Canadian Packaging

Taking all the fun right out of food

George Guidoni   

Food Safety Canada's Food Guide Health Canada

Canadian Packaging editor George Guidoni shares his thoughts on the new Canada's Food Guide

If we truly are what we eat, Canada’s health czars are adamant to turn Canadians into a very unadventurous humdrum bunch of grain-fed creatures consuming an assortment of plain ‘good for you’ plants, legumes and nuts that, according to the new Canada’s Food Guide, are the missing link to our collective health and well-being.

Look, no one is denying that Canada has its share of serious diet-related health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other nasty ailments related to overeating and lack of sufficient exercise, but
if the revamped 2019 Food Guide is intended to be an inspirational rallying cry for Canadians to embrace a new wave of alternative proteins and other meat and dairy substitutes, one has to wonder about the point of the whole exercise.

Considering the Canada Food Guide was last updated back in 2017, it’s hard to take issue with the fact that Health Canada has belatedly made the time to bring Canadians up to speed on healthy eating, but the resounding ‘meh’ execution of this well-intended initiative leaves a rather hollow feeling inside.

In all fairness, it is just too much work to get excited about the rather bland, if varied, offering of finger-sized tidbits depicted on Health Canada’s pictogram of what a well-balanced meal should look like. (See Graphic)


Whatever little loose bits of meat and fish you can spot in the upper-right corner of the plate are dwarfed by the heaps of beans, nuts and chickpeas, while the suggested serving of carbs directly below resembles something closer to birdseed feed than a reasonable facsimile of a proper side-dish.

For its part, the left side of the plate is a medley of mostly fresh-cut chunks of sliced fruit and veggies that, despite providing a few splashes of color to the graphic, look like they should be served as salad garnishes rather than a substantive source of nourishment.

But it’s really what the new Food Guide doesn’t show on its graphic plate—cheese, milk, a broader meat variety—that makes it such a joyless buzzkill.

If this ensemble were actually a graphic package design for a brand, the product would never stand a chance on a store-shelf!

Demonizing meat and dairy products is not a new phenomenon, but in the last few years it has become more fashionable, as evidenced by the latest global scare campaigns linking meat production and consumption directly to global warming, no less, on account of fairly stretched factual evidence.

Like everyone else, vegetarians and animal welfare activists are all entitled to their opinions, but politicizing those opinions under the guise of public health policy is something Health Canada should have no part of.

Unfortunately, the latest Canada Food Guide appears to imply too much pandering to the meat-free crowd to suggest that sound science was the one true driving force guiding its development and execution. And that’s a pity for all of us.


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