By: Kate Marchand, Provincial Agriculture Awareness Specialist, Regional Services Branch
According to the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s 2016 Public Trust Research, 53 per cent of Canadians are more concerned about the affordability of healthy food than they were a year ago. Furthermore, only 13 per cent of Canadians believe that Canadian food is currently amongst the most affordable in the world.
Yet, the facts state otherwise. Canada has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world, in terms of the share of annual income spent on food. In 2015, for example, Chinese consumers spent 25 per cent of their annual income on food, whereas Canadians spent only 9.1 per cent.
Modern agricultural technologies help farmers and food processors produce food affordably. Enhancements to seed quality lead to healthier and stronger crops with a lower risk of succumbing to insect or disease infestation, resulting in improved yields. Improved plant health also means less need for pesticides, thereby lowering production costs. Plant breeding and pesticides enable producers to grow significantly more food for every acre of planted crop. Thanks to modern agriculture, consumers also have abundant food choices, allowing them the option to choose more affordable foods. According to research conducted by CropLife Canada, without the advancements in modern agricultural technologies, Canadians would pay over 30 per cent more for bread, 50 per cent more for fresh fruit and the average Canadian household would have to spend 55 per cent more—or $4,000—on food annually.
‘Food Freedom Day’ creates awareness about food affordability and the abundant selection of food available to Canadians. Food Freedom Day signifies when a Canadian of average income has made enough money to cover the cost of food for an entire year. In 2016, Food Freedom Day was February 9 and in 2017, it was February 8.
Producers are also consumers, who also value affordable food. As advocates for the industry, they help the public understand how the technologies and tools used on their farms and ranches help make food affordable. This Ag Month is an opportunity to do just that.
For more information contact the Agriculture Awareness Unit at 306-787-9773.