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Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA)
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Summer/Fall 2006

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Summer/Fall 2006

 

News From Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The first national survey of Canadians' eating habits since the early 1970's included 35,000 Canadians of all ages. Its findings include the following:

  • Over one-quarter of Canadians aged 31 to 50 get more than 35% of their total calories from fat, the threshold beyond which health risks increase.
  • Seven out of 10 children aged four to eight, and half of adults, do not eat the recommended daily minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruit.
  • More than one-third of children aged four to nine do not have the recommended two servings of milk products a day. By age 30, more than two-thirds of Canadians do not attain the recommended minimums.
  • Canadians of all ages get more than one-fifth of their calories from "other foods," which are food and beverages that are not part of the four major groups.
  • Snacks, that is, food and drink consumed between meals, accounted for more calories than breakfast, and about the same number of calories as lunch.
  • The report also found that in several respects, food consumption among adults is linked to their household income, but not so much among children.

Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating is being revised with the idea of ensuring that it reflects evolving scientific knowledge on diet, health, and nutrition-related chronic diseases. Targeted date for completion of the revision has been changed to Fall. For more details about the revision process, refer to: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/nutrition. The online consultation can be accessed until March 24th, 2006, through this page of Health Canada’s website.

The Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada has developed a draft Policy on Public Input into the Review of Health Products. The policy promotes the consideration of public input in Health Canada’s review of the safety and effectiveness of health products, and describes when and how to seek input.

Stakeholders are invited to participate in an e-consultation on the draft policy by completing an online workbook, available from July 11 to September 29, 2006.. Completing the workbook will take approximately 30 minutes. Results from the e-consultation will be posted on the Health Canada website.

Does your product line require you to be up-to-date on a wide range of adverse reactions? If so, you will probably be interested in the Canadian Adverse Reaction Newsletter published by Health Canada.

Health Canada's "warnings and advisories" are available on a variety of items, not only food or nutritional products.

The Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) issues a bulletin with information, regulations, and guidelines. Recent highlights include:

  • Revisions to the Compliance Policy for Natural Health Products
  • Labelling Restrictions
  • Certificate of Analysis no Longer Required
  • Advertising of Natural Health Products
The NHPD also has advised companies currently awaiting a product licence NOT to label their natural health products with the statement "NPN Pending." Those companies that have already labelled their products in this manner should not include this statement on future shipments, lots and batches of their products.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issues recalls that could be of concern to some food processors as well as consumers.

Nutritional Labelling Information:

  • Nutrition Labelling regulations became mandatory for large companies on December 12, 2005. The new regulations require labels on most prepackaged foods to carry a Nutrition Facts table that lists Calories and 13 key nutrients in a specified amount of food. As well, the regulations allow for the first time five health claims on diet-health relationships and update the requirements for the nutrient content claims. Smaller companies have until December 12, 2007, to make the information available. Visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website for more details.
  • An It's Your Health article has information on these new regulations as does Accompanying Information for Nutritional Labelling.
  • The Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Canada, is pleased to launch the Interactive Nutrition Label (INL). This self-directed, web-based tool will help consumers better understand the nutrition information on food products. By exploring the INL, consumers will learn how to use the information on labels to make more informed food choices. The main target audience of the INL is the principal grocery shopper. Nutrition Labelling, combined with education on its use, is a support to improved public health in Canada.
  • 2003 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising - Chapter 1 provides a list of CFIA offices which provide Food Labelling Information Services;
  • Criteria for the Nutrient Content Claim "No Added Sugars" can also be found there.

Involving You is a newsletter produced by the Office of Consumer and Public Involvement (OCAPI) as a means of encouraging informed involvement of Canadians in decisions about health priorities, politices and programs of various Health Canada branches. Contact OCAPI if you are interested in particular issues and would like to be on its mailing list.

