The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) raises awareness of the agriculture and food industry each year by celebrating Food Freedom Day, the date when the average Canadian has earned enough income to pay for their annual grocery bill.
This year, Food Freedom Day falls 40 days into the year, on Tuesday, February 9. For 2016, this date is three days later than in 2015 due to a slight increase in the price of food. It’s estimated that Canadians will spend 11% of their disposable income on food in 2016, compared to 10.4% the previous year.
“While we have definitely seen the price of groceries going up recently, we have to remember that we have a very secure and abundant food supply in Alberta and across our country,” says AFA Director Grace MacGregor, who farms near Hughenden, Alberta. “That is certainly something to celebrate compared to many places in the world.”
Canadians enjoy one of the lowest food costs worldwide
The CFA indicates that Canada consistently ranks 5th in the world for cheapest food costs. Slightly higher food costs this year are due to a weaker Canadian dollar. That’s increased the cost of grocery items that are imported into Canada like nuts, vegetables and fruits.
So how can we help keep those grocery prices in line with our family’s budget while still maintaining a strong local food system? MacGregor has this advice:
- purchase products available in winter thanks to Alberta’s greenhouse growers, like red peppers, cucumbers or carrots
- buy foods that are in-season as much as possible (see note below about the Explore Local website)
- preserve or freeze summer-fresh fruits and vegetables when prices are lower
- contact a local livestock producer who can provide fresh or frozen meat products year-round
- incorporate items into your diet that are available year-round, like artisan cheeses, eggs, honey, barley, yogurt, pulses (beans, peas and lentils), dried herbs and butter.
MacGregor notes that it’s important for all of us to understand that taking these steps as consumers means we can positively impact our Canadian food system. She says those looking for great information on sourcing local food in Alberta, and even how to figure out what’s in season, should visit the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Explore Local website.
For MacGregor, buying locally produced foods can also have added benefits for the environment. “We live in a global marketplace where it is possible to buy a pineapple from the Philippines or Brazil year-round. These choices can mean higher grocery costs, but can also result in a larger environmental footprint because of the distance these specialty foods need to travel.”
“Albertans have amazing choices for buying locally-sourced products,” MacGregor adds. “We’re lucky to live in such an abundant province.”
For more information on Food Freedom Day, visit the CFA website: http://www.cfa-fca.ca/programs-projects/food-freedom-day-2016. Interested in how Food Freedom Day is calculated? Click here to see!