food & agriculture – The North Grenville Times http://www.ngtimes.ca The Voice of North Grenville Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:24:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Local Agri-food Expo survey results http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-agri-food-expo-survey-results/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-agri-food-expo-survey-results/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 20:17:30 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=10497 The North Grenville Times recently conducted a survey intended to seek input from residents on the types of topics that they would like to see discussed at the upcoming Local Agri-food Expo that is scheduled to happen on Saturday, April 7. The Expo is being organized to encourage people in the region to start an […]

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The North Grenville Times recently conducted a survey intended to seek input from residents on the types of topics that they would like to see discussed at the upcoming Local Agri-food Expo that is scheduled to happen on Saturday, April 7. The Expo is being organized to encourage people in the region to start an agri-food business of their own, or expand their existing small scale agri-food business. Agriculture and local food represent significant potential opportunities for economic growth in our area and the organizers want to encourage everyone to get involved.

The first question asked about various formats for the Expo. The results were: Workshops: 31.4%; Moderated discussion panels: 22.09%; Keynote speakers: 33.7%; Breakout sessions (small group discussions): 24.4%; Watching a video as part of a large audience: 7%; and A mix of the above formats: 54.7%. In the comments section, most of the comments were based around ways to (and the importance of) engage people to get them interested and keep them interested.

When asked, “What topics would you like to know more about or like to see discussed at this event?”, the results were: How to start a home-based agricultural or local food business: 43%; Which funding options are available for starting or expanding an agricultural or local food business: 58%; Which health regulations do I need to know about for starting an agricultural or local food business?: 46.5%; Where can I get help for creating a marketing plan, business plan or feasibility study?: 36%; The same percentage chose How can working with a farmers’ market help to provide a secondary income, and “How to tell which soil type I have and which plants grow best in that soil type.

Other options were: How do I get started in raising livestock (chickens, beef, pork etc.)?: 15%; How can I organize my garden to maximize my yield of the space?: 37%; How can I get access to space to grow food if I can’t afford to buy a piece of property?: 14%; What are the latest small scale farming methods that I could use to grow food?: 41%; What are the municipal zoning options available to allow me to start or expand an agricultural or local food business?: 35%; How to start a local co-operative to provide a service to the agricultural community: 23%; and What is involved in setting up an agricultural or local food social enterprise and what are the benefits and differences compared to a regular business model?: 28%.

In the comments section, some alternate topics mentioned were “permaculture”, “engaging youth”, “creating edible gardens for schools and other institutions” and “connecting local food networks and finding ways to collaborate on different community projects and initiatives.”

When asked: how much would you be willing to pay for a full day event like this (bring your own lunch)?, it was clear that people understood the value of an event like this, as most respondents chose the highest price, $25.

The other questions provided options for post-Expo dinner, with or without wine. Naturally, people preferred the cheapest option in each case.

Thank you to everyone that took part in the survey, it will be very helpful for the event organizing committee so that they can have the type of information and discussion focused on what you want to learn about. There will be information released soon giving the details on the event and the committee hopes that everyone will come to the event and be inspired to start or expand an agricultural or local food business.

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Is social enterprise the key to the future of local food? http://www.ngtimes.ca/social-enterprise-key-future-local-food/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/social-enterprise-key-future-local-food/#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 20:05:14 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=10324 Recently, at the Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference in November, there was one breakout session that was of particular interest to this writer. It was a session on “The Role of Social Enterprise in Developing Sustainable Local Food Systems”. It was described as “this panel will profile the importance of social enterprises in building a […]

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Recently, at the Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference in November, there was one breakout session that was of particular interest to this writer. It was a session on “The Role of Social Enterprise in Developing Sustainable Local Food Systems”. It was described as “this panel will profile the importance of social enterprises in building a sustainable local food system by showcasing innovative business models and the impact they create”.

