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We need Food Day Canada more than ever

In this edition Urban Cowboy, Owen Roberts explains how the Trump trade war is a segue for Canadian food sovereignty
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Be patient, US President Donald Trump tells American farmers, the plan is succeeding: crop prices are in the basement because of the evolving trade war, but here’s $12 billion to tie you over until all global trade is run into the ground.

After that, when America is great again and the rest of the world is in turmoil, you can dump your harvests and finished livestock into the desperate hands of our dear neighbour to the north, Canada, and prosper.

It turns out Trump was right when he told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the trade relationship between our two countries challenged America’s national security. Except, as usual with him, he got it backwards.

With his latest commitment to US farmers, trade with the USA is indeed a matter of national security – for Canada.

Here’s why.

Some 40 years ago, the USA used its bottomless coffers to start a global trade war in grain that mired the farm economy everywhere in a devastating and prolonged funk. This new episode, which goes way beyond grain, has the potential to be even worse.

With that scenario on the horizon, we really need to take a look at our own food system with culinary sovereignty in mind.

The perfect opportunity has arrived. More than ever, the country needs to get behind next weekend’s Food Day Canada, the grassroots movement that recognizes and celebrates our homegrown food producers and chefs.

Food Day Canada was started 15 years ago by Elora food diva Anita Stewart, Food Laureate of the University of Guelph and Member of the Order of Canada for her contribution and dedication to Canada’s food. It began as the World’s Longest Barbeque, a response to beef trade issues at that time.

“Nothing is more patriotic — or more environmentally responsible — than feasting on our local northern bounty,” she says. "Even though, for years eating locally has been a movement and a way of life for many Canadians from every corner of the nation, this year is a watershed moment. If there ever was a time to eat like a Canadian, cook like a Canadian and shop like a Canadian, it’s now.”

In fact, this year, even the CN Tower will be lit in Canadian red and white on Food Day Canada – Aug. 4 – as a team of Ontario chefs serve Canadian foods on the observation deck.

How’s that for sovereignty?

Stewart has long campaigned for Food Day Canada to be an “official” day. She purposely chose the August long weekend because – unlike Thanksgiving -- fields or orchards are being harvested everywhere. 

“In August, local food abounds, summer is at its often-steamy height and Canadians are ready to party,” she says.

Thanks to Stewart’s culinary connections (she is one of the country’s most prolific food writers) chefs from coast to coast to coast have joined the Food Day Canada movement. She cites participation from the likes of chef Michael Smith and other renowned chefs as proof positive that Canadian food producers and chefs are in tune with each other on this initiative.

And for those who celebrate at home, there’s the Shop Canadian portion of the Food Day Canada website where Stewart has listed 150 homegrown products.

Let’s embrace the first Saturday in August as a national day of celebration. Stewart’s given us the turnkey plan. The timing couldn’t be better.


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Owen Roberts

About the Author: Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts is a journalist and a columnist with daily, weekly and monthly print and online media.
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