Celebrating Canada's Food Freedom Day

OTTAWA, Feb. 12 /CNW/ - GrowCanada(R), a partnership of 11 of the country's leading agricultural organizations, celebrates the many people whose everyday efforts ensure that Canadians are able to mark Food Freedom Day so early in the year. Food Freedom Day, which this year falls on February 12, represents the time when the average Canadian will have earned enough money to pay for his or her own groceries for the full year.

Farmers who work the land, scientists who develop new innovations and many others all lend their specific skills and talents to Canada's vibrant agricultural sector so that Canadians have access to safe, nutritious and affordable foods using technologies that enhance sustainability.

"As farmers we take great pride in producing healthy and affordable food for Canadian consumers," said Doug Robertson, president of the Grain Growers of Canada. "Using the modern technologies we have today, the 80,000 farmers we represent are dedicated to growing our grain safely and sustainably."

"Pulses are a made-in-Canada success that contribute to two things - healthy people and a healthy planet," said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada. "Beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are nutritious, an affordable part of a healthy diet and a key part of a sustainable food production system."

"Canola oil complements a wide range of foods to make heart-smart and budget-friendly meals. Canadian canola farmers are delivering great value to consumers by producing one of the healthiest cooking oils at an affordable price. This no doubt ensures that Food Freedom Day comes early in the year," said JoAnne Buth of the Canola Council of Canada.

"An estimated nine out of every 10 bites of food available in the world today begin with the planting of seeds," said Dave Sippell, president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association, which represents 130 companies involved in all aspects of the seed industry. "Seed driven innovation brings quality and health benefits to consumers, improves farmer productivity and profitability, and at the same time reduces agriculture's impact on the environment."

"Farmers are proud to work with their industry partners to provide Canadian consumers food for their families," said Laurent Pellerin, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. "Through the past 50 years, Canadian agriculture has allowed consumers to stretch their food dollar even further, which has benefited the entire nation."

"Canadian agriculture is full of people who are committed to working hard for others and taking care of our precious natural resources. Pest control and plant biotechnology products are used by farmers because they increase yields significantly, enhance food quality and increase farm profits; in developed nations like Canada that is often taken for granted," said Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada, the trade association that represents Canada's plant science industry.

While Canada's urban population continues to grow, the fact remains that we all rely on the Canadian agricultural sector to provide our families with food. Food Freedom Day is a good way to recognize the importance of this sector and the ways in which it contributes to the health and well-being of all Canadians.

GrowCanada(R) partners are committed to ensuring a vibrant, productive, and responsive agricultural sector that will meet the needs of this nation for decades to come.

GrowCanada(R) Food Freedom Day Backgrounder

Canadian agriculture facts

Agriculture is one of Canada's top five industries and it accounts for more than eight per cent of our country's Gross Domestic Product.

It takes nearly 2.1 million Canadians (one out of every eight jobs) - farmers, suppliers, processors, transporters, grocers and restaurant workers - to bring food to tables in Canada and around the world.

The average farm in Canada produces enough food to feed 120 people every day. The farms two or three generations ago produced enough food for 10 people each day.

Examples of Canadian agriculture success:

Canola: Canola was developed in large part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists and is now the oil of choice for millions around the world because of its nutritional attributes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim that 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil per day may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Canola oil is free of trans fat and has the least saturated fat and the most omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) of all common cooking oils. Today, canola generates $14 billion in economic activity per year.

Pulses: Canada is the world's largest exporter and one of the world's largest producers of pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils). Pulse crops contain nutrients found in both vegetable and meat food groups, including significant protein, fiber, folate, iron and other minerals. Lentils and dry beans are naturally low in fat, calories, sodium and sugar and cholesterol-free. Pulses are not only healthy and nutritious; they are affordable and can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

Horticulture: Over 120 horticulture (fruit and vegetable) crops are grown in Canada, giving Canadians' plenty of home-grown options to choose from as they build five to 10 serving of fruit and vegetables into their daily diets.

Grains: Whole grains are among the best sources of dietary fiber, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also have some valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, iron and magnesium.

About GrowCanada(R)

The GrowCanada(R) partnership was formed in 2006 to provide a national, value-chain driven vision to federal, provincial and territorial governments as they looked at renewing the national agricultural policy.

The partners are: BIOTECanada, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Fertilizer Institute, Canadian Horticultural Council, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, Canadian Seed Trade Association, Canola Council of Canada, CropLife Canada, Grain Growers of Canada, and Pulse Canada

SOURCE GrowCanada

For further information: For further information: Debbie Silva, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, (613) 236-3633 ext. 2322; Patty Townsend, Canadian Seed Trade Association, P: (613) 829-9527; Nadine Sisk, CropLife Canada, P: (613) 230-9881 ext 3224

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