What would it be like if farmers ruled the world…or at least the culinary one? If farmers were in your kitchen stocking your fridge? Imagine what it would be like if farmers were in the classroom teaching our children about our local food system. Or, if farmers were in charge of creating and preparing restaurant menus.
This week, June 1-7 is Local Food Week. By buying local, we are filling our fridges and our diets with seasonal, delicious, nutritious and budget-friendly items all year long! By buying local, we support our local food systems, local farmers and our local economy.
We are very fortunate here in the WDG community because there are lots of opportunities to access fresh local foods including Farmer’s Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farms, fresh food boxes filled with local and sustainable produce, and our local grocery stores (be sure to look for “product of Ontario”).
To find out more about creative food initiatives happening in our communities that you can get involved in, check out Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance. You can even use local food maps and events to broaden your culinary horizons and discover new corners of our Dufferin, Wellington and Guelph communities! Really, what better way is there to explore a town, city, county or country than through its local food?
Public Health has been participating in many food conversations across our region. We’ve heard that our communities value local food and understand the connection between a strong local food movement and improved health in our community. We also understand the value in supporting our local food as part of a vibrant local economy and long-term sustainable food systems.
At Public Health, we are especially proud of the leadership role that has been embraced, and the work our schools are doing to teach students about local food and food skills. The Food School at Centre Wellington District High School is an excellent example of integrating food skills like cooking and growing into their educational model. St. James High School and College Heights in Guelph and Orangeville District High School are also leaders in the area of food skills and use of local foods.
Can you imagine a food club where students bring home a knapsack full of local seasonal food and recipes, with the skills to help prepare the fresh items for dinner? Well, in Dufferin and Erin schools these aren’t imagined activities, they are a reality. Schools are taking part in the Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance Farm to School programs. It is our hope that with the help of this and similar programs, this imagined circumstance will soon turn into a reality in all our community schools.
Gone are the days of chocolate bar fundraising! It is important to offer our schools, teachers and students a holistic health approach to local foods. The Fresh from the Farm fundraiser is a pilot program our school boards are participating in and continues to support the idea of healthy eating habits for kids and families, while supporting schools and Ontario farmers through the sale of local produce.
The funds raised are split as follows:
- 40% of all sales go to the schools
- 50% of all sales go to the farmers
- 10% of all sales are retained to maintain the fundraising program
Suggest this to your schools, or, as a teacher sign up your school today, and next fall students could be fundraising with boxes of apples or bundles of carrots instead of chocolate bars and candy!
So, in honour of Local Food Week, get out to your local Farmer’s Market, or buy Ontario produce at the grocery store, and enjoy what our local farmers have to offer us!
What is your favourite local food item? Share with us below!