The political will to get more local food onto the public plates – is gearing up. No less than five Canadian Premiers have made solid commitments to furthering the local food movement. Three Premiers have specifically said they want to see more publicly funded institutions purchasing local foods and one Premier has set a target of 50% local on every plate!
“In response to industry’s desire to expand blueberry production in Northeast New Brunswick, your government has put increased emphasis on identifying suitable land and infrastructure required to further develop this crop.”
“Your government has committed to promoting local community food products to residents, visitors and businesses as part of its strategy to grow the Value-Added Food sector. Your government will build on this effort with initiatives to promote the benefits of healthy food choices.”
Manitoba’s Premier, Greg Selinger specifically wants students, patients, seniors and others in receiving care in publicly funded institutions to enjoy local foods. The MB throne speech (delivered April 16, 2013) articulated:
“Our government will support a new local sustainable food initiative to increase purchasing from local agricultural producers, promoting community economic development by creating linkages with local farmers to bring more fresh healthy foods into public institutions and facilities”
Nova Scotia’s Premier Darrell Dexter has made a commitment to a a “Buy local” campaign . Here are two key points in the NS throne speech (delivered May 26, 2013):
“Buy Local” has broad support from Nova Scotians, who know their farmers and fishers produce the best and safest food in the world. Buying locally produced food means Nova Scotians are getting fresher, healthier food and practicing environmental responsibility, and it makes good economic sense, too.
My government will increase Buy Local efforts through an expanded Select Nova Scotia marketing and awareness campaign. These efforts will help educate Nova Scotians about where our food comes from while supporting farm growth, farmers’ markets, locally harvested fish, and direct marketing initiatives.
Ontario’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne has not only appointed herself as the Minister of Agriculture – elevating the status agriculture in that province to a level it so richly deserves – but she is also pressing forward with a comprehensive food act – the Ontario Local Food Act (bill 36). The purposes of the Bill are:
1) To foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems throughout Ontario
2) To increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food
3) To encourage the development of new markets for local food [Source: Local Food Act]
The Bill includes the establishment of local food goals and targets in consultation with stakeholders, ongoing work with public sector organizations to meet the goals and targets, regular reporting on efforts to support local food, and the establishment of “Celebrate Ontario Local Food Week” and other awareness activities.
And a whole new level of provincial government support for local foods was achieved when Quebec’s Premier, Pauline Marois declared Quebec’s food sovereignty and promised her government would aim to ensure 50% of the food on Quebec plates would be from nearby farms, rivers and lakes.
“Whether it is at the grocery store, at the restaurant or in Quebec homes, Quebec foods will be raised to the level of jewels of our economy and emblems of our identity,” Marois said in her rural riding of Charlevoix-Côte-de-Beaupré. (Source: The National Post, May 16, 2013).
Bottom line? ”The future for Farm to Cafeteria in this country is so bright – I need sunglasses”, says Joanne Bays, National Manager Farm to Cafeteria Canada