Three specific examples were introduced by a founder, a marketing executive, and an executive director. The first enterprise to be showcased was called Klink Coffee. It was created by the John Howard Society of Toronto, a not-for-profit organization. What’s unique about Klink, explained Mark Kerwin, is that it provides jobs and skills training for people returning from the criminal justice system. These people would normally find it very difficult to find employment with a criminal record. They currently sell their different blends of coffee online, but hope to expand to a café and storefront in 2018.

The second organization featured was the YWCA of Hamilton. Executive Director, Denise Christopherson, told the over-capacity crowd about turning around a café that was losing money for the YWCA. She outlined how her organization closed the café and opened a catering business called “At The Table”. It quickly became successful, so using the catering proceeds, they renovated and then re-opened the café. They almost exclusively employ women who are staying at the YWCA. The women gain work experience, employment skills, and small business experience, so that they can eventually go out to pursue their own careers, or open their own businesses.

The final presentation was from Brandon Hebor of Ripple Farms Inc., who had a unique process of aquaponics to tell everyone about. They use a metal shipping container filled with water and Tilapia (yes the fish) to somehow provide the energy needed to grow leafy vegetables in a greenhouse on top of the shipping container. It’s a truly remarkable process, and his organization has been asked to make presentations around the world about it. Brandon believes that, by using this process, there would, potentially, no longer be a need to ship produce thousands of kilometres, but instead it can be grown right here on Canadian soil using this system.

Most people are unaware of it, but the Two Rivers Food Hub in Smith’s Falls is a social enterprise that is managed by Kemptville resident Bruce Enloe. A fine example of the social enterprise model for local food, Two Rivers’ mandate is to support small and medium-sized farmers in and around Lanark, and Leeds and Grenville counties. Two Rivers offers a wide range of facilities and services for farmers and producers, such as a commercial kitchen for food processing, storage for root vegetables, and wholesale services (where they sell to restaurants and institutions what they buy from local farmers and producers) to name just a few.

With such a successful example as the Two Rivers Food Hub just down the road, and various other examples of successful and innovative social enterprises, it’s not difficult to imagine the significant impact that they could have in creating, solidifying, or enhancing a thriving local food system. What’s your idea?

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AMI Agri-food Workshop http://www.ngtimes.ca/ami-agri-food-workshop/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/ami-agri-food-workshop/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:47:10 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=10224 On December 6, the North Grenville Municipal Centre was the site of a special agri-food workshop hosted by the Agri-food Management Institute. When asked, several people involved in local food and agriculture couldn’t remember the last time that a workshop like this was hosted here. According to their website, the Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) “promotes […]

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On December 6, the North Grenville Municipal Centre was the site of a special agri-food workshop hosted by the Agri-food Management Institute. When asked, several people involved in local food and agriculture couldn’t remember the last time that a workshop like this was hosted here.

According to their website, the Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) “promotes new ways of thinking about agri-business management and aims to increase awareness, understanding and adoption of beneficial business management practices by Ontario agri-food and agri-based producers and processors”. The organisation is based in Guelph and funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, and territorial initiative.

The workshop itself was a full-day event, launched by AMI Executive Director Ashley Honsberger, who was not only the facilitator, but also spoke about exploring the possibility of growing new types of crops, and gave the audience of fifty a number of tips and strategies when contemplating trying something new. Some of the other presenters were: Anna Crolla from OMAFRA, Colleen Acres from Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), Ruth Vogel from the local chapter of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), and Len Davies of Davies Legacy Planning.

Some of the highlights of the day included: Kemptville resident, and OMAFRA specialist, Katie Nolan, speaking about the Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference and the Two Rivers Food Hub. Jessica Kelly, also from OMAFRA, who is a Direct Farm Marketing Specialist, provided some very helpful information about getting started with on-farm sales and value-added products. Bruce Kelly, from Farm & Food Care Ontario, gave an amusing and informative presentation on “Conveying the Story of Agriculture”. He outlined some of the challenges of being a livestock farmer and dealing with animal activists and their activities, both on the farm and at large-scale agricultural events.

