Every day, farmers, ranchers and fishers work to harvest from the Earth in order to feed the people. Somewhere along the path of history, this relationship got complex. The most recent consultation phase regarding changes to Canada’s Food Guide is now closed. However, it has raised issues about more than just what Canadians choose to consume every day as part of their diet. It has also raised the issue about how to advocate for your products in a positive and respectful tone.
Eating is a very personal experience. Each of us make food choices for a variety of reasons:
Eating is social. I learned this first hand when I broke my jaw and had to eat through a straw for six weeks. But it doesn’t take something that dramatic to see that shared experiences are shaped by food, and food choices are influenced by social experiences.
Eating is cultural. We use food to help us celebrate and to help us mourn. Think of what we would be missing if Folklorama, or Westman Multicultural Festival did not include food and drinks in the guest experience. Eating is also part of the everyday culture of farming; meals in the field are part of our farm's culture.
Eating is influenced by economics. Food security and food diversity are highly dependent on socioeconomic status. As a society, as communities, and as individuals, we can influence food security and food waste as part of the overall producer/consumer relationship.
All of this brings us back to WHY discussions about changing the food guide are so personal. Sometimes when things get personal, they can also be emotional. Demand directly impacts producers, and consumers are influenced by government recommendations, so it is understandable that producers have strong feelings about the food supplies they provide.
As long as we can maintain a positive, respectful dialogue, producers and consumers can work together to support Canada’s evolving food requirements, sustain the environment and support healthy choices for citizens.