Don't read this article on local food; go to http://www.eatrealeatlocal.ca/ and watch a short video. Seriously, watch the video, download it, send the link to all your friends and contact lists. It should be required reading for every politician and bureaucrat.
Pig farmers will have to examine these latest government handouts and determine if the glass is half empty or half full. I would like to thumb my nose at all government programs. They are all made up of half measures and ad hoc vote buying, All farmers should look instead to the only viable long-term solution to our perpetual farming crisis; local food.
So why will local food be better than waiting for Loblaws to buy Ontario Beef instead of American or, if you are really lucky, western Canadian beef? Well, let’s look at some success stories. West Grey Premium Beef has been featured in this magazine but suffice it to say they you can now buy beef that is purchased locally and featured at the best local restaurants; they proudly display it in signs in their menus or displayed in the windows. Green’s Meats in Wingham is another success story, as are The Beefway in Kincardine, Elora Road Meats, and Metzgers in Hensall. West Grey and Metzger’s are slightly different to many in the list, in that they are federally licensed, so they can sell their products more easily to the rest of Canada or even to Loblaw’s. Loblaw’s, who are back on the airwaves claiming that, in season, they use 40 percent local produce (as if this wasn't bad enough for being so low ... ) put an artificial barrier on Ontario meat by requiring federal inspection. But West Grey Meats don't lose any sleep waiting for Galen Weston to call, instead they out-sell him on quality and consistency and gradually educate the restaurant owner that quality has a price but it also has a reward...loyal customers that will tell their friends - the cheapest advertising.
Local food success story number two -Buddha Dog Restaurants. Buddha Dog will gladly "make you one with everything" at their stores in Picton, Toronto or now in Collingwood. Not only is the food heavenly, but it is also supporting a vast array of local food producers. The store in Picton (which I am more familiar with) has a huge map of the county with every producer that provides them with food ingredients. They range from the Caribbean-born woman who only makes jerk sauce to the local abattoir that makes these pepperette-sized hotdogs. They have many wineries on this huge map of the county not because they are licensed but because they use local wine in some of their sauces. Buddha dog employees directly or indirectly tell the local food story with every hotdog. They sell Pop Shoppe pop rather than national brands and make amazing fruit smoothies in season from local fruit and vegetables. You can get the full Buddha Dog story at www.buddhafoodha.com .
I have not been a big promoter of organic food but I have discovered that local food doesn't necessarily mean organic food. It is like the square versus rectangle, all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares. What most people don't realize is that conventional locally produced food has a smaller environmental footprint than organic food grown in the states and trucked in. If you want to preserve the rural nature of Midwestern Ontario, buy local food. Demand it at your grocery store and walk past the American strawberries and only eat local. Buy Ontario-grown if not local, and Canadian above American, Mexican or anywhere else in the world. Shop at the farmgate whenever possible and also support your local farmers market. If you want to support local crop farmers use ethanol blend gasoline. Buy bio-diesels additives.
You also support Canadian crop growers when you buy soymilk or tofu and all of the meat products produced locally. Examine your dairy milk, cheese and ice creams -if it doesn't have the blue cow it could be made with butter oil from the States and New Zealand. Goat milk and goat milk cheese, yogurt and ice cream are usually made from Canadian goat milk but you might want to check with the Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative in Teeswater to be sure. Gay Lea products not only are made from Ontario Milk, it is also a cooperative that pays the members a share of the profits, unlike Saputo Kraft or Parmalat where profits go out of the country. Finally, watch the video at www.hellmanns.ca, click on the real food logo or http://www.eatrealeatlocal.ca and eat Hellmann's mayonnaise guilt free.( I am not being paid to say this)
Hellman’s Mayonnaise contains 650mg ALA per serving, which is 50% Daily Value for Omega 3 ALA, and NO TRANS FAT which is the only fat you need to worry about. Hellmann's is made with 100% Canadian eggs, a dash of Canadian vinegar and a lot of pure Canadian canola oil…. much of which, this year, is grown in Bruce and Grey counties.
Please write me about your favorite abattoir or local food restaurant that isn't in this list so I can write about them here or on my blog at www.ontarioagriculturematters.blogspot.com Send me your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.