Local food made easy

New food service marketing program expands markets for Ontario foods

If you build it, they will come.

That’s the thinking behind a new marketing program being used by Gordon Food Service (GFS), Ontario’s largest family-owned food service distributor – expanding and promoting their offering of Ontario food products by making it easy for their customers to identify and buy local food.

Earlier this year, the company was the recipient of a grant from the Broader Public Sector Investment Fund, a partnership between the Greenbelt Fund and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) that aims to increase the amount of Ontario foods purchased through municipal, school, university and hospital food service settings. Continue reading Local food made easy

Bringing local farmers and food buyers together

Growing mesclun mix

As an unabashed advocate for local food and farming, I was thrilled to see that here in Guelph we have an officially recognized local food champion in our midst.

Leslie Carson, of St. Joseph’s Health Centre, was honoured in the 2011 Local Food Champions Report, part of a series of initiatives by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the Greenbelt Fund to connect Ontario’s farmers and food producers with public institutions.

Schools, universities, hospitals, day-cares and other public sector facilities are large-scale buyers and consumers of food. This represents a significant market opportunity for Ontario farmers — but one that currently isn’t being filled to its potential. Continue reading Bringing local farmers and food buyers together

Keeping tabs on where the cows are

RFID tags are placed in an animal's ear

Many modern-day pet owners microchip their four-legged companions.

This is to help identify them should they become lost, injured or otherwise harmed in some way.

Farmers are doing a similar thing with their beef cattle.

They’re using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to keep track of their animals as they move from farm to farm at various points in their lives.

These tags, which are placed in the ear, store information about each animal, such as its farm of origin, age and identification numbers, to help farmers and processors maintain and promote food safety and traceability. Continue reading Keeping tabs on where the cows are

The farm labour side of local food

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak announced this spring that, if elected, he’d make convicted provincial prisoners work to clean up Ontario’s highways.

According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a variation on this theme was recently launched in Georgia, where teams of probationers are working on fruit and vegetable farms.

Many farm workers there don’t have legal status and with a new law cracking down on illegal labour, many no longer come to the state looking for employment as they used to. Continue reading The farm labour side of local food

Apples – organic or conventional?

The debate over organic versus conventional agriculture is an ongoing one in the world of food production.

For one Ontario apple grower, though, that debate ended a decade ago after some firsthand research into the issue.

But first, a little bit of background. Continue reading Apples – organic or conventional?