The week of June 1-7 will be celebrated as Local Food Week across all of Ontario.
Ontario is a strong supporter of local food. Since 2003, the province has invested more than $116 million in initiatives and projects to help promote and celebrate the good things that are grown, harvested and made in Ontario.
In November 2013, Ontario passed Bill 36, the Local Food Act, 2013 to help foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems in Ontario, help increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food, and help develop new markets for local food.
The Local Food Act, which was the first of its kind in Canada, is designed to help build Ontario’s economy, create more jobs and expand the agri-food sector, by making more local food available in markets, schools, cafeterias, grocery stores and restaurants throughout the province.
The Act will also:
- Help increase access to local food, improve food literacy in respect of local food, and encourage increased use of local food by public sector organizations, by requiring the Minister to establish aspirational local food goals or targets in consultation with organizations that have an interest.
- Proclaim a Local Food Week that takes place annually, beginning the first Monday in June
- Amend the Taxation Act, 2007 to create a non-refundable tax credit of 25% for farmers who donate their agricultural products to eligible community food programs such as food banks
Chatham-Kent has a long history of local food production. I can remember going to the Market Square Farmers’ Market many years ago. Now, we have farmers’ markets/food stands/grocery stores/other retail outlets promoting the foods grown by many of our Chatham-Kent producers.
Speaking of a farmers’ market, we are going to have a one-day impromptu farmers market on Monday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Civic Centre in Chatham. All are welcome to come and purchase some food products from our local producers. At that time, we will also have a flag-raising ceremony to kick off Local Food Week in Chatham-Kent.
We have a ‘Buy Local Buy Fresh’ map, which shows where you can find what is grown and who grows it. These maps are free and you can pick one up at municipal service centers, local libraries, tourism outlets, local agricultural businesses, and at the sites listed on the map.
If you cannot find one, e-mail me and I will make sure you get one. Or you can download the map from this website: www.buylocalbuyfreshchathamkent.com
One thing that is so hard to believe is that with all the vegetables and fruits grown in our area, Chatham-Kent ranks at the bottom of the list in Ontario when it comes to the consumption of vegetables and fruits. The consumption rate has been dropping, especially the past six years.
As consumers, we all need to be aware of where our food comes from. Providing safe and healthy food for yourself and your family is important.
We should show our support to our own producers and businesses wherever possible. When we support them, we are supporting the workers, the drivers who deliver the produce, the companies who supply these farmers with their crop inputs, and the list goes on and on.
Agriculture in Chatham-Kent is over a $3-billion sector. Let’s keep this growing and growing. We all can be a part of this. Let’s get behind Local Food Week, not only for this week, but each week of the year.
Think about this – F.E.A.R. has two meanings. Forget Everything And Run OR Face Everything And Rise.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community agricultural website at: www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at: email@example.com
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’