By Connor Lynch
True to promise, the federal government dropped the new Food Guide on Jan. 21, with an emphasis on eating more plant-based proteins and less milk and cheese.
Both critics and supporters of the newest guide agree that a revision was long overdue, though there was plenty of disagreement about what that should look like. The new guide replaces four traditional food groups with three groups on a plate. Half the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables and there is no longer a food group for dairy.
Here is what’s being said:
“The new Canada’s Food Guide makes recommendations that go against the findings of Health Canada’s 2015 Evidence Review on Dietary Guidance, the public position of thousands of North American doctors, as well as sound scientific evidence.”
— Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
“Dairy Farmers of Canada remains concerned that the updated food guide does not reflect the most recent and mounting scientific evidence available. Milk products are a key source of 6 of the 8 nutrients that most Canadians already fall short of: Calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, and potassium.”
— Dairy Farmers of Canada.
“We are disappointed in the federal government’s decision to ignore farmers and their concerns.”
— Ontario Minister of Agriculture Ernie Hardeman
“Some people treat the food guide like the Bible while others see it as a useless tool funded by the food industry. Aside from the controversial nature of the guide, it’s still regarded as one of the government’s most popular documents and is downloaded more than 230,000 times with more than 1.7 million print copies. In Canada, our food guide has a huge impact on our school lunches, and hospital menus and is typically the go-to tool used by medical professionals and institutions.”
— Dietician Abbey Sharp, Abbey’s Kitchen blog
“The CMA is particularly pleased with the evidence-based review and extensive consultation process used to draft the new guide, to ensure it was founded on unbiased research.”
— Canadian Medical Association
“Drink water. Go light on the animal products. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fruit juice is liquid sugar, not fruit. Avoid processed foods. Limit booze.”
— National Post reporter Sharon Kirkey, on the new food guide in a nutshell
“The fallout from the food guide was superficial. Whatever divisive effects it was reported to have are, in reality, impotent compared to the strength of the global and domestic marketplace to which farmers have their gaze fixed.”
— Toban Dyck, Manitoba crop farmer, Financial Post columnist
“We are pleased with Health Canada’s new visual plate model that devotes one quarter of its plate to healthy proteins, which includes lean cuts of beef. In fact, meats and plant-based foods are better together — the nutrient value of both foods increases when consumed as part of a meal.”
— Beef Farmers of Ontario
“Health Canada did its work and did it well. It took on Big Dairy and won. Instead of writing a cookbook nobody wants, the bureaucracy responsible should go on tour explaining to other departments how they pulled this off.”
— National Post columnist Chris Selley
“Eating the right foods instead of fussing over individual nutrients is the way to go, because if you base your diet on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, fish, lean meat, yogurt and so on, you’re going to be consuming plenty of nutrients.”
— Leslie Beck, Toronto-based dietitian, in a special to the Globe and Mail
“Dairy will no longer have its own food category in the next Canada’s Food Guide. It will be only one of 28 different food products. After three trade deals allowing more dairy products into Canada, this is the last thing our dairy sector wants. But let’s be honest. It is what Canadians need.”
— Dalhousie University professor in food distribution and policy Sylvain Charlebois