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Nutrition Month Theme Urges Canadians To Learn About Food Sources

Dietitians of Canada’s National Nutrition Month Campaign 2010 offers these suggestions for celebrating food from field to table.

… In your community

Start, support or get involved with local community garden projects.

Work with your local school board to create ways to showcase local foods either in the classroom or in the school cafeterias.

Ask your grocery store to carry more local foods.

… At the farm or farmers’ market

Learn from a farmer. Ask what foods grow well in your area, how their food products are raised, what it’s like to live and work on a farm, what do they do to keep their soil healthy.

Take your kids to the farmers’ market. Let them choose a new food item each month and talk to the farmer about ideas of how to prepare it.

Enjoy seasonal foods. Lettuce, asparagus and fiddleheads are plentiful, fresh and affordable in spring. Strawberries grace the fields in June. Peaches, beans and corn hit the shelves in August and apples, root vegetables and squashes are plentiful starting in October and November.

For more information about nutrition month visit www.dietitians.ca/eatwell

Learn what foods grow in your area. Ask farmers questions. Teach children food traditions and eat at home more often.

Those are some of the ways Dietitians of Canada (DOC) are urging Canadians to re-engage with and enjoy food during this spring’s annual nutrition month campaign.

Celebrate food… from field to table is the theme of the national dietitians’ campaign in 2010. It’s an effort to urge Canadians to not only eat better and choose healthier foods, but begin to understand food sources and the broader dimensions of food.

“Knowing where our food comes from, how it’s grown and harvested and how to choose foods for the best nutrition is the goal of this year’s National Nutrition Month campaign,” said Caroline Dubeau, National Nutrition Month manager for Dietitians of Canada. “Our country has much to celebrate with regard to the food available in Canada.”

Dietitians see a need for more people to make a stronger connection between what farmers around them produce and the food on their tables, adds provincial nutrition month committee spokesperson and Manitoba-based registered dietitian Karen Armstrong.

“Manitoba has a huge variety of locally grown products,” she said. “We want our consumers here to look for those products, look for ways to include them in their meals and to really enjoy what our farms produce.”

It’s hoped more can begin to recognize that stores carry locally produced food too, she added. “There may be a perception that you only get Manitoba product if you go to a farmers’ market. And unfortunately, in Manitoba, we don’t have farmers’ markets year round.

LOCAL MATTERS

Eight out of 10 people (78 per cent) told a survey prepared for the DOC in advance of nutrition month that they agreed it was important for them to know where their food is grown.

Clearly, the source matters much more than it used to, says Gina Sunderland, another Winnipeg-based registered dietitian. “I’d have said five years ago it didn’t matter so much,” she said. The 100-mile diet concept and the eat-local movement changed that.

Sunderland said gaining knowledge of how food is produced and where it comes from is a key first step to eating a healthier diet. She was a spokesperson last October for DOC when the national dietitians organization and Dairy Farmers of Canada jointly released findings from a survey showing Canadians have real difficulties eating even basic foods key to health.

But another DOC survey done this spring shows most Canadians (86 per cent) do say they are confident about the safety of Canadian-produced food and agree that the term “healthy” describes foods available in their region. Most (82 per cent) say “good value” describes their regional foods as well.

That survey shows there’s some true regional food favourites too. Manitobans cited corn on the cob as their favourite food. Albertans love their beef, Ontarians their apples and Quebecers their cheese. B. C.’ers picked fresh vegetables while Atlantic Canada says lobster is tops.

But what’s “local” does remain a puzzle for many, and many other Canadian-grown foods go unrecognized.

Sunderland said she regularly urges her clients to add more pulses to their diets, and will say they’re locally grown too. “And they’ll look at me and say ‘local?’ They often think something like lentils comes from India.”

Dietitians of Canada represents and supports nearly 6,000 dietitians across the country and has led the National Nutrition Month campaign for more than 28 years. [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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