Thursday, December 14, 2006

Canadian Food Guide a Haven of Multiculturalism

Toronto Star's Megan Ogilvie has a piece today concerning the upcoming revision of Canada's Food Guide, which is "designed to help Canadians make wise food choices, [by translating] the science of healthy eating into a practical pattern of food choices that meets nutrient needs, promotes health and minimizes the risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases." 

From the article :

A draft version from April obtained by the Star shows Health Canada has made additions to the food guide's signature rainbow graphic in an effort to make it more relevant to ethnic and cultural groups. It now includes pictures of bok choy, couscous, naan, soy milk and squid, for example, while white bread has been dropped.

Liberal health critic Ruby Dhalla (Brampton-Springdale) said the revised guide doesn't go far enough in reflecting the evolving needs of Canadians or taking into account differences between ethnic groups.

"The Chinese community eats a lot of rice," said Dhalla, who also sits on the standing committee on health, which has met with both stakeholders and Health Canada officials about the new food guide. "Will it take into account those types of differences?"

So, how exactly does taking into account the differences in eating pattern and "reflecting the evolving needs of Canadians" reconcile with the mission of the Guide which is, to repeat, to "help Canadians make wise food choices?" Aren't wise food choices independent of what culinary tradition one follows? 

The new food guide outlines a pattern of healthy eating based on the best science available, said Mary Bush, director general of the office of nutrition policy and promotion at Health Canada, who has overseen development of the guide.

Again, since when is nutritional science dependent on the varying tastes of individuals? Has it become healthy for North Americans to eat fast food in large quantities because it is now part of our tradition? Obviously not. Why then would a governmental food guide try to convince people of what they already believe in?

But according to Dhalla, the standing committee on health has heard from various health professionals, including family physicians, and experts on aboriginal health and childhood obesity, that Health Canada did not undertake a comprehensive consultation process. The stakeholders worry that Health Canada sought advice only on the optics of the food guide, not on its nutritional content, she said.

Well, that would actually be better than reality. Reality is that the CFG is intentionally designed so to keep the population fat and stupid, by including harmful products such as refined carbs, sugar and whole grains.

But it's so damn pretty! 


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