Canada has a new food guide. Does anyone care?

Canada’s new food guide has been published at last, to much fanfare from the media and nutrition industry.

There’s good reason to celebrate the content, as it’s based on science and not special interests.

But even if the advice in the guide checks out, the value of having a national food guide is still questionable. Does anyone look to it, or the government more broadly, for guidance on what to eat?

I tackle that in this week’s Loonie Politics column, subscribers can read here. If you aren’t a subscriber, use promo code “Lawton” for a discount.

An excerpt of this week’s piece follows:

The arrival of Canada’s new food guide raises one key question: who’s looking to the government for guidance on what to eat?

And how many millions of dollars were spent telling us what we already knew?

The much-ballyhooed guide differs starkly from what it’s replacing.  Gone are specific daily portion recommendations, as is the breakdown of the four food groups on which most Canadians were raised.

I’m sure you can still picture the rainbow posters on a health class wall.  Under the previous guide, most recently updated in 2007, an adult male was told to have eight to 10 fruit and vegetable servings each day, as well as eight grain servings, two dairy items and three portions of meat and alternatives.

Pretty much every diet expert alive says products like bread and bagels — promoted under the former guide as equals to rice and quinoa — should be consumed in moderation.  Certainly not in almost the same numbers as vegetables.

The former guide also had canned fruits and fruit juices — often heavily processed and riddled with sugar — weighted equally to raw green vegetables.

If I consumed nothing but 1.25 litres of orange juice, eight slices of bread, a can of evaporated milk and six tablespoons of peanut butter in a day, I would be keeping with the topline standards of the guide.

And no, I haven’t tried.