Manitoba food producers weigh in on new food guide

The latest edition of Canada’s Food Guide, unveiled Monday, emphasizes a plant-based diet – something that is likely music to the ears of legume producers across the country.“I think this is really an indication of a trend that has started five, eight, 10 years ago,” said Gord Bacon, CEO of Winnipeg-based Pulse Canada.Story continues below

“In some ways, Canada’s Food Guide has really caught up to a shift that has already started with consumers in Canada around the world.”Bacon’s organization focuses on pulses – the dried edible seeds of certain plants in the legume family. This includes lentils, beans, dry peas and chickpeas.READ MORE: Canada’s new food guide emphasizes eating plants, drinking water and cooking at homeHe told 680 CJOB that Canada is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of peas and lentils, and that those products have typically been exported to other countries.“It’s going to take a generation or two to really start shifting (in Canada),” said Bacon.“People don’t determine what they eat on the basis of what a government policy is. Taste, convenience, affordability, cultural background… these are all the primary drivers.“Importantly, farmers have to produce products that make them money. In some ways, farmers are responsive to market demand, and this is an important signal to where the government of Canada is going. I don’t think there’ll be a massive shift for one product to another. It takes time. It’s a signal of where we’re headed.”READ MORE: Liver, potatoes and Vitamin D: the weird history of Canada’s Food GuideWith its emphasis on plant-based proteins, the new food guide has less of a focus on meat than any of the previous editions, beginning with the first guides in the 1940s.Brian Lemon, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers, however, told 680 CJOB that he’s not concerned by the new recommendations.“You don’t fill your plate 100 per cent with beef typically in a meal, so the way they’ve got the plate drawn up, that a quarter of your plate should be focused on protein – I think, as the beef industry, we agree with that,” he said.Lemon said beef has an unfair reputation, due partly to concerns around the amount of fat in red meat, but that it’s still an important source of protein for Manitobans.“Eating red meat and eating beef is certainly one of the best ways to get protein into your diet, and it also helps you get a lot of other nutrients that you need,” he said.“I think it positions beef really well.”WATCH: Amazing Agriculture Adventure: Beef production