Local Food News — Ontario

New artisanal chicken program a hit with growers

The first 80 farms to be accepted into Chicken Farmers of Ontario’s Artisanal Chicken program should be starting to produce chickens under the program this spring, and many of them will be seasonal growers. The Artisanal Chicken program is for small-scale, non-quota holding farmers who want to grow 600 to 3,000 chickens annually for specific markets that they’ve identified. It was launched last year “with the expressed goal of helping to address gaps in the existing consumer marketplace for locally-grown chicken,” according to a Feb. 16 Chicken Farmers news release. Better Farming story.


Details of Farmland Health Incentive Program

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is releasing some information about the 2016 Farmland Health Incentive program. The FHIP offers financial support to implement select Best Management Practices. The stewardship program supports actions with the greatest potential to impact the landscape, offering funding to address key issues to improve soil health and reduce edge of field phosphorus loss. The combined impact of projects completed will help to improve the health of our Great Lakes. Blackburn AgriMedia story.


Back to the basics: Children need to learn about food

Take the numbers six and 16, put them together and you have the formula for improving youth nutrition through education, improved food skills and better understanding of local food, one Ontario farm and food organization says. Six by Sixteen is an initiative of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and is part of the comprehensive national food strategy that has been created by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. It is hoped that with some education, kids will be able to cook six dishes or meals by the time they are 16 years old. CBC News story.


Thousand Islands: A thriving industry for local food

Making the connections between producers and consumers needed more than just kitchen table meetings, though. Wendy Banks, a sixth-generation farmer, was at that early kitchen table meeting and had an idea — a farmers market for local produce that had both an onsite and a delivery component. “There was a huge disconnect between producers and restaurants,” says Banks, owner and operator of Wendy’s Mobile Market. “So we started with about five producers and three restaurants and almost 10 years later we now have 80 producers and 70 restaurants that we deliver to.” TVO story.


New Festival Coming To Leamington

A new festival is coming to the  Town of Leamington this summer. The festival will celebrate locally sourced food and beverages designed to bring chefs, farmers, winemakers, brewmasters and local food producers together to create a culinary experience. The town says their vision is to become leaders in the region for culinary tourism as this festival will be one of many food and drink initiatives being organized in the coming years. WindsoriteDOTca News story.


Ontario Government Proclaims New Portion of Local Food Act

The Ontario Government proclaimed “increased access to local food” as their next area of focus under the Local Food Act, 2013. To draft an “access” goal (or goals), consultations will be held with agri-food stakeholders and the public throughout the spring 2016. Passed in 2013, the Local Food Act supports the government’s Local Food Strategy, which aims to promote Ontario foods and beverages, make them more available in markets, schools, cafeterias, grocery stores and restaurants throughout the province, and help develop new markets for local food. Ontario Government news release.


Alternative Avenues to Local Food in School: Ingredients for Success

Through the Alternative Avenues to Local Food Procurement project, Ecosource and Roots to Harvest worked with teachers, students and food service providers in Durham, Peel and Thunder Bay to develop and test strategies to incorporate local food procurement into secondary school food programs, while engaging students in food literacy. This report outlines the current school food context in each region by considering how school food systems are shaped by multiple actors and what challenges and opportunities to local food procurement are in each region. EcoSource report.


Executive Director for the Ontario Farmland Trust

The OFT is seeking a hard-working dynamic executive leader to take our Ontario farmland conservation efforts to a new level of success.  The person that we are looking for will bring demonstrated talent, energy and experience to the organization, particularly with respect to all fundraising programs and financial management. Our Executive Director will be a superior communicator who will add leverage to existing OFT relationships and further develop strategic partnerships with other farmland conservation stakeholders. Details.


Responsibilities in a Demanding World, March 31 – April 1, Guelph

The challenges and opportunities happening today in the food production and food retail sectors. There is a global move to go beyond traditional testing, inspection and training.  We are seeing all sectors involved in the production and retail of food having to adopt principles related to values and beliefs. This will involve the need to enhance the credibility of Ontario practitioners. Ontario Institute of Agrologists conference details.


