Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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So, Maple Leaf is going to promote food security. Bologna for all?

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My first thought when I saw that Maple Leaf was launching a new food security centre was: “do we really need another food security organization in Canada?” As much as I love that this issue is gaining traction and increased attention, there are already a number of organizations in Canada working to promote food security (on a national level: PROOF an excellent research centre in Toronto, and Food Secure Canada). Not to mention all of the organizations that are working to fight poverty, which is the root cause of food insecurity.

As I read the article, I was impressed by the academic names attached. Although, I do find it rather telling that of the seven board members, four of them are Maple Leaf employees. My inner (okay not so inner) cynic can’t help but wonder if this is more of a public relations exercise for Maple Leaf than a true effort to increase food security of Canadians. Indeed, by the current projects they plan to support, I don’t anticipate that they’ll reach their goal of reducing food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030.

The projects they plan to support through their innovation fund are: an urban farm, community food hubs through a provincial food bank, and FoodShare. All of which are fantastic initiatives which will bolster food literacy in participants, but will likely have little impact on food security rates in Canada.

Dare I suggest that Maple Leaf might better tackle food security issues by addressing internal employment practices. Their lowest paid employees are making minimum wage and it sounds as though many struggle to attain a healthy work-life balance. Both of these issues are important factors in promoting food security. Meanwhile, the CEO of the company made the list of the top 100 highest paid CEOs in Canada last year; pulling in a cool $5,239,735. This sort of inequity does not lend itself to promotion of food security. Perhaps Maple Leaf should work on getting their own ducks in a row, and ensure that their own employees are all food secure, before bragging that they’ll be spending the equivalent of less than twice their CEO’s salary on a new food security centre over five years. Additionally, rather than creating a new food security centre, they could donate the money to organizations like PROOF, Living Wage Canada, Food Secure Canada, and other organizations working to fight poverty across the country.

If we truly want to ensure Canadians are food secure we need to stop thinking about it as a food charity issue and start thinking about it as an income and equity issue. Food drives and food bank donations may make us feel good about ourselves and help to put a little bit of food in the mouths of hungry people but they do nothing to promote food security. If anything, these programs allow government off the hook as they can pretend that communities are doing their work for them by providing for those in need. As individuals we can make sure our elected officials are aware that we support a basic income guarantee and living wages. The media can help to get this message out there. Employers can help to ensure food security for their employees by providing job security, adequate wages, work-life balance, and benefits packages. The government(s) can create policies that will see a basic income guarantee and living wage put in place across Canada.


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Follow Friday: Holiday donations

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This holiday season, if you’re like me, you have people on your list who are nearly impossible to shop for. Giving a donation to a worthy organization in their name is a great way to give back and honour them. Of course, there are plenty of food drives and opportunities to help people with immediate needs, but if you want to go beyond that and attempt to have more of a lasting impact with your donation, here are a few food-related organizations you might want to consider donating to:

Community Food Centres Canada has locations throughout the country and grew out of The Stop in Toronto. The Stop began as a food bank but became so much more. Now community food centres offer food literacy education; opportunities to grow and cook food with fellow community members. Many have markets and serve as hubs for community members to come together over food. This holiday season you can make a donation in a loved one’s name to your local centre, or to the organization in general through their “My Food Hero” campaign.

The World Food Programme is a donation-based organization working to fight hunger and promote food security around the world. You can learn more about donating to them, or others ways you can help here.

Food Secure Canada is devoted to bringing a national food policy to our country. Their goals are: “zero hunger, healthy and safe food, sustainable food systems.” In addition, they provide education opportunities for anyone who’s interested through webinars and conferences. You can support their work here.

On a local level, you might consider donating your time or money to a community garden, community oven, community kitchen, food security network, or a poverty roundtable.

I’m sure that there are loads more worthy organizations, these are just a few that came to mind. Feel free to add more in the comments.


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Food Friday: #eatthinkvote

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It’s great to see organizations like Dietitians of Canada and Food Secure Canada working to make food (and food security) an election issue. Check out FSC’s Eat Think Vote campaign to find out what they’re calling for an how you can take action.


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Follow Friday: Food Secure Canada

I haven’t really been talking much about food security lately but it’s often on my mind. It’s shameful that there are people in Canada who cannot afford even a basic nutritious diet. Everyone should have access to affordable healthy food. Food Secure Canada is our national voice for the food security movement in Canada. Their website contains links to food security related publications through the Bits and Bytes link. There’s also a calendar for upcoming events and opportunities to get involved. They’ve also absorbed the People’s Food Policy Project and their report Resetting the Table is available on the website as well. If you don’t know much about food security issues in Canada this website is a good place to begin. And even if you’re already well-informed there’s always more the learn.