Canada’s food freedom comes early

Food Freedom Day – the day Canadians have earned enough income to pay for all their food for the year – is a full week earlier in 2008 than previous years, falling on February 3.

According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), which helps lead celebrations to mark Food Freedom Day in Ontario, there was rise in disposable consumer income that accounts for the change, and food prices did not rise accordingly. The OFA also stresses that the average Canadian family had already paid farmers’ share of their food costs by mid-January. And while Canadian food costs have remained relatively stable (and low – in 2005, Canadian consumers spent on average, just 10.6* per cent of their personal disposable income on food, and have experienced little change to date), the cost to the farmer to grow that food keeps increasing.

Growing consumer demand is forcing Ontario farmers to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations and implement on-farm food safety programs. However, the cost of these initiatives is not passed along to consumers or covered by the government, leaving farmers to shoulder that financial burden.

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