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Quick Bits ... Quick Clicks *

Agri-Food Trade Service (ATS) web site is Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's electronic service providing international trade and market information for Canadian agri-food exporters. Check it out for market information, export news and analysis, and much more. Latest ATS headlines are available, a newsmagazine, and a compilation of trade reports on the Asia Pacific region.

Agri-preneurs' Fact Sheet, developed by the Canadian Farm Business Management Council (CFBMC), is a tool designed to help beginning and future farmers to familiarize themselves with farm management principles and map out their business plan. It features five profiles of farm producers who have successfully learned the management aspects of agri-business and a list of resources readers can turn to.

BC Association of Farmers' Markets notes that farmers' markets operate in every type of community across British Columbia: cities, suburbs and rural communities. Find markets in your area, upcoming events, and information on these markets for both buyers and vendors.

BC Food Processors Association, among other goals, seeks "promoting and assisting the establishment and growth of BC processors by serving as an information bank and a networking system." Its website serves this function well.

BC Food Protection Association's web site is worth a visit for anyone involved in food production and, thus, food safety. The BCFPA's newsletter, The Grapevine, is also available on the site.

British Columbia Institute of Technology offers many courses of interest to small scale food processors, including sessions on Food Safety and Technology. It also has fisheries reports for the years 1979-1989 available. These were compiled by BC Research's Fisheries Technical Division. Contact Denise DeLeebeeck if you are interested.

CEDTAP (Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program). These are the great people who helped SSFPA get started and are still investing in our cause. Windmills on the Toronto waterfront, fish processing in Saskatchewan, immigrant women sewing conference bags in Edmonton - learn more about the innovative projects CEDTAP supports all across Canada.

Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) Program is now available in BC. Interested producers can apply at their local Service Canada/HRSDC office or call 1-800 O CANADA . The program is available to farmers and their spouses having family incomes of less than $45,000 and farm sales of more than $10,000. Beginning farmers are also eligible.

Canadian Cooperative Association and Credit Union Central of Canada policy update focuses on the new Conservative minority government and its likely effect on the cooperative sector.

Canadian Farm Manager (an initiative of Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs) offers an excellent bi-monthly newsmagazine. The December-January issue focuses on a little known secret: some farmers actually make money - lots of it! Learn how they do it.

Canadian Community Economic Development Network focuses on revitalizing communities, both urban and rural. A monthly newlsetter, published by the BC/ Yukon branch of this Network, is an important regional communications tool. To subscribe or to share information, email Ellie Parks.

Canadian Organic Growers, Inc. COG is Canada's national membership-based education and networking organization representing farmers, gardeners and consumers in all provinces. It features a lending library, quarterly magazine, and monthly internet newsletter.

Certified Organic Associations of BC is the only government-approved body responsible for overseeing the BC Certified Organic Program and is designated to implement the program under the Food Choice and Quality Act. Its website is the "go to" place for everything organic.

Eat Wild. A clearing house for information on pasture-based farming, this sites provides up-to-date, information about the benefits of choosing meat and and dairy products from pastured animals.

Engage is an internet publication put out by Tamarack, an organization which focuses on Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCI's). CSI's are efforts by citizens to take on the most complex problems facing their communities and the lives of their fellow residents, issues like community safety, homelessness, and poverty.

Environmental Working Group. Learn about the recent World Trade Organization sessions on agriculture and other global, environmental, and food security issues.

Farm Folk/City Folk is a non-profit society that wants one simple thing: for people to eat local, fresh, seasonal foods, grown using farming practices that contribute to the health of the planet. The organization provides an e-mail bulletin, packed with information. You can subscribe at the lower left corner of the main page. Also check out Farm Folk/City Folk's "Information Pantry" at the same site. In past issues of sound bits, we have featured the group's support of the innovative 100 Mile Diet.

Focus on the Future, commissioned by the Invstment Agriculture Foundation of BC and the BC Agriculture Council, supports further development of the agri-food industry in British Columbia. Its goals are to (1) assess key issues in the agricultural sector and (2) identify strategies and actions. Outlines of the project's phases and expected outputs can be found at the website.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations provides a great manual/guide for small scale food processors. It's both comprehensive and free.

Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph, Ontario provides research, commentary, policy evaluation and public information on food safety issues, including an expanded search engine capacity (60,000 articles and news stories!).

Food Information Service (FIS), with input from both University of British Columbia and BC Institute of Technology, is a provincially-funded venture aimed at providing two services: public inquiries and industrial inquiries. Its mandate it to "provide factual unbiased information about food, its production, preservation, wholesomeness and safety to the public and the food industry." Check its brochure to find out more about its services, both free and fee-for-service.

Getting Food on the Table: An Action Guide to Local Food Policy, published by the the Community Food Security Coalition and California Sustainable Working Group, includes case studies, advice from experienced food policy advocates, a resource guide and more. The website itself includes a wealth of other information and publications, all related to local food security issues.

Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods, a detailed guide with valuable nutritional information, will assist you whether you are a producer, processor, or consumer. Itsth Canada report chock-full of valuable information on nutrients; energy values; vitamin, mineral, and fat content; and a wealth of other information about everyday foods. It even includes a list common abbreviations and a metric conversion chart for typical measurements.

Olympic Opportunities can be investigated through the 2010 Commerce Centre. The Centre helps businesses of all sizes and descriptions from across British Columbia take advantage of the 2010 Games. Its newsletter, in particular, showcases specific opportunities and provides a forum for success stories.

Organic Consumers Association also has an interesting newsletter. Organic Bytes includes consistently well-organized information and clearly defined responses to the challenges affecting organic food production.

Seeds of Diversity Canada is a national charitable organization dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of the broad gene pool of horticultural plants. It notes that "most of the rare varieties in Canadian seed catalogues are sold by small, single-proprietor companies. They are the companies that you find at Seedy Saturdays across Canada every winter. We all need to support these small niche vendors, since they are propagating and distributing over 80% of our horticultural biodiversity!"

Small Business BC offers a wide variety of affordable - any many free - seminars in Vancouver for small business operators. Also included are on-line guides and an internet newsletter. If you are a small food producer/processor, there is almost sure to be something of interest.

Smart Growth BC launches the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) Watch Listserve. Agriculture and food processing support the livelihood of over 200,000 British Columbians and contribute over $2.2 billion to the economy. All this occurs with less than 5% of the province's land base. Smart Growth BC has established an ALR Watch listserve to inform people who are passionate about its protection. To join, send a blank e-mail to:
alrwatch-subscribe@smartgrowth.bc.ca

Vancouver Food System Assessment explores "how the [food] system might be transformed to enhance food security for all residents through community-led economic development and promotion of policies that build food system sustainability." Recommendations include"market[ing] Chinatown food resources to surrounding neighbourhoods," "promot[ing] sustainable food procurement for the 2010 Olympics," and "expand[ing] the role of urban agriculture."

Women's Enterprise Centre offers skills development; business lending programs; and access to mentors, peer networks, resources, events and more to female entrepreneurs. Call toll-free at 1-800-643-7014.

Your Food Processing Guide for Ontario, though focusing on that province, has information of value to any Canadian processor. It includes information on researching, manufacturing and marketing commercial-scale food products; along with guidelines for food safety, quality assurance and government regulations. Numerous contacts and on-line links throughout the Guide direct the reader to additional resources.

* For even more information on the ever-expanding world of small-scale food production and processing, visit our Links page.

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How Local Food Goes Forth and Multiplies (The End of Wal-Mart?)

continued from our main page   But in this epoch, Shuman says, all the indices foretell nothing less than the end of Wal-Mart, a prognosis more likely to come true than all the others.

At the invitation of Green Enterprise Toronto, the local branch of Business Alliance For a Local Living Economy (BALLE), the Washington-based economist and consultant toured Toronto and Hamilton in late June, just prior to the release of his latest book, The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Local Competition.

