MOST RECENT CONSULTATIONS ON REVISIONS TO CANADA’S FOOD GUIDE REVEAL THAT MANY PEOPLE IN CANADA WILL CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE TO EAT WELL
Winnipeg, March 28, 2018 – Canada’s Food Guide is undergoing a major overhaul. In its recent consultations on revisions to the most popular federal document after tax forms, Health Canada appears to be moving away from recommended servings and food groups. In their place, people in Canada can expect general eating and behavioral guidelines such as “regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein”, “regular intake of water”, and “sharing meals with family and friends whenever possible”.
While this approach, made popular in Brazil, is promising, Health Canada’s most recent round of consultations reveal that many people in Canada will continue to struggle to eat well.
“Most professionals and organizations also felt strongly that these recommendations [are] often unrealistic for many Canadians who are unable to afford or access healthy food and beverage”. – Health Canada.
Overall, the report downplays the role of industry in shaping food preferences and how people access food. While consumption of unhealthy foods and food waste continue to be a major issues in Canada, the report lacks any critical analysis of how food marketing and packaging contribute to these issues.
Health Canada and the Government of Canada, for their part, need to take responsibility for ensuring that all people in Canada are able to meet these guidelines, free of social and financial barriers.
“Given that more than 12% of people in Canada face financial barriers to accessing food, it should be expected that these guidelines will be unattainable for many people. With ‘the right to adequate nutrition’ among the recommendations for A Food Policy for Canada, the question is: How will government ensure that all people in Canada are equipped to follow these guidelines?” – Rob Moquin, Policy Manager, Food Matters Manitoba
Consider the proposed Food Guide recommendation, “regular intake of water”, and the assertion by some contributors to Health Canada’s report that tap water is “free”. Not only is water not free, in some cases it is not available. There are currently 78 First Nations communities under long-term boil water advisories in the country, not to mention people who experience homelessness or cannot afford the cost of the utility. The report was released on the eve of World Water Day.
There is also a lack of explicit input from Indigenous contributors. Given the emphasis on cultural diversity, including Indigenous food traditions, government should be doing more to solicit input from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit governments, leadership, organizations, health professionals, scholars, and industry.
About Food Matters Manitoba
Food Matters Manitoba is a community organization which envisions a Manitoba where good food nourishes strong communities and healthy people. Food Matters Manitoba works with communities across Manitoba to create opportunities for people to be able to eat good food. For more information on Food Matters Manitoba’s programs, please visit www.foodmattersmanitoba.ca.
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Rob Moquin, Policy Manager
Food Matters Manitoba
tel: 204-943-0822 extension 1