Our ag. in­dus­try is one of Trump’s lat­est tar­gets

The Woolwich Observer - - COMMENT -

JUST HOURS AF­TER BADMOUTHING Canada and other G7 al­lies, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was em­brac­ing North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un like a long-lost friend.

While the spec­ta­cle in Sin­ga­pore re­vealed Trump at his delu­sional best, the make-be­lieve deal he agreed to will have no im­pact on life here or south of the border. The same can’t be said for Trump’s fit of pique and de­sire for a very real trade war with Canada and the EU, among oth­ers.

There are very real threats to the steel, alu­minum and auto in­dus­tries, with com­pa­nies on both sides of the border fore­cast­ing hard­ship and job losses. Facts and eco­nomic re­al­ity played no part in the Trump’s de­ci­sions. He also vented his spleen on Canada’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor, specif­i­cally sup­ply man­age­ment. The lat­ter is noth­ing new, as open­ing up Cana­dian mar­kets to for­eign agri­cul­tural prod­ucts is a long­stand­ing part of so-called free trade ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The con­cept of food se­cu­rity, which ex­tends to a lo­cal food move­ment that goes be­yond sup­ply-man­aged goods, doesn’t en­ter into the equa­tion for Trump and those who share his views.

Un­doubt­edly some Cana­di­ans will re­joice at the prospect of lower prices in the su­per­mar­ket. That’s cer­tainly not a bad thing, though not guar­an­teed, and at what cost? The likely re­sult of sup­ply man­age­ment’s demise will be fewer Cana­dian farm­ers. Those that do re­main will be larger con­glom­er­ates, hardly in keep­ing with lo­cal food cam­paigns. There’s every rea­son to be­lieve we will be sub­jected to food with far fewer con­trols. And, in the long run, there’s likely to be no sav­ings, as we’ll end up with more direct agri­cul­tural sub­si­dies – the lower prices of goods in the U.S. and Euro­pean Union, for in­stance, stem from heavy sub­si­diza­tion. You ei­ther pay at the check­out counter or you pay through your taxes.

The pur­suit of ever-cheaper costs risks not only Canada’s food se­cu­rity – mak­ing us more de­pen­dent on im­ports for an es­sen­tial like food – but also our health. This is most ev­i­dent in food im­ports from China, though that coun­try is not part of trade dis­cus­sions at this point (though sub­ject to the mood swings of the U.S. pres­i­dent). The qual­ity and treat­ment of food­stuffs from that coun­try are sus­pect, and fed­eral laws aren’t overly help­ful in pro­tect­ing con­sumer in­ter­ests, let alone our safety.

Such im­ports fly in the face of a growing de­sire to buy food as lo­cally as pos­si­ble. The prac­tice also hides from con­sumers in­for­ma­tion that might lead them to choose an­other prod­uct be­cause of safety con­cerns about goods from sus­pect parts of the globe.

Food’s con­nec­tion to our health and well-be­ing – an em­pha­sis on lo­cal food – will be front and cen­ter at the up­com­ing Taste of Wool­wich event, which em­pha­sizes a range of is­sues at play for a health­ier and more sus­tain­able fu­ture, as food comes with eco­nomic, health and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. Gen­er­ally, the more lo­cal the food, the bet­ter the out­comes on all fronts.

The goal of the event is to show­case what’s avail­able lo­cally, to demon­strate how in­cor­po­rat­ing lo­cal food into our di­ets needn’t be a chore and to have some fun do­ing it.

From a mar­ket­place through to cook­ing demon­stra­tions, the em­pha­sis will be on what lo­cal food can do for you.

Lo­cal food does tend to cost a lit­tle more, but con­sumers ben­e­fit through fresher food and there’s a mul­ti­plier ef­fect on the econ­omy, as every lo­cal agri­cul­tural job sup­port an­other four jobs. The more ed­u­cated peo­ple are about the ben­e­fits of lo­cal food, they’re more likely to pay a bit more for it, say pro­po­nents of the lo­cal-food move­ment.

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