By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
As a June/July drought affected crops in southwestern Ontario, stress climbed over the potential decrease in bushels per acre. This year’s crops may not break production records, but we know there will be food to feed our animals, pay our bills and feed our families.
Such is the luxury of living and farming in Ontario.
In contrast, millions of people around the world are going hungry as indicated by the United Nation’s annual State of Food Insecurity report released this summer. It reveals global hunger is still far above pre-pandemic levels and increasing throughout African, Western Asia and the Caribbean.
Over 122 million more people are facing hunger in the world since 2019 due to repeated weather shocks and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine, states the report.
The report had more concerning statistics to share:
Child Malnutrition: Child malnutrition is still alarmingly high. In 2021, 22.3 per cent (148.1 million) children were stunted, 6.8 per cent (45 million) were wasted, and 5.6 per cent (37 million) were overweight.
Urbanization’s Impact on Diet: As urbanization accelerates, there is a noticeable increase in the consumption of processed and convenience foods, leading to a spike in overweight and obesity rates.
Rural Dependence on Global Markets: Previously self-sustaining rural regions, especially in Africa and Asia, are now found to be increasingly dependent on national and global food markets.
Future Outlook: By 2050, it’s projected that 70 per cent of the global population will reside in cities. This significant demographic shift necessitates a reorientation of food systems to cater to these new urban populations and eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
The positive side of the report is that there has been a stall in the growth of global hunger numbers. Thank goodness...the aforementioned statistics are alarming enough.
Imagine a future where 70 per cent of the global population will reside in cities. Wow. That puts a lot of pressure on farmers to feed the world.
So I fully support a new movement to eliminate our best-before-date labelling system to reduce grocery waste.
A report on grocery affordability from a House of Commons committee on agriculture and agri-food includes calls for Canada to do away with best-before dates due to the widespread misconception that they indicate whether a product is safe to consume, stated Nicole Thompson of CBC news.
“Experts say all they indicate is when a product is past its peak freshness,” reads the July story.
There is a vast different between “best before dates” and actual “expiry dates”. Expiry dates indicate that a food’s nutritional quality will degrade over time while best-before dates are required on food that could go bad within 90 days.
What happens to best-before labelled foods that go past their date? They are thrown out.
Yet a study by Dalhousie University and the Agri-Food Analytics Lab suggests 30 per cent of Canadians say that they oppose doing away with the labels while 32 per cent say they strongly oppose it. The other 30 per cent said they would strongly support or support eliminating those date labels.
I “strongly support” the move. At the very least, let’s educate people what those labels REALLY mean and encourage them to use their senses to decide when food is no longer good. A quick testing system to monitor food’s unsafe bacteria levels would be helpful too.
What is more sickening than defying best before labels is realizing our abundance is trashed while others go hungry. ◊