PORT HOOD: In a presentation called “What is our Shared Food Vision for Cape Breton – Unama’ki?” Jody Nelson and Eric Leviten-Reid of the Cape Breton Island Food Network visited Inverness council last week to spread the word about what the group is up to.

“We’re hoping to build a shared vision for the island around food,” said Leviten-Reid, who serves as a member of the group’s steering committee. “We’re hoping with the background we provide, there’ll be opportunities to connect with you further.”

Nelson, Community Food Coordinator with the group, said the food produced in Cape Breton can help people want to visit here, and potentially stay here.

“We create an environment where food is a part of who and what we are,” she said. “People want to make their lives here and know they can go down to the restaurant and have a great meal – and maybe meet the farmer who grew the food. Culinary tourism, agritourism, all these ways we attract people to our island and make them want to live here.”

Touching base with the municipal and band leaders in Cape Breton, Nelson said, is a good way to get people on the same page in terms of food and all that can be accomplished from that industry. One recommendation made by Nelson was for Inverness council to designate a councillor or staff member as a contact person for the network.

“We’re not here to ask for cash, we’re here to ask for involvement,” she said.

The group hosts community food conversations around the island, and also at: islandfoodnetwork.ca.

A survey is available on that site, and Nelson said it would be a big help to have as many people complete it as possible.

Following the presentation, Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie asked what the presenters thought of the revised Canada Food Guide.

“I like the emphasis on eating with people and thinking about what you’re eating,” she said. “That feels really healthy to me.”

Another question that was sent Leviten-Reid and Nelson’s way regarded the Pan Cape Breton Food Hub, a group that works to provide local food producers an on-line market.

“Alicia Lake [the food hub’s coordinator] was involved in the formative years of the Island Food Network,” Nelson said. “We communicate, and we’re looking forward to doing more of that in the future.

“Our work is different but connected, and our purpose is the same.”