Canada’s Food Guide is not for the Hungry

Canada’s Food Guide comes from the government of Canada which sounds like it’s for everyone. But it’s not. “Canada’s Food Guide” starts with:

“Be mindful of your eating habits”

our comment: If you are poor, your main eating habit is eat when you can and what you can. The ideas of deliberation, choice, suggested by the currently glamorous word “mindful”, are luxuries, although in another sense few people are more intently mind-full than the hungry.

The guide continues: “Cook more often”

Our comment: Right! Try it if you don’t have enough to eat in the first place.

Next comes “enjoy your food”

Our comment: You bet! Really do enjoy it when you depend on the occasional handout. But enjoyment doesn’t really apply when you’re eating to survive.

“Eat meals with others”, the guide advises.

Our comment: You don’t have a choice about this when you’re in a shelter. Eating alone is an unusual luxury.

It looks like Canada’s Food Guide is for those who have food regularly and don’t have to worry about the social determinants of health like how much food costs, how to get it, where and when.

For those most in need of healthy food, it fails on most of the community service A’s – Accessibility, Availability, Appropriateness and Adaptability.

Of course, the guide’s creators will probably tell us the publication was meant for the current government’s favourite demographic: “the middle class and those working hard to join it.” But there are others out there, and this publication contributes to their marginalization by ignoring their needs.

The responsibility of activists is to change the world, not just understand it. That means we need engaged knowledge, not the kind of antiseptic information found in the 2019 Canada Food Guide.

Time for government publications that really help those in need.

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