June 3, 2019

Every week could be local food week

By Jane Robinson

“Local food” has been on trend for years now. But you don’t have go back too many generations to a time when local food was it. You ate what you grew or bartered, and you mostly ate what was in season and available. Spring was heralded for the return of greens and variety. As the weather warmed so did the choices of fruits and vegetables, and fresh meat sources. And as fall and winter set in, root vegetables that stored well in dirt cellars became the dish de jour.

It’s a little ironic that some of us have come full circle back to a simpler time of eating…at a time when the advances and innovations in our food system are happening at a record pace. Canada’s agri-food industry creates a vast array of food choices. And we are extending the season to provide local food in a wider window. Greenhouses are producing cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and now even strawberries. We are finding new year-long uses for bruised fruit – and tackling food waste – by distilling in-season fruit to enjoy year-round in local spirits. And on-farm fromageries are churning out a smorgasbord of cheese choices from local milk sources.

This week is officially recognized as Local Food Week in Ontario. It’s the perfect kick-off to the summer growing season, local farm markets and freshly-planted backyard gardens. Ontario farmers grown more than 200 different commodities. And our booming food processing sector converts locally grown ingredients into value-added foods that keep local alive all year long.

It’s easy to support local this week and throughout the summer season. With a little creativity – and a cupboard full of preserved in-season freshness and a freezer full of local protein – “local food” can be a year-round thing, again.