Yesterday, February 12, was Food Freedom Day in Canada. Designated by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), Food Freedom Day marks the calendar date when the average Canadian will have earned enough income to pay his or her grocery bill for the entire year. For the past four years the date has fallen on February 12 because any growth in expenditure, which has been slight when compared to areas like recreation, rent and fuel, has not come close to matching growth in disposable income, according to the CFA. For Food Freedom Day to shift by one day, there needs to be a 2.5 per cent change in disposable income spent on food. (Disposable income per capita is expected to have been approximately $30,255 in 2011 and expenditures on food, beverages and tobacco were approximately $3,583, according to Statistics Canada).
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Food Freedom Day these past few weeks as I helped my work prepare to host a Food Freedom Day event in downtown Calgary on February 9. Some people consider it a time to celebrate our food and our farmers. But I think celebrate is the wrong word. Rather, Food Freedom Day is a time to call attention to the safe, nutritious and affordable food produced by Canadian farmers. Every day farmers work hard to produce our food and in return they often don’t receive their fair share of the profits. In fact, according to the CFA, within the first three weeks of the year, an average consumer has earned enough income to pay the farmers’ share of the food dollar.
I’ve also read several media articles on Food Freedom Day and came across some comments that made me shake my head in disbelief. In these comments, people continued to complain about high food prices despite the fact that in 2011 Canadians spent only 11.8 per cent of their disposable income on food, according to the CFA. In comparison, France spent 13.5 per cent of their disposable income on food and Japan spent 14.2 per cent. In other words, our food is inexpensive compared to most other industrialized countries.
Food Freedom Day may be over but I encourage everyone to support and thank Canadian farmers all year-long.
Thoughts? Please comment below.