“Canada is food and the world is richer for it.” – Anita Stewart, founder Food Day Canada

On August 5, 2023, the nation is celebrating Food Day Canada—a day of appreciation for the bounty of Canadian produce and the people who produce it! Although Food Day Canada has been observed for 20 years, this year marks the first iteration of the event as a nationally recognized day of celebration.

It’s no coincidence that Food Day Canada falls on the August long weekend, which sees families and friends come together to revel in the last weeks of summer. In honour of Food Day Canada, why not pledge to buy, cook, and eat Canadian this holiday long weekend?
Food Day Canada was founded by the late Anita Stewart (1947-2020), a food journalist, activist, historian, radio personality, and Food Laureate at the University of Guelph (appointed 2012). In 2003, Stewart held “The World’s Longest BBQ” to celebrate and support Canada’s beef producers after an outbreak of mad cow diseases (BSE) rocked the industry.

What began as a one-time grassroots event, expanded to become an annual event celebrating the wider Canadian food industry, as well as a registered non-profit organization under the same name, Food Day Canada. 

Food Day Canada’s values include celebrating Canadian-made foods and beverages, and the Canadians who farm and manufacture them. The organization also supports research and education surrounding Canada’s food cultures, fostering sustainable food practices and food security, and promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the industry.

The organization’s website aims to make shopping and dining Canadian easier by featuring a variety of recipes that call for Canadian produce, and an interactive map and list showcasing restaurants, markets, and venues that will be observing Food Day Canada with special menus and activities. You will find London’s own Abruzzi restaurant featured there!

Canadians are also welcomed to show their support of the Canadian Food industry, by pledging “to support Food Day Canada and shine a light on Canadian food and farming.” Pledge as a ‘proud Canadian’ or as a farmer, food-related organisation, restaurant, or retailer. Organisations or businesses that pledge their support are recognized as ‘Food Day Canada pledge partners’ and may use the Food Day Canada logo and brand in their promotions for their August 5th events. Finally, you can make your support for Canadian food known using the #FoodDayCanada hashtag this long weekend, and tagging @FoodDayCanada in posts celebrating the national food scene and the people who make it possible.

Food Day Canada comes along at a time of widespread uncertainty in international food markets, which together with economic inflation, is pushing up grocery costs and making it harder for Canadians to purchase food according to their values (such as buying local).

For us at the Middlesex London Food Policy Council, every day is ‘food day.’ As Stewart said, “Canada is food,” and each day represents another opportunity to learn why supporting our local and national food producers is essential to improving the economic condition of this country and its citizens. We hope that the newly, nationally-recognized Food Day Canada will foster the appreciation and conversation needed to make Canadian food a daily and not just annual celebration.

By Siobhan Watters

Know Your Food: Janan Dean of Proof Line Farm

To celebrate Local Food Week 2023, we thought it would be great to highlight local food producers who participated in our Know Your Food event last fall. For a summary of the event, see our previous blog post!

Proof Line Farm is co-owned by Janan Dean, alongside her husband Steve McNaughten and brother-in-law, Mike McNaughten. In operation as far back as 1850, the family farm produces and sells dairy products, beef, eggs, honey, and more.

Although Janan did not grow up farming or raising animals, it is clear that she has embraced her role as Co-Owner and Head of Marketing at Proof Line Farm with passion.

With a background in social work, working in non-profit organizations, and provincial politics, Janan’s focus is also on fostering better connections between rural agriculture and the larger food system, understanding the colonial history of her farm and the land surrounding it, and food literacy. She is, after all, the current Chair of the MLFPC Executive Committee! 

Given Janan’s fervour for the food system, it was a surprise to hear that she and her husband really had no desire to take over the family farm–at first. But a year of travel, culminating in a live-work experience at a micro-dairy outside of Melbourne in Australia, inspired the couple to invest themselves and new ideas in Proof Line Farm.

They were inspired by the micro-dairying process and the ways that small batch production could respond to local needs in more sustainable ways. Janan, Mike, and Steve are now “guiding the vision for the next stage of the farm.”

Janan and her family balance an operation including 50 Holstein dairying cows, a small set of Angus-cross beef cows, 50 ISA red hens, sweet corn and field corn crops, and rotations of wheat and soybeans. This balance is made possible, in part, because of their recently installed robotic milking operation, where cows learn to milk themselves(!), and the family’s labour can be turned to other new initiatives. 

