Thanksgiving reflections

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone. Simply put, we are giving thanks for what we have, with family and friends.
Although Canadians live in what many of us believe is the best country in the world, one of our pressing issues continues to be the protection of Canadian food, whether it be local, regional or national.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone. Simply put, we are giving thanks for what we have, with family and friends.
Although Canadians live in what many of us believe is the best country in the world, one of our pressing issues continues to be the protection of Canadian food, whether it be local, regional or national.
Farmers’ Markets
My social media friends are vocal supporters of local producers. Recent discussions included observations of local Pontiac farmers’ markets, for instance, where someone remarked more people attend auctions than farmers’ markets.
How many of us regularly and dependably buy local food at the Shawville or Bristol farmers’ markets? Quick answer is not enough.
I’m a good example. I don’t regularly attend the farmers’ markets: first, I have a large garden which is still producing, so from
June through late October, I don’t need fresh veggies. Nonetheless, I infrequently support Bristol’s market where I buy Netherleigh Farm’s pork and Mayhew Family Farm’s eggs, items I don’t grow.
And look at the farmers’ markets from the producers’ perspectives. They represent the quintessential “chicken-and-egg” marketing dilemma: show up and create
a thriving, vendor-filled market while showcasing your locally produced foods, from preserves and pies through to vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs and more. However,
the conundrum arises when customers don’t regularly appear. It’s easy to understand how producers become concerned about showing up with fresh items only to have them wilt, waiting for clients who don’t materialize.
Melissa Nyveld is Treasurer of the Bristol Farmers’ Market. She notes, “I really like the community aspect of the market. It encourages people to buy within their own community and support their friends and neighbours – businesses that belong to people we know. Your dollars have so much more meaning when they are spent locally.”
Buying direct from local producers
Beyond attending farmers’ markets, several of us purchase meat from
local producers. Therefore, although we don’t necessarily go to farmers’ markets with regularity, we pay local producers for their locally raised meat or baskets of vegetables. Andrew Simms Farm raises beef, lamb and pork. Purchasing directly from them means my husband and I get the meat we want, where the butchering is also influenced by us, too.
What I mean is we can order thicker lamb chops, for instance, than can be easily purchased at a grocery shop. Also, we can choose to buy (or not) the offal and ask
for meat to be ground or transformed into sausages. Special attention to our personal choices is appreciated.
2016 Ketchup Wars: Heinz. French’s. Primo
Another online discussion mentioned the Ketchup Wars of 2016. US-
owned Heinz closed its Leamington, Ontario plant, moving its ketchup processing to America: Canadian jobs were lost and tomato producers threatened. US company French’s saw market opportunity: they purchased Canadian tomatoes while continuing to produce ketchup in the USA – until so many Canadians switched to their brand that they opened a Canadian plant. Still USA-owned,
but Canadian-sourced and produced ketchup.
Now, I’ve learned about Primo, a wholly-Canadian-owned company using Canadian tomatoes, and Canadian workers to make a 100% Canadian product. Is Primo available here in our local stores such as Joanne’s Valu-Mart in Shawville? If not, ask for it.
The move to French’s proves consumers make a difference. A move to Primo will mean we Canadians can fully support a fully Canadian company.
2018: NAFTA and Dairy
Meanwhile, as I write this column on October 4, Canadian dairy producers are panning the renegotiated NAFTA. According to Global news, “Dairy Farmers of Canada issued a terse statement soon after the agreement was announced late Sunday, following 14 months of difficult negotiations between the parties.”
Online, loyal-to-local Canadian consumers are advocating buying Canadian milk only. Perhaps easy for milk; less easy for products containing milk solids.
Supporting local through to national produce isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, as consumers, we need to stand up for what we want. And surely, that means re-evaluating, yet again, how and what we purchase.
Buy local, regional, and bottom-line, Canadian. It’s time for us to re-evaluate where we spend our dollars. Check out farmers’ markets, talk to the producers, and ask shop owners to order in local and Canadian products. Be the change you want to see happen.