The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has calculated that in 2016 Canada’s food freedom day will be February 9. This is the day that the average Canadian will have earned enough money to pay for his or her grocery bill for the entire year. In 2015 that boiled down to 11% of disposable income spent on food (note: that’s only DISPOSABLE income). This means in Canada we have a lot more available money to spend on things like housing, education and recreation (fun things like a family holiday or sporting events). Lucky us!
We should celebrate having such an early food freedom day, but celebrate with caution. Our FFD has fallen back a few days this year due to the rising cost of food. A low dollar means higher prices on imports, and Canada imports a lot of produce. Prices are forecasted to continue to rise in the coming months. If this worries you, just keep in mind how lucky Canada is in comparison to other countries. As a mother it is exciting to have a choice between 7 different kinds of milk at the grocery store, but what I think is even better is that every day more and more mothers in poverty stricken countries are able to wake up knowing their children won’t starve to death. Biotechnology and agriculture are helping in this area and have the ability to balance out economic and food inequalities around the world, if we allow it. So lets look at how lucky Canadians actually are compared to the rest of the world:
(Can you find Canada and the U.S.? We are those tiny grey dots on the left, spending the least amount on food. Although this chart is from 2008 it still gives a good visual of the disparities across the globe)
Just a couple generations ago Canadians spent around 40% of their budgets on food. This dramatic decrease can be partly attributed to better agriculture technologies and biotechnology such as genetic modification. With an increasing population we will need to find ways to grow more with less land and less inputs if we are not only going to keep our standard of living here, but also help improve the standard of living around the world. Of course it is easy for us in Canada or the U.S. to lay unrealistic boundaries about how our food is grown or what we refuse to eat because we can afford to. What we need to remember is not everyone has that luxury
‘Nothing says 1st world privilege more than basing your diet on the foods you refuse to eat.’ I get so tired of seeing all of these pictures with absolutely no supporting evidence being shared over and over again. So why all the fear over our food? Because we have so few actual concerns with food safety and availability here, people have turned to manufacturing issues or fears as a form of marketing, promotion, or simply as a status symbol (‘our family only shops at Whole Foods, please don’t tell me your family bought bread from Walmart! Do you actually feed your children bread with gluten?) Nothing can sell a product better than making your customer afraid of the competition. Fear sells, plain and simple. The truth is: Canada has one of, if not THE, safest food supplies in the world. In 2014 we tied with Ireland for the #1 spot.
See the complete information on this chart here.
So fear not dear friends! The agriculture industry as a whole is working hard at providing an increasingly safe and plentiful food supply. I want to find new ways to produce a more nutritious higher yielding crop, while caring for the land and environment because it is the foundation of my family and my business. As farmers, we want to grow healthy food for our family and for yours! Don’t listen to those who want you to live in fear of what you eat, instead join me in celebrating the abundance of wonderful, safe and affordable food that we have been blessed with.
Feeling lucky about our food freedom? In honor of #FFD spread the wealth by donating to these charities that help those who aren’t so fortunate. Or if you have a favorite charity of your own, leave the details in the comments!
The Lighthouse in Saskatoon, SK
The Lighthouse operates the Cameco Community Kitchen, which provides meals to the wider community, for anybody who is in need of an evening meal.
Food Banks of Saskatchewan
This is one of my favorites because you can purchase seeds or livestock to help families become more self sufficient.