Ontario Local Food Week
It's not only Christian organizations like Canteen Destiny, or rural farmers markets, or small businesses that recognize the importance of eating local. They are not alone is setting goals to raise awareness, educate young people, and increase availability of local foods to all. This week of June is Local Food Week in Ontario, so I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about Local Food Week in Ontario, what exactly eating local means, and why it's important!
Ontario Local Food Act
The Local Food Act (2013) is a bill passed by the government of Ontario. It's mission and vision are as follows: Vision: To have more Ontario consumers enjoying local food more often - and in more places. Mission: To increase the consumption of local food in Ontario. Through this act as well as other initiatives the government's aim was to:
1. Increase consumer awareness and education, 2. Improve access to local food, and 3. Ensure that there is sufficient supply to meet demand. They also put in place three food literacy goals, working towards the same purposes.
Goal 1: Increase the number of Ontarians who know what local foods are available. Goal 2: Increase the number of Ontarians who know how and where to obtain local foods. Goal 3: Increase the number of Ontarians who prepare local food meals for family and friends, and make local food more available through food service providers.
What is "local food"?
The Act describes local food as "food produced or harvested in Ontario, including forest or freshwater food".
Good places to find local foods is straight from the farm, from seasonal farmers' markets, or local grocery stores that shop within the province.
Why shop locally?
Here are a few reasons to get you started in thinking about the idea of local food. Comment on this post if you have other ideas!
1. Local food usually tastes better! It's harvested at its peak, rather than being picked early and ripened in a warehouse. 2. Eating locally will mean that you are eating seasonally. As with the first point, you will only be able to purchase certain things at certain times, meaning it will be fresh and nutrient-packed, rather than sitting in storage somewhere,
or being shipped from across the ocean. 3. As previously mentioned, eating locally usually means getting more of the vitamins and nutrients out of your fruits and veggies. This is because the produce is harvested at the tight time, and it hasn't sat, giving it time to lose some of its nutritional value. 4. Local food is good for the environment. It helps maintain farmland and open space in your area. 5. Local food supports the local economy. Instead of paying big corporations and shipping companies, your local farmer receives payment directly. 6. Local food supports safer food supply. Buying directly from the source limits the potential amount of contamination. 7. Local growers can tell you how the food was grown, so you can make informed choices.
Looking beyond food produced in your community, many stores also have food grown in Ontario, which is still considered to be a more local approach to buying food. For a complete list of Ontario foods definitions and what exactly that means, check out Foodland Ontario's helpful page on Ontario food. It has a full list of each type of food grown in Ontario and what specifications it has to fill to be considered as such.
"This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain't normal." -Joey Salatin
See you at the farmer's market.