Consumers who are incorporating a "Buy Local" philosophy into their
weekly shopping strategy can satisfy most of their produce needs with
products grown within their regions, or at least grown within their
province, well through the winter.
Because we work in the industry, we assume everyone in Canada knows about the almost year-round local production of vegetables, primarily tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and eggplant.
However, our assumption would be wrong. I'm not sure most Canadians know what is grown in the traditional "off-season" here. Many do, but are they the majority? Is it a growing number of consumers, or are have those numbers been holding constant over the years?
A case in point was a recent story in the Canadian Press about a chef at a prestigious restaurant in Eastern Canada who was developing a new menu based on locally sourced products. "I'm about to rework my menu for the coming season and I want it to reflect the fact that everything here is local," said the chef. "Tomatoes and berries don't grow here in the winter, so you won't see them on my plates."
There's at least one major greenhouse vegetable facility within a few hours' drive of the restaurant. Berries may be off the plate, but the chef would have no problem using locally grown tomatoes through much of the winter.
We can't take the domestic market for granted. There is considerable growth potential here. Reminding culinary associations and trade groups what they can source "in their backyards" is time well spent.
What do you think? Would local restaurants and retailers pay a premium for locally grown winter produce? Is the Buy Local philosophy showing up in domestic winter sales?
|Written by Paul & Hilda de Jonge on 2009-11-12 15:06:25|
I was just reading your article about the chefs. How true that is. We service quite a few restaurants in Alberta, and only a few are very much aware of what is happening on the farm. That is why we charter 3 busload of chefs and cooks to come to our farms in Southern Alberta so they can see. Most of them are from Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise. The trip is free to the chefs, but we hope that it leaves an impression and they don’t forget about us during our season. We partner with other producers so they too can showcase their products.
As a grower, it is not that hard to grow a product, the biggest challenge is to get the product on time to the customer. Most have very small coolers and need delivery two times per week.
Paul & Hilda de Jonge
|Written by Karl Fiander on 2009-11-12 15:06:47|
To answer your question about whether consumers know about locally grown winter produce...I would say “NO” because produce managers in the major stores seem to have little control over where their buyers source vegetables so no power to select the source translates into apathy. Last winter I pressed local stores to answer why Canadian greenhouse tomatoes were not on the shelf but Mexican hothouse tomatoes were. I for one, would pay a premium for a local or even a Canadian product, but I wasn’t given the choice.
Seems like there is a need to lobby the buyers and wholesalers to get the message across that “localvores” are a real trend for some very good reasons.
Vice President Lawn and Turf