Local Food Week 2022

June 10, 2022 | Marie Versteeg

Local Food Week 2022

This week is Local Food Week in Ontario. The CFFO supports the value of a strong Ontario food system including local food. We in Ontario have a lot to celebrate. We are truly blessed to have some of the best farmland in the country, producing over 200 different commodities all farmed by highly skilled farmers.

Local Food Week was enacted as part of the Local Food Act, 2013. The Act has three goals:

  1. Improving food literacy in respect of local food.
  2. Encouraging increased use of local food by public sector organizations.
  3. Increasing access to local food.

These goals were intended to be established within one year after the day regulations around them came into force, but those working in agriculture know that the work is never done. Long-term commitment to local food is necessary, and we’re still seeing the fruits of this labour years after it began.

The first goal of the Act has been to improve food literacy. Teaching the next generation about how food is grown, where to find local food and how to prepare meals from basic ingredients will ensure a local customer base for Ontario food for years to come. We’ve seen admirable efforts to improve food literacy just recently. In September 2021, proposed Bill 216, Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020. The CFFO wrote in support of this bill, which was on its way toward final reading with overwhelming support until the legislature was prorogued. In March, changes to the provincial science curriculum were announced, among them a number of expectations for improving food literacy. While falling short of the goals and expectations of Bill 216, this is a step in the right direction.

In 2019, government launched enaction of the Local Food Act’s second goal – increasing local food use in the public sector. According to Ontario’s local food report, 2021, public institutions have increased their requests for local food by 70 per cent over the past decade. It also reports that 70 percent of distributers have been able to fulfill local food orders.

The final goal of the Local Food Act has been to increase access to local food. Government efforts have concentrated on showing Ontarians how and where to find local food including regional local food maps and Foodland Ontario labels on Ontario produce in grocery stores.

In our winter Policy Tour discussions over the past two years, the importance of local food production and local processing has come up over and over again. Protecting our farmland is foundational to ensuring access to local food, especially the farmland closest to our towns and cities. Good planning allows farms and towns to be good neighbours, bringing benefits to both. Clearly defined settlement boundaries encourage towns and cities to build up and keep the farm next door providing good healthy food that’s easily accessible to the people living next door.

Local Food Week lasts until June 12, so there’s still time to mark the celebration this weekend by getting to know your local farmers and seeking out and enjoying delicious, locally grown foods.

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.