We are what we eat.
My mother, no doubt trying to instill in me an innate sense of nutrition, was fond of telling me that regularly. As an adult, I am very much trying to be Holland Marsh vegetables, Niagara peaches and Leamington tomatoes. However, given my hectic schedule, I am a little too often Timbits, coffee and Pizza Pizza. But I am changing, and so are Canadians.
This summer I joined FoodShare Toronto when they released the results of a national survey on food, nutrition, and the willingness of Canadians to promote nutritious food in our families and our schools. The support is overwhelming: Canadians know that our health, our wellness and our social and economic well-being are dependent upon what we eat. The survey reveals that a majority of Canadians believe we face a serious problem related to what we are eating, where our food comes from and how it is prepared. It also acknowledged that poverty is a huge impediment for health eating and healthy living.
The survey was released in Don Valley West at the Flemingdon Park Fresh Food Market, in an area of high-rise apartments filled with new Canadians. Right beside a community garden, while children from a summer camp were splashing in a nearby wading pool, FoodShare reminded us that eating local foods is good for our bodies, for our environment, and for our economy.
Canada desperately needs a National Food Policy to promote these outcomes. FoodShare’s poll clearly illustrates the need make fresh food availability, farm sustainability, and food safety priorities for the Canadian government. Canadians need to know where our food comes from. Farmers need to know that they can make a decent living providing cities with the food we want. Poorer Canadians need to know that they will be able to buy the food they need to feed their families.
This summer, I worked intentionally on watching what I ate. Of course, it is somewhat easier to do that in the late summer and early fall as the terrific Ontario harvest makes its way to shelves in grocery stores, at market stalls and on farmers’ roadside stands. The season of Thanksgiving gives us a particular opportunity to remember how appreciative we should be for Canada’s tremendous bounty. It also gives us a chance to reflect on the importance of food to all of us.
A National Food Policy cannot stay on paper. It needs to become a reality at the dinner tables of our country. This Thanksgiving, take amount to reflect on the importance of food, nutritious food to our community. You might even take an hour this Saturday to visit a local Farmers’ Market and discover a new local farmer while shopping for your family supper. We are what we eat.
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