Here we are debating the definition of local food in Ontario and for Canada. Meanwhile, we trust that food in our grocery stores is good for us, but this is not always the case. Shouldn’t that be more of the issue? If the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) focused more on ensuring healthy food for all, rather than writing policy on the definition of common words, our healthcare costs would decrease dramatically. Crazy!
Just like our values and beliefs our personal, so is ‘local’ a personal lifestyle choice. “Grown close to home” (Loblaws), even from out of the province, could very well be healthier for us rather than food produced in a factory and/or on another continent. The bigger issue is to eat more food direct from the farm, rather than processed by a multinational.
In Toronto, ‘Product of Ontario’ might well be close enough to home, even more so in Northern Ontario, where the growing season is short. Likely, as a resident of a rural county, it might not be local unless it comes from the county. But many counties have their specialties due to soil type and climate, such as pork in Perth County, milk in Oxford, lamb and beef in Grey-Bruce Counties, field produce in Waterloo, and greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in Essex so it makes a lot of sense to broaden our horizons of local just a bit in search of a fresh whole balanced local diet.
The Hamilton Spectator sums it up perfectly (May 29, 2013):
The concept of buying local is simple: buy food (or any good or service) produced, grown, or raised as close to your home as possible.
It’s better for the environment, cutting down on energy use for transportation and refrigeration; it’s better for you, since produce trucked in from goodness knows where may lose both taste and nutritional content; and when you buy local, you are engaging in the time-honoured tradition of the connection between grower and eater, and you keep dollars within your community.
In the interim (June 20, 2013), the CFIA is adopting a policy which recognizes “local” as:
- food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
- food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory
That’s good enough for me! It’s up to the consumer to be informed. And this weekend? Product of Canada will do just fine! Happy Canada Day!