GUELPH, ON [August 1, 2023] – The foods grown, raised and produced in Canada are as diverse as the population that calls it home.
That gives us a lot to celebrate on Food Day Canada, marked this year on August 5th.
Conveniently, Food Day Canada also happens at a time of year when Ontario’s rural roads are dotted with roadside farmstands selling the freshest fruits and vegetables you can find. From corn through sweet berries to root veggies like onions and potatoes, local produce has richer and bolder tastes than anything imported, and is packed with nutrients for a healthy addition to any menu.
It is also the best way local consumers can help protect one our most rapidly dwindling — and precious — natural resources.
“The best way to preserve farmland is to eat local,” says Peggy Brekveld, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “Making foods grown and raised in Canada an integral part of the menu ensures a stable, consistent and reliable market for Canadian farmers, which in turn ensures arable farmland remains in agricultural production and is not paved over.”
Food Day Canada is a grassroots celebration of Canadian farmers and fishers, chefs, researchers and home cooks who inspire us to shop, cook and dine Canadian. Beyond the patriotism, there are many reasons to make local foods a key piece of your eating habits:
- Good For You — Fresh fruits and vegetables begin to leach nutrients after they are harvested. That means the shorter time and distance it takes to get from the farm to your plate, the more nutrients it offers. Consider that a fruit or vegetable imported from California can spend five to 10 days in transport, whereas local food bought at a roadside farmstand could very well have been harvested the same day it is bought.
- Good for the Environment — Food miles — the distance food travels to get from the farm field to the consumer — can be a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Some estimates say food transport, which primarily by truck in Canada, accounts for up a fifth of the emissions from the food production system. It stands to reason that impact is mitigated when eating food that travelled, at worst, a couple of hundred kilometres to end up on your plate as opposed to the thousands of kilometres traversed by imported products.
- Good for the Economy — The agri-food sector drives the Ontario economy, employing more than 860,000 people (that is more than 10 per cent of the province’s workforce) and generating $47.3 billion in GDP. Every piece of Ontario fruit, every Ontario vegetable, every egg produced, every dairy product processed and every cut of meat or poultry purchased from an Ontario farm drives economic activity.
- Good for Farms —According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, Ontario is losing an average of 319 acres of productive farmland every day. This is a worrisome decline for what is arguably the province’s most essential natural resource — the arable land with which we feed people. Buying local food bolsters local farms and helps ensure farmland remains for growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock.
There are an estimated 180 farmer’s markets across Ontario — plus countless road-side farmgate stands where farmers sell direct to passersby. Ontario is in the sweet spot for local produce, with sweet fruits like cherries, blueberries and apricots in season, as well as staples like corn, carrots, cucumbers and peppers currently being harvested — not to mention Ontario meats and poultry, farm fresh eggs and dairy products which are always in season.
This is just a sample of a long list of local products currently in season. Check homegrownofa.ca/whats-in-season for an updated list of local meats, produce and products that are available.
Find a farmers’ market near you by visiting farmersmarketsontario.com. Additionally, be sure to check out community butcher shops, local restaurants and bakeries for fresh local food options. Learn more about Food Day Canada at fooddaycanada.ca.
About the Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer. For more information, visit www.ofa.on.ca.
About Home Grown
A public awareness initiative of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Home Grown is a campaign to advocate for the importance of Ontario farms as a source of food, fuel and fibre. Arable farmland is our most important natural resource, but Ontario is losing an average of 319 acres of farmland every day; that is the equivalent of nine family farms paved over every week. It is the objective of Home Grown to raise awareness about the importance of protecting and preserving Ontario farmland, while helping develop a workable plan to guide responsible development in Ontario that will ensure growth to provide housing and support local tax bases in a way that does not encroach on farmland.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883 ext. 218