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Canadians Urged To Learn About Their Food

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78 per cent of people told a survey prepared for the DOC in advance of nutrition month that they agreed it was important for them to know where their food is grown.

Learn what foods grow in your area. Ask farmers questions. Teach children food traditions and eat at home more often.

Those are some of the ways Dietitians of Canada (DOC) are urging Canadians to re-engage with and enjoy food during this spring’s annual nutrition month campaign.

Celebrate food… from field to table is the theme of the national dietitians’ campaign in 2010. It’s an effort to urge Canadians to not only eat better and choose healthier foods, but begin to understand food sources and the broader dimensions of food.

“Knowing where our food comes from, how its grown and harvested and how to choose foods for the best nutrition is the goal of this year’s National Nutrition Month campaign,” said Caroline Dubeau, National Nutrition Month Manager for Dietitians of Canada. “Our country has much to celebrate with regard to the food available in Canada.”

Dietitians see a need for more people to make a stronger connection between what farmers around them produce and the food on their tables, adds Karen Armstrong, provincial nutrition month committee spokesperson and Manitoba-based registered dietitian.

Local matters

Eight out of 10 people (78 per cent) told a survey prepared for the DOC in advance of nutrition month that they agreed it was important for them to know where their food is grown.

Clearly, the source matters much more than it used to, says Gina Sunderland, another Winnipeg-based dietitian. “I’d have said five years ago it didn’t matter so much,” she said. The 100-mile diet concept and the eat-local movement changed that.

Sunderland said gaining knowledge of how food is produced and where it comes from is a key first step to eating a healthier diet. She was a spokesperson last October for DOC when the national dietitians organization and Dairy Farmers of Canada jointly released findings from a survey showing Canadians have real difficulties eating even basic foods key to health.

But another DOC survey done this spring shows most Canadians (86 per cent) do say they are confident about the safety of Canadian-produced food and agree that the term “healthy” describes foods available in their region. Most (82 per cent) say “good value” describes their regional foods as well.

That survey shows there’s some true regional food favourites too. Manitobans cited corn on the cob as their favourite food. Albertans love their beef, Ontarians their apples and Quebecers their cheese. B. C. residents picked fresh vegetables while Atlantic Canada says lobster is tops.

But what’s “local” does remain a puzzle for many, and many other Canadian-grown foods go unrecognized.

Sunderland said she regularly urges her clients to add more pulses to their diets, and will say they’re locally grown too. “And they’ll look at me and say ‘local?’ They often think something like lentils comes from India.”

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