G.R.E.A.T. Local Food
About this Project
The title G.R.E.A.T. Local Food Project comes from an acronym which represents the goals of this project — to promote people who grow local food; to promote people who raise local food; to increase the amount who eat local food; to ensure that we have accessible local food; and ultimately, to end up with thriving local food systems in Huron County.
This project is a partnership between Gateway Centre of Excellence In Rural Health and Libro Credit Union, which has generously provided funding through their Local Food Accessibility Pillar aimed at growing prosperity within Southwestern Ontario.
For more detailed information on the background and aim of this project click the link below.
The first essential component of social justice is adequate food.
-Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize 1970
Explore what Huron County has to offer...
Huron County has the privileged position of hosting a wide array of local food vendors. These businesses form the foundation of our local food systems, by providing our community with a diverse selection of quality products. To help you explore all that Huron County has to offer we have created an interactive map highlighting local businesses. We invite you to investigate all the County has to offer!
The map is organized into 5 categories:
1) Fruits and Vegetables (green leafy icon)
2) Meat and Dairy (red barn icon)
3) Beverages (blue glass icon)
4) Specialty Products (orange bag icon)
5) Local Food Retailers (purple grocery icon)
6) Bakeries (pink cutlery icon)
Benefits of choosing local food
There is significant value in investing within your own community. By purchasing locally grown food, the dollar value recirculates and exponentially multiplies throughout the local community. It is estimated that $100 spent towards country-specific local food programs has an economic impact of $148 (1). A strong economy is crucial to citizens' quality of life and will help rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic. The local food economy supports the job market and future generations, thereby promoting youth to stay rural. Finally, the increased freshness and value of local food not only tastes better but allows you to save money through less food waste and more conscious eating -- it's a win-win!
Whether you are looking for a health-centered, nutrient-dense meal, or an indulgent treat, local food is here to help! With such strong diversity among the products available within Huron County, local food can help you consume a balanced selection of foods to meet your personal nutritional goals. The general Canadian diet is still considered to fall short of recommended healthy eating patterns (2). Local food can assist individuals in improving their nutrition and overall health. Additionally, local food is on average fresher than other food sources, meaning you get a bigger nutritional "bang for your buck" when you eat local.
There is a strong culture associated with local food. Eating food from close to home that follows the natural progression of the seasons fosters a unique connection. This connection is strengthened by the sense of security local food offers by bypassing complex global supply chains. Furthermore, the vast bounty available in Huron County's local food offers the possibility of exploring new and exciting food products, which can be prepared and preserved in a host of different ways. Engaging with local food systems can help you be a part of this culture and pass it on through generations. Local food culture also possesses the ability to facilitate community building, through endeavors such as increased agricultural tourism (3).
Local food does not have to travel as far to reach your plate, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and individual carbon footprint through lower transportation pollutants. By encouraging sustainable agricultural practices, local food benefits the surrounding flora and fauna to promote biodiversity and land preservation. Finally, with over 60% of Ontario's food waste reaching landfills and increasing methane production, the freshness and quality of local food could contribute to a reduction in food waste (4).
(1) Shideler, D., & Watson, P. (2019). Making Change through Local Food Production: Calculating the Economic Impact of Your Local Food Project. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 8(C), 165–177.
(2) Boucher, B. A., Manafò, E., Boddy, M. R., Roblin, L., & Truscott, R. (2017). The Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy: identifying indicators of food access and food literacy for early monitoring of the food environment. Health promotion and chronic disease prevention in Canada: research, policy and practice, 37(9), 313–319.
(3) Giampiccoli, A. and Kalis, J.H. (2012), Tourism, Food, and Culture: Community-Based Tourism, Local Food, and Community Development in Mpondoland. CAFÉ, 34: 101-123.
(4) Government of Ontario. (2021, July 29). Food and organic waste framework. Ontario.ca. Retrieved September 1, 2021, from https://www.ontario.ca/page/food-and-organic-waste-frame work.
Further readings on the benefits of local food
Government of Ontario: Local food in Ontario
Foodland Ontario: Why buy local?
McGill University: The benefits of eating local foods
Niagara region farmers' markets: Local food systems and sustainability considerations"
Going local": Farmers' perspectives on local food systems in rural Canada
Bridging sustainability and the social economy: Achieving community transformation through local food initiatives