Sustainability is central to Proof Line Farm’s vision. This is already being realized in practices such as growing 85% of its own animal feed, moving to low-till methods of cultivation that promote better soil health, and in the symbiotic pairing of hens and cows on the farm. These animals must, in fact, be kept separate for bio-security reasons, but as they are rotated around the farm pastures, hens peck at the fertilizer the cows leave behind, eating the bugs that pester the cows. Future goals include investing in a bio-digester, which captures methane and converts it into usable energy, which could be recycled on-farm. Janan also spoke of wanting to fully close the loop of dairy production. This would include turning byproducts like whey (9 lbs of which are produced for every 1 lb of cheese) into new consumer products rather than using it in animal feed or, worse, throwing it away as is common industry practice.

As it grows and innovates, Proof Line Farm is becoming a notable example of community stewardship and local food advocacy. As its lead farmer, Mike is enthusiastic about the care and welfare of their animals and shares this enthusiasm with the community by offering tours to local youth groups, girl guides, and scouts. Farm tours have also been available on Saturdays, when Proof Line Farms opens its farm stand to sell their beef, corn, and other produce. Through the week, however, Proof Line Farm shows their faith in community with their self-serve “Honesty Wagon.” Here, customers can purchase fresh eggs with cash, E-transfer, or a QR code posted on the unattended cart. Eggs, says Janan, are the “hot item at the farm.” 

Finally, despite many challenges with permitting during the pandemic, Janan and her family have been planning the construction of an on-site creamery and permanent farm store, which would also provide a space for agricultural education programs. At Know Your Food last year, Janan expressed her hope that Proof Line Farm would see its new facilities built in Summer 2023 and, indeed, their website reports that their farm market building will open this August! 

Until the new farm store is operational, the online shop for Proof Line Farm is closed. However, you can celebrate Local Food Week by visiting their Honesty Wagon any day of the week for fresh eggs, jams, and honey! We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this innovative operation.

Know Your Food: Phillip Crunican of Crunican Orchards

To celebrate Local Food Week 2023, we thought it would be great to highlight local food producers who participated in our Know Your Food event last fall. For a summary of the event, see our previous blog post

Panelist and Apple Farmer Phillip Crunican arrived at Know Your Food with over 100 years farming experience in his genes.

While apples are the main product of the Crunican farm now, it was once a full-farm operation, with field crops and livestock. In 1910, Phillip’s grandfather planted their first apple trees on five acres of land. Before introducing motorized machinery in the 1950s, crops were sprayed and produce was transported by horse-drawn carts.

Apples and other produce were sold out of the Crunican farmhouse and barn. A sign told customers to “Blow your horn” when they drove up to receive service from the house. The farm shop, built in 1950, is still operating today and is home not only to Crunican Orchards’ direct sale of apples, but also offers a variety of items from other local producers, such as Bacon Acres Farm, Filsinger’s Organic Foods, and Ferguson Apiaries, to name just a few.

Under the care of Phillip and his family, the orchard has grown to produce almost twenty varieties of apple. While his grandfather originally planted 20 trees to an acre, the Crunicans now plant 400 trees to an acre. This is still a low-density rate of planting compared to other orchards who may plant up to 2,000 trees per acre.

In his talk, Phillip observed that “the industry is certainly changing a lot since my grandpa first started planting trees.” Instead of closing the farm shop each summer, the use of new controlled atmosphere storage technology means that their apples can be sold to customers year-round. This means the shop continues to support fellow producers by carrying their products year-round, too.

Even with the expansion of the farm and use of new technologies, some things remain the same at Crunican Orchards. For instance, each apple is hand-picked and hand-graded by a local workforce before being packaged for sale.

At the opening of Know Your Food, speaker Ray John asked the audience to look at their hands, and to think about and appreciate the hands that grow our food. Phillip and his family could not be more hands-on in feeding their local customers and the wider community, both with apples and by sharing space with other food businesses. With that level of care, it’s no surprise that Crunican Orchards remained a trusted source of produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which proved to be the busiest years for the farm store so far. 

This Local Food Week, head to Crunican Orchards for a honeycrisp apple, the farm’s most sought-after variety. Or how about a russet apple, a variety first propagated over 300 years ago and still popular today?

“Come & Crunch!” says the farm’s website and, we say, go and appreciate Crunican Orchards’ century-plus-long tradition of family farming and community stewardship!

