Locavore News – Canada by Elbert van Donkersgoed

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Author: Katie Rabinowicz

Posted: February 25, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

Perspectives on good food and farming

February 23, 2010

Are locavores for real?

Is the flurry of interest in locally grown, locally raised and locally processed food just a passing fad? Not likely — the food sector is a long way from meeting the wants of locavores. I’ve heard all the arguments downplaying the trend towards local: Price trumps all, consumers don’t care enough, it’s just another niche market, and it’s too expensive to retool our bulk anonymous export-oriented commodity infrastructure. These are real hurdles. But doubters underestimate the vigour of the locavore movement in North America and fail to appreciate what is driving consumers who are attracted to local food. CBC Commentary by Elbert van Donkersgoed.Listen to the commentary.

‘Explore Local’ targets the home field advantage for agriculture

The Alberta government’s new Explore Local initiative helps local farmers and industry in “capturing Alberta’s home field advantage.”Government of Alberta news release.

Working Together for Local Food – Cooperative Profiles and Resource Guide

Canada is home to a vibrant “local food movement” with initiatives in every province. Increasingly, Canadian consumers are buying and eating local food for many reasons – freshness, taste, health, the environment, local economic development, and support for local farmers. As local food continues to grow in popularity, communities are organizing ways to access sustainable and locally-grown food. These include farmers markets, community shared agriculture, box programs, local marketing groups, and retail stores. A recent study by the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) found that there are approximately 2,300 local food initiatives in Canada and twenty four umbrella organizations that promote and support these various initiatives. Canadian Co-operative Association report (2.6 MB PDF).

Food policy could end agriculture’s perpetual crisis

There’s a crisis in agriculture. It’s an oft-repeated statement, one that at times comes from beef and pork farmers, and other times from the grain or the fruit and vegetable growers. In fact, it seems as though there’s always a crisis in agriculture – perhaps in different sectors at different times, but it always seems as if someone is teetering on the brink of disaster and asking for help. I’ve written about this crisis in farming in this column before – and I also work for and with farmers on a daily basis so I know that the hurt is there and that it’s real. Help is definitely needed, and given that agriculture is now considered by many to have surpassed the auto industry as the largest contributor to Ontario’s economy, I don’t think that’s out of line. After all, what’s at stake is not just our food but also 740,000 jobs across the entire agri-food industry. Lilian Schaer commentary in the Guelph Mercury.

Every farm open to the public must have a website

Jane Eckert an agrimarketing expert who visited ten farm direct operators in northern Alberta this fall, agrees. “The best way to expand your business is through a website. While most operators understand that they need a website, many don’t know where to begin or how to get it done.” You don’t have to spend a fortune to build an effective website. The cost does vary of course. Larger operations or those with diverse activities will spend more creating their website. “Of those responding to my survey, over 70% of the farms spent less than $2,200 to have their website written and designed,” says Jane. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development story.

Greener acres: Saskatchewan locavore scene sprouts.

The locavore landscape is changing quickly in Saskatchewan. There’s a new prairie cuisine emerging, with innovative stuff like lentil brownies; sauerkraut tart with house-cured local cabbage, bacon and cream; sour cherry and Canadian rye whiskey Manhattans. It hasn’t always been this way here in the breadbasket of the world, where appetites tended more to basic meat ‘n potatoes. But it looks like Saskatchewan’s flat farmland is no longer just for growing grain. Small farmers and local chefs are now cooperating in a symbiotic new “farmers-to-chefs-to-families” program they’ve dubbed Local BountyCanadian Tourism Commission’s media site story.

Calgary urged away from ‘paving paradise’

Imagine the vibrancy and friendliness of Sesame Street in your very own backyard. If Calgary Food Policy Council chair Paul Hughes has his way, the city of Calgary would look a lot more like the friendly cartoon neighbourhood than houses side-by-side separated by infills and laneways. “I think we should be promoting green spaces and arable areas instead of focusing on aesthetics. I think we need to have more garages in the front of houses and under houses than in the backwards,” Hughes said. Calgary Metronews.ca story.

Labour groups call on Ontario to reject Buy American deal

Ontario must reject a new trade agreement that allows Canadian companies to be temporarily exempt from the Buy American elements of Washington’s stimulus package, critics demanded Thursday after releasing a leaked copy of the bilateral agreement. The one-sided deal will eventually give foreign companies permanent access to publicly funded contracts in areas like schools and hospitals that were previously closed to them, while the province is getting very little in return, they said. Bans on bottled water, “buy local” food initiatives and fair wage policies in Ontario may all come under attack from U.S. and foreign companies as a result, Hahn said. Winnipeg Free Press story.

Explore Local Targets Agriculture’s Home Field Advantage

The Alberta government’s new Explore Local initiative helps local farmers and industry in capturing Alberta’s home field advantage. To support regional market expansion, Explore Local pulls together existing efforts and programs in areas that deal with local products such as farmers’ markets, farm direct marketing, regional cuisine and Ag-tourism under one umbrella. “Local agriculture and locally-produced food is a rising market force in Alberta and around the world,” said Jack Hayden, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development newsletter.

New futures: Innovative uses of the co-op model

From financial services for First Nations to a virtual farmers’ market, from a hardware store that became a co-op after its owner closed it down to a processor and distributor of Fair Trade coffee, co-operatives are using the co-op model in a variety of innovative ways. The Canadian Co-operative Association has released a new booklet entitled New futures: Innovative uses of the co-operative model, which profiles 12 co-ops across the country that illustrate the flexibility and diversity of the co-op model in a wide range of situations.Canadian Co-operative Association report (13.5 MB PDF).

AND if You Have Time

Sweet and Sour Soils

A soil’s unique characteristics, Parker suggests, can also be tasted in the food grown in or on it. In other words, if the earth on which your farm sits has “grassy,” “olive,” or “smoky” notes, those flavours will recur in the organic spinach or goat’s milk cheese you produce. Smelling the soil first simply helps you become aware of the continuity. Edible Geography on tasting soil.