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Food For Thought: Local Food Act Helps Foster Local Food Economies

on June 14 | in Kim Cooper | by | with No Comments

The week of June 4-10 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 that 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 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 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. When I was young (a long time ago) I can remember going to the Chatham Market Square, where so many farmers came with their wagons and trucks filled with all kinds of produce. It was amazing. 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 farmers’ market on Monday, June 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Civic Centre in Chatham. All are welcome to come and purchase some food products from our local producers, as well as a barbecue where you can purchase some delicious meat products. We will also have a flag raising ceremony to kick off Local Food Week here in Chatham-Kent.

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 per capita. The consumption rate has been dropping, especially the past number of 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.

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Think about this – The Lord can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present, and hope to your future.

Just some food for thought.

Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community agricultural website at: wegrowfortheworld.com

Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at: kim.e.cooper@gmail.com

You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’

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