[Éditorial de Louise-Maude Rioux Soucy] Stay hungry

Our plate costs more, it is undeniable. In its latest data on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), published in June, Statistics Canada estimated the increase in the grocery basket at 9.7% over a year. For a growing proportion of Quebecers, this plate paradoxically weighs less. More frugal, it is also less healthy, a vicious circle that feeds our too many food deserts, as an analysis of Have to which shows that more than half of the city’s residential areas fall into this narrow category.

On a daily basis, everyone will agree that filling the plate inevitably ends up weighing you down. Lack of imagination, disorganization, time flying, culinary skills in decline: a thousand reasons explain a generally temporary lack of love. For a growing number, however, this imperative is associated with a structural strain that ends up being worn. Distance, when it becomes unreasonable, is actually a major obstacle to healthy eating. This fragility weighs even heavier in times of galloping inflation.

For households that own a car (and can still afford to drive it), this can be quite easily handled with a little time and organization. This is the case for the inhabitants of L’Île-Bizard – Sainte-Geneviève, a prosperous neighborhood where more than 70% of the residential area constitutes a food desert without this necessarily affecting the plates. This is not the case in the more disadvantaged neighborhoods, where every dollar counts, such as Saint-Léonard, which is one of the highest proportion of food deserts on the island.

When the grocery store is too far away, sourcing becomes a headache that leads to grocery stores and dollar stores, where supply comes with an overrepresentation of processed foods to the detriment – sometimes even deletion – of fresh produce. The problem is that it is also in these neighborhoods that the fast food restaurants are concentrated. In Montreal-North, for example. only one supermarket with nine fast food restaurants rejoicing at this forced shortage.

An abominable dynamic which the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district has managed to break. Not without having to fight hard. Contested all the way to the Supreme Court, his idea of ​​using zoning to limit the areas where new fast food restaurants could establish themselves passed the legal test this spring. Thus, the Court has opened a breach where all municipalities would benefit from rushing to keep junk food at bay.

The turbulence that shakes our plates nonetheless calls for even more structuring movements. And it’s not a $ 500 check that fills everyone’s stomach. In the first months of the pandemic, food insecurity had reached a worrying level in Quebec. Then rated at 26% by the National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ), this share is left in a spin, inflation and war helps. The latest survey showed that 24% of households had “insufficient or insecure access to healthy and nutritious food” in May last year.

The food banks are struggling to recognize this wonderful leap, those who are now giving 20% ​​of their baskets to the low paid. Never seen. However, a scientific watch recently unveiled by INSPQ is a cruel reminder that the curve remains an imperfect solution. And not because it compensates for the failure of the state. He is stingy with fruits and vegetables, low in iron and calcium and abuses sugar and sodium, according to the INSPQ review. Its portions are also poorly balanced or inadequate, in addition to acting as a dumping ground for expired products.

All this masks a “hidden hunger”, which results in a lack of vitamins and micronutrients. The universal blue plate we dream of can not settle for so little. Especially since those who can afford it are becoming scarce, which is especially evident from the fact that regular customers of local vegetable baskets are leaving them this summer to save their wallets. A worrying trend.

More and more voices are therefore calling for government intervention to ensure access to basic foodstuffs. The fruit is more than ripe. We are already familiar with the mechanics, the basics of supply management can inspire us. It will also be an opportunity to make a double blow by providing extra support to those who feed us. They deserve it.

The CAQ government, which is already defending several promising ideas to increase Quebec’s food autonomy, would be wrong to wait for the election to pull new actions out of its hat, more specifically aimed at food security. First, because hunger is not waiting, but above all because it is getting worse, Canadian food vendors warned Wednesday, preparing news rises in the fall. Let’s sit down?

To watch in video

Leave a Comment