A Health and Nutritional Evaluation of Changes in Agriculture in the Past Quarter Century in British Columbia: Implications for Food Security
AbstractThis paper describes change in local food production in British Columbia with a focus on changes in the production of foods recommended for increased consumption by nutritionists. We determine, in one of the most productive agricultural provinces in Canada, whether secular trends in agricultural land use and food production, over the past quarter century, have resulted in increased production of foods recommended by nutritionists as more healthy and nutritious. In particular we are concerned with estimating the extent to which changes in agriculture and food production are congruent with official nutrition advice to avoid less healthy foods and to consume more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. We demonstrate, using regularly collected agricultural census data, in spite of nutritionists’ advocacy for improved access to locally produced fruits, vegetables, and grains, since 1986, that BC agriculture is moving firmly in the opposite direction with greater production of animal fats, and hay and grain for animal feed and much reduced production of traditional fruits, vegetables, and grains designed mainly for human consumption. While nutritionists advise us to increase consumption especially of whole grains, vegetables and fruit, local production capacity of these foods in BC has decreased markedly between 1986 and 2006. In conclusion, there is a structural disconnect between the kinds of foods produced in BC and the nutritional needs of the population.