It’s unfortunate that the workshop was not better advertised in the area, because some local foodies were disappointed that they hadn’t heard about it. The workshop provided information that would have been useful to both local food producers and agricultural business owners. Jim Beveridge, of B&H Grocery Store, said that he hoped that this workshop was the first of many of these types of educational opportunities to be hosted in North Grenville. Does this mean that the upcoming purchase of the former Kemptville College by the Municipality of North Grenville is making waves in the agri-food community, and alerting people that North Grenville is ready to become a player in agri-food?

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EOLFC – de-colonizing the food system http://www.ngtimes.ca/eolfc-de-colonizing-food-system/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/eolfc-de-colonizing-food-system/#respond Thu, 02 Nov 2017 18:46:39 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=9372 This year’s Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference [EOLFC] was held this past weekend at the University of Ottawa. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs [OMAFRA] is the organizing body behind EOLFC. For this year’s conference, OMAFRA combined forces with Sustain Ontario, an incorporated non-profit organization created to become “the unifying voice for […]

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This year’s Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference [EOLFC] was held this past weekend at the University of Ottawa. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs [OMAFRA] is the organizing body behind EOLFC. For this year’s conference, OMAFRA combined forces with Sustain Ontario, an incorporated non-profit organization created to become “the unifying voice for food and farming interests across the province”, to host an even larger four-day event named “Bring Food Home – Upstream Collaboration”.

On the second day of the conference, (the first day consisted of local food tours around Eastern Ontario), there was a panel discussion on “De-colonizing Land and Food: What That Looks Like In Ontario”. The focus of the discussion was to explore the relationship and interconnectedness of land and food from an indigenous food sovereignty perspective. The panel was made up of five indigenous people from various First Nations in Ontario who shared stories of the challenges they face in their respective communities.

Food appears to be a very complicated matter for indigenous peoples. When settlers from other areas of the world started arriving in Ontario, they brought their food traditions, food methods and ingredients with them. Four ingredients that the settlers brought to Ontario that one member of the panel referred as “poison” were: sugar, salt, lard, and wheat. None of these four ingredients were part of the diet of the indigenous people of Ontario. Over the last two centuries, these ingredients began to work their way into the food system of First Nations. Not only for indigenous peoples, these ingredients have come to create health concerns for all Canadians.

Many of the traditional food habitats for indigenous peoples have been disturbed by settlers, to the point where they no longer provide the food sources that were relied upon in the past. Consider that Rice Lake was so named because the lake was an important habitat for wild rice, which was an important part of the local indigenous diet, according to indigenous panellist Larry McDermott. Today, one member of the panel observed, they can no longer find any wild rice growing around the lake.

Modern agricultural practices, expansion of residential and commercial activities, and even current regulations around food handling and preparation, can have negative impacts on indigenous food systems. The attendees heard a story from Perry McLeod-Shabogesic about how, in order to continue to use some of the food traditions in his community, at times they’ve taken a “don’t ask permission, go ahead and do it” approach with food. He said that, by asking permission of government agencies or organizations to do something, you have given away your power. He stated that, before doing any new food-related activity, his community does their research into the safety of the activity and possible health outcomes. They then decide whether to go forward. If they do, Perry noted that, after they’ve been performing the activity for a while “under the radar”, they’ll be approached about it and, quite often left, to continue. Occasionally, they’ll even be asked to demonstrate what they’re doing, so that others can learn.

The goal of the discussion was to inform attendees about the challenges faced by indigenous peoples surrounding their food system through stories and knowledge-sharing. Rather than an atmosphere of blame, or scapegoating of settlers, this discussion was intended to move forward and seek new allies to help reconcile the Ontario food system in a just and meaningful way.

