Made in Canada, eh?
Friday, May 23, 2008 | 08:13 AM ET
by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca
Last fall, I was flicking through TV channels when I saw Wendy Mesley pushing a shopping cart onto an dairy farm. "That certainly looks intriguing," I thought.
Standing beside her grocery cart, Wendy Mesley asks about the ingredients in ice cream. (Marketplace/CBC)
As she pushed the grocery cart from the farm to a grocery chain's corporate office and from Parliament Hill to Lunenburg, N.S., Mesley, in her inimitable way, uncovered that the ingredients in items boasting "Product of Canada" stickers aren't really from Canada at all.
The Marketplace investigation found that the milk in ice cream, the garlic in jars and the frozen fish in boxes are all imported. But Canada's food labelling laws allowed companies to use "Product of Canada" labels if 51 per cent of the production costs, or the "last substantial transformation" of the product, happen in Canada. Nice loophole, eh?
With more and more of us wondering about where our food comes from, the "made in Canada" label should be a valuable tool.
So Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with the blurry outlines of a farm and tractor behind him, announced this week that all food items labelled as product of Canada or made in Canada must have virtually all of its ingredients originating from this country.
If the product is made here with non-Canadian ingredients, the label must also make that clear, said Harper. However, there were no details on when the new rules will go into effect.
I'm sure if things get stalled, federal officials may have to watch out for Mesley dusting off her grocery cart.
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About the blog
From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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