Farmers should be as much a part of Thanksgiving as family gatherings and turkey dinners, says NDP MP Malcolm Allen who wants the Friday before the holiday to be known as National Local Food Day.
Allen, the party’s food safety critic, presented a bill to the Commons Oct. 7 to authorize the change. It was welcomed by members of the other parties as well as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the National Farmers Union.
“It’s an opportunity to thank farmers who work every day to feed us,” says Allen, who represents the Ontario riding of Welland. “It would bring into focus the contribution that local and regional agriculture makes to our country and would encourage consumers to purchase locally grown products and ask their grocery stores to stock them.
“When we buy from our neighbours, Canadians are not only supporting local farmers and food producers, but are helping the environment by reducing travel distances, revitalizing local economies and embracing a healthier lifestyle,” he told reporters.
“From the farmer’s point of view, every day could be considered a local food day. Farm leaders certainly appreciate all activities to raise awareness of their efforts to deliver fresh, quality products to communities across Canada,” said CFA president Ron Bonnett.
Whether it’s local, regional or national, choosing Canadiangrown food is crucial.
The CFA proposed a nationally recognized Local Food Day two years ago.
Bonnett said he hoped all parties would support Allen’s motion when it comes up for debate so there’s a special day to recognize the contributions that farmers make to Canada.
Colleen Ross, NFU Ontario and National board member, said her group has worked to advance food sovereignty in Canada. “Many of our members are already establishing strong networks and mutually beneficial relationships between themselves and consumers. A National Local Food Day is an excellent way for all Canadians to begin thinking about what they put in their shopping carts and onto their plates.”
The biggest impediment to helping consumers pick Canadian food is the government’s Product of Canada label rules that have discouraged Canadian companies from even trying to market such products, she said.