The View From Here – While health is important, food should be a pleasure as well as a necessity

Tom Henihan

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” and while that may be an enduring truth, fewer and fewer people seem truly smitten by the love of food.

Sure, there is a wealth of cooking shows on TV, but those shows tend to cheapen the experience and demystify the art. They are a desecration that vulgarizes food.

In Shaw’s time, a good appetite was considered a sign of good health, and corpulence a sign of wealth and prestige.

Today, a good appetite is a symptom of moral weakness, something to purge but if fully indulged a good appetite causes the same degree of guilt once reserved for more illicit and intimate endeavours.

The world we live in is skewed on so many fronts including the food industry and food consumption: today the rich are skinny and the poor are overweight, and if that isn’t enough of an anomaly, Britain is now producing celebrity chiefs.

The people who process and ship our food get to decide what goes into it and what works best for the industry takes precedence over the health of the consumer, which partly explains why affluent people are slim and low-income people overweight.

To counter the strange and ever changing relationship with food and the deceptions that go into advertising many food products, we need a guide to make healthy and more astute choices.

The new edition of the Canada Food Guide, which will be available to the public shortly, advocates consuming more plant-based protien and encourages moderation around animal and dairy products in general.

Understandably, the guide’s bias against meat and dairy is causing anxiety among ranchers and dairy farmers.

Initially, I wondered why meat and dairy producers would be overly concerned about the recommendations of the Canada Food Guide, assuming the influence of the guide would be minimal.

However, I was surprised to learn that the guide is the second most requested Canadian government publication after income tax forms, and if schools and other institutions are mandated to follow the guide, farmers have good reason to be concerned.

The national policy and lobby organization that represents Canadian farmers said the Canada Food Guide’s decision regarding meat and dairy could have a damaging effect on people in the future and further damage a sector that already has to deal with the harmful concessions included in recent trade agreements.

Pierre Lampron, president of the national organization, says, “Not only will this harm the dairy sector and the hundreds of thousands who depend upon it for their livelihoods, it also risks harming Canadian consumers by creating confusion about the nutritional value of dairy.”

The effect on people’s health versus the health of the beef and dairy producers is a difficult and unfortunate conundrum.

It always seems to be the case with issues related to food that the producer or the consumer pays the price, while the food processing industry carries on unscathed.

Produced by Health Canada, the food guide focuses on general nutrition with the broader mandate of promoting a diet that provides essential nourishment and safeguards against the numerous illnesses that arise from lack of proper nutrition.


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