Local food needs less act, more action

Produce at Guelph Farmers' Market

This month the Ontario Government presented the draft of a Promoting Local Food Act. Farmers need legislative support, but so far the new bill falls short of meaningful action. It declares a Local Food Week in May and gives the Minister of Agriculture authority to set goals for public sector organizations to use local food. Coinciding with the release, Premier Dalton McGuinty challenged Ontario families to shift $10 per week to local food. Many will ignore the challenge, as long as Ontario supermarkets offer produce from California and Chile at lower prices.

Local food means more local jobs. It relies less on petroleum and establishes food security in case of environmental or economic crisis.

Public policy must encourage young farmers to produce fruit and vegetables currently under-represented on Ontario farms. Promoting food through the public sector is good, but government must also support local networks (check out Local Food Plus and Sustain Ontario) moving food from producers to consumers through markets and restaurants. Large grocery chains need incentive to promote local products.

My partner and I spend much more than $10 a week buying most of our produce, meat and dairy products from local farmers. It costs more than shopping at a supermarket. In tight economic times and long Ontario winters those tables of inexpensive foreign fruits at Zehrs look awfully appealing, but I prefer to support our neighbours at Guelph Farmers’ Market.

Regardless of rhetoric, until legislators boost local economies, most consumers will find it easier to buy imported food.

2 thoughts on “Local food needs less act, more action

  1. I know what you mean. I have a friend who sneers at how much money my partner and I spend on produce, eggs etc on the weekends at the 6 small and 2 large farmers’ markets here in the Twin Cities, and boasts of saving money on eggs at 99 cents/dozen at some cheapo grocery store I won’t name (no free advert here!), or bread at US$ 1.49 per loaf, etc. To me, it’s like building a house with inferior materials. Why would you? The house will deteriorate sooner and you’ll spend MORE money repairing it. Not surprisingly, he’s diabetic and complaining of gout. Well, duh.

    1. Youth often have a sense of invincibility. Along with that they think it doesn’t matter what they eat. The saying “You are what you eat,” becomes increasingly persuasive as I grow older. Unfortunately, old tastes and habits are difficult to change. Bad food can be an addiction. As with any addiction, it is hard to face until you hit bottom. I hope your friend comes around.

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