Thursday, 11 January 2018 00:00

ICYMI Monday | Year in Review, Vol. III: In Canada

In Case You Missed It Monday is USC Canada's weekly roundup - not that kind - of food, agriculture and policy news from here at home and around the world.

Welcome to ICYMI Monday, where we serve up a selection of the news that's fit to eat, with special attention to stories related to seeds, small-scale farmers, food sovereignty and agroecology. 

Last year had its ups and downs, but all in all it was a big year for food and agriculture. Take a look below at some of 2017's biggest stories from across Canada.

"USC Canada" and sprout logo - "In Case You Missed It Monday" - Image of a tractor in a field entirely made up of identical rows of crops. the sky is full of clouds and the whole horizon is an eerie purple colour.

This is part three of our 2017 Year in Review. See volume I, 2017's top "Big Picture" stories and volume II, stories from around the world.

The beginnings of a brand new food policy

Canada has never before had one national, coherent food policy. After years of civil society pressure, 2017 saw the federal government take the first steps toward developing one. The government began by asking Canadians to share what they wanted to see in a national food policy.

More than 40,000 people weighed in during the consultation process. Here's what some folks had to say throughout the (as yet incomplete) process:

  • A Canadian national food policy help can steer us in the direction of a healthier and more sustainable food system in which everyone enjoys the right to food. Food Secure Canada had five big ideas in 2017 to help the food policy achieve this. | Food Secure Canada
  • Canada needs a national food strategy to combat the levels of food insecurity in the country. | The Western Producer
  • There were (and still are) high hopes that the food policy will go beyond just the food on people's plates and look at the whole food system – from farm to fork (French only). | Le Devoir
  • Building new policies (like the national food policy) and reviewing old ones are chances to advocate for changes in the food system, writes Emile Frison and USC Canada's own Faris Ahmed. | The Hill Times
  • Late in 2017, an uncommonly diverse group of interests – from farmers and food companies to health groups, academics and food movement organizations – came together to ask Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay to form a "national food council" that would advise and assist the government in its development and implementation of the new food policy. | The Globe and Mail

An old food guide revamped

The old rainbow Canadian Food Guide was up for a revamp in 2017 – its first overhaul in more than a decade. It's not expected to be out until early 2018 but here's the talk around town about it so far:

  • The new food guide will focus on themes of environmental sustainability, cultural diversity and alternative diets. | The Globe and Mail
  • Changes to Canada's Food Guide could benefit farmers and food sovereignty, said the National Farmers Union president. | The Western Producer
  • Health Canada, the department overseeing the revamp, banned meetings with food industry lobbyists during the development of the new Food Guide. But after the revelation of secret memos in October from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to Health Canada, some wonder if the former went beyond its mandate. | Manitoba Co-operator

Climate change, drought and adaptation

The country experienced another extremely dry year. While forest fires raged in B.C., harvests were hurt from coast-to-coast, right down to the fall pumpkin harvest in the Ottawa Valley. And 2018 may not be much better.

The good news is farmers are finding ways to adapt. These Saskatchewan farmers are funding wheat breeding – and yielding great results, even during this bone dry growing season.

This is part three of our 2017 Year in Review. See volume I, 2017's top "Big Picture" stories and volume II, stories from around the world.


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We’re called USC Canada because we started out way back in 1945 as the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by the energetic Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova. We’re still planting the seeds that Lotta sowed. Find out more about our founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova.

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