Wal-Mart is an easy target for punsters, and is fast becoming a figure of speech for the taking ways of everyday low ethics among multinationals that stick it to main street business folks, the same way primeval capitalists in dark satanic mills exploited Karl Marx’s proletariat. As hometown businesses learn they have nothing to lose but their chainstores and start fighting back, Shuman says we will witness “an epochal struggle between two dramatically different visions of capitalism, the outcome of which will define many interesting and important years of history to come.”

Shuman, consultant to a number of towns on the economic comeback trail and a founding member of BALLE, calls the conflicting visions Tina and Lisa. Tina is short for the global corporations who maintain There Is No Alternative to the impersonal and placeless way they do business. Lisa stands for Local Ownership and Import Substitution, business folks who stick with the people and places in their ’hood.

Lisa offers a local anesthetic to a lot of unnecessary pain and turmoil in a turbulent world.
In an age when cheap conventional petroleum is burning fast, the ups and downs – almost all ups – of fuel prices will level the playing field for businesses with local connections and less distance to travel. In an era when water is scarce, water-intensive ag exports no longer seem wise or cheap. At a time when overcrowding of animals and people create a wildfire zone for the spread of contagious disease, it becomes madness to permit disease-ridden imports into areas where there is no resistance to, or predators of, the forces of contagion – think avian flu, and the tens of billions of dollars being spent to keep the global market for dollar-a-pound chicken industry on life support. When power lines can be snipped by trees or terrorists falling out of the sky, sentencing entire regions to black-out, centralized and faraway sources of electricity make no sense.

When planners and politicians take these issues seriously, and start looking closer to home for basic necessities such as food, water and energy, the case for what Shuman calls “Jurassic Economic Development” falls apart. “Dependence holds a community hostage to mistakes, misdeeds and misfortunes totally outside its control,” he says.

It’s more than the scare factor that requires change. When all economies are taken into account, precautions also make for sound business decisions. Lisa companies already account for the great majority of jobs in a modern post-industrial economy. Think of the butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, cleaning ladies, handymen, renovators, landscapers, main street retailers, home businesses, childcare workers, nannies, bookkeepers, volunteers, housekeepers, mom and pop grocers who do the heavy lifting of day-to-day life and tax-paying. Think even more of the indirect jobs created by the multiplier effect of these local companies – the post-harvest handlers used by the local farmer, the cluster of innovative chefs and processors who develop value-added products from local offerings, the clothing store that’s kept open serving new customers with cash in their hands. The multiplier effect is the secret weapon of small and local business, since it creates about three times the employment – and indirectly, additional sharers of the tax burden for improved health, social and educational services – of distant firms that take local dollars and export the multiplier effect elsewhere. Against that background, the “penny wise, pound foolish” tactic of saving a few pennies or dollars by buying from, or putting public subsidies into, distant corporation becomes local self-abuse.

Making the decision to give a few breaks to local businesses will be hard for government planners, policy analysts and program managers who routinely dole out favors and roll out programs for the line-up of Tina businesses, who favor this one form of government intervention. U.S. porkbarrel amounts to about $110 billion a year in government giveaways that lure distant corporations to please stay around, Shuman calculates. By my guesstimate, a proportionate amount of subsidies go out the door in Canada, albeit usually disguised as invisible hand-ups rather than visible hand-outs.

It’s a little-known fact that Canadian governments subsidize distant corporations, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, at the garbage dump – thanks to rules that give no reward to local dairies and juicers who sell product in thick recyclable bottles and thereby avoid garbage costs but impose no penalty on dairies and juicers that sell in one-way tetrapak and plastic containers that are recycled by taxpayers at great expense; or rules that charge the same fee for fresh bread from a local bakery sold in a recyclable paper bag and never-say-die bread kept from losing its rubbery bounce by a landfill-destined plastic bag; or rules that give no reward to manufacturers who design parts so they’re easily repaired and recycled to create local jobs, and no penalty on manufacturers who design things that can’t be fixed or recycled and have to be tossed in the garbage at public expense.

