Columnists

Hennessy's Index
A number is never just a number: Food for thought

| July 3, 2012
Farmer's market. Photo: Marc Smith/flickr

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1948

The year the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the human right to food. That right is more clearly spelled out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Canada signed on in 1976. (Source)

1981

The year the first food bank opened in Canada -- in Edmonton, Alberta. (Source)

673

Number of food banks operating in Canada in 2007. (Source)

900,000

Approximate number of Canadians who turn to food banks every month, up from almost 714,000 who reported using a food bank in 1998. (Source and source)

#9

Canada is the ninth richest country in the OECD. (Source)

22

Percentage of Canada's poorest 10 per cent of households who reported being food insecure in 2005. Food insecure: lacking access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs. (Source and source)

1.9 million

Number of Canadians, aged 12 or over, who lived in food insecure households in 2007-08. (Source)

10.8

Percentage of Canadian families with at least one child under six who were food insecure in 2007-08. That's one in 10 families. (Source)

17.8

Percentage of First Nations adults aged 25-39 who reported they were hungry but could not afford to buy food in 2007-8. (Source)

$19.29

Cost of a three-litre jug of orange juice in Nunavut. Residents have begun to protest the high cost of food in the North. (Source)

14

Percentage of income Canadians spent on food in 2010, down considerably from 18.7 per cent in 1969. (Source and source)

52

Percentage of household spending for the poorest 20 per cent of Canadian households devoted to food, clothing and shelter in 2009. The richest 20 per cent spent only 27 per cent of their budget on these items. (Source)

40

Percentage of edibles Canadians toss into the garbage every year. That amounts to $27 billion worth of food that goes into landfill and compost each year. (Source)

28

Percentage of Canadians' food bill that went to eating in a restaurant in 2010. Going to a restaurant is reportedly the number 1 preferred activity for spending time with family and friends in Canada. (Source and source)

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Trish Hennessy has long been a fan of Harper Magazine's one-page list of eye-popping statistics, Harper's Index. Instead of wishing for a Canadian version to magically appear, she's created her own index -- a monthly listing of numbers about Canada and its place in the world. Hennessy's Index -- A number is never just a number -- comes out at the beginning of each month.