In 2013, the Local Food Act was created with the goal of educating Ontarians on what foods were local and where they could be found. The Local Food Act set aside the first week of June as Local Food week in Ontario. The ultimate goal was to increase public access to these products. During this week we celebrate the incredibly fresh & nutritious food that is being produced, processed and enjoyed right in our own backyard.
From farm raised meat, fresh fruits and vegetables to local dairy, Ontario’s agricultural industry is incredibly diverse. Creating a focus on producing and consuming local food can connect us closer to farmers, the primary source of our food. Ontario farmers produce over 125 different fruit and vegetable crops and in 2020 the whole agri-food system employed 2.1 million people and generated $139 billion towards Canada’s GDP(Gross Domestic Product).
Throughout COVID-19 many local producers and retailers became overwhelmed by the increased demand for local food. As the pandemic surged and families stayed home, many spent fewer dollars out, more time at home and barely travelled. As restaurants, hotels, schools and more shut their doors, farmers had to look for other avenues to sell their products. Many farm operations turned to selling products online and through their own on-farm store to maintain their sales.
The pandemic saw many things change including the thought and appreciation that goes into purchasing our food. We live in a country where for the first time in many people’s lives, shelves were empty and food stability became a concern. This fueled communities to lean on one another and create a stronger sense of connection to those around them. Consumers looked to cook more at home, create home gardens and we saw a shortage of yeast as bread making became the new hobby of choice.
Where to Find Local Food:
Want to find out who is selling local food in your region or learn more about local products near you? Below are some resources that can help you learn more about Ontario’s agricultural industry and create a stronger connection with your food.
- Foodland Ontario – Seasonal Availability Guide
- Farmers’ Markets Ontario – Find a Farmers Market
- Wine Country Ontario
- Ontario Craft Brewers
- Perth County – Farm Gate Map
- Taste Real Guelph Wellington – Local Food, Farms & Tourism