Canada was criticized last week by a United Nations representative for not having a national food strategy.
The criticism was brushed aside by the federal government, but it’s hard to ignore that almost 2.5 million Canadians aren’t getting the nutrition they need.
That’s an unacceptable number.
And a national strategy would go a long way in not only providing funding to ensure healthy food is obtainable for all, but to reconnect people and communities with their food sources.
An important part of this strategy would be education, including better food labelling so families can make healthier choices, and improved information on where our food comes from.
Part of this reconnection should include breaking down massive industrial farms to sizes more accessible for the average person – let’s face it, we have no idea where much of the food we eat today comes from or how it is produced.
Other parts of a strategy could include a national template for communities to follow on what is acceptable in urban areas for growing – one has to look no further than the bitter urban agriculture dispute in Lantzville over the past two years to understand why that would be effective – and improved protection for designated agricultural land reserves.
To address food security, one also has to consider poverty. Canada doesn’t have a national strategy for that, either.
So it’s no surprise that since 1981, when the first food bank in Canada opened in Edmonton, more than 700 have opened. And while food banks perform an admirable service, they are a symptom of, not a solution to, the growing problem.
Access to proper nutrition would not only help ease the nation’s hunger pangs, it would enable children to focus better in school and reduce health costs.
To dismiss the importance of a national food strategy is irresponsible.