We are lucky to live where eating locally means eating well, and including local produce makes our meals as delicious as possible. Most people who take advantage of this option feel fortunate to do so.
Which is why this spring, parliament passed an NDP private member’s bill that recognizes the Friday before Thanksgiving every year as “National Local Food Day.” The benefits of celebrating local food are clear. It encourages us to support local businesses, reduce our carbon footprint and eat healthy delicious food.
There is already broad support for this idea, with over eighty percent of Canadians believing it is important to know where their food comes from, and many of them already make an effort to source their groceries locally. In the north, it is easier than ever to buy local as summer gets going and more fresh produce comes into season.
Roadside stands, seasonal food festivals, and weekend trips to farmer’s market are an enjoyable and convenient way to buy local. These allow you to interact directly with small growers and the businesspeople who produce your food. This gives the consumer insight into where your food comes from, how it is grown, and gets to market.
When you do this, you are contributing to your local economy and also building a community that supports its hardworking farmers and entrepreneurs.
Summer isn’t the only season in which buying local is an option. Instead of shopping at big box stores, many areas have grocery stores, butchers, and bakeries owned and operated by people in your community. For groceries, it’s easy to know the source of a product when you see the Foodland Ontario logo.
But local produce and fresh meat are just the beginning. Eggs, dairy, honey, maple syrup, handmade soap, as well as services, can all be purchased locally. The recent bloom of craft breweries in northern Ontario even makes it easier to cool off with a local beer.
Apart from supporting your regional economy, buying in your area is essential to creating a sustainable local food system. When food is produced close to where it is sold, pollution is reduced. As an added bonus, the closer your produce is produced to home, the fresher it will be.
Most importantly, buying local is an effective way to use your power as a consumer to support your community. It is one way we can protect ourselves from trade agreements (and disagreements) that threaten domestic agriculture and food production. When we support the hard work of local producers and harvesters, food manufacturers, farmers’ markets, and restauranteurs, we bolster economic growth in our part of the province and help protect good jobs for our area.