Selling Food to Ontario, March 2, Smith Falls & March 3, Renfrew

Create new opportunities for your farm or food processing business by learning how to expand into new markets such as grocery stores, restaurants, food hubs, schools, universities and other public institutions. Eastern Ontario Local Food free seminar details.




Loose Stall Housing, Video Auditing Part Of Maple Leaf’s Animal Care Commitment

Maple Leaf Foods says it wants to become a leader in animal care. To reach that goal, the company has launched a formal Animal Care Commitment. The Commitment is based on what’s called the Five Freedoms. They are: freedom from hunger or thirst – freedom from discomfort – freedom from pain, injury or disease – freedom to express normal behaviours – and freedom from fear and stress. Maple Leaf’s plan includes moving all sows under its management to loose housing, with at least 37 thousand sows in loose housing by 2017. Blackburn AgriMedia story.



Local Food News — Ontario

So, artisanal chicken … yup, it’s a real thing

New policy aims to open poultry market for smaller producers. Ontario foodies and locavores can look forward to more options when it comes to summer barbecuing as a new policy ensures they’ll have better access to local chicken than ever before. A new Artisanal Chicken Policy introduced by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) will allow small-scale chicken farmers to produce between 600 and 3,000 chickens per year, and sell them at local food stores, farmers markets and to restaurants. NorthernLife.ca story.


Meet the Behind the Scenes Heroes: 100KM Foods

If you’ve been following OCTA for awhile, you know we’re huge supporters of the powerhouse duo that is Paul Sawtell and Grace Mandarano.  Together, they run 100KM Foods – an award-winning local food distribution company that gives chefs access to the best products in Ontario and provides a viable sales channel for Ontario farmers and producers. Paul and Grace are dedicated to sustaining Ontario’s agricultural sector and making connections between farmers and chefs.  It’s been a beautiful thing to watch this company grow over the years as we see more and more demand for putting local food on the table. Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance post.


Food Entrepreneurs: Building Ontario Innovation One Product at a Time Conference

The Agri-food Management Institute, in partnership with Georgian College, is proud to present the inaugural all-Ontario conference. This conference is a province-wide conference being be held on March 3 & 4, 2016 at the Barrie Campus of Georgian College. This two-day event includes panel discussions by successful food entrepreneurs and industry experts on topics such as innovation, human resource management, food safety culture, overseeing and executing strategy, product idea viability, collaborating for growth, and more. Agri-food Management Institute post.


New Report Looks at Ingredients for getting Local Food in Ontario Schools

Ecosource and Roots to Harvest have just released a report, Alternative Avenues to Local Food in School: Ingredients for Success by Multiple Authors, through the Alternative Avenues Project — a collaboration with students, teachers and school board representatives in Durham Region, Peel Region and Thunder Bay, with support from the Ontario Edible Education Network. The collaboration focused on developing and testing strategies to incorporate local food procurement into secondary school food programs, while engaging students in food literacy. Golden Horseshoe Food & Farming post.


Assembling the Ingredients for Food Tourism in the Northwest

In just two weeks, award-winning Chef Jamie Kennedy will be visiting Thunder Bay to join farmers, chefs, government and others involved in the food tourism industry to support a one-day conference dedicated to discussing the increasing opportunities for business growth and profit-making in the sector. Food tourism has demonstrated itself in other markets as a way of bringing new money into regional economies and also as a way of raising the local profile of local food. Net Newsledger story.


Windsor event planner re-invents local food and lifestyle events

The idea for the night market emerged over drinks with friends, Lindsay said. Farmers markets are great … if you’re a morning person, that is. The monthly Walkerville Night Market launched in summer 2014 and made a point of featuring all-local food, vendors and musicians. This was key, Lindsay said, because she wants to make sure any event she designs serves its surrounding community or a charity. “At the end of the day it’s all fine to throw a party but it has to have some meaning behind it,” she said. The night market concept was so popular among locals and also tourists that it only took a year before it spread to Kingsville. Now there’s talk of bringing it to other county locations in summer 2016. Windsor Star story.


Traditional farming declining, new farming businesses emerging: report

While there has been a decline in traditional agricultural businesses in dairy, milk production and beef in Waterloo Region, new farming ventures are popping up such as those catering to the burgeoning eat local food market and hops grain production for the emerging microbrewery industry. The Agriculture Research Report, compiled by the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin, shows that from June 2012 to June 2014, the number of farm businesses in the region went down by 316. Most of the losses were in dairy cattle and milk production. Waterloo Record story.


