Food Freedom Day. You may have noticed this a number of weeks ago as a news item. I thought I would use this as a reminder of just how important food is to each of us and how inexpensive food here in Canada is as compared with other countries.
But for many here in our area, the cost of food is out of reach. We only need to see the latest numbers from our local food banks to show that every month, more and more people are having to rely on these vital services in order to feed themselves and their families. This is a sad reality in our society today.
But food is indeed vital to everyone. Our food may not seem inexpensive when you have to pay at the grocery store register, but it really is. I know that food prices, especially vegetables, have been increasing lately due to shortages and other issues, including droughts in certain areas, and the lower Canadian dollar, which makes all imports, food and other products, more expensive.
Almost two months ago, February 8 was declared “Food Freedom Day” in Canada. This date is determined each year by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. “Food Freedom Day” is when most Canadians have made enough money to pay for their yearly food bill. Where the event lands each year is determined by comparing Statistics Canada data on average individual income ($32,464) and yearly food expenditures ($3,497).
We as Canadians will be working for many more months this year to pay off what we owe in taxes. But on average we will have made enough money to buy all our food for 2017. This is an amazing thing to appreciate here in Canada, and something we all need to be more thankful for.
Based on these numbers, it was determined Canadians spend approximately 10.7% of their income on food. Now 10.7% may seem like a lot, but when compared to other countries, it really is a low number. France’s number is 13.2%, Portugal is 17.3%, Russia is 28% and Nigeria is a whopping 56.4%!
With the amount of money we spend on food, waste is huge area of concern. Annually, Canadians waste approximately $27 billion worth of food, which means over $770 in food dollars wasted per person every year. We have to do better.
As can be expected in a country as vast as Canada, various areas and communities also experience different types of food issues. Our citizens in many northern communities can spend huge dollars on everyday products such as milk and fresh produce. Those living on fixed incomes, or those living with limited resources, and even some living with no easy means to access food, are all food-related issues.
Food Freedom Day helps us understand and appreciate what we have as Canadians.
Food Freedom Day also serves as a reminder that we who have the resources, are called to share with those who don’t. It’s always a good reminder to be thankful for what we have and generous with those who don’t.
Think about this – Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at: www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’