Farmers recognize Food Freedom Day on Feb. 7

Andrew Wagstaff
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Buying local a priority for Canadians, but not if it costs more

AMHERST – Today is the day you have earned enough income to pay for your 2014 grocery bill.
Every year, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture calculates this calendar date, labeling it Food Freedom Day, as a chance to celebrate the high quality of food produced at a reasonable cost in Canada thanks to the hard work of farmers and other players.

“I think it’s important to recognize what good value people are getting for their dollar, for the food that they buy,” said Henry Vissers, executive director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

Recent figures from Statistics Canada show that Canadians spent 10.6 per cent of their disposable income on food in 2013, placing Canada third in the world behind only the United States and Great Britain.

Vissers also pointed to a report on farmers’ markets in Ontario that showed every dollar spent at these markets created an average of $3.24 worth of economic activity in the provincial economy. This figure would probably be accurate in Nova Scotia as well, according to Vissers.

The message? Whether you’re buying from your community, your province or from elsewhere in Canada, you are supporting and strengthening the Canadian value chain.

“It’s high quality food, and it meets high standards as well,” said Vissers. “Those are important things to Canadians, and Nova Scotians as well.”

A survey by Farm Credit Canada showed that 95 per cent of respondents agreed that buying locally grown food is a priority or preference; however, only 43 per cent are willing to pay more for local products.

Research shows that Canadians are increasingly loyal to buying local food products such as fruit, vegetables, cheese, beef and poultry, but is importing more and more processed foods (60 per cent since 2004). More than 80 food processing plants have closed in Canada since 2007, with Heinz and Kellogg’s being the latest.

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Statistics Canada, Farm Credit Canada Kellogg

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Great Britain Ontario Nova Scotia Nova Scotians

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