Every year the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) calculates a new date for Food Freedom Day. This is the day when the average Canadian household has earned enough money to buy a year’s supply of food.(1) The calculation is done by taking the previous year’s total food retail purchases and the total disposable income of Canadian households and creating a per cent. This per cent is then compared to a calendar year and a date is determined. In 2022, The CFA calculated the date to be Feb. 8th, 2022.
In 2021, Canadians spent 10.7 per cent of their disposable income on food. This means that the average person earned enough income to buy a year’s worth of food in just 10.7 per cent of the year, which is 39 days. This is slightly lower than 2020’s 11 per cent, allowing Food Freedom Day to land one day earlier than last year.(2) This may come as a shock to many consumers with the reality of rising food prices and inflation, but when compared to global standards, Canada does well in providing access to affordable food.
The largest change seen in 2021 was the gap between the quintiles of disposable incomes. For those that kept their jobs throughout the pandemic, their opportunities for spending decreased, and they only spent 5.1 per cent of their household income on food. However, those that lost employment during the pandemic or fell into the lowest income bracket saw themselves facing a much larger challenge with 21.3 per cent of their household income being spent on food.(2)
Despite the challenges, one thing remains the same: farmers truly are an essential service. Food Freedom Day exists to bring awareness to consumers about Canada’s food value chain. Often high food prices are blamed on the farmer, but in actuality, producers only earn a fraction of the consumer grocery bill. Farmers have to cover the costs of inputs, like seeds, fertilizer, and fuel. They also have to account for weather and market fluctuations, so they can continue to produce food the following year.
We celebrate Food Freedom Day to thank farmers for their hard work and perseverance. It’s because of these producers that Canadians and even the world are provided with quality, affordable food.