An essential step toward sustainable food systems

Canada’s new Food Guide was finally released this week. The Guide goes beyond recommending what to eat, and provides simple guidance on how to eat, such as cooking from scratch when possible. Many view the Guide as an essential step towards more sustainable food systems, because of its emphasis on moving to more plant-based diets, eating less processed foods and sharing meals with others.

The Guidelines also value the importance of culture in food, especially with regards to Indigenous people’s identity and well-being. It notes that traditional food improves diet quality among lndigenous peoples, and lists wild meat in a range of examples of possible proteins.

While legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, dairy products, and meat are all listed as sources of possible proteins, the guidelines recommend consuming plant-based proteins more often. This comes on the heels of the recently-released EAT-Lancet report, which called for a more than 50 per cent reduction in global consumption of unhealthy foods such as red meat and sugar, in response to both human health needs and planetary boundaries.

The new Canada Food Guide is a welcome and necessary step in creating the healthier food environments which are part of a sustainable food system while building health for Canadians. More sustainable food systems will support individual health, as well as local and global economies and harmonize our ecological footprint.

The new Guidelines are part of a multi-pronged Healthy Eating Strategy announced by the Liberal government early in its mandate which also includes the implementation of mandatory front-of-package nutrition symbols and restrictions marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to kids. These second two elements are awaiting federal government and Senate approvals respectively. Since almost half of Canadians’ caloric intake comes from ultra-processed foods, taking action on packaging and marketing to children is a crucial step to transitioning to a food system that is healthier, more sustainable, and more just.

The revised Canada Food Guide is relevant to many public agencies including, schools,  hospitals and long term care facilities. Shifting to healthier eating practices promises long term health benefits to patients, residents and the Canadian healthcare system generally, as well as to planetary health. The Foundation’s Nourish initiative supports 25 food and healthcare Innovators from across Canada who are working on many innovative food projects that already align with the new Food Guide. Learn more about their work here: https://www.nourishhealthcare.ca/cfg-release

 

For information about taking action to support the Healthy Eating Strategy, see Food Secure Canada’s resources here.

https://foodsecurecanada.org/healthy-eating-strategy-take-action