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Cowichan Valley Citizen

Cowichan Valley Citizen - 06.22.07

"Don't Assume 'Product of Canada' From Canada" - Jean Crowder

For most of us, going to a grocery store is part of our routine. Looking for the best prices, we weave our way through the aisles and stick with our regular buying habits. But there is growing evidence that we should consider changing this routine by becoming more consumer aware.

Recent recalls of pet food and tainted toothpaste from China are fresh in our minds.

Over the past 10 years, imports from China have increased by nearly 400 per cent raising serious concerns about the safety of the items we're increasingly consuming.

Even when we make an effort to buy items that are labelled 'Product of Canada,' we discover that we are being somewhat misled.

Under current federal regulations, a product is considered Canadian if at least 51% of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the goods originate in Canada. These costs include expenditures on materials but also labour and directly related overhead.

We assume that we're choosing food grown in Canada when it is really about the overall costs that are in Canada.

Increasingly, people want to know what's in their food. Around the world farmers are using high-tech seeds, a range of pesticides and large quantities of fertilizer. It is reported that humans are producing so much fertilizer that nitrogen levels in the atmosphere are double pre-industrial levels.

We are now consistently consuming more food than we produce. Yet future food production is being threatened by challenges such as water shortages, climate change, increased land costs, and a decrease in available land for agricultural purposes.

There are a number of ways that you can help to support positive change. Choose organic and free-range products. Buy in season. Grow some of your own food, even if you start with a few containers.

Know your food source. Support local farmers who grow healthy, safe food by shopping at farmers markets, farm stores, and u-picks.

Support legislation that requires mandatory labelling of Genetically Modified Organisms in food and bans the use of harmful pesticides.

We all need to eat. Becoming more food aware will be increasingly important to the health of our families, communities, and environment.

Learn more. Visit 'Deconstructing Dinner' online at www.cjly.net/ deconstructingdinner. Find local food sources at certifiedorganic.bc.ca and www.islandfarmfresh.com.

Copyright Cowichan Valley Citizen 2007


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