Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


Canadian Food Summit 2012 Summary #FS2012

Now that the Canadian Food Summit 2012 is all over I’ve gotten a little bit of fodder for my blog. To be honest, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed being enraged by some of the comments by some of the presenters. I also enjoyed hearing from some like-minded presenters. I think that my favorite part of the Summit was getting to meet so many people from so many different sectors that I don’t normally get to interact with, even though I probably should! I met people from the supplier side of the food industry, farmers, the CFIA, TWO food lawyers (how cool is that, I didn’t even know it was a “thing” before this conference), students, authors, bloggers, fellow public health dietitians, NGOs, and the list goes on. I also really liked the level of engagement via twitter. How great was it to be able to see what others were saying by checking #FS2012? And to be able to have dialogue with the presenters via twitter. I started following 14 new people because of this conference, and I look forward to continuing to hear their perspectives in the future. But I digress…

I mentioned that there were many people at this conference that I should be interacting with and I’m not. One of the presenters I saw, Gaëtan Lussier, mentioned that we often work in silos. This is something that I’m all too aware of and that I hear all too often. I feel like it was a little bit of a missed opportunity that this Summit brought such a diversity of delegates together and yet we didn’t do anything in the way of starting to actually work towards a national food policy together. Perhaps learning from each other was useful. However, I worry that in many of the breakout sessions people stuck to their usual areas of interest. I know that I did for the most part. I think that they should have switched us all around. Everyone in industry should have attended Kim Raine’s presentation on obesity and chronic disease. While people like me should have been made to attend Agri-food industry viability through policy with the GM of Dairy Farmers of Ontario. I really hope that the result of this Summit will be a coming together of many people, from many areas, as citizens of Canada to develop a Canadian food policy that will be in the best interest of the majority of Canadians. As long as we continue with the “us” versus “them” mindset we’re never going to be able to develop a successful food strategy for Canada. The People’s Food Policy  is the product of a huge amount of work and it’s a great read. However, until we have industry and government support it’s going to remain a work of fiction.


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#FS2012 Canadian Food Summit in Tweets

My summary of the Canadian Food Summit 2012 in tweets:

  • The line-up for #FS2012 is insane! Hope this means it’s going to be a good conference.
  • Loads of food for breakfast at #FS2012 but no fruit or yoghurt! A little disappointing. Obviously not organized by dietitians.
  • Galen Weston on farmers’ markets: “someday they’re going to kill people.” Side note: Maple Leaf Foods is one of the #FS2012 sponsors.
  • Interesting dynamic when a conference has food industry, farmers, public health, non-profit…
  • Go Nick Saul from @TheStopCFC asking Galen Weston about the true cost breakdown of food!
  • Butter at the highest end of food prices.
  • Great presentation by Kim Raine at #FS2012 – they should’ve switched it so the food industry ppl were forced to attend.
  • MQ: the costs of junk food are hidden/forestalled as the costs to healthcare down the line @bittman #amen
  • Just had a vision of sugary foods and beverages being sold by dealers on the street like crack.
  • And then there was coca cola and ice cream sandwiches. Apparently we’re not planning on leading by example.
  • Large scale agriculture is the only way forward in Canadian food industry according to Michael McCain. #ignorance
  • If by “enjoy” you mean feeling frustrated and enraged, then yes, absolutely enjoying this ;)
  • No fresh fruit at break but we did have this lovely display of plastic veg.
  • Looking forward to this debate with @bittman and @thelocavore!
  • In case you were wondering: there’s about 8 mg vitamin C in a small McDonald’s fries and in an apple. More to it than that though.
  • Excellent passionate and rational argument by @thelocavore – take notes @bittman!
  • Hey Rob: supermarkets and farmers’ markets aren’t diametrically opposed. You can buy local food at the supermarket.
  • Also, farmers’ markets aren’t novelties for everyone. I know loads of people who do the bulk of their shopping at them.
  • Interesting that there’s been no discussion about Community Supported Agriculture.
  • Great first day at #FS2012 – nice to make so many new twitter friends. Looking forward to tomorrow (but first sleep!).
  • So Canada is 3rd (behind Australia & Chile) with a rating of -1.5; therefore, at low risk for food insecurity. What does this mean?
  • Consumer food security will be assured as long as producers make money.
  • New Moo Moo Bar. 1.5″ long and 3 g saturated fat, 11 g sugar.
  • I learned a lesson from yesterday and brought a banana with me for breakfast. Not even fruit centre pieces today.
  • “Get a government that cares!” – @scotfoodjames
  • Disappointed by @scotfoodjames commenting that “fat tax” is bad because we should take personal responsibility.
  • Ralph Martin at #FS2012 suggests we consider having a Ministry of Food and bringing home economics back to schools. Yes! And YES!!
  • @scotfoodjames I agree that taxation isn’t the answer but not bc we can take personal responsibility. We need to change our food environment.
  • @scotfoodjames education is one piece but not enough. Healthy choices need to be easier to make.
  • Excellent presentation by Nick Saul from @TheStopCFC! Yes to Ministry of Food, yes to National School Nutrition Program!
  • I like that Nick Saul pointed out that we need to be involved in food policy not just as consumers but as citizens.
  • Just had lunch with a gentleman from the CFIA. Keep an eye out for up coming food labelling public consultations.
  • Unfortunate that #FS2012 ended on such an uninspiring mote. Overall an interesting couple of days though.

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Galen Weston doesn’t care about small farmers

As you may have heard, Galen Weston really put his foot in it at the Canadian Food Summit 2012 yesterday. He made an off-the-cuff comment about how some day farmers’ markets are going to kill people. Naturally, that enraged many farmers in the room and others of us who support local food and community food security. I found it especially ironic as Maple Leaf Foods was one of the conference sponsors. Sure, people might get food poisoning from foods sold at a farmers market but that’s going to have a far less widespread effect than an outbreak in a food distributed by a national supermarket chain. Moving on…

Another thing that Galen mentioned was that Canada could become the world’s leading producer of pulses if we undertake a strategy like that of Brazil in cornering the orange market. I like that he recognized that we’re a major producer of pulses. I also like that pulses are an affordable and nutritious food; a high-fibre, low-fat meat alternative. However, I’m concerned about putting all of our eggs (or legumes/pulses) in one basket. Do we really want to be financially dependent on one crop? Personally, I think it’s better to diversify. Mixed farms are far more sustainable and efficient than large scale mono-crop farms. Growing one type of food is not the answer to Canada’s agricultural industry.

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Canadian Food Summit 2012

I’m currently attending the Canadian Food Summit in Toronto. As the event carries on into the evening I’m going to forego my regularly scheduled blog post. I’ll be digesting the proceedings and hope to have a new post out to you tomorrow while I’m on the train home. In the meantime, if you want to find out what’s being discussed here check out the twitter hash tag: #FS2012