. I would like to have done the Mississippi Avenue Walking Tour to learn about food carts, backyard chickens and sustainable fast food, with a lunch stop at a food cart pod (!). Hopefully other members of my food pod will take that one and we can compare notes as we chug home.

Earlybird registration cut off is March 25th and the special deal double rooms at the DoubleTree are already sold out. So if you’re going to hop on this food policy bandwagon, do it soon.

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