Written by Siobhan Watters

Now Online! Know Your Food: Grow, Eat, Understand

The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) is pleased to inform you that the video recording of our “Know Your Food” event is now online!

The day proved to be enlightening for our presenters and over 100 in-person and online attendees. Read on for a summary of the event including points of interest that emerged during the discussions.

Stay tuned! We will be posting more detailed blogs about the event’s panels in the coming months.


On November 5th, 2022, MLFPC welcomed representatives from the agrifood sector, food literacy advocates, and the public to The Grove at Western Fair for a day-long event to explore and exchange ideas about the food system.

The event featured an array of guest speakers and panels addressing three key themes of food literacy: GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND.

Ray John of the Oneida Nation, a Knowledge Sharer and Cultural Advisor to the London Catholic School Board, set the tone for the event. He asked us to think about and be thankful for the food we eat and the many hands that put their energy into producing and distributing it for the people of Middlesex-London. Our food is the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who work in agri-business in the area.

As moderator Lella Bloomer observed, agri-food accounts for more than 1/4 of all businesses in Middlesex County and has a $1.2 bill annual impact, with 7,800 jobs and $290 million in wages and salaries.

The themes GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND allowed presenters and audience participants to examine the breadth of the food system, exploring developments and challenges in agri-food production and processing; food distribution and retailing; urban agriculture and local food markets; food access and education; as well as raising difficult questions about sustainability and those underserved by our current food system.

The recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising energy costs, along with rising food prices, emerged as important concerns during the event, as did the continuing legacy of colonialism and colonial food practices on the traditional Indigenous lands of the county.

While food systems and politics have become increasingly global in scope, the event was a rare opportunity to engage with stakeholders and issues directly linked to Middlesex-London—one we hope to repeat in the future!

“Know Your Food” would not have been possible without the work of MLFPC members and volunteers who put the event together over the course of eight months, with funding provided by the London Community Recovery Network.

The other essential ingredients for the event were the space and resources provided by The Grove and Growing Chefs! Ontario. The Grove is located at the Western Fair District in a facility once earmarked for demolition, but which has now become an agri-business hub and incubator. Growing Chefs! Ontario is one of many organisations that make their home there. Not only did Andrew Fleet, Executive Director of Growing Chefs!, deliver a compelling talk about the importance of food access and literacy for youth and their families; the organization also provided a nutritious lunch for participants and guests. It featured traditional Indigenous and locally-produced foods, including bison chili, kale salad, and apple crisp.

We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this event a success and for the collaborative spirit fostered at The Grove by our moderators, panellists, and attendees!

What’s Next?

“Know Your Food” was a unique event, exploring important issues and asking important questions about food literacy.

One of the most challenging questions was: how can we honour and continue to pursue reconciliation with the traditional Indigenous peoples of this land through our food system?

We must continue to ask ourselves and our regional governments these challenging questions. We hope the MLFPC will be a driver of conversations and action that make our food system resilient, sustainable, and inclusive for everyone.

The MLFPC’s goal is to foster connections and knowledge exchange among stakeholders of the local food system. We want you to know your food system and to become invested in it.

The event featured several volunteer-run organisations that could use your time and support, including Growing Chefs! Ontario, Urban Roots London, and the MLFPC itself!

Written by Siobhan Watters

Food Literacy – Now Included in Ontario’s Science Curriculum

A win for Ontario kids! On March 8, 2022, the Ontario government released its plan to update the province’s elementary science curriculum to include lessons on food literacy taught. What does this mean?

The new curriculum will be implemented in September 2022. Students from Grades 1-8 will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change with a food systems lens. For example:

  • Grade 3 students will learn about soil health management and assess the benefits and limitations of locally grown food. They will also explore various plants and foods traditionally grown by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
  • Grade 5 students will develop the food literacy skills necessary for making informed decisions on physical and mental health behaviours.
  • Grade 6 students will discover how biodiversity interacts with agriculture and climate change.
  • Grade 7 students will explore how ecosystems are impacted by various methods of agricultural and food harvesting practices.
  • Grade 8 students will be introduced to food processing systems.

These changes come after Bill 216, Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020, passed its second reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This bill amends the Education Act to ensure students from Grades 1-12 have opportunities to learn about food through experiential learning activities. Currently, Bill 216 is being reviewed by a standing committee. It will have to then be reported to House, undergo a third reading, and require royal assent before it officially becomes law.

