Buying and eating local food is very popular in Canada. It has led to more farmers’ markets, local food stores, and food hubs in all parts of Canada, and “Buy local” campaigns encourage Canadians to support farmers and food producers in their areas by eating the fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese and yogurt, jams, honeys, or other goods they’ve produced. Not only does that direction support jobs and businesses in local communities, it can also reduce food’s environmental footprint if a product comes from a farm 20 minutes away, compared with being shipped thousands of kilometres. The definition of “local” varies, however, and can refer to a region, province, or even the entire country.
Food imports and food miles
Every crop is ready for harvest and eating at a different time of the year. In Canada, asparagus is one of the earliest-harvested vegetable crops in the spring, and peaches are a popular summer favourite. You might not notice the seasonality of these crops, though, because today, we can buy imported strawberries, asparagus, or sweet corn at the grocery store all year long. That means that at certain times of the year, the food miles or distance a popular food item has to travel to get from farm to market is much higher than usual. And there are other foods we love that we can’t grow here at all, like coffee, pineapples, cocoa, and avocados, so we import them from countries that are able to grow them.