In amongst all the bad news about food – the recent spate of food-borne illnesses; the rising rates of diabetes, fatty liver disease, food-related allergies, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and certain forms of cancer suspected to have food links; and an endless news feed about the dangers of additives in many common processed foods – one thing is still clear: we still need to eat.
So just how do we navigate the tricky and treacherous business of eating while still actually managing to enjoy healthy, tasty food?
The new Canada Food Guide, to be released shortly, is expected to recommend that Canadians eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and, in particular, focus on eating more plant-based proteins.
Moving to a more plant-based diet makes sense both for our own personal health and for the health of the planet. And despite our hard winters, Canada is well placed when it comes to the production of agricultural commodities – we live in one of the most agriculturally rich countries in the world. Canadian agriculture and the Canadian agri-food industry contributes over $110 billion annually to our GDP. To put the numbers in perspective, that’s more than the national GDP of more than two-thirds of the world’s nations. Canada is also the fifth largest agricultural exporter in the world. We produce an estimated three-quarters of the global maple syrup supply, and are the world’s largest exporters of flaxseed, canola, pulses, oats and durum wheat. We are also, by far and away, the world’s largest producer of lentils – a rich and incredibly inexpensive source of plant-based protein. (Statistics: Agriculture Canada and Agri-Food Canada website, www.agr.gc.ca.)