Although there’s more to do before Bill 216 becomes law, we hope that these curriculum changes foreshadow a positive outcome. In the meantime, we are pleased to see the Ontario government acting now to ensure Ontario kids learn how to connect to food. Developing food literacy skills is vital for kids to improve individual and community health. Preparing tomorrow’s food leaders for making meaningful changes in our food system starts in the classroom.

For more information on the curriculum changes, check out: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1001722/ontario-modernizing-school-science-curriculum and https://sustainontario.com/2022/03/11/food-literacy-included-in-new-gr-1-8-ontario-science-and-technology-curriculum/

To learn more about how a bill becomes law in Ontario, please see: https://www.ola.org/sites/default/files/common/how-bills-become-law-en.pdf

Written by Julissa Litterick

The Global Food Supply Chain is Already Morphing

Given the numerous and complex challenges facing its flow of operation, the global food supply chain has been able to hold up surprisingly well in these last six months of the pandemic. Two key points are vital here, however.

To begin with, it’s weakening at some key pressure points in the delivery and supply system in ways that don’t offer an easy fix. Farm workers in developing regions of the globe, where vast amounts of our food originate, have fallen victim to COVID-19 and the spread among them continues. Transport centres – docks, ports, airstrips, train and road depots – have fallen prey to giant shutdowns as prevention measures are implemented to contain the spread of the virus. Similar problems confront the regional transport centres in the Europe and North America.

And then there is the point researchers and developers have been warning about for decades: the global supply chain is massively wasteful, environmentally threatening, and guilty of poor labour practices, including poor pay. But food gets delivered fairly cheaply to our communities, prompting little thought, or challenge, to getting mass appeal for developing a more sustainable and local alternative.

COVID is now changing all of that and it’s bringing about levels of innovation and collaboration that can be revolutionary should they survive the pandemic era.

We recall the early days of the virus, where consumers hoarded what they could acquire, leaving shelves empty and the on-demand supply in serious jeopardy. While Canada fared moderately well in this area, we all remember the lines at food banks and relief centres from around the world. The strains on grocery stores and markets were enormous. Food is a necessity and essential to our survival, and because of that it places grocery employees in the crosshairs of virus spread.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that such challenges only arrived with the pandemic; in reality, they were already the pressure points of a global food system that was sagging under its own inefficiencies. What COVID has done is brought these issues out into the open and caused many to seek for alternative solutions to the one-size-fits-all practice that has been blindly accepted for decades.

And as a result, practices are slowly changing. We are seeing cooler doors in grocery stores now triggered by foot pedals instead of pulled by handles, thereby limiting physical contact. The flow around some stores is looking more like a traffic grid than the hodgepodge that existed previously, making social distance easier to achieve.  “Everything is on the table for reassessment,” one Loblaws executive told us recently and it remains unsure what the future of grocery stores will entail.  How will they mitigate risk, flow people, keep their food decontaminated, insure the protection of their staffs just as much as their customers? Will they turn more readily to a pick-up model, where customers order their supplies online and then slip through grocery store parking lots to pick up their supplies without ever leaving their cars? This is already being implemented in some locations.

That’s just what’s happening within stores; what’s taking place beyond them is even more pattern-breaking. Delivery of food supplies is going through the roof, including from restaurants. Thousands are purchasing directly from farms in a pattern that avoids excessive social contact but also gets buyers all that much closer to fresh food.

This might appear temporary, but the longer it continues the more it makes sense. It’s not all just about convenience and price, but about safety, food sourcing, the pursuit of local solutions, and the desire to fight climate change along the way. Previously, food was part of a giant system of transportation and convenience; it is now morphing into something more organic, community-minded, safer, more environmentally minded, and, above all, healthier.

What we assumed would be a temporary adaptation to survive a crisis is rapidly on its way to becoming something transformative. We are all understanding more clearly that COVID won’t be our last pandemic – we have already experienced over 20 in the last three decades – and that we can’t just kept altering our lifestyles every few years to adapt in the moment. These new practices aren’t about surviving pandemics but actually stopping them, through better growing, producing, selling and consumption practices.

All this tends to point to a future of systems change. There will be huge effects on the industry and some components may not survive. Consumers will have to think more about how they go about acquiring their food. In the end, however, these changes could put a serious dent in climate change, wasted food, more conscientious citizenry, and governments that develop policies that are better than just bottom-line advantages.  In the next blog, we’ll take a look at what that might look like.

