The signs are not good. Two really great local food places have closed down in Wellington County this year. They were big players when I helped with the launch of the region’s taste~real local food brand in 2011. Over and over again, I hear people say that they love the idea of local food but few want to open their wallets and truly support local farmers and food businesses.
I experienced this personally operating a local food deli in 2006-7 and than trying to put it online in 2012-3. I made these experiences part of a case study I wrote for my Nuffield study about the local food movement in Ontario as compared to local food initiatives I saw in Europe. We continue to launch new initiatives – living the dream. But will they succeed? Or do we need an entirely new approach that is Canadian made, rooted in our sense of place? It is very different here than it is in Europe, where regions there are rooted in centuries of history and artisanal traditional foods.
Our landscapes are different and therefore, so are our farms and food systems. This image – like the Canadian Group of Seven paintings, makes me think of blueberries and cranberries, pure water, venison, wild rice, and Indigenous food preservation; conifers, ruggedness, rock, cold weather and sometimes, strong winds. How can we translate our soul of place (see Jones, M. 2014. The Soul of Place) to re-envision a ‘Made in Canada’ food story that is prosperous?
Grant money would be better spent here, discovering our true identity as a province with many cultures woven in.