Health Canada has announced it will finally release its long-awaited new food guide in the spring of this year. But the new guide will likely challenge many of our preconceptions about food itself. Information leaked recently suggests that dairy products will no longer have their own category. In fact, milk and other dairy products will now be only one of more than 28 different food items that Health Canada intends to encourage Canadians to eat more of. In doing so, Health Canada will not only show audacity, but for the first time in decades, it will give the food guide a new purpose.
The first food guide in Canada came out in 1942, in the middle of the Second World War. At the time, food security was a much more significant issue than it is today. The food guide was more of a tool to showcase Canadian agriculture and stimulate the rural economy. And why not? Our farmers needed the support and food sovereignty at the time had a different meaning. The initial guide had six food groups, instead of four.
However, not much else has changed since 1942. Other than merging fruits with vegetables and eggs with meat products, and notwithstanding the addition of some nice colours and a few illustrations, the food guide we have today is similar to the one from decades ago.
Sylvain Charlebois is a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University