Mystery of the missing garlic

garlic bulbsIt is really hard to find Ontario-grown garlic in our grocery stores. And yet there are farmers in our province that grow the pungent bulb – I know this because I’ve met some of them. I’ve even toured some farms.

So what’s up with the mystery of the missing garlic in our supermarkets?!?

A visit to an organic garlic farm in the Meaford, Ontario area helped me uncover part of the story. The farmer who hosted our tour blamed the disappearance of Ontario garlic on low priced foreign imports, most notably from China. He can’t even grow garlic, he says, much less make a living at the prices large retail chains are paying for the foreign product.

A recent story in NowToronto featured an interview with Mark Wales, President of the Ontario Garlic Growers Association, who told a similar story of low cost imports and the struggles the farmers face to find a market.

Now I like a bargain as much as the next person, but when it comes to my food, I’m also interested in where it came from and how it was grown. And if there’s garlic being grown by more than 100 farmers in Ontario, I’d like to be able to buy their product.

My search ended at Fraberts Fresh Food in Fergus, a local food haven, where I was able to buy some gorgeous Wellington County garlic. Now at $5.99/lb, it wasn’t cheap – but it was fresh, local and responsibly grown. And to me, those are things worth paying for.

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