Idea alert

by Aaron Wherry

Michael Ignatieff pitches a national food policy. Details here.




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Idea alert

  1. This type of policy development could be a good start on addressing the false wedge between rural and urban residents that is often exploited by brokers and self-interest groups.

    I would suggest that the people who are derisively depicted as selfish latte sipping urban elites are a willing market that will favour the pruchase, even at a premium, of food grown within their region. I'd also suggest that rural Canadians depicted as rugged individualists contemptuous of cooperative solutions, are quite open to community (and government) partnerships to build local markets and connections with urban (and rural) consumers.

    • Foodie snobs are willing to pay more not primarily out of a sense of duty to local growers, but out of free-floating guilt at their comfortable lives, and the weird regional chauvinism that makes local goods from a quaint farmer's market feel more "real" to them than ones of identical quality and price at the grocery store. Farmers support anything that gives them a price above normal market value, and are happy to be rewarded with top dollar for inefficient practices that lead to the specialized goods the foodies prize. This folie à deux is harmless in isolation – and a great example of purest supply and demand, at that – but really shouldn't be the basis of a centralized food planning policy.

    • Foodie snobs are willing to pay more not primarily out of a sense of duty to local growers, but out of free-floating green guilt at their comfortable lives, and the weird regional chauvinism that makes local goods from a quaint farmer's market feel more "real" to them than ones of identical quality, price, flavour and nutritional value found at the grocery store. (It's about the experience, you see. They want to imagine being Julia Child, out searching for just the perfect artisanal ingredients from homey specialists. In such a scenario, the impishly colorful locals producing and selling the goods are just props for the fantasy of self-fulfillment through eating green, not real people acting rationally in the free market.)

      Farmers, rationally, can usually be counted on to support anything that gives them a price above normal market value. They're happy to be rewarded with top dollar for the inefficient practices that lead to the specialized goods the foodies prize.

      This folie à deux is harmless in isolation – and a great example of purest supply and demand, at that, in the free market – but really shouldn't be the basis of a centralized food planning policy.

      • "They're happy to be rewarded with top dollar for the inefficient practices that lead to the specialized goods the foodies prize."

        If there's a demand for these products, where does the inefficiency lay?

        Also, not everyone who is into local/artisanal production is 100% committed to foodie culture, politics, etc. Some of us just like the option … and access to hard to find ingredients that, more than occasionally, taste better.

        • And your preference deserves a FEDERAL government initiative… why, exactly?

      • Talk about food snobbery. Avr listen to yourself.

        I buy local when I can not due to guilt but to support my local farmers. I am a gardener and I appreciate food that is fresh from harvest. And yes I'm also quite an Urban girl. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

        • Agreed. I am an avid urban vegetable gardener myself, and am thus more sympathetic towards local farmers.
          Fresh food – Yum!!!!!

      • I wish market fundamentalists would actually go and *study* economics. What exactly is it, do you think, that makes Chinese products so much cheaper?

        Chinese producers are able to externalize costs, by doing things that Canadian farmers can't or are forbidden from doing.

        What are these costs??? First, most obviously, is that labour is cheaper in China. But lax environmental and safety standards, particularly in food production, are the other main reason prices can be kept low. So when you're talking about the 'more efficient prices' in China, what that actually means is cutting corners on quality, and safety, and environmental health.

        The difference in greenhouse gas consumption production here versus China is also substantial. On average if a good is produced in China, instead of say the US, it will emit 50% more GHGs to manufacture it.

        • difference in greenhouse gas consumption in production

          And this is where you completely lose me, because I don't care. This is what I mean about the free-floating guilt complex that factors into so much buying local; it just doesn't matter to me, if I get my spinach fifty cents cheaper.

      • I have no problem with anyone buying the food they enjoy for whatever reason they like, actually. (And honestly, I'm not some kind of Wonder Bread-and-Cheez Whiz reverse-snob; if I could afford it, I'd probably do all my grocery shopping in the By Ward Market.) What I have a problem with is enacting that preference as a federal policy that, by its subsidization of one category of food, is bound to adversely affect the affordability of similar, equally nutritious (and currently cheaper) food that isn't so blessed by the smug acolytes of locavorism.