U.S. and Canadian federal and regional governments both put an invisibility cloak around subsidies that prop up giant and nomadic corporations by forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for highways that carry all those long-distant goods. The U.S. feds spend 30 times more on highways than on infrastructure grants to cities, Shuman shows. The ratio in Canada – where even one cent of the tax on a liter of gas can’t be given to support public transit, let alone the local producers put out of business by artificially cheap imports, is just too much – is on par. An equally invisibilized subsidy to the Nomads comes in the form of weak federal and regional laws protecting worker rights and minimum wages, the purchasing power of which has been allowed to slip in both countries by as much as 40 per cent since the 1960s. Looking at their own modest incomes, small local businesses might mistakenly resist minimum wage protection for their staff, because they don’t see that decent wages are key to their competitive advantage against the big guys. “The living wage is to Wal-Mart what kryptonite was to Superman,” Shuman argues, since the Nomads can’t function without reserves of cheap, deskilled and casual labor.

It’s Shuman’s hope – and this is what makes his book a political manifesto – that the conflict between two ways of doing business will lead to the tilling of common ground between independent businesses, now largely represented by ultra-conservative corporate lobbies, and the common folk, together with progressives, tree-huggers and cultural creatives who never felt entirely at home in the conventional left. Nursing along dialogue in this new political space -- which honors community, not just equity, and which values entrepreneurship and informal community barnraisings, not just expensive government programs – is as important to Shuman’s project, and as revealing of his personal history, as the battle between different modes of business.

“Color me neither red nor blue, but purple,” he says. During the return trip to Hamilton, Shuman told me about his political odyssey, which started in 1976, when he dropped out of Stanford University to work with Friends of the Earth and campaign against nuclear power in California. The year long campaign produced a major victory for anti-nukes that changed Shuman’s life. “We felt this incredible jolt of power and effectiveness” and sense that “sound principles plus good data could move public policy,” he recalls, something older radicals worn down by an embittering decade-long struggle against the Vietnam war, never knew. He’s been a positive energy guy ever since, even when he led the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, what he calls “the Jolly Roger of thinktanks” during the 1990s. The Washington experience confirmed his anti-nuke prejudices that big government was bad; as he saw social and economic power drift away from governments to business, he was ready for a shift to local business. He wrote Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, almost immediately after leaving the Institute in 1997.

The rest is local history.

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Coming Events

A networking and information session for small scale processors and producers in Kelowna, BC on Monday, September 18, 2006, at 6 pm. Co-sponsors are the SSFPA and the Okanagan Agrifutures Program. The event will l be held at the UBC Okanagan campus in the theatre at the Student Centre Building. (Park in Lot E.) Pizza is included. For more information, call the SSFPA toll-free number at 1-866-547-7372, or email Candice Appleby.

Bridging Borders Toward Food Security, the 4th Annual Conference of Food Secure Canada, October 7-11, 2006 in Vancouver at the Sheraton Wall Centre (1088 Burrard Street). Conference themes include: Food Secure Communities, Food and Institutions, Food and Cities, and Global Food Issues.

Farm Folk/City Folk's Annual Feast of Fields will be held on the following dates and at the following places:

  • Whistler Feast of Fields: North Arm Farm in Pemberton, Saturday, August 19.
  • Lower Mainland Feast of Fields: Vista D'oro Farms in Langley, Sunday, September 10.
  • Vancouver Island Feast of Fields: Glendale Gardens & Woodland, Sunday, September 17.

Come and taste the best of BC chefs, vintners, brewers, food artisans, and producers. More details are available at Farm Folk/City Folks website.

Farmers Markets in BC, Summer & Fall. BC Association of Farmers' Markets provides places and dates. Look for a market in your area.

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