Making Connections: Local Food Week
June 4, 2021 | Marie Versteeg
Next week, June 7-13, is Ontario Local Food Week. June is the perfect time of year to celebrate the delicious food grown here in Ontario, as well as to reflect on everything it takes to sustain the food system we enjoy. The first spring season crops like asparagus, spinach and green onions are appearing with strawberries and other early crops soon to follow.
When the pandemic interrupted supply chains in early 2020, people became more interested in where their food comes from and turned toward locally sourced foods.
This increased interest seems to be yielding good results for agriculture. We’ve seen numerous examples of farms experiencing booming sales, particularly those already positioned in the local food market.
At the political level, we’re seeing initiatives that could lead to far-reaching benefits to the industry. Most recently, legislative proposals like Ontario’s Food Literacy for Students Act and the federal Soil Conservation Act, if passed, will have a big impact on long-term public support for agriculture. There’s political appetite to support agriculture. Sustained interest in food systems at the constituent level should help build momentum.
We’re also seeing positive movement at the community level. This winter, CFFO examined local food systems as part of our annual Policy Tour. The tour centred on strengthening rural communities in light of the challenges of COVID-19.
After experiencing nearly a year of disruption, members had a lot to say. While many recognized that open borders offer efficiencies and can result in more affordable food, they also saw value in the jobs and food security that local food systems can generate at the community level.
One major theme that emerged from these conversations was the importance of building connections between farmers and consumers, as well as between farmers and local processors. Many CFFO members feel a spiritual connection to the land; they believe that local food is an important way to help their communities experience that relationship, too.
Further findings from the CFFO Policy Tour will be presented at our June Provincial Council, later this month. CFFO members are invited to attend and offer feedback on the draft policy recommendations developed from the tour discussions.
Celebrations like Local Food Week are an important way for the industry to highlight farming and food, especially as Ontarians have fewer family connections to farming. It’s obvious that when people care where their food comes from, all Ontario farmers and food processors benefit.
Marie Versteeg is Communications Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.