        • The distance diet is subsidized by massive federal and provincial inputs into roads, deep water ports, seaways, and airports that local farmers don't use as well as the externalization of the things hardmouth mentions above.

          All the policy is doing is providing a leg up for marketing locally, same as it does for marketing exports.

          • Since when did local farmers not use roads that are subsidized by massive federal and provincial inputs?

  2. "Canada needs a national food policy that emphasizes locally grown products and healthier food for children, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday.

    If elected, he's prepared to put his money where those hungry mouths are, by investing $80 million in a “Buy Local” fund for farmers' markets and homegrown food, and $40 million in a “Healthy Start” program for low-income kids."

    We really don't need a national food policy. Other than people who live near Okanagan Valley or Niagara, what kind of diet would Canadians have if we 'bought local? I live in southern Ont, but more than 100 miles from Niagara, so my diet would consists of beef, corn and potatoes. Does not sound too healthy to me.

    I also would love to see some evidence that government can control human eating behaviour with a few large programs.

    • But you can eat 'more locally.' The local food movement often gets quite silly, as it's taken to extremes, but I don't think there's a problem in helping people in Toronto get potatoes from Ontario farmers instead of from China.

      • China? What grocery store are you shopping at?

        • Buy a can of peaches lately? Read the label
          Seen farmers cutting down their peach trees in Winona, On? I have

        • so much of your food comes from China, Chinese food imports to Canada are second only to the US, and above imports from mexico…

          • Then they will package it here and slap a made in Canada label on it. Market place did an investigative report on this a couple years ago. It's amazing what they get away with on the label.

          • Yes – the made in Canada label really needs to be re-examined, and forced to be more honest.
            I remember seeing something with regards to the wine industry, where cheap imported crap was mixed with the minimum local amount that was required, and thus it was made in Canada.

    • Oh there's lots of evidence of that. Check out China's Great Leap Forward.

      • Liberals are just a tiny bit subtler than the ChiComs, though, so I'm sure only we'd be looking at punitive tariffs for imported foods, not gulags and summary executions for daring to defy counterproductive policies.

        • Three strawmen in one posting … poof goes the credibility … so much for your contribution to the discussion.

          • Gosh, I'm only counting two; help me check my math? I mean, the Great Leap Forward was a hideous humanitarian disaster caused by unrealistic central planning principles that led to an awful lot of deaths both by starvation and intentional ideologically-based punishment, and Liberals do have an unfortunate soft-authoritarian streak on green policies. (Was the third thing the generic use of "gulag" rather than the Chinese term "laogai?" My apologies, I assumed that was a little too esoteric for general audiences.)

          • hmmmm I think the root word of "Liberal" might be "liberty"…. not "soft-authoritarian"

            Just a thought.

          • "poof goes the credibility "

            There has never been any with this commenter to begin with.

    • "We really don't need a national food policy. "

      Are you kidding me. With all the prophecies about prices shooting up over the next few years, I think now is the perfect time to make plans/invest on the local level.

      • Not to mention obesity rates among children. Teaching people to eat healthy & local is instrumental in fixing these problems. Think Jaime Oliver in his Food Revolution.

        • Jamie Oliver is exactly the kind of obnoxious, condescending snob I was thinking about above, yes. He's like the locavore Pope: the like-minded true believers enjoy someone proselytizing for the cause, but it's largely irrelevant or downright off-putting to those people not members of the faith.

          • I think it's funny that avr would call someone else an obnoxious, condescending snob, or accuse them of proselytizing off-putting irrelevancies.

          • Psychological projection is a well known defense mechanism for a person to avoid confronting their own failings.

          • That says more about you than about him.

    • An interesting example is lamb. Now lamb is a meat that is much better fresh and losses a great deal of its appeal once frozen. Ontario has lots of land well suited to lamb production… however to buy any of it one needs to look around. (Here's where to look http://www.ontariosheep.org/listman/homepages/) Now, your local Metro or whatever sells lamb… but it almost certainly comes from the other side of the planet and frankly tastes like crap.

