Food Counts: A Pan-Canadian Sustainable Food Systems Report Card

Section 5: Data Gaps

There were a number of indicators which we wanted to include in this Food Counts Report Card, but could not because sufficient data was not available or required primary or secondary data collection and/or analysis to include.

We have listed these indicators below as “wish list” indicators. Our wish list outlines knowledge gaps that, if filled, could support a more comprehensive understanding of our food system.

Sustainable Food Systems Indicator Wish List

Food Access Indicators

  • Cost of public transportation
  • Monthly cost of a nutritious food basket per person
  • Number of school meal programs

Poverty/Income Indicators

  • Social assistance rates
  • Social housing availability/waitlists

Agriculture-related Indicators

  • Farm animal welfare certification
  • Proportion of energy used for growing, storing, processing food that is renewable
  • Proportion of various crops which are genetically modified
  • Area dedicated to urban agriculture

Local Food Processing Indicators

  • Various measures of local food processing (e.g., number of abattoirs, number of businesses milling flour)
  • Number of food hubs

Local Food Purchasing Indicators

  • Direct farm-to-consumer sales
  • Percentage of consumers buying local food
  • Institutional local food procurement
  • Redundant trade

Participatory Initiative Indicators

  • Number of community supported agriculture partnerships (CSAs)
  • Number of farmer markets
  • Number of farm to school programs
  • Number of school gardens and community gardens
  • Number of student nutrition programs
  • Number of community kitchens
  • Number of seed banks and seed libraries
  • Number of urban food harvesting projects
  • Number of food and farming co-operatives

Networks and Policy Initiative Indicators

  • Number of food systems organizations/associations

Access to Primary Food Production Resources Indicators

  • Land for small scale producers and industries related to agriculture
  • Access/control of seeds
  • Incidence of land grabbing

Food Literacy Indicators

  • Food skills and food literacy programs

Farmer Education Indicators

  • Funding for farmer led research
  • Federal training and support programs for new farmers
  • Participatory plant research and breeding

Elementary/Secondary Education Indicators

  • Number of food system education programs, courses, curriculum

It would also be important to operationalize indicators to assess the following areas within the Canadian food system: wild food resources, wild fisheries and aquaculture, cultural dimensions of food, corporate concentration in the food system, recycling of food packaging, food labelling and advertising. For the following wish list indicators, the data currently available did not meet our selection criteria for this report, but we have provided references/links to this data for those who wish to access what is available.

Social Assistance Rates

Please see the following “Welfare in Canada” reports:

Caledon Institute of Social Policy. (2016). Welfare in Canada, 2015. Available at:

Caledon Institute of Social Policy. (2015). Welfare in Canada, 2014. Available at:

Caledon Institute of Social Policy. (2014). Welfare in Canada, 2013. Available at:

Caledon Institute of Social Policy. (2013). Welfare in Canada, 2012. Available at:

Number of CSAs

The following resources provide information on CSA farms across some of the provinces, but national-level data is not yet available.

Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN)

Ontario CSA Directory

CSA Manitoba

Farm Folk City Folk BC’ List

Number of Farmers Markets

The following organizations below provide information on farmers markets throughout some of the provinces:

Association des Marchés publics du Québec

Alberta Farmers’ Markets Association

British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets

Direct Farm Manitoba

Farmers’ Markets Ontario

New Brunswick Tourism – Farmers’ Markets Listing

Nova Scotia Farmers’ Markets

Saskatchewan Farmers’ Markets

St John’s Newfoundland – Farmers’ Market

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

For information on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Canada, please see the GMO Inquiry Reports. Statistics Canada currently provides some statistics for GMOs. We would like this information for all of Canada and for other crops.

Please note: The Pan-Canadian Sustainable Food Systems Report Card is a working document. If you have comments, questions, or would like to suggest additional data sources or indicators, please fill out the Food Counts Report Card Feedback Form.

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