There’s been a statistic rolling around in my head ever since I finished writing the story about Second Harvest in this week’s edition.

Second Harvest CEO Lori Nikkel tells me that, on average, 58 per cent of the food we produce gets thrown out.

That is completely ridiculous.

Personally, I can’t stand it when the last piece of bread gets mouldy. Wasting food is among my greatest pet peeves, so to learn Canadians are being so wasteful of what is probably the most important resource we have demonstrates just how much we take for granted in this world.

It’s been well-documented that most of history’s famines were not caused by a lack of food. Almost every time the food was there, it just wasn’t accessible because it became too expensive. Here in the North, where a significant amount of people only work seasonally, many can also harvest food off the land to offset the high cost of food. But not everyone is so lucky.

So I’m glad food rescue organizations like Second Harvest exist. Thanks to a one-time $11 million grant from Ottawa, the organization was able to save thousands-upon-thousands of pounds of food and get it to people who need it.

Ottawa should make this a regular program. $11 million is literally a drop in the bucket for a government with a $276 billion budget. Divided among the 27.5 million taxpayers in Canada, that comes to $2.50 from each of us — a paltry investment to ensure no one in this country has to go hungry.

Of course, money talks. So to sweeten the idea further, imagine the job security that would also extend from a regular program such as this. Warehouses that have been frozen in place after the waves of lock downs shuttering restaurants and bars would be able to keep in regular operation. Producers of food, be they farmers, ranchers or greenhouses would also be able to focus on what they love to do instead of wondering if they’ll be in business next year.

Similarly, moving food from warehouses to remote communities would ensure the entire logistical supply chain was able to stay in operation. With that $2.50 from each of us, hundreds of jobs could be saved.

Long-term economic benefits are even greater — it’s a well-known fact among educators that students learn and focus better when they’re well-fed. A nourished student is an educated one, and those educated students are then far better equipped mentally and physically to enter the workforce. If, as our local Children First board members note, every dollar spent on Early Childhood education translates to up to $13 in savings down the line, imagine what $2.50 spent on making sure they are getting the needed nutrients would do.

A program like this, coupled with the amazing produce output of greenhouses like the one we have here in Inuvik, could solve a great deal of food security issues across Canada. Ottawa should be making this a number one priority.

Canadians take a great deal of pride in their food, whether we’re talking about Alberta beef, Nova Scotia lobster or Northern caribou.

We can do better with our pride than throw 58 per cent of it away.

Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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  1. The only downside around here is the fridge tends to get clogged with leftovers. Michele is the queen of making a dish from them. We hate wasting anything. Good article Eric.

  2. Mr. Bowling, like you I hate to throw food out, I could not afford to throw out 58% food is expensive. I am curious as to where you found your numbers of people working in Canada? The last numbers I could get were that only 17+ million Canadians were actually working including full and part time jobs. Now with our Liberal government shutting down as much as they have in Alberta, Canada’s biggest tax paying Province and last I read 850 billion+ dollars in private sector businesses have left Alberta and they are in debt Provincially. Ontario where I live many private sector businesses left are energy costs soared, when the Provincial Liberal Government decided it would go “green” thousands of wind turbines and solar panels from Asia installed by Asians and we now have a 400+billion debt Provincially and expensive intermittent green power, at less than 5% backed up by the cheaper sources hydro, nuclear and natural gas which is 95% of our hydro, and our now Conservative government is trying to get costs down and coaxing businesses to come back etc. etc. But of the supposed 38+ million Canadians now but if you add up our really expensive “free” health Cards per Province were supporting over 45+ million people (new immigrants, and students from out of Canada). Public sector jobs are better paying and more numerous than private sector jobs are now. In my city the Hospitals are the biggest public high paying government employer, while in the private sector here Walmart is the biggest employer. I worked my whole life 20 years in a hospital self employed on our farm my husband also self employed and we both paid over a million dollars in tax a year and employed people who paid taxes but that all ended in the 1990’s because we were going broke after the GST and more red tape closed us after years of very heavy workloads, I am now retired, my husband passed in 2000, my children are in their 40’s and 50’s and starting to struggle financially especially now with many businesses closed due to covid19 and will they be able to reopen? So really how many people are really employed in the private sector and those businesses which is where the government really gets money from the public sector they are paying and if you are watching the Federal government is now over a trillion dollars in debt with interest payments in the billions. How much longer can we Canadians live on like this?