      I asked someone who was familiar with the industry why this was so and apparently it is because fresh Ontario lamb is a seasonal commodity. Large grocery chains sign up with big suppliers and get locked in to sell NZ lamb. Until recently the same was true for a lot of produce. So if this "large" program gets tender, juicy Ontario lamb into our grocery stores then I believe it will change the eating behaviour of quite a few humans.

      • And your preference for fresh local lamb deserves a FEDERAL government initiative… why, exactly?

        • It probably took you a few minutes to post these comments all over this thread. Don't you think that time could have been better spent reading and discussing the document?

          • Thanks for asking.

            I did read the document. The Liberal Party of Canada declined to explain why any of its "national food policy" nonsense required federal government $ to remind us Canada has farmers who make and sell Canadian food, and that we should eat our vegetables so we don't get fat. Oh, and despite various bromides about food accessibility at prices Canadians can afford, it mentions SFA about the distorted market produced by government-enforced supply management.

            Food safety? Truth in labelling? Fine, the feds do that already as they should, and if there is room for improvement then go ahead and make the case (they don't, they just mention millions of $). But the bizarre sort of supportive responses here (I like the taste of carrots that are so fresh and close they still have dirt on them, so go Iggy go!) call out for some query as to whether the supporter has any clue about the role of a federal government.

          • Thanks, that's better!

            The federal government has been officially telling us to eat our vegetables since 1942. Eating healthy and not getting fat has more than personal consequences – look at the impact of obesity on the health care system.

            Re: food safety, check out the link I posted in my comment below. Re: truth in labelling, check out this article: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2009/vehicle_histor

            I agree that the taste of carrots is not a basis for good policy. But compare this to an anti-smoking initiative. While we all benefit from lower lung cancer rates (and associated health care costs), some people think the best reason for not smoking is that it makes their breath smell better.

          • But compare this to an anti-smoking initiative. While we all benefit from lower lung cancer rates (and associated health care costs), some people think the best reason for not smoking is that it makes their breath smell better.

            Well, that takes us slightly away from a national food policy, but: The only reason I care whether you are stoopid enough to light up is because you will expect me to pitch in to cover your lung cancer operation and your quadruple bypass. Now I have to fork over $ so the all-things-to-all-people government can tell you to eat your vegetables. What's next? Dental Floss Inspection Canada? Only if the dental floss were manufactured in Canada, I suppose, for the additional economic spinoffs to the nation. Uh oh, now every province will fight to have a National Oral Hygiene Products Production Facility of its own and…

          • There's no reason for you to care where or how people shop for groceries, other than the effect their choice has on you. The direct health care costs of obesity were estimated to be $1.8 billion in 1997, and I have no doubt it's gone up considerably since then. The percentage of each provinces health care budget spent on direct costs of obesity ranges from 4.5% in BC to 7.5% in New Brunswick.

            So do you agree that lower health care costs is a good reason for a federal government initiative?

          • I am quite certain you REALLY don't want to get me started on the loss of freedom associated with forced sapping of our prosperity in order to pay for everybody's health care.

            But here's the tasty nugget: No one should HAVE to care what everybody else decides to eat. You want to gorge yourself on Big Macs and Krispy Kremes until you explode, that shouldn't have to be my business. Since I have to pay to pick up the pieces after your explosion, now it is my business. This, we call progressive.

          • Going back to your first question, I made a point of touching upon it in my original post… way up there ^. One of the roles of a Canadian government is to ensure that international cartels do not distort Canadian markets by manipulating access to those markets by Canadian farmers. Canadians get the majority of their food from a relatively small number of chains. Those chains are served by a relatively small number of distributors. A lot of our food is produced out of the country and in virtually no country is food production really a free-market exercise. Perhaps in an ideal world (well your ideal world), food could be an exercise in free market dynamics. That is not the reality… so having the Canadian government involved in food is necessary (for you perhaps an evil, but a necessary one). The fact the food chains are largely national, the distribution system is continental and the production system is global is a rational for a role of the federal government (although coordinated with the provinces of course).

            The above is not to say that federal programs for food are a good thing, but rather not necessarily a bad thing and should be judged on their merits.

