Friday, October 26, 2007

Made in Canada is code for Grown in China

I heard an interesting preview of W5 on CHUM FM this morning. Alan Fryer was talking about how much of our food comes from China. Apparently, many food products that say "Product of Canada" on the label are in fact grown and made in China. But some strange inane policy that I can't figure out because it's so illogical makes it OK to stick Canada as country of origin on the label.

The thing I can't figure out is why Canada needs to import food from China in the first place. Canada is the second-largest country in the world; its prairies are the bread basket of the world; its alluvial lands are incredibly fertile. Yet, for some strange reason, we need to import our foodstuffs from China?

Perhaps in our zeal and stupidity to build houses with lots of land around them -- suburbia or exurbia -- we have paved over so much of our farmland that we can no longer feed ourselves. And, despite the province of Ontario passing green belt legislation aimed at protecting our watersheds and remaining farmland, we are still trying to pave over the most fertile of the fertile. Are we dumb? Stupid? Short sighted? Or just plain greedy? Is there a connection between losing our GTA farms (we even have a Markham farmer growing artichokes, a California product, who is in danger of having his land taken over by developers with the politicians' blessings we assume) to residential and commercial development and having to paper over where our food comes from?

When the Chinese are wary over where they purchase their food from, why is our government so blasé about the whole thing? First we learn that our federal government cannot confiscate shipments of counterfeit goods. Then we hear that Canadians in trouble outside of our country get a token effort from Foreign Affairs to help them out. Then the pet food scandal breaks, and Canada does not move to protect pet foodstuffs, never mind human food. Then we learn that whole wheat is not whole wheat, and the Canadian government is complicit in that misleading labelling. And now we learn that Made in Canada is not made in Canada, but made in China, and the government is complicit in that misleading labelling too. See a pattern here? I do.

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