We all enjoy eating food. There is nothing better than a summer barbeque with family and friends. But how safe do you think your food is? How safe do you want your food to be?
As we are into another growing season in Chatham-Kent, we will have many opportunities to purchase locally grown food products. Most of us realize the importance of buying quality food for ourselves and our family, as well as the economic value of supporting our local producers and businesses.
Knowing where our food comes from and how our food is grown are very important purchasing factors. We want to be assured the foods we buy are safe to eat.
Here in Chatham-Kent, we have some of the best producers in the world in terms of knowledge, efficiency, caring for their land, and also care for the foods they grow and the animals they raise.
In my travels around the world, I have become familiar with many countries regulations and inspections in regards to food. But these standards are not the same in all countries. Canada has one of the most stringent food quality and safety standards. However, there are other areas we all need to be more aware of regarding food safety.
Crop protection products are used by our farmers to control weeds, insects, and diseases. Some consumers would rather not have any commercial crop protection products on the foods they buy, so many are purchasing organic products. We have a number of organic producers in our area to meet this consumer demand.
Most of our producers do use these approved crop protection products. The actual product and the amount used are regulated by Canadian government agencies. However, the Canadian government does not have jurisdiction on the types and amounts of crop protection products used in other countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Chile, China, India, and many other areas of the world we import food from.
What does this mean to you as a consumer? Well, the grapes you buy that are grown in Chile, or the strawberries from California, or the jar of pickles from India, may be sprayed with crop protection products that are banned for use by our Canadian government. Farmers in other countries are able to use crop protection products that our own farmers are not allowed to use. This is important for you to know, as you have no idea what products or how much has been applied on the foods coming into Canada.
Here in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors and tests the foods our farmers produce, the food products made in Canada, and the foods imported into Canada. The testing on imported food products is determined by a number of factors, including the amount of that food we eat as Canadians, trends on eating habits, and other areas. One of their goals is to ensure Canadians have safe and healthy foods.
But we also need to realize the CFIA has only so many food inspectors. The majority of food that is imported into Canada is not tested. It just can’t be, as there is too much imported food for the CFIA to test. Saying that, they do test many foods and they do monitor parts of the world where they know there could be issues related to food safety.
As a consumer, you need to know this information. You need to be more aware of the foods you eat, including fresh, canned, and frozen, and where these foods come from by reading and understanding the food labels.
All of this is another reason to find locally grown food products, because you will be buying the freshest and some of the safest foods available.
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Think about this – Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our website – wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’