Supporting Local is More Important than Ever!

BY JODI KOBERINSKI, Executive Director, Organic Council of Ontario

So how will the worst North American wide drought on record impact the availability and price of products in Ontario? OCO asked Jennifer Pfenning, Vice Chair of the Organic Council of Ontario and a co-owner of Pfenning’s Organics, who deals with the ups and downs of the produce market on a daily basis. Currently the drought is driving prices up. How much? “It’s not a simple matter of a percentage price increase- the market is much more complex than that”, she says.

For example, the early heat and dry weather means earlier harvesting than normal and for shorter periods. This situation results in more volume needing to be moved in a given time frame, which “depresses the price and shortens the time frame the product is sold- and not just organic! All Ontario produce is impacted this way”.

So will Ontario product be priced out of competition? “Our imported products come from places that have had drought as well and those prices are affected”. What Ontario products do end up on shelves will certainly bear witness to the tough season Ontario farmers have faced in 2012. “Insect pressure, like last year, is crazy high and so quality and appearance has been impacted: flea beetles are damaging greens, so you have lacy leaves on radishes for example… the insects have taken their share, the rest of the radish is perfectly good”.

As with most farmers, Jennifer Pfenning takes a wider view of the situation. “We are sharing with nature here!” OCO is urging shoppers to consider the importance of quality and taste over appearance now more than ever. Sharing the burden of a rough season with Ontario’s farmers by continuing to support local even as prices climb and availability is spotty.


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