Summit sets course for food policy

More than 250 stakeholders met in Ottawa last month to begin work on a national food policy.

The two-day summit was described as an important step in the process.

Federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay said the policy is intended to set a long-term vision that includes health, social well-being, the environment and the economy. It would also identify possible actions on issues such as production and processing.

The discussions focus on four themes: increasing access to affordable food; improving health and food safety; conserving soil, water and air; and growing more high-quality food.

“The government of Canada is committed to improving access to affordable, nutritious and safe food,” MacAulay told delegates.

He said the most vulnerable must be kept in mind and there is “room for improvement” when it comes to making healthy choices.

“Knowing and learning about food can lead to healthier and more active Canadians and help decrease demands on the health-care system and our policy must reflect that,” he said.

MacAulay noted that climate change will affect production and quality but research and technology will help farmers address greenhouse gases, soil degradation, water quality and availability, wildlife habitat and food waste.

“I’m fully aware that food waste is a big issue in Canada and around the world,” he said. “That’s why this food policy must be an all-of-government approach.”

About 20,000 Canadians have so far participated in an online survey, and regional consultations are expected to start this summer.

MacAulay said those who can’t find consultation sessions in their areas should contact their MPs. A preliminary report is expected this fall and the government hopes to complete it by next spring.

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