The developing world will be a significant driver of growth in the demand for food, and it won’t all be from hungry people. Despite abject poverty in many parts of the world, some of the new arrivals to this planet will be members of families who constitute a growing global middle class of consumers. If trends hold true, these consumers will be seeking a diet that is more diverse. Meat and fish protein will play a larger role.

This could mean new opportunities for Canadian farmers, if the doors are open for trade. In a new report, the Conference Board of Canada notes we are one of just 24 countries that is a net exporter of food, an enviable position. Besides serving more than 30 million Canadians, farmers here will need to help grow food for the expanding population abroad. That will require strong policies and support here to do so, which is the focus of the conference board’s next study.

There’s wide agreement that part of the answer to feeding the hungry is helping them feed themselves. That means working with them to torque up their own abilities and improve their native crops and livestock.

But if we’re going to export food, what is it we’ll be selling or stocking shelves abroad with?  At the recent Alltech annual outlook symposium, Dr. Mark Lyons (pictured here), the company’s international projects director, warned of what he called “globesity,” noting society has decoupled taste and nutrition in offering people empty calories.

“Are we focused too much on feeding the world, and not nourishing the world?” he asked.

That’s a prudent question as Canada’s food sector figures out its new global role.

I write about this role in my Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury.