by SUSAN MANN
The horticulture industry has an idea on how to reign in Canada’s ballooning healthcare spending crisis.
In Canada, “we’re very lucky that we can grow a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Alison Robertson, chair of Hort4Health, a working group of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Horticulture Value Chain Round Table. The group is made up of farmers, retailers, food processors and input suppliers. But all Canadians must have access to the great produce farmers are growing and that’s why the working group is urging industry and government coordination and collaboration.
Robertson says there are many individual or local nutrition programs and educational activities but there isn’t a national collaborative initiative. The working group is calling on provincial and federal ministries to work more collaboratively with each other along with farmers and non-government organizations active in the food and nutrition field.
“Everybody’s working away at this but nobody seems to know fully what everybody else is doing,” she says. By working together “we can understand what everybody is doing and help them better than reinventing the wheel over and over.”
Hort4Health delivered its message at a networking reception it hosted on Parliament Hill on March 12. More than 100 Members of Parliament, including Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, government staff plus agriculture and food representatives attended.
Increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet and an active lifestyle may reduce the risk of some types of chronic diseases, promote healthier body weights and help improve the well being of Canadians.
The government is already working to educate Canadians on healthy diets and lifestyles, she says, and involving industry could help their dollars go further. BF