A new bill aimed at combating Canada’s food waste was introduced by North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney on April 13.
The private member’s bill called the Fight Against Food Waste Act was seconded by Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor, and would establish a National Food Waste Awareness Day and task the Minister of Agriculture with creating a national strategy to reduce food waste in the country.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of food security and food management,” said Blaney. “Canada has a lot of work to do to address the economic, social and environmental impacts of food waste. My bill is a first step in the right direction.”
The issue of food waste is a concern to farmers, distributors and regional and local governments. While there has been movement to divert food waste from landfills, including the upcoming compost facility at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre, preventing food waste in the first place should also be a priority.
“This bill is an opportunity to examine our food system, stop the overproduction of unhealthy foods flooding the market and ensure that excess healthy fresh food is available for all,” said Maurita Prato, Executive Director at Lush Valley in the Comox Valley. “This examination of food waste in our food system will decrease methane production, support food security and move our food system towards a more sustainable future.”
According to the bill, “millions of tonnes of foodstuffs are wasted in Canada each year… (and) over 1,100,000 Canadians, nearly 35 (per cent) of them young people and children, visited food banks each month in 2018.”
The bill also cites manufacturers of processed foods, retailers and consumers as primary sources of food waste.
“I would say the majority of farms do a good job ensuring ‘ugly’ produce gets used for jams, jellies, salsa etc. or donated, or fed to animals”, said Arzeena Hamir, organic farmer and co-chair of the national Farmers for Climate Solutions group. “Where I think we have a problem is when it hits the supermarkets. Only a few chains have a process in place to direct unsold food for the best and highest use. I do think this should be legislated and encouraged.”
The bill as proposed would make October 16 the National Food Waste Awareness Day. It also calls on the minister to help raise public awareness, put tools in place that help manufacturers and retailers reduce waste, facilitate donation of blemished food to community organizations, establish food waste reduction targets and find other ways to reduce the environmental impact of the production of unused food.