Adding Ecological Aspects to Ontario’s Local Food Act Considered Priority

-Guelph, Ontario

Just last week Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the introduction of a Local Food Act which, if passed, will promote food grown and made in Ontario by developing targets along the supply chain and supporting the sales and marketing of Ontario grown food.

“There are a lot of dots that need to be connected”, reported Ted McMeeken, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, in a CBC Radio interview last week, with the broader public sector being the main focus of the proposed Act.

“There’s the possibility of frankly targeting some of our innovation investments and research investments to projects that will see people embrace purchasing more local food,” stated Minister McMeekin.

“The Act gives all of our activities a focus, creates an expectation that we believe that there is a shared sense of purpose out there that we ought to be working towards,” he added.

The Organic Council of Ontario welcomes the announcement of the proposed Local Food Act. OCO worked with colleagues across the province through Sustain Ontario to provide input to the Ministry. The creation of this Act is an innovative step of the Government of Ontario to recognize the increasing importance of localizing the food system.

OCO will continue to communicate that ‘local’ is a proxy for many values. Often purchasers of local food choose and look out for products which are grown organically or without the use of chemical inputs. Many local food enthusiasts are looking for fundamental changes in our food system.  While the broad strokes of the Act are truly admirable, what defines ‘resilient and successful local food systems’ will determine the value of this Act for supporting food systems that are designed with environmental impact and human health in focus.

 OCO cautions the Ministry to ensure that ecological values are taken into account. “Local food is more than a postal code,” urges Industry Chair MattLeBeau. “OCO will continue to work with our colleagues across agriculture to support a shift toward sustaining farm and food practices”.

“This Act’s language focuses on increasing the scales of Ontario produced food – a goal we can certainly all support,” adds OCO’s Executive Director Jodi Koberinski. “We applaud the Ontario Government for its bold steps in creating this Act, and encourage the government to show leadership and make the connections between ‘resiliency’ and production approaches to ensure this Act is a catalyst for moving toward agro-ecological practices”.

 The Organic Council of Ontario supports organic agricultural and food production practices and links those working within the organic sector to provide leadership and support for the continued growth of the organic sector across Ontario.

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