June 1 to June 7th marks Local Food Week in Ontario. This is an opportunity to celebrate the people and stories behind some of our favourite foods, and the work involved to take it from farm to table. Pictured here is Evergreen Wheat Grass which is harvested at nearly 2 feet tall after a 60 day outdoor growing season, and then cold pressed and frozen to provide you with fresh wheat grass juice year round.
How to define local food is an ongoing topic for debate, and one on which many people have a personal opinion. In Canada, prior to 2013, food could be marketed as ‘local’ if it was produced within 50 Kilometers of the grocery store where it was sold, or if the food originated within the same or adjacent local government unit. This strict criteria meant a perogy made in Hamilton, 62 km from Toronto could not be labelled as a local product in Toronto grocery stores, making it difficult for shoppers to identify foods produced close to their home town/city. In 2013, the CFIA broadened the definition of ‘local food’ to include food that is produced in the same province where it is sold or food that is sold across provincial borders but within 50 kilometers of the originating province or territory. This allowed for an Ontario made product to be highlighted as Local in any Ontario grocery store.
Interestingly, both definitions address only one facet of local: distance. At Localize we specialize in identifying, collecting, and sharing information about local products in grocery stores. Our goal is to provide you with the facts you care about most. We conducted consumer research in 2013 to better understand what shoppers value about local food, which revealed three important facets of local.
- Production - How far away was the product produced?
- Ownership - Where is the company owned? Where are the jobs created?
- Ingredient Origin - Where are the ingredients grown or raised?
In honor of Local Food Week in Ontario we are shining the spotlight on a selection of unique Ontario food producers. These products are made in Ontario, owned by Ontarians, and made with ingredients grown or raised in Ontario.
Take a peek at these great products, and keep an eye out for them at your look for them at your neighbourhood grocery store! To find our more about Local Food Week and events celebrating Ontario farmers and producers visit: loveontfood.ca
Multi-generational family farm, Mazak Farms has been growing certified organic asparagus since 1998 in St. Thomas Ontario. Located, just 1.5hrs from GTA, they hand pick 8.5 acres worth of organic asparagus each year!
The Algonquin Tea Co.
Maker of wild crafted organic teas, Algonquin Tea is made with indigenous plants that are naturally occurring and handpicked from the Algonquin Park bio-region. Algonquin Tea produces boxes with 16 bags as well as artisan loose leaf tea.
Made with sheep & cows milk from Ontario farms, Yovco produces a line-up of delicious yogurt based on a centuries old Bulgarian recipe. This cool regional find is made in North York, Ontario.
Due to the live bacterial culture isolated from plants in the Bulgarian mountains and the traditional centuries-old Bulgarian yogurt recipe, Yovco Bulgarian yogurt has a distinctive flavour, texture and rich nutritional profile.
Belanger Organic Farms
The Belanger Family Farm began in 1945 when Onesime Belanger purchased the Belanger farmland and began raising farm animals, dairying, baking and planting crops for the Ontario commercial food distribution system. Today they make meat pies in Hillsdale Ontario with lamb and veal raised on their farm as well as Ontario grown vegetables.
Sunshine Farms Canadian grown and processed certified organic line of pickles. As a family business they have been growing and pickling asparagus, cucumbers and other vegetables on their farm since 1982 Thames, Ontario, and working their farm land for the past 150 years.
- CFIA - Local Food Claims Interim Policy. [Accessed May 25, 2015] http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/origin/local-food-claims/eng/1368135927256/1368136146333
- CFIA - Food Labelling Modernization Initiative. [Accessed May 25, 2015] http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/labelling-modernization-initiative/eng/1370111174659/1370111346666