WEB ONLY: OFA marked Food Freedom Day on Feb. 12

On Feb. 12, the average Canadian would have earned enough income to pay his individual grocery bill for the entire year.

In observing Food Freedom Day, farmers in Ontario and across the country celebrated their role in providing consumers with one of the safest and most affordable food supplies in the world.

Food Freedom Day is oc­curring slightly later in 2009 due to the recent rise in the price of food. That bucks the trend of recent years, where the disposable income of Cana­dians rose significantly faster than the cost of food. However, “thanks to farmers, Canadians still get the best deal in the western world for their food dollar,” said Bette Jean Crews, President of the Ontario Fed­eration of Agriculture (OFA).

In many parts of the world, the cost of food is significantly higher. Member countries ­in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Develop­ment (OECD), on average, spend 8.3% more of their disposable income on food than Canadians. Australians spend 12.7% more, the Japanese spend 35.7% more, and Mexi­cans spend over 125% more of their disposable income on food than Canadians. 

In 2008, while prices in some agriculture commodities rose, Canadian farmers continued to take only a very small percentage of the consumers’ food dollar at the store. In 2005, a grain farmer received $0.07 for the corn in a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and $0.11 for the wheat in a loaf of bread. Given the processed nature of many consumer foods, it is far more likely an increase in energy costs played a much larger role in the retail price increase.

Canadians continued to get high quality food produced at the highest food safety and environmental standards.

To ensure consumers are able to identify Canadian food and support their agriculture sector, the OFA, together with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, will continue to advocate for effective ingredient-based “Product of Canada” guidelines that are informative to the consumer and practical to the agri-food industry. 

Crews added, “in order to maintain a sustainable local food system, Ontarians need to buy local food and support the agricultural industry.” 

Agriculture is the second largest economic contributor and third largest employer in Ontario.