The Annual Food Bill Is Paid

In Canada this year it was February 12. It is all about averages, but that is the day when Canadian consumers have earned on average 11.9 percent of their annual disposable income that will be spent on food.

In 2008 Food Freedom Day was a bit earlier, February 3. In 2007, Food Freedom Day was February 6, which was the point when it was costing Canadians 10.2 percent of their disposal income for food. And in 2002 Food Freedom Day was February 7, which was the point when it was costing consumers 6.73 percent of their disposable income for their annual food bill.

These food-cost numbers are actually calculated by the Organizat ion for Economi c Co-operation and Development (OCED) and among their member countries the average is 8.3 percent of annual disposable incomes is spent on food.

In comparing Canada with a few other countries more specifically, Australians spend 12.7 percent more, the Japanese spend 35.7 percent more, and the Mexicans spend more than 125 percent more of their disposable income on food than Canadians.

While from a consumer standpoint it is great to have the food bill for the year covered by early February, there is always a question from a food producer’s standpoint about whether Canada should be pursuing a cheap food policy.

Consumers should pay more for their food, so that farmers and ranchers can consistently earn perhaps a more stress-free, reliable, decent income.

I think that is one of those long-term, ongoing, never resolved discussions that goes on the same agenda as whether the Canadian Wheat Board should be the single desk marketer of grain.

From a political standpoint, I would suspect the priority is to keep food as cheap as possible, because if the populous ever got really hungry it could run totally amuck and vote for those shady looking New Democrats, or heaven forbid –the Green Party.

WINTER ENERGY/ WATER NEEDS

Livestock need up to 50 per cent more energy in extreme winter conditions, and the average cow needs 50 ice cream pails of snow daily if snow is only source of water.

There’s a lot to consider in assuring livestock get through the winter in good condition. This is especially the case when producers rely on snow or dugouts for a source of water, says Ray Fenton, Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) livestock care veterinarian. “A cow’s daily water requirement is seven to 10 per cent of its body weight. Thus, a 1,200 pound cow needs to consume about 50 ice cream pails of snow daily. That’s a tall order. Only strong healthy animals can accomplish this without detrimental effects to their health,” he says.

Fenton urges producers to have a back-up plan in place to supply supplemental water when snow supplies aren’t sufficient. He says the best winter watering system is a continuous water supply but if the water source is a dugout, precautions are necessary to prevent a disaster similar to the one that occurred two years ago when a large number of cattle fell through the ice and drowned.

“Cattle will seek out water sources,” says Fenton. “When watering holes freeze or drift over, cattle will push and crowd when water deprived.”

Fenton says he observed an excellent winter watering system where a narrow ditch was extended from the centre of a large pond of water to the side of the pond. The pond was fenced off and two watering holes were provided in the narrow ditch ice. It was completely safe for the cattle and it provides water all winter.

THE NEW CANADIAN BEEF LOGO

Canada has a new beef brand logo that will be marketed around the world.

Lisa Mina, Beef Information Centre executive director of consumer marketing, says the plan is to build brand identity through the use of the new brand logo across all markets –consumer, retail and foodservice trade.

“Combined with its brand attributes, the Canadian beef brand will provide a consistent, unified voice within Canada and in the United States, as well as other international markets,” she says.

An important element of BIC’s consumer brand launch campaign is to encourage Canadian retailers and foodservice operators to take advantage of the brand logo, and the tagline: ‘Canadian beef. Goodness in every bite’. The tagline was based on research that showed the greatest growth opportunity is among consumers who eat beef one to two times per week. This group represents almost 70 per cent of beef eaters in Canada, and persuading these consumers to eat beef more often has the most potential for maximizing market growth.

BIC plans to launch its new brand identity to consumers in the spring of 2009 with an integrated multimedia campaign that will include a trade marketing roll-out, recipe booklets, public relations and health professional communications. The multimedia campaign will focus on Canada’s light beef-eater, those people who enjoy beef one to two times a week, in the Greater Toronto Area. The campaign will incorporate radio, print and web outlets, and posters displayed in shopping malls and health clubs.

“The multimedia campaign will reinforce the positive attributes of beef in the diet,” says Glenn Brand, BIC’s CEO. “And the trade marketing roll-out will leverage consumer support and loyalty to Canadian beef with our key retail and foodservice partners.”

NEWFOUNDLAND FUNERAL

As a young piper in Newfoundland, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave-side service for a homeless man, with no family or friends.

The funeral was to be held at a cemetery way back in the country, and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost; and being a typical man did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew, who were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.

I apologized to the workers for my tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where I saw the vault lid already in place.

I assured the workers I would not hold them up for long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I played out my heart and soul.

As I played the workers began to weep. I played, and I played, like I’d never played before: From My Home and The Lord is my Shepherd to Flowers of the Forest. I closed the lengthy session with amazing Grace and walked to my car.

As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the workers saying to another, ‘Lard Jeezuz b’y, I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.’

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