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NutriSTEP®: Nutrition screening for the whole family http://www.ngtimes.ca/nutristep-nutrition-screening-whole-family/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/nutristep-nutrition-screening-whole-family/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 19:47:58 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=8691 Submitted by: Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit NutriSTEP® is a quick and easy questionnaire that looks at a preschooler or a toddler’s eating, physical activity and screen time habits. It shows what is going well and what areas can be improved. It is meant to help families eat well and build healthy habits. […]

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Submitted by: Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit

NutriSTEP® is a quick and easy questionnaire that looks at a preschooler or a toddler’s eating, physical activity and screen time habits. It shows what is going well and what areas can be improved. It is meant to help families eat well and build healthy habits. It is important to know if there are any concerns with a child’s eating so that it can be addressed before it turns into a larger issue. The food children eat and their eating behaviours will directly affect their growth, development, health and performance in school. Lifelong eating habits are developed at a very early age, and the toddler and preschool time period is an ideal time to develop healthy habits. Teaching young children early on about the importance of healthy eating, physical activity and screen time behaviours will help to set them on a path of lifelong healthy living.

NutriSTEP® offers parents helpful tools and resources for dealing with everyday struggles,. The program offers tips to help make mealtimes stress-free, instead of the mayhem they can be. It gives tips for encouraging children to try new foods or eat their veggies, and what to do when a child will only eat one or two foods. It also lets parents know what “normal” growth and appetites look like for young children – which can be quite different from what we might think.

To complete the NutriSTEP® questionnaire, visit www.nutritionscreen.ca, call EatRight Ontario toll free at 1-877-510-5102 to talk to a Registered Dietitian, or call the Health Action Line at 1-800-660-5853.

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Local family offers ethically-raised chickens http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-family-offers-ethically-raised-chickens/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-family-offers-ethically-raised-chickens/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2017 13:08:03 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=8554 A Kemptville family is one of few in the area who are offering ethically-raised, genuinely free range chickens to the public. Bart and Maureen Millson bought their farm on Muldoon Road, just outside Kemptville, 15 years ago. For a while, they rented the land to local farmers, but eventually decided to build a house and […]

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A Kemptville family is one of few in the area who are offering ethically-raised, genuinely free range chickens to the public.

Bart and Maureen Millson bought their farm on Muldoon Road, just outside Kemptville, 15 years ago. For a while, they rented the land to local farmers, but eventually decided to build a house and turn the land into a hobby farm of their own. “I grew up on a farm in Southwestern Ontario,” Bart says. “I was eager to get back to it.”

The Millsons and their three boys farmed the land themselves in their free time, growing cash crops like corn and soybeans. Recently, however, they began looking for a new challenge and stumbled upon the Chicken Farmers of Ontario’s artisanal chicken program.

The program, which was launched in June, 2015, allows small scale farmers to raise up to 3,000 chickens a year and sell them without quota. Previously, they were restricted to 300 birds, which could only be used for home consumption, or farm-gate sale. According to the website, the goal of the program is to help small, local farmers to fill local food and seasonal markets and give Ontario consumers more choice and options on how and where they buy local chicken.

“They want you to propose alternative ways of marketing and reaching different target markets,” Bart says. “Our application was to raise our chickens as naturally as possible, have them outside as much as we could, and be truly free-range.”

Often, even when chicken products are labelled as free-range, the birds only spend a small portion of their lives outside, where they can run around and eat grass and worms, as well as traditional feed. Other than the first few weeks of their life (when they have to be kept warm with heat lamps), the Millsons’ chickens live in a large pen with an open concept shelter, where they can escape the summer wind and rain. “Our big thing was that we really believe in the idea of them having fun and enjoying their life, rather than being cooped up in a cage, even when they are being bred for meat,” Maureen says. “It was fun to see them running around outside and doing their thing,” Bart adds.

The Millsons’ chickens are also raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, something that you can’t guarantee when you are buying meat from the grocery store. “People can come out and see our chickens, and know, from day one, that is what they are buying,” Bart says. “We’re appealing to a subgroup of customers out there that have that consciousness.”

According to the Millsons (who admit they are biased) and many of their customers, the meat is also tastier and healthier than the traditional chicken on the market. “When the chickens can be in motion, the development of the meat is different,” Bart says. “It’s a richer, more oxygenated, healthier, tastier kind of meat.”

