MWI focuses on food literacy


Press Release

Food literacy is defined as a set of skills and attributes that help people sustain the daily preparation of healthy, tasty, affordable meals for themselves and their families. Most, if not all, members of Manitoba Women’s Institute (MWI) are intuitively food literate. The majority of us garden, preserve and prepare healthy affordable meals. For us, it is hard to believe that these skills are being forgotten and perhaps, in younger families, never learned.

In our current food environment where processed convenience foods are readily available, expensive and often unhealthy, becoming food literate is an essential life skill that is needed to enhance health. Despite healthy lifestyle trends, there is a growing concern about lack of time, knowledge and skills to prepare healthy, affordable meals at home.

Home cooking began to decline in the mid-sixties as more women sought employment outside the home. As rates of home cooking decreased, rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease increased. Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 25 years as a result of lack of education about healthy eating habits, food skills, where food comes from and active living. Processed food, prepared entrees and fast food restaurants have increased consumption of fat, sugar and sodium. A Community Health Study showed that the average Canadian consumes twice the daily-recommended amount of sodium. Key challenges to food security are geographic food access, economic food access, food skills and training.

Food skills and training: Learning how to cook food and read nutrition labels has an impact on individuals through both health and economic benefits. Many families claim they don’t have time to prepare meals from scratch, others complain food is too expensive. A well-stocked pantry and a few easy recipes are invaluable in the quick preparation of healthy, budget-friendly meals from scratch.

MWI’s Food Literacy Program will focus on: how to get away from fast food and processed foods; how to prepare and preserve foods; knowledge of where food comes from in its raw state; knowledge of availability of local produce.

MWI is well organized, rich in knowledge and experience, and uniquely placed to engage our communities and transfer knowledge to special populations such as students, newcomers and people with life changes (i.e. loss of partner, disability). The purpose of this Food Literacy Program isn’t to educate our members but to encourage them to look for opportunities in their communities to share their food knowledge and experience. Each local or individual can identify a group(s) that would benefit from a Food Literacy program. 

If you have any comments or suggestions that you would like MWI to address, please contact one of the Food Literacy Committee members: Debbie Melosky, 204-427-2036; Shelagh Polischuk, 204-261-5582; Linda Wilson, 204-764-2642.