During Local Food Week, our volunteer Arden shares with us some ways we can all increase our support for Ontario grown products!

Established in 2013 by the Local Food Act [1], Local Food Week was created to celebrate the abundance of fresh Ontario food products the first week of every June. This June 3rd to 9th, celebrate Local Food Week to show your appreciation for the variety of food products produced in Ontario and the people who make it happen.

Local farmers are integral to Ontario’s food supply with over 200 different products produced1 by Ontario farmers, and 60% of food produced in Ontario consumed by Ontarians!2 According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture, Ontario has 25.5% of all farms in Canada [2] yet we are losing 319 acres of farmland a day. By supporting Ontario farmers this Local Food Week, we support the present and future of fresh Ontario grown food products.

This Local Food Week, we at OFT are making it a priority to shop and eat local in multiple ways and we encourage you to do as well. While you may know farmers markets are a great way to buy local, you may not have known of these other ways you can support Ontario’s agri-food sector:

Check Labels

Being more aware of where our food comes from and making the switch to Ontario grown produce is a great way to support Ontario farmers. According to Canada’s Food Guide [3], half of your plate should contain fruits and vegetables. This week, when doing your grocery shopping, look for the Foodland Ontario logo. These logos and stickers designate which products are Ontario grown.2 With over 1,700 businesses carrying the Foodland Ontario logo [4] on their products, you’re sure to find Ontario grown products at a grocery store near you.

Checking food products for the Foodland Ontario logo during your regular grocery run is an easy way to buy local during Local Food Week and beyond! 

Subscribe to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are produce distribution programs that allow individuals to directly support their local farms. Before the start of the season, you can subscribe for a “share” of the year’s harvest and receive fresh produce boxes throughout the summer and autumn. CSAs give farmers the necessary start-up funds to buy seeds and supplies, and to plan for the growing season. CSA members usually receive boxes of fresh fruit and veggies weekly or bi-weekly. With a wide variety of items in each box, CSAs make eating a healthy amount of vegetables and trying out new recipes easier than ever. 

This Local Food Week, consider becoming a CSA member. The Ontario Organic Council’s directory [5] is a good way to find CSAs or Farm Shares close to you. There’s a chance that your favourite farmers at your local farmers markets also run a CSA so feel free to ask them. 

CSAs are a great way for farmers’ to cut down their economic risk by having consumers directly “buy in” to the harvest. By supporting farms directly we can protect their future and support our local food supply. 

Supporting Local Businesses

A great way to celebrate Local Food Week is by shopping local and independent. As summer approaches and the weather heats up, head to your local ice cream shop for a sweet treat made from Ontario dairy! If you’re a meat eater, consider going to your local butcher for fresh Ontario cuts. Shopping at independent grocers and buying fresh baked bread from bakeries that use Ontario grains is also a great way to support your community and Ontario’s food system this week.

Celebrating Local Food Week by checking labels, supporting farmers directly, and shopping local, shows your appreciation for the farmers that work to provide Ontarians with their farm fresh favourites. While these actions are great ways to support farmers this week, they’re also important to do year-round in order to support Ontario’s food system into the future!

References

  1. Local Food in Ontario,
    https://www.ontario.ca/page/local-food-ontario
  2. Ontario. 2023. Ontario’s local food report, 2023 edition. https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-local-food-report-2023-edition
  3. Ontario. 2021. Ontario’s local food report, 2021 edition. https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-local-food-report-2021-edition

Links

  1. https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/13l07 
  2. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/96-325-x/2021001/article/00006-eng.htm
  3. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-vegetables-and-fruits/
  4. https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-local-food-report-2021-edition
  5. https://directory.organiccouncil.ca/