The chicken-growing season is now over for the Millsons, after having two flocks of 250 chickens to care for. They sold 350 of the 500 fresh chickens and had the rest frozen, to be able to sell to customers well into the Fall. They are continuing to sell their frozen chickens straight from the farm, and are also hooked up with the Two Rivers Food Hub in Smith’s Falls. They are hoping to get them in to the B&H Grocer in Kemptville at the end of the month, and are working on donating some chickens to the Dinner on the House program at the House of Lazarus, which provides a free dinner every Thursday to people in need.

Both Bart and Maureen feel that the first year has been a success, and they hope to raise even more chickens next summer. “It was great meeting people and seeing them excited,” Bart says. “There is a real sense of accomplishment, that we are contributing something to our community that they really want.”

For more information or to order chickens visit their website at www.kemptvillechicks.ca.

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Tips for packing a healthy school lunch http://www.ngtimes.ca/tips-packing-healthy-school-lunch/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/tips-packing-healthy-school-lunch/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:54:08 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=8394 Submitted by Dana Hawthorne, RD and Danielle Labonte RD, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit Children spend about 40% of their waking hours at school, so the meals and snacks they eat there are a major source of the energy and nutrients they need to grow, learn, play and develop. Most schools have a […]

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Submitted by
Dana Hawthorne, RD and Danielle Labonte RD,
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit

Children spend about 40% of their waking hours at school, so the meals and snacks they eat there are a major source of the energy and nutrients they need to grow, learn, play and develop. Most schools have a meal or snack program that is available for all students; talk to your child’s teacher or principal to learn more.

When packing a school lunch, try to pack at least 3 of the 4 food groups. A whole grain pita stuffed with cheese, chicken breast, cucumber and carrot includes a choice from each food group: Vegetables and Fruit, Meat & Alternatives, Grains, and Milk & Alternatives. For more ideas, check out our “What’s For Lunch?” resource by typing in the search bar at healthunit.org. Pack a kid-friendly lunch by using easy to open containers, removing peels and packaging, and packing foods that look like food, as food that looks like toys, may be played with instead of eaten. Small sized and finger foods are easier for little fingers to handle. Match portions of foods to your child’s appetite as large portions can be overwhelming. Involve kids in planning and packing their lunch – they are more likely to eat meals and snacks when they help make them.

Remember to use an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack or reusable frozen water bottle for foods that need to stay cold. For foods that need to stay warm, heat a thermos with boiling water for a few minutes, empty water then add food that has been heated to steaming hot, at least 74°C on a food thermometer. Keep lunches in the fridge until your child is leaving for school. Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly, and do not reuse perishable foods, like meat, fish, poultry or milk products that come home from school uneaten.

For more information, visit the health unit’s website at healthunit.org, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or call the Health Action Line at 1-800-660-5853.

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Local food – Municipal procurement bylaw http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-food-municipal-procurement-bylaw/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-food-municipal-procurement-bylaw/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 19:05:10 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=8143 Many people agree that supporting local food is a really good idea. People feel good about supporting farmers, their neighbours, and local businesses. It keeps money in the local economy, it helps reduce food insecurity (global crop failures have less impact locally on food availability and price), and can spawn new businesses, expand existing ones, […]

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Many people agree that supporting local food is a really good idea. People feel good about supporting farmers, their neighbours, and local businesses. It keeps money in the local economy, it helps reduce food insecurity (global crop failures have less impact locally on food availability and price), and can spawn new businesses, expand existing ones, and create local jobs. One of the most critical aspects is that you don’t need a lot of money to get involved. You just need some time, access to a small piece of land (the land doesn’t even have to be yours), and some seeds.

To encourage the growth of local food, some municipalities around Ontario have adopted local food-based directives. These may come in the form of strategic plans, strategies, action plans, bylaws, charters, and can even get as specific as a procurement policy, which sends a clear message to local businesses about the municipality’s commitment to them and to local food.

One piece of good news is that the North Grenville Municipal Council has already adopted a local food charter, though that happened a couple of years ago and we haven’t heard much about it since. If municipal council isn’t prepared to go further, and commit to creating these directives, there are still other options for them that could encourage the growth of local food.

