All my life, I’ve been a city girl with a connection to farming. My parent’s best friends were dairy farmers and they also had crops — as a twelve-year-old girl, I remember helping to hay one summer (and it is harder than it looks!) and helping feed the cows and look after the other farm animals. I quickly learned that is more to our town than the Stratford Festival. Now one of my close friends is also part of a farming family and through her I am aware of the challenges faced by today’s farmers. Buying local from Ontario farms is one way to help the farmers who help to feed us every day. If you are bringing it to your Ontario table it only makes sense to buy it from an Ontario right, right?
And it never ceases to amaze me what brilliant things you can buy that are produced locally! Growing up, I was quite lucky because my parents did a lot of canning — to this day (bless them!) I still get to enjoy homemade red pepper jelly, assorted jams and pickles galore! The best part, to me, is that I know all of the produce is local — some of it my parents have grown in their own garden, while other fruits and vegetables have been purchased at the local Farmer’s Market.
So, with only a few shopping days left to cross everyone off holiday gift-giving lists, Farmers Feed Cities challenges Canadians to think local when purchasing last minute gifts.
Lynn Ogryzlo, author of The Ontario Table local cookbook and a partner of Farmers Feed Cities, has created the Holiday Challenge:
The average Ontario shopper intends to spend almost $700 on holiday gifting this year. If just $70 or 10% of this was spent on edible gifts crafted from Ontario artisan producers, the economic impact would equate to $500 million extra dollars in our Ontario food system, supporting up to 10,000 food sector jobs! So make this holiday season a Made in Ontario holiday!
3 Steps to Buying Local
1) Research – Visit ontariofarmfresh.com for a listing of all on-farm markets in Ontario. Make a day out of it, bundle the kids up and let them experience life on the farm!
2) Read labels – Look for the Foodland Ontario logo when making your purchases, if buying wine look for VQA to guarantee products are from our province.
3) Practice patience – Stay committed, sometimes these options are hard to find but the majority of the food we eat has a locally sourced option.
And her Top Five Local Gift Ideas?
1) Canned goodies –Share the season’s harvest throughout the winter and give the gift of sweet and savoury preserves. Ontario has a variety of artisanal treats like habanero jelly, spicy pickled cauliflowers, candied garlic and more to match any hard to buy for taste buds!
2) Agriculture experiences—Ontario farmers open the field gates and barn doors to those looking to understand more about the food on their plate. Give the gift of time and discovery together by wandering the Savour Stratford Bacon & Ale Trail with friends in Perth County (where tickets for the Bacon & Ale can be used at 5 stops on a self-guided tour of the area and each ticket entitles visitors to a “tasting” of a unique bacon and ale inspired treats) or plan to attend their Culinary Festival from September 20-22, 2013.
3) Wines divine –Niagara is home to world class wines from stunning vineyards offering both divine local gifts and group experiences. For the one on your gift buying list that loves to entertain, they can wow the crowd with icewine as dessert, or as a starter with pate.
4) Soy gourmet—Perfect for the chef on your list, give the gift of gourmet soybean, sunflower and canola oils and soy sauce while celebrating the 28,000 Ontario grain farmers.
5) Cheesy delights – Ontario has a fantastic selection of cheeses hand-crafted from local ingredients. If you have a cheese connoisseur on your list, this is the perfect gift for them!
So consider buying locally in this last week before Christmas — gifts from local farmers, artisans and tickets for local events make great personal gifts and you share by giving back to the community at the same time!