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Opinion: A love letter to you

Because of you, Canada’s food supply is some of the safest and most accessible in the world. Food in Canada is affordable, nutritious and backed by years and years of science and regulatory controls.

These facts can sometimes be taken for granted or completely disregarded. With fearmongering headlines and the general misunderstanding of what goes into our food (hello, image of a syringe in a tomato), it is hard to sift through the noise to find the Canadians rooting for you. But don’t fret: we are here. We exist. We’re on your side. And there are more of us than you probably realize.

In fact, according to Crop Life Canada, only 30 per cent of Canadians report interest in paying more for their bread if the wheat was not produced using plant science innovations. That suggests that 70 per cent of the Canadian population is at least open to the benefits (or already know) of the science behind food production in Canada. That other 30 per cent? Let’s win them over.

People’s understanding of farming practices can be changed. A hot topic for consumers these days is biotechnology. As we all know; GMOs, pesticides, herbicides and hormones in our meat are all safe in Canada. The science is clear on this fact.

Admittedly, it wasn’t the science that won me over. For the average Joe, pointing to studies with scientific jargon and statistics that are funded by large ag companies can often be overwhelming, confusing and scary. This can breed the mistrust. I learned to fully trust the food on the shelf after speaking to a farmer who said he eats and feeds his family the food that was created through use of modern agricultural practices. It was as easy as that. You may not win everyone over with that simple of a statement, but it’s a start.

As someone with zero first-hand farm experience and no formal education in science past Grade 12, I have been bombarded by fearmongering marketing terms and food trends such as “non-GMO certified,” the so-called “dirty dozen” and the well-known hormone-free burgers being pushed by a certain fast-food chain.

I feel like I am the prime target. It’s everywhere from Facebook to prime-time TV and it can be hard to ignore. But the noise can be drowned out. Let’s change the discussion. Let’s focus on the good.

The technologies you adopt, as the well-informed and modern farmer, reduce the amount of land and water required for crops, farm animals are treated better than ever before and, let’s face it, our fruits and vegetables are as tasty as ever. Those are narratives that someone without a science or farming background can really understand. These facts hold weight.

How can we continue to fight the good fight? We need to create more opportunity to bring together food producers and consumers so that these conversations can happen.

Ultimately, the dialogue will change from a culture of fear of food to an appreciation of the passion, science and commitment to stewardship that is behind our Canadian food supply. Let’s take the time to answer questions, ease fears and call out those organizations that capitalize on this fear to push their own agendas for mere profit.

We can do this together. You are not an island.

Amanda Bibeau is a Winnipeg-based food blogger who is passionate about healthy and affordable food for all and “food without judgment.”

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