As we gear up for Ontario’s Local Food Week, it’s important to reiterate the need for shopping local and supporting our rural communities and farm businesses. Local Food Week, which takes place from June 7–13, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the bounty of fresh, healthy food grown, produced and processed right here in Ontario. Farmers work year-round to grow and produce fresh, safe and affordable food for all Ontarians to enjoy.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) encourages everyone to take a moment next week to pause and celebrate the strong, reliable and dynamic industry that is the agri-food sector in Ontario. It’s important to recognize all aspects of the food value chain that are dedicated and committed to ensuring consumers across the province have food on their plates that is proudly grown, produced or raised right here at home. When you support your local farmers, you are also supporting the jobs and employment opportunities the agri-food sector creates, as well as the economic growth and prosperity it contributes to the province.
Local Food Week is a celebration of all that is grown, produced and available in your area. Nothing tastes better than farm fresh produce, meat, cheese or eggs. That is simply only a handful of the more than 200 different commodities farmers work every day to produce. When you’re buying local, you’re also supporting farmers, food processors, local farms and businesses.
Oftentimes, when we see photos of local food, they frequently feature freshly picked seasonal products such as strawberries, sweet corn, asparagus or peaches. However, local food extends beyond fruits and vegetables. It includes a significantly diverse range of commodities from the dairy in your fridge to the deli meat in your crispers. Foods such as frozen vegetables, jams or canned pickles are all grown by farmers in this province and processed locally. It’s important for us to recognize the lengths in which agri-food workers go to produce a wide variety of delicious, high-quality products for consumers across the province to support a healthy lifestyle.
This year, in celebration of Local Food Week, OFA is promoting and spreading awareness about the importance of eating local through our various projects. A key priority for the organization has been the Six by Sixteen food literacy initiative, which aims to help young people plan and prepare six nutritious, locally sourced meals by the time they are 16. The focus is food literacy and making sure the next generation of consumers knows how to make healthy, nutritious food choices.
To further promote the importance of healthy eating habits, developing cooking skills and understanding how to plan and prepare meals, Six by Sixteen is launching a province-wide food literacy campaign focused on getting youth in the kitchen. The intention is to get Ontario’s youth and families to learn more about where their food comes from, how to cook and sourcing fresh, local food to support our farmers. The campaign was developed in collaboration with CTV Bell Media and will be aired across the province on CTV news platforms including television, radio and social media. Find recipes and more about cooking with healthy, local food at sixbysixteen.me.
Another way OFA is sharing their love for local is through our Always in Season project. OFA’s Always in Season project provides tools, resources and ideas for communities and organizations to celebrate their agri-food sector year-round. In celebration of Local Food Week, Always in Season has re-launched their I ❤️ local Social Media Planning Kit, provides free, public images for download to share and acknowledge the agriculture, food and beverage sector across the province. These visuals can also be shared throughout the year to show your support for locally grown products.
If you’re looking for ways to support Ontario farmers and the agri-food sector, start by filling your shopping carts with products grown, produced or processed in Ontario. You can also check out your local farmers’ markets, butcher shops and bakeries. OFA encourages everyone to take advantage of all the local food products and farmers’ markets available to you throughout this growing season. Celebrate the bounty of local with the best tasting food Ontario has to offer.