Local Food: More than What’s on Your Plate
We’re at the tail-end of Local Food Week here in Ontario. Local Food Week promotes the importance of supporting your local economy by purchasing food products that were farmed close to home. When you buy, eat or cook with local food, you are supporting not just your neighbouring farmers but also your community. Local Food Week also provides a unique opportunity for parents to teach their children about where their food comes from and reminds consumers of the diversity of Ontario agriculture.
Supporting local food producers can take many different shapes and forms. For example, you may choose to go to your local farmers market this weekend or look for Ontario production labels during your next grocery trip. And until July 27, involvement in local food is as easy as taking an online survey.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has launched a public consultation to develop A Food Policy for Canada. According to its website, the Food Policy for Canada will “set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions we can take in the short-term… [and] address issues related to the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food.”
The survey incorporates several questions, asking Canadians to rank the importance of issues like farmland protection, food security, and agri-business development. Participants can also provide additional comments on what steps the government should take next in regards to food policy. The Food Policy for Canada survey provides a unique opportunity for farmers to provide their own personal input, and it gives consumers a chance to weigh in on policy as well.
Closer to home, the government of Ontario recently released a discussion paper on its new Farms Forever initiative, with the goal of developing policy that will strengthen an innovative agricultural sector in the province. One of the major pillars of Farms Forever is supporting the local food movement. Building on already successful programs like Foodland Ontario and Farmers Markets Ontario, the province is asking how government and its partners can build domestic production and increase consumer demand for local food. CFFO leadership will be developing a response to these and other pressing questions asked in the Farms Forever paper.
No matter how you choose to support local food, your choices and your opinions matter. Whether you are a farmer working to provide healthy Ontario food, a consumer putting money into the local economy, or an advocate working to shape forward-thinking food policy, all Ontarians can create a positive effect on their community. Now is the time to get involved with all that Ontario has offer and support local farms and local farm families.