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Buy Local At Christmas, MAFRI Minister Urges

Finding made-in-Manitoba gifts takes more time than simply hitting the mall and looking for bargains.

But that extra effort results not only in having unique and meaningful gifts to give to those hard-to-buy-for relatives and friends, it also puts money back into the local economy.

“Buying local benefits us all,” Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Stan Struthers said in a news release last week urging Manitobans to buy local and seek out foods, gifts and seasonal products created by local farmers, processors and craftspeople.

“The people who produce the raw materials, those who process and develop them along the value chain, the people who create new products and those who sell all this merchandise all contribute to the quality of life we enjoy here.”

Craft markets have been held across rural Manitoba every weekend the past six weeks as artisans from woolmakers to woodworkers marketed their wares.

Another ongoing “virtual gift show” is Uniquely Manitoba, an online marketing initiative that promotes the food, art, jewelry and clothing made locally to both local and world markets. The site features a huge variety of products from the wooden fishing lures salvaged from local trees created by Springsteinarea wood craftsman Doug Manness to the needle-felted art textures of Shetland sheep producer Linda Glowacki at Beausejour.

Uniquely Manitoba also produces a publication featuring the products offered for sale by entrepreneurs from throughout the province.

This past weekend Manitoba Food Processors Association also published a holiday season flyer to showcase the condiments, candy, baked goods and syrups and many other Manitoba-made processed foods that can be given as gifts or incorporated into festive feast preparations.

To help consumers identify local food products, MAFRI has produced a booklet, theManitoba Food Product Directory,accessible online as well as through MAFRI GO Centres.

The availability of made-in- Manitoba foods has been a draw to her small-town’s flower and gift shop, says MacGregor business owner and area farmer Laurelly Beswitherick. She opened the doors on the Bison Boutique – so named for its focus on Manitoba-produced goods – five years ago.

Beswitherick says she’s limited her inventory of giftware items to those top-quality goods that display well in her store. She continues to source a wide range of Manitoba foods from about a dozen suppliers across the province.

“Manitoba food products continue to be a big draw for us,” she said. She carries products like Manitoba maple syrup, Morden’s chocolates, Nature’s Pasta and Danny’s Whole Hog Barbecue sauce. Food products often end up in custom-made gift baskets for corporate gift giving and for travellers heading outside Manitoba or overseas, she said.

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Thepeoplewhoproducetherawmaterials, thosewhoprocessanddevelopthemalongthe valuechain,thepeoplewhocreatenewproducts andthosewhosellallthismerchandiseall contributetothequalityoflifeweenjoyhere.”

– MAFRI MINISTER STAN STRUTHERS

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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