Food of Little Nutritional Value

Canada Post has a Food Mail Program governing the cost of shipping food to Northern Canada:

The Food Mail Program is a service offered by Canada Post and funded by the Federal government. The Food Mail Program is a commitment by the Federal government to subsidize the transportation costs incurred when shipping nutritious food and other essential items to isolated communities within Canada.

The program differentiates between Nutritious Perishable Food, Food of Little Nutritional Value and Convenience Perishable Foods.

Whenever there’s talk of regulating food in the same way that, say, cigarettes are regulated, there’s always a lot of discussion about the impossibility of drawing arbitrary lines. The Food Mail Program draws the lines; indeed the FAQ for the program makes it clear that it has a clear dietary engineering agenda:

Q. Why were some Convenience Perishable Foods eliminated from the Food Mail Program in 1996?
A. The principal objective of the Food Mail Program is to reduce the cost of nutritious perishable food and other essential items, thereby improving nutrition and health in isolated northern communities which do not have year-round surface transportation.
There was no justification for continuing to subsidize high fat convenience foods which contribute to disease rather than promote health. The increasing intake of fat from southern meats and “junk food” is becoming a serious health and nutrition concern in the North. A high intake of fat, particularly saturated fat, has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, gallbladder disease, and cancer of the colon, breast and prostate.
Convenience prepared foods are also more expensive than similar products prepared at home. By eliminating the subsidy from convenience foods, the cost of basic, healthy foods can be kept as low as possible.

Although it would appear to be something related only to the North, surely the federal and provincial subsidies of air, rail and most-of-all road infrastructure here in the South could be considered as much a subsidy to industrial food producers as anything else. As such, I wonder whether the same logic behind the Food Mail Program could be used to, say, charge a truck filled with Jos. Louis more to cross the Confederation Bridge than a truck filled with carrots.


Johnny's picture
Johnny on August 13, 2007 - 19:18 Permalink

Thats all well and good, but it also seems wrong to ship a truckful of carrots to PEI when we can grow them in abundance here.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 13, 2007 - 21:40 Permalink

Well obviously shipping insanity would have to be figured into the equation as well. As the manager of the Souris IGA said so brilliantly on Compass last week, it made no sense for them to have Alberta beef trucked from Alberta to Souris when they had plenty of cattle being raised right in the neighbourhood.