Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Canadian produce; an endagered species?

I saw this post on YouTube the other day, and it started me thinking again. Firstly, I was equally surprised and impressed that a company like Hellman's would make such a video. Obviously their doing it for their own advantage first, but it's great to see awareness of this making larger headlines than a few of us bloggers can do.

It also made me think of our own gardens, and the experiences we had over the summer when it came to purchasing our food from a grocery store. For a while, when we were reaping such a bounty from our own gardens, I wouldn't buy anything else that wasn't grown in Ontario. It wasn't too difficult, but then again the only produce I was buying was our fruit, so mostly that meant apples. But even our favourite variety, Gala, we weren't able to buy, as it was always imported from China or South America. I also noticed that we ate vegetables in rotation. Instead of how we normally enjoyed a variety of vegetables every week, we'd go a few weeks only eating fresh cucumber. Then when the zucchini was ripe, we'd eat cucumbers and zucchini, then when the cucumbers ran out we'd eat zucchini and green beans etc. Which is how humans would traditionally eat I imagine; always in season.

But now that the growing season in Canada is done, trying to buy local is made that much more difficult. There are still some apples, carrots, and other root vegetables available, but the picking is slim, at least in our area. And the smaller shops that do carry local produce have to charge way more to support the local farmers, that it's hard to afford the decision to go local. How can I afford to buy 6 potatoes (a small container) for $3 when I can buy 5 lbs for 99 cents? Even the meat is much more expensive. At our Foodland, I can buy a medium sized package of lean ground beef for about $4. I can buy ground beef from a local farmer, the same amount, for $6-8.

I wish we had the income to support only buying local. Our area has such diversity when it comes to meat especially; there's the usual chicken, beef, and pork; but also lamb, goat, elk, and deer. But the issue, at least for our family, is the cost. And I fear because most families are in our situation, that to keep afloat local farmers will have to charge more to compensate for less being sold, and therefor less and less families will be able to afford to buy food from them.

Something is wrong, when it costs me more to buy food that literally comes from 2 kilometres away, than it does to purchase food that comes from another county! I understand that it betters trade relations, but our government needs to step in and support our local food producers at a National level. Or before we know it, Canadian produce will become an endangered species.

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