Not many people noticed but among the endless special observances this past week was Food Freedom Day. It’s believed to be the moment when the average Canadian has earned enough money to pay their annual grocery bill for the entire year.
In 2017 it came three days later than last year, but it still serves as an important reminder of how incredibly fortunate we are in the ‘true north, strong and free’. As always, the word ‘average’ is key here, but the bottom line is most of us spend barely 10% of our disposable income on food.
Back in the 1970s and ’80s, the late Eugene Whelan was the federal Ag minister. With his trademark green stetson, he traveled the land reminding us of what an incredible bargain we experience every time we go to shop for groceries. He also reminded us that very few farmers are rich.
Since then, we have come to realize the huge gaps there are when it comes to ‘food security’ in Canada. Indeed, in less developed countries a lot more income is needed to pay for food, and hunger and famine are still an enormous problem.
By the time we hit the 1990s, food banks had become a huge growth industry in Canada. Today, there are almost as many food banks as there are fast food restaurants, and both entities have become very very ‘corporate’.
Organizations like Winnipeg Harvest and the Regina and District Food Bank are major enterprises with dozens of employees, and a broad range of programs dealing with different aspects of poverty. These problems have always been with us, and they probably always will be, but we dare not turn our backs. That’s what politicians seem to be doing more and more.
Much as the David Northcotts of the world deny it, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that food banks allow governments a free pass when it comes to dealing with those whose needs are greater than ours.
I’m Roger Currie