          • And by the way, I agree that supply management has got to go. There is no reason local farmers can't sustainably compete with fair (i.e. not subsidized) foreign competition.

          • Good luck convincing Prime Minster Rural Canada Matters to go along with you…

          • Or Prime Minister Harper for that matter…

          • Yup.

  3. I have to say that from the onset, I like this idea. Will have to look over the specifics.

  4. I live in southern Ontario and can get everything from local farmers – carrots, beans – all veggies, etc. I get eggs from a woman locally.

    I only buy locally when I can – because it sure tastes better. And, it helps the locals.

    In Toronto, City Hall has a farmer's market in the summer – farmers from all over bring in their produce to sell.

    We even have a farmers' market during the summer in my little town.

    They are ways – and no excuses.

  5. I like it and am glad to support such policies.

  6. If your assessment of how I buy my groceries didn't reek of condescention, I might have thumbs-upped.

    Instead, I'll just offer that when I choose to buy food at the market rather than a grocery store, it's because I decided on a whim that it would be fun, not because I feel guilty or because I think local goods are more authentic in some fashion.

    Alternately, I've decided that I don't have enough mental energy to wander into Loblaws and be told that they don't have any spinach (et cetera).

    • And your whim deserves a FEDERAL government initiative… why, exactly?

      • If we go down that route, I'm generally of the opinion that buy local shouldn't be about the buyers (ie my whims) but about the sellers.

        Ergo, it's not my whims that require a federal government initiative. Farming more generally, on the other hand, does require assistance. Perhaps not as a buy local policy, but as an incentive to continue the business of farming. Incentives to increase interprovincial trade and processing of goods (so turning wheat into bread, etc) within Canada.

        Though if we're talking about my whims requiring federal intervention, market stimulation in order to increase (or sustain) consumer choice and competition is a federal thing, is it not? I could be wrong, given that I'm not an economist and don't follow this issue closely, but it doesn't strike me that regulating business, trade, and competition within Canada is any region or province's domain but Canada's.

        • If we go down that route, I'm generally of the opinion that buy local shouldn't be about the buyers (ie my whims) but about the sellers.

          Because distorting one side of a business transaction doesn't distort the other? I may be missing something in this statement — can you clarify what it means?

        • Farming more generally, on the other hand, does require assistance. Perhaps not as a buy local policy, but as an incentive to continue the business of farming. Incentives to increase interprovincial trade and processing of goods (so turning wheat into bread, etc) within Canada.

          Do you seriously believe that various levels of government have not tinkered ENOUGH with agriculture? Egads. "Incentives to increase interprovincial trade" — is that a cute euphemism for finally having the fortitude to slap the provinces silly until intra-Canadian trade barriers are eliminated? If so, then cool, where do I sign up. If you want Ottawa to throw money at farmers to compensate for their losses due to those barriers, because nobody cares to do anything about those barriers, well, you've lost me again.

          And you (seriously?) want to throw still more government subsidies to private corporations, for such activities as baking bread??!???

        • Though if we're talking about my whims requiring federal intervention, market stimulation in order to increase (or sustain) consumer choice and competition is a federal thing, is it not? I could be wrong, given that I'm not an economist and don't follow this issue closely, but it doesn't strike me that regulating business, trade, and competition within Canada is any region or province's domain but Canada's.

          If you believe there is not enough competition, bravo, join me in calling for the total destruction of the ridiculous marketing boards that guarantee high prices to the under-producing producers already "in the club" (the new Liberal playbook says that on which page? Exactly).

          But if you think there should be another bakery or juice maker or slaughterhouse, it is most certainly not up to the federal government to start one up. You think you can make a profit competing with existing players, be my guest. Oops, silly me, this government runs and "invests in" and subsidizes competitors to independent businesses all the time. May as well screw up yet one more marketplace, seems to be the logic around here.

          But, curiosity has the better of me. If you could offer an example or two of what "market stimulation" actually means in your phrase above, and how such "stimulation" can increase or sustain consumer choice and competition?