One option could be to develop a local food procurement bylaw. For example, the municipality could require that a certain percentage of food served at any municipal event or institution would have to be made with ingredients sourced in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Counties, but prepared in North Grenville. This would mean that ingredients could be sourced from a larger area, but a North Grenville business would have to prepare it. Having a successful local food system involves using a regional approach. Sharing assets located with other municipalities ensures that those assets are not being underutilised, and that no-one wastes time and money building something that already exists elsewhere.

The impact of this type of bylaw on North Grenville would not be as big, because we don’t have municipal social service organizations like child care centres, senior residences, etc., which would require food to be prepared. The impact on larger municipalities that do have these institutions would be greater. Initially, it might be challenging to secure a consistent supply of locally sourced ingredients, but once that supply was established, the positive benefits to the local economy could be significant.

North Grenville is fortunate to have the Two Rivers Food Hub only a thirty-minute drive away in Smiths Falls. Two Rivers already collects a large variety of local items (meats, produce and prepared foods) from smaller producers across the region, and distributes them to restaurants, stores, and other institutions. If the municipality wanted to implement this type of bylaw, Two Rivers would be an excellent place to start for locally sourced products. Even the Kemptville Farmers’ Market could act as a supplier for at least five months of the year.

Adding a municipal local food procurement bylaw to the already existing local food charter would be a positive step in supporting the expansion of local food in North Grenville. It would also set a good example for other businesses and institutions to follow: an important gesture to our existing agriculture and food businesses, to show that the municipality recognizes their importance in the future of our local economy.

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Local food – cost versus value http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-food-cost-versus-value/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-food-cost-versus-value/#comments Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:50:50 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=7521 A couple of months ago, the North Grenville Times conducted an online survey on local food. We shared the results from the survey, and those results helped us determine what areas of local food that people wanted to (or needed to) know more about. One of the clear messages was that some people felt that […]

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A couple of months ago, the North Grenville Times conducted an online survey on local food. We shared the results from the survey, and those results helped us determine what areas of local food that people wanted to (or needed to) know more about.

One of the clear messages was that some people felt that the cost of buying local food was too high. In a straight price comparison, this is sometimes the case, when you compare only the price tag. For example, buying a fresh fruit pie at your local farmers’ market may appear to be more expensive than one found at your local Walmart store. However, comparing price alone can be very deceiving. Quite often, when you compare items (in this case fruit pies), you need to be careful that you’re comparing apples to apples, and not apples to oranges (pun intended).

For example, are the two items the same size? Are both items the same weight? One thing to watch for when buying a fresh made pie from a vendor at a farmers’ market is that they sometimes aren’t labelled with their weight, while the store-bought ones are. Be sure and compare that both pies are the same weight. Sometimes the unlabelled pie may be significantly heavier than the store-bought one.

The quality of the ingredients should be a consideration when comparing store-bought and local food. Canned and frozen fruit (non-fresh) ingredients that are used to make store-bought pies are often prepared in other countries and made of the cheapest, lowest quality ingredients. Local food products are often made with the same grade or quality of fruit that would also be sold at a farmers’ market stall, or at a roadside stand.

The way in which ingredients are processed, and where they are processed, is important. Some countries that provide cheaper non-fresh fruit ingredients don’t have the high standards of food handling and processing practices that we do in Canada. We have agencies like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (among others) to try and prevent questionable food from entering Canada, but, locally, we have an extra level of scrutiny in our Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit to keep a close eye on how local food is processed and made. Not all countries have this level of scrutiny when it comes to their food supply.

Nutritional value should be a critical factor when considering local versus store-bought. Consider that fresh fruit ingredients used in making a local pie will have a much higher nutritional value than something that’s been made with canned or frozen ingredients. The frozen and canned fruit would have been processed, which often removes a significant amount of nutritional value from the original fruit. The local pie also wouldn’t contain the possible artificial flavours, colours, fillers and preservatives that might be found in store-bought pies. Comparing weight alone, the local pie would most likely contain a much higher percentage of fresh fruit. These food additives provide little to no nutritional value, and we get tricked into thinking that what we are eating is ‘food’. Our bodies must have proper nutrition to function properly, not food additives.