Glen Pearson

Co-Executive Director

London Food Bank

Thinking Differently About Food

For decades activists for a local fresh food revolution have pressed decision makers, , businesses, marketers and consumers to focus more on the need to look closer to home for food supply chains.  It’s been a tough slog, full of ups and downs, as they have always been in competition with a global supply chain that offered variety, availability and consistency, at the same time as it prompted environmental damage, demeaning wages and monopolized service.

The arrival of the Coronavirus has changed all that, as people begin looking closer to home for their food as a way of fending off the threat of the pandemic. It’s no accident that demand for locally grown food has skyrocketed, nor that the supply of growing amenities like greenhouses are backlogged. It turns out that all those ideas furthered by the “grow and purchase local” movement had serious merit after all and communities are in the process of catching up.

In a time when individuals and families face emerging insecurity about the things that they touch and the food they eat, there is a growing concern about digesting food from thousands of miles away from a grouping of just a few food conglomerates that we don’t really know or see. It’s a valid concern, and despite the reality that the global food supply chain has proved remarkably durable despite the pandemic, customers increasingly look for food that is more natural, fresh and local.

It turns out that we can visualize that transformation by looking at our own communities. In London, Ontario, as an example, local grocery stores are cooperating with City Hall in diverting tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce each month from the landfills and getting them, still fresh, to the local food bank for distribution to needy families. It’s an environmental measure that has real social consequence.

Farmers and growers in the region are taking part in a federal COVID initiative called the Surplus Food Rescue Program, in part to ensure that more locally grown foodstuffs get into the communities that require them in a time of emergency.

Such measures are urgently required, but there are more long-lasting activities getting new opportunities and exposure that are destined to continue long after the pandemic has receded into the history books. Things like urban gardens, food trees, even a large greenhouse being constructed at the back of the food bank, are signs of things that will endure past COVID.

The transformation of the farming industry in recent decades has led to the closing of thousands of farms in the global race for the bottom line. That has left some growers and producers well-positioned to take advantage of such monopolies but the majority of farmers have openly expressed their desire to get back to the practice of supplying the communities around them and being part of healthy living as opposed to just cheap goods. And they do have an advantage on their side at present, as this pandemic has proved the point that local has better stability, knowledge and nutrition advantages over the current global supply and can easily endure in all conditions and not just pandemics.

In almost every sector of Canadian communities there is continually voiced the theme of “building back better.”  Nowhere is this more valid than in the food industry. In every facet of food supply – grain, produce, fisheries, agriculture, to name a few – there are new incentives to get more local food into stores, markets and homes. At a time when global consumption is under scrutiny, the prospect of healthy farms and healthy food is just the ticket millions of Canadians are looking for.

But within all this positive movement lies an abiding threat. While it’s all beneficial, municipalities and communities aren’t effectively resourcing the infrastructure necessary for the long-term health of the local food supply chain. For the sake of future food security, investments must be made in enhancing local food markets, more efficient water management, needed environmental adaptation, clearer education for the benefits of locally grown foodstuffs, the effective redirection of local food from the global chain to the community where it is grown, and the overall design to turn our communities into food-secure areas. No COVID-19 recovery plan designed by any community can be truly effective without such measures.

The great threat is if we just lazily recede back into the spending patterns and growing practices of life before the pandemic. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now or in the future. Communities are moving in the local food direction because it makes sense and not just because it secures us in a time of pandemic. We need to build food and ecosystem resiliency and this pandemic has perhaps given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally get to what we should have been doing all along.

The next few blogs will look further into this challenge each day, but for now we should all be looking for food systems change and not just for an emergency plan to get us through some difficult days.

Glen Pearson

Co-Executive Director

London Food Bank

Community Gardens: Food, not Recreation

When the Government of Ontario closed parks, playing fields, and other “recreational amenities,” community gardens were included in the list.  On behalf of the thousands of Ontarians who rely on these gardens for food, we urgently call on the government to classify community gardens as essential food services, allowing the gardens to open in time for spring preparations and planting.

The COVID-19 pandemic is dire and forceful governmental action is certainly warranted; at the same time, the gardens, like other essential food services, could easily operate in a way that does not add to the health risks. Even though community gardens are not commercial food operations, they provide proven benefits for individuals and communities: for us, one role that stands out as crucial is the community’s food security.