  7. Of course, Iggy fails to notice the biggest opportunity that exists for improving the diets of the poor, which is reducing the price paid by Canadians for staples like dairy and wheat products by abolishing the supply-side schemes that prop up those industries.

    • If the supply-side schemes prop up the industries, it stands to reason that abolishing them would collapse the industries, yes? Making it unprofitable for all, rather than profitable for a few.

      Could you please explain how reducing the overall supply of a food product will somehow increase the amount that poor Canadians have access to?

      • Canada's supply side support of the domestic dairy industry has set the prices of local dairy products (milk, cheese etc.) to artificially high levels, to the point where local demand for these products has declined. Tariffs keep out cheaper US and other foreign dairy produce.

        Poor Canadians are being penalized as a result.

      • If the supply-side schemes prop up the industries, it stands to reason that abolishing them would collapse the industries, yes? Making it unprofitable for all, rather than profitable for a few.
        Could you please explain how reducing the overall supply of a food product will somehow increase the amount that poor Canadians have access to?

        Supply management is what reduces the overall supply, by inflating prices paid to farmers in exchange for limiting production. It also obviously requires obscene tariffs on imports to keep out the food that, undistorted, wouldn't cost nearly as much. Those high prices are passed on to — hands on buzzers — the consumer. So, the low income family who already spends a disproportionately high amount on food is dinged the most. This, we call progressive.

  8. I think this is a fabulous start! We need our own Food Revolution in this country. No better way to start than getting people out to the farmer's markets to be reintroduced to vegetables and the opportunity to meet and talk to the farmers who are bringing their products to market.

    • And "reintroduction to farmers' market vegetables" deserves a FEDERAL government initiative… why, exactly?

  9. I think this is a fabulous start! We need our own Food Revolution in this country. No better way to start than getting people out to the farmer's markets to be reintroduced to vegetables and the opportunity to meet and talk to the farmers who are bringing their products to market.

  10. What the hell? Where the hell did my comment go? The one about Iggy working abortion into the food plan, like he works abortion into everything…it was topical, funny, alluded to Swift's famous "Modest Proposal", and fair game, you (or whoever is deleting funny comments) really need to man the hell up and learn how to take a joke Wherry, friggin' crybaby Liberal.

    • Yeah that comment was hilarious and in great taste

    • If an admin deletes a comment it typically says "Deleted by administrator"

      ID, on the other hand, is known for occasionally swallowing comments whole.

  11. Got any citation on the idea that local demand has declined?

  12. The timing of this initiative is interesting, given the contentious gun registry debate in rural Canada and Frank Graves's recent "culture war" advice.

    From the back of the National Food Policy document:

    <blockquote</i>Rural Canada Matters
    The Liberal Party of Canada believes in a nation where economic opportunity and quality of life can be achieved in all regions. Too many rural Canadians have told us they cannot find jobs and struggle to get basic access to essential services like healthcare, internet, education, and basic services like banking and mail.

    The National Food Policy is part of a series of Liberal Party initiatives aimed at tackling the rural-urban divide and building economic and social opportunity for rural Canadians.

    • "The timing of this initiative is interesting,.."

      Seeing a lot of dots are you? Maybe it has something to do with your diet.

      • Seeing a lot of dots are you?

        No, but I've been seeing a lot of Dot.

        Maybe it has something to do with your diet.

        How so?

        • Never mind. Just thumb me down.

          I don't find this announcement particularly Interesting within an overall policy posture aimed at addressing the issues of rural Canadians, unless by "interesting" you mean political. And yes, it most certainly is. Shockingly so.

          • Never mind. Just thumb me down.

            Why should I bother?

            I didn't think the announcement was particularly interesting either, but the timing was. After a tough week on the rural file I'm glad to see that the Liberals are "tackling" the urban/rural divide and affirming that "rural Canada matters". The initiative is a positive one.

          • "After a tough week on the rural file…"

            It wasn't that tough. The "culture war" thing seems to be gaining a little appeal (or is at least being examined a little more soberly) now that the rest us libruls don't have to deal with the shriekers and their two-days worth of predictable, canned outrage.