The final thing to think about when comparing local versus store-bought is the economic impact of your choice. Buying local food products ensures that your money stays locally, and each dollar can be shared up to seven times before it leaves the community. Each dollar spent at Walmart leaves for the US that same day. The more money in the hands of our local food producers brings us closer to food independence and food security, which makes us less vulnerable to world food supply shortages and fluctuating food commodity prices. The more money spent on local food, the more we encourage people to start producing it, creating more farmers, and putting more money in the hands of those farmers.

Some of you may still think that the price is too high for local food. However, when you consider the superior value that local food represents, including: higher quality and fresher ingredients, higher nutritional value, the financial benefit to your community, the increased food security, the reduced impact of surging global food prices, and the simple fact that local food tastes better, how can we afford not to buy local food?

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Local food – education http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-food-education/ http://www.ngtimes.ca/local-food-education/#comments Wed, 07 Jun 2017 19:01:29 +0000 http://www.ngtimes.ca/?p=6225 One theme that was established through the results of our recent local food survey at www.ngtimes.ca is that there is an education deficit about local food. Whether going to conferences, attending meetings, or talking to stakeholders, many people involved in local food say that not enough people know the who, where, when, why, what or […]

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One theme that was established through the results of our recent local food survey at www.ngtimes.ca is that there is an education deficit about local food. Whether going to conferences, attending meetings, or talking to stakeholders, many people involved in local food say that not enough people know the who, where, when, why, what or how of local food.

To begin with, many people have heard of the term ‘local food’, but they don’t really understand what it is. Local food is defined by Wikipedia as “a movement which aims to connect food producers and food consumers in the same geographic region, in order to develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks; improve local economies; or to have an impact on the health, environment, community or society of a particular place”. Sounds good, right? So, it’s pretty evident why it would be a good idea to get more people interested in and involved in local food.

Why do people need to know more about local food? The more that people know, the more they begin to understand and make the connection to the importance and the benefits. On top of that, the more that people know, the more they are willing to get involved and support local food in their behaviours, buying habits, and their overall lifestyle choices. For too many people, food is something that comes frozen in a box, or gets handed to you through a window. It’s critical that people understand the other benefits of local food as well. It increases food security and lessens the impact of shifting worldwide commodity prices on the food we buy. If there’s a major crop failure in another country, this can increase the price and reduce the availability of certain foods. So, the more food we grow and make here, the less these global events impact our food supply.

The importance of educating children specifically about local food is another piece of that ‘lack of education’ message, and may even be the most important part. Working with school boards and teachers to add this type of education to the curriculum of schools would go a long way towards raising a whole new generation of people who seek to buy local food and even grow, make and sell their own. On a positive note, there is already some momentum in that area, as there are some schools across Canada that are growing gardens and tend to them throughout the school year. This is very encouraging, as it allows children to see the whole process of planting, growing and preparing delicious, healthy food. If children learn this at a young age, they are more likely to continue this type of behaviour into adulthood.

In the past, summer courses were given at the Kemptville Agricultural School (Kemptville College) at which school teachers were taught how to make vegetable gardens in their schools. They cleared the ground, planted and tended the gardens during the summer, with the idea that they could bring back the skills they had learned to pass on to their students during the school year and beyond. North Grenville residents today can join in the Community Giving Garden project at the Ferguson Forest Centre on County Road 43 and learn, and apply, those same skills.

Part of the reason for this education deficit is that, until this type of education becomes mainstream and part of school curriculum, there’s a limited amount of government funding available. This means that the resources necessary to implement a campaign to educate people about local food are often scooped up quickly by established and well organized groups or organizations. In order to help secure these resources, you need people who are influencers to work with local food stakeholders to help bring these resources to the area. To date, we don’t really have an organization like this in North Grenville. Maybe it’s time to create one.

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