Everyday, we think of food. We get hungry and we want some. But do we really think about our food and what it means? Besides its nutritional value, do we calculate the value food has to a community? Are we helping support the local people who grow food or are we just throwing money at “BigAgra?” And….
What is local food anyway?
Local food is a concept that helps people to think about how they are spending their food dollars and what impact those decisions make down the line.
In a Peterborough survey of more than 500 consumers, conducted by the Social Planning Council (PSPC), the most popular definition of local food was “grown in my region”. You can read the results at sustainablepeterborough.ca/about-us/working-groups/future-of-food-and-farming-working-group/
Think of it as “buying as locally as you can” so you are keeping money in your community and supporting a chain of local businesses, as well as the jobs they represent. Your interest in buying locally also creates new opportunities for local entrepreneurs (including new farmers!) to successfully start new businesses in the chain.
We can grow many things in our area; in fact, if you only ate fresh and preserved foods grown in our region, you would have everything you need to be healthy. But…. we have a shorter growing season than some other parts of the province, not all things grow well in our climate, and there are some products we can’t grow at all (think pineapples). For example, Niagara has excellent conditions for growing tender fruits such as peaches. Apples do better in specific areas, such as along the shore of Lake Ontario in Northumberland County and also up near Meaford.
The main thing is to know where food comes from, and when. The more you know, the more you can make informed choices about how you spend your food dollars. You can find out more about when things are in season across Ontario by consulting the Ontario Farm Fresh and Foodland Ontario websites.
If you want to support the local economy in our region first – from the farmer to the plate – find out what is available that was grown here (fresh, frozen, canned or processed), and simply choose it when you can.
Reprinted courtesy of the Greenzine editorial Collective and Local Food Guide