          • So you made the same obvious note of Harper's game-changing "lets change the national anthem for our sisters!" blowout and following "maternal health" blank pronouncement to make up some lost ground with the ladies…

  13. "Dairy farmers at a regional meeting here (London, ON) voted 100 per cent in favour of dropping milk prices to maintain their market share..The next day at Belmore, producers from Huron, Perth, Bruce and Grey counties were almost unanimous in favour of the same question."

    'The milk market grew about seven per cent in the last 10 years, but (Dairy Farmers of Ontario director) Palmer said, 'in the last six months we've had erosion of half that amount.'

    'There's no question that we have priced ourselves out of certain markets,' (DFO director Craig) Connell said "

    Price cut gains support; advocates say producers are recognizing that something has to be done to maintain market share, Ontario Farmer article, March 28, 2006

    "The February price increase, 'has had an impact on demand,' said Gould, (general manager of Dairy Farmers of Ontario). Not only has there been less demand for fluid milk, ice cream, cheese and butter, 'but we've seen the decrease sustain itself longer than in the past.'"

    Economist feels quota reduction is inevitable; the industry is at the point where any increase in the support price is met by demand resistance; Ontario Farmer article, Sept. 27, 2005

    "The price of milk has risen to the point that we are losing markets each time there is an increase. Consideration should be given to freezing or even reducing the price of milk."

    Open Letter to the Dairy Industry from Chair of Ontario Large Herd Operators, 2006

    • Fair enough, and thanks!

      However, my initial concern remains.. are the supply-side management schemes actually "propping up" our industries? Or are they simply being used to gouge additional profit.

      If the latter, then by all means lets get rid of them. If the former then we still have the problem that it is unlikely that a reduced supply in Canada will lead to any reduction in prices.

      And that's without considering the difference between "food" and "good food". I tend to feel that the additional travel time for milk and wheat products that would be required for importation would tend to reduce the nutritional benefits to those who need it most. On the other hand, enabling local farmers markets may work to counter-act the larger Dairy-Farmers associations while maintaining nutritional content.

      • "Propping up" was not a good description – "gouging " is better! This scheme is all about protecting the economic interests of quota owning dairy farmers in Ontario and Quebec, regardless of the cost to the consumer.

        Travel time will not really have much impact on cheeses, yogurts etc. , and travel-sensitive goods will be produced locally if there is a market at the necessary price.

        At the very least, I would be able to enjoy my favorite English cheeses at a better price!

  14. This should be linked to other announcements like – for example – changes to urban models which begin to decentralize back to hub and spoke regional centres that are largely self sufficient in energy / hydro production, basic food and services.
    Ontario's land use model is already oriented towards this – and frankly – there are myriad opportunities for systems like co-generation – where greenhouses are located close to garbage dumps and the energy generated from incineration is used to heat the green houses during cooler seasons…
    We are a lazy lot – it seems to me – currently letting speculative land developers TELL us where to live…

  15. This is an idiotic approach that ignores the reality of the global market for agriculture. Canada is not and will not be competitive in a wide range of crops. If the government is going to play a role, it should be in promoting the crops where we stand a fighting chance in world markets – wheat, oats, canola, barley, etc.

    Local food is an utter sham that is bad for developing countries, and actually less eco-friendly than imported food (if you compare land use costs, or even the fact that delivering food to the supermarket via small trucks instead of ships and trains carrying large quantities of goods). Developed countries need to end these kinds of subsidies and open their borders to food grown in developing countries. Not only will this help the livelihood of destitute farmers abroad, it will also provide lower cost food for Canadians. Instead Ignatieff has decided that what Canada really needs is to subsidize the eating habits of food snobs.

    PS: this new culture war thing confuses me. I am drinking a PBR right now, but can't decide whether I am doing so ironically as a hipster, or unironically as a square.

    • This past winter, most of the sweet peppers I bought in my Ontario supermarket were greenhouse-grown in the Netherlands…despite the fact that there are greenhouses not 30 miles from here growing sweet peppers.

      Does that make any sense at all?

