The Future of Manitoba Food Policy is Up In the Air
Over the past year, events catalysed by a government seizure of dried cured meats from Harborside Farms have propelled Manitoba Food Policy unto uncertain waters. A burgeoning market for local foods, which Manitobans ensure is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable, goes to battle against government food safety regulations. The regulations are claimed to be unclear, which makes them hard to follow. A coalition of fishers, processors, farmers and citizens have rallied in support of the local food market in Manitoba and are calling themselves FEAST (Farmers and Eaters Sharing the Table). They are demanding a say in policy-making, and from the FEAST report last month, it seems they are doing just that! The province is currently reformulating the regulations towards “outcome-based standards”. This means the process by which the food is produced is less important, provided that the resulting food passes safety standards. This works in the favour or small-scale growers and providers as it allows methods to be used outside of regulated mass growth projects, and does not require the purchase of expensive equipment. Issue still remains within the criteria for safe food though; the onus lies on the producer to create a safe product, but the judgement from regulators working within a guideline. Further work at defining the standards for safe food is needed, although the policy is moving in the right direction!