A recent survey found that Canadians’ perceptions of the guide vary
By Jennifer Hughes
We all want to be eat a healthier diet, and despite rising food prices, the healthy option is more affordable than you might think. According to a study conducted by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, the average family could reduce their annual food costs by 6.8% of following the recommendations of the new Canada’s Food Guide rather than the recommendations from the previous 2007 food guide.
The new food guide, released in January, abandoned the notion of food groups and focuses instead on proportions and plant-based proteins. Earlier this year, the two universities conducted a national survey in an effort to understand how Canadians perceive the new guide and what if any barriers might be preventing people from adopting the recommendations.
Almost half of respondents (47.6%) said that they face no barriers to adopting the guide, but 20.2% said the guide’s recommendations “don’t fit [their] food preferences,” and 26.5 % said the guide’s recommendations weren’t affordable—though the universities’ study showed that it will reduce annual spending on food.
The survey also found that the guide’s recommendations make Canadians more food-secure in the short-term. The guide recommends eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as more vegetable-based proteins. Because fruits and vegetables are cheaper than meats, this means that Canadians following the guide’s recommendations will likely save money and be better able to afford a healthy diet. However, as more and more people adopt a plant-based diet, we may see an increase in the demand for fruits and vegetables, which would also likely increase prices. “If we don’t increase our production capacity for fruits and vegetables, more Canadian families will likely become food insecure over time,” said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, the lead author of the survey.
Though most respondents agree that the guide provides realistic dietary advice (42.2%), baby boomers were the most likely to disagree (16%). The survey also revealed that few Canadians consult the guide for nutrition-related advice (7.9%), with most turning to friends or family (19.6%), general research (18.9%), or social media (10.6%) for advice. Most baby boomers said they rely on use magazines, cookbooks, and self-help books.