      • Yes. Sweet peppers can evidently be grown far more efficiently in the Netherlands (actually they probably get subsidies through the EU's stupid agricultural policy, so you can thank the Europeans for covering your dinner). So efficiently that the crappy Ontario peppers are more expensive, despite transport costs. Your shirt was probably made in China, though Canadians can certainly make shirts; your tv in Malaysia, though Canadians can make tv's – why don't we buy everything locally? The reason is that globally we can produce far more when everybody specializes in industries where they have a comparative advantage.

        If you had to crush rocks and solve calculus problems, which task would you assign to Einstein? Which to Ahnuld?

        • Actually, crushing rocks is much more complicated than you realize and involves a lot of planning and quality control. Just saying…

      • I guess it does make sense, since there was presumably no other attractive local supplier to your Ontario supermarket. Or, if you really cared that much, you would find out how you could purchase the local greenhouse's product.

        How much MORE would you have been willing to pay last winter for Ontario greenhouse sweet peppers (even assuming nutrition and taste were identical, or even slightly superior)? How much more do you think everyone in your neighbourhood would be willing to pay? How much do you think your local supermarket (and the grocery chain, and wholesalers behind it) should gamble that you are all willing to pay enough to make it worthwhile? And why should the next Liberal government in Ottawa (yeah, that's right, the FEDERAL government) interfere with your decisions on purchasing food for your family?

        And, here comes an ecological question I never hear anyone asking: How much more environmentally damaging economic activity are we willing to unleash on Mother Earth so that we can disproportionately devote our wealth to more expensive local peppers (and other food)?

  16. I LOVE that Iggy is referring to food instead of agriculture. That word is so important — and relevant to all of us.

    Farmers supply our FOOD.

    I've been growing more in my backyard in recent years, and buying meat from a farmer instead of a Safeway. It tastes better, and I know the small local farmer eats what I eat, so I believe it is safer too.

  17. Why on earth do we need to spend $120Million to tell us about farmers markets?

    • Because people like you lie.

      40 million over four years to the Healthy Start program — providing poor kids with decent food.

      80 million over four years to they Buy Local fund, which will not just tell us about farmer's markets, but help to create them in places where they aren't, thus encouraging more local farms which then may be able to crack into the scaled economies that the big grocery stores require.

      • You really think the money will go to providing food?????
        The program is worded so if someone doesn't like they must be against having poor kids with decent food.
        Give me a break.

        • Yes, because it's ever so much more useful to assume that any policy proposal is simply a lie.

          If you really believe that, then why bother saying anything at all? Just to be a jack-ass?

          • You stay classy, Thwim.

      • Farmer's markets make a trivial contribution to supplying food, and retail prices will continue to be set by the big stores. My local Walmart shifts more fresh food in an hour than our local farmer's market does all year.

        It is pure fantasy to suppose that this does anything to address the major food supply issues, most of which are tied to the various tariff walls and subsidies given out by the major producers in north america and Europe.

        This is another bit of pretend politics by Iggy that will quietly die.

        • Well, the farmers in my neck of the woods have their own roadside stands and go to farmers' markets – if it wasn't lucrative, they wouldn't do it.

          • Cool. More power to them. Explain to my why there needs to be a FEDERAL government food policy, then?

        • This is another bit of pretend politics by Iggy that will quietly die.

          One can only hope. The bigger risk is that it will join countless other federal initiatives that start with a political party's glossy brochure and all the right feel-good buzzwords, and are re-discovered seven years (and $870 million, and ninety-three PSAC-certified employees) later with "Oh, is THAT still around?"

  18. There are lots of things in this proposal that I like. Improved labelling regulations, money and better organization for food inspection, investments for farmers to produce clean energy…

    I think this is a good issue for the Liberals to talk about. It allows them to put a progressive spin on a "meat and potatoes" issue. We've seen how the Conservatives feel about food safety:
    http://www.globaltoronto.com/health/Tory+oppositi

  19. If you had to crush rocks and solve calculus problems, which task would you assign to Einstein? Which to Ahnuld?

    I wouldn't have the central-planning communist gall of "assigning" either task to either party. Now, if I required those tasks, and those consenting parties chose to enter into a free exchange for those services, well, then I have a preference.

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