Closing community gardens now effectively means that thousands of people will lose access to tonnes of fresh, local fruit and produce from their own community gardens and from the shelves of our food banks and other hunger relief organizations who benefit from those gardens. It won’t matter whether the restrictions are lifted later in the summer because without garden preparation and planting this spring, the entire growing season will be lost. We need to be in the gardens on the dry, warm days now for there to be fresh produce in August. The loss of an entire season’s worth of fresh, local fruit and produce would be a devastating blow even in a normal year, but we all know that there is nothing normal about the current situation. The loss of this season’s harvest will be much worse for our communities.

The unprecedented economic collapse we are living through is already driving up the need for emergency food services, and that need is expected to keep rising, putting additional pressure on organizations providing hunger relief. Food costs are also projected to keep rising, pushing the need for emergency food services even higher. COVID-19 is expected to result in agricultural labor shortages this summer and fall, further impacting food costs and possibly affecting production, resulting in sporadic food shortages, further destabilizing our communities’ food security. Even if there is significant funding put into emergency hunger relief later this year, without community gardens there will not be the tonnes of fresh, local fruit and produce readily available to fill that need. Food insecurity also has a curve that needs to be flattened; because community gardens are one measure for flattening it, keeping them closed steepens the curve.

Given the importance of community gardens in supporting  families, communities, and  local food banks and charitable hunger relief organizations, the closure of these gardens this spring constitutes a threat to communities’ food security at an especially vulnerable and treacherous time. They don’t have to be closed as part of the fight against COVID-19. The same physical distancing practices and protocols recommended for other essential agriculture and food services can be applied to community garden spaces (see our website for a set of recommendations). Many other locales across Canada and the US, including the province of BC, have recognized community gardens as essential food services permitted to operate under physical distancing protocols. We urge the government of Ontario to do the same, and we call on all Ontarians to support this critical action.

Benjamin Hill, chairperson
Middlesex-London Food Policy Council

Skylar Franke, executive director
London Environmental Network

Becky Ellis, chair
London Urban Beekeepers Collective
Permaculture for the People

Stephen Harrott,
Friends of Urban Agriculture London (FUAL)

Community Gardens are Essential Food Services

The Middlesex London Food Policy Council is joining Sustain Ontario and other organizations provincewide to call on the government of Ontario to identify community gardens as essential food services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The provincial government’s statement on Monday includes community gardens in the list of outdoor recreational amenities to remain closed until at least April 13, which places the season for those gardens at risk. More importantly, identifying community gardens as recreational rather than as part of the food production and distribution system understates the important role the gardens fill.

The City of London’s urban agriculture strategy emphasizes the importance of urban agriculture to provide access to nutritious and affordable food, improve physical and mental health and quality of life, and contribute to a sustainable, resilient food system. Research additionally supports these claims about the benefits of community gardens in urban spaces. There are 17 active community gardens within the city. Across the province, tens of thousands of families rely on community gardens for food.

According to Sustain Ontario, “This model of community food production is seen as integral to the COVID-19 response in countries throughout the world, particularly as food prices increase and global food supplies are increasingly uncertain. Food banks also receive literally tonnes of much needed fresh food from local community gardening efforts in communities all around Ontario.” The province of BC includes in its list of essential services: “food cultivation, including farming, livestock, aquaculture and fishing, and businesses that support the food supply chain, as well as community gardens and subsistence agriculture”.

For more information please contact:
Benjamin Hill, MLFPC Chair

Processing Vegetable Growers lose critical bargaining power

On December 11, 2019 Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released a statement describing the amendments to Regulation 440. The changes will no longer allow the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) board the ability to negotiate on behalf of growers to ensure contracts are paid as negotiated. Growers are busy doing what they do best…producing food. Losing their collective bargaining power is removing a tool from their toolbox, leaving growers to take on more risk. This will result in growers feeling ignored and unsupported to make the best business decision.

In an ideal world, policies, subsidies and insurance programs would be made in the best interest of the growers. This contributes to a healthier, more sustainable food system as the growers are the closest to the land and have the knowledge about best practices. We all have an obligation to ensure that farm businesses are able to operate in a profitable and sustainable way.

There is tremendous value to organized, collective marketing for all Ontario growers, but only ifthe growers are supported in the process.  It takes work to come up with creative and innovative solutions and we need to have confidence and curiosity to pursue changes. Let’s get serious about our food system. Peggy is right we are dealing with real farmers, real families, real communities…without their success we have no food system.