June 5-11, 2023

Farms across Ontario produce a huge variety of local food every year – over 200 different commodities! To celebrate and draw attention to this accomplishment, the Local Food Act of 2013 launched “Local Food Week”, occurring annually on the first full week of June.

What would you do if you couldn’t find local Ontario strawberries to make the jam your family loves?

What if the price of Ontario peaches skyrockets so much that you forego that satisfyingly juicy first bite?

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that humans should try to fill half their plate at mealtime with fruits and veggies, and to eat dark green vegetables every day. But, what if we can’t because those foods are not available where we live?

The current rate of farmland loss happening across our province directly threatens the local food system that we love. This threat will only increase with recent policy changes and proposed policies. 

The irony is not lost on the Ontario Farmland Trust that the recent Bill 97 and proposed Provincial Planning Statement 2023 (read more on that here) originally required comments to be submitted before June 5, the first day of Local Food Week in Ontario. 

If you didn’t have a chance to contribute your voice to speaking out against these policies, there’s still time! The province heard the concerns from farmers loud and clear, and has extended the deadline to August 4th, 2023.  

You can also make a difference by shopping at your local farm market, purchasing food that is labeled as Grown in Ontario, and asking store owners and retailers to stock more Ontario-grown foods.

Even planning your daily lunch can make a difference. Try buying your bread from a local baker, or if you bake your own, find flour that has been made from local grains. Buy your meats from a local butcher, or even straight from a farm. 

A recent report by the National Farmers Union showed that although the price of groceries has been rising, that increase in price has not translated into an increase in payments to farmers. Many smaller farms now have online stores for you to place orders directly. Others are running Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. These activities allow Ontario shoppers to support their business directly so more revenue goes straight to your local farmers. And that juicy tomato? Buying it locally means it will taste that much sweeter!

Shopping locally also means your food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to you, meaning savings in transportation time and costs, and often creating a smaller negative impact on the environment. 

When you choose to purchase local food, you are supporting Ontario’s farmers, their rural communities, all of the related businesses that they work with in the supply chain, and ultimately, Ontario’s farmland. 

Happy Local Food Week!

Links you may be interested in for further reading:

Ontario’s Local Food Act, 2013 – https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/13l07 

Local Food in Ontario – https://www.ontario.ca/page/local-food-ontario 

Canada’s Food Guide – https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

Local Food Initiatives in Ontario – https://buylocalfoodacrossontario.ca/