Leamington Greenhouses Testing Robot Harvesters

Three Leamington area vegetable greenhouses are testing a robot to harvest produce and remove leaves from plants. The robot is being developed by University of Guelph professor Doctor Medhat Moussa. The prototype has visioning technology that allows it to identify ripe produce. It also has a pick-up arm that will let it gently – yet firmly – harvest the vegetables without damaging them. Blackburn AgriMedia story.


Dishing the dirt on Ontario’s most distinguished soil

Ontario is the latest province to officially designate an official provincial soil and, of the nearly 300 groups of soils available, the historically significant Guelph soil series has been awarded the title. Jeff Leal, the province’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, made the recent announcement as a send-off to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Year of Soils. FCC Express post by Owen Roberts.


ALUS Looking For Environmentally-Friendly Grey Bruce Projects

The Alternative Land Use Service, or ALUS, provides matching start up funding and they’ll pay rent on land taken out of production. ALUS Grey Bruce coordinator Keith Reid says projects could include exclusion fencing, tree planting, and creating wetlands and buffer zones. “ALUS recognizes the fact that some of these environmental services are benefitting all of society and the costs shouldn’t be associated with the farmer alone,” says Reid. Blackburn AgriMedia story.




Growing Local, Growing Strong! Building a Sustainable and Co-operative Food System

Plans are underway for the 2016 Assembly of the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network (LOFC) – the 7th in a legacy of great networking and learning events. Workshop, speaker and plenary brainstorming has come up with some great topic areas and speakers. The Assembly will be preceded by a focused finance day (February 22, at Ignatius, Guelph) that is being organized in collaboration with the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Entitled Fair Financing for Local Food and Farms, the various workshops and plenaries will explore innovative and adaptable forms of finance.  Conversations with lenders and funders will explore various financing sources and how to build meaningful dialogue. The Canadian CED Network post.

Local Food News — World

Locavore or vegetarian? What’s the best way to reduce climate impact of food?

Zooming in from the global picture on emissions to a single home reveals how important our personal food choices are for climate change. You can use carbon footprint calculators, such as the University of California CoolClimate Tool, to get an idea of how important food is in relation to choices we make about commuting, air travel, home energy use, and consumption of other goods and services. For the average U.S. household, food consumption will be responsible for about the same GHG emissions as home electricity consumption for the average US household. The Conversation post.


Unilever Finds That Shrinking Its Footprint Is a Giant Task

As chief executive of Unilever, Mr. Polman has made sustainable production — of Hellmann’s, Lipton tea, Dove soap, Axe body spray and all the other products Unilever makes — the company’s top priority. Detergents are being reformulated to use less water. Packaging is becoming more efficient. And Unilever is taking preliminary steps to make soybean oil, a main ingredient in mayonnaise, more eco-friendly. Unilever buys more soy in the United States than any other crop, and among Mr. Polman’s many goals is ensuring that all its soy oil — used in Hellmann’s mayonnaise and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spread — is sourced from sustainable farms by 2017. But when Unilever began looking into the matter in 2012, it hit a roadblock: No one was really certifying sustainable soybeans in the United States. New York Times story.


Food self-sufficiency law aims to increase all around harvest in Maine

A farmer and legislator in Winthrop is hoping that a new law he shepherded through the Legislature will help grow agricultural jobs, Maine farm sales and the practice of community gardening. The new food self-sufficiency law, taking effect Oct. 15, creates a number of new initiatives for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and sets a new goal for local food procurement. “It is the policy of the state to be food self-sufficient,” said Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, who wrote the law and is co-owner of the Annabessacook Farm and bed-and-breakfast. Bangor Daily News story.


From Factory Farmer to Something Much Smaller: The Lengthy Roots of Long Roots Farm

“A little over a year ago we posted an ad on Craigslist saying we wanted land to farm,” says Charles. “We answered the first response and, when we came out and looked at the place, we fell in love.” For him, nabbing this perfect plot of land marked the culmination of a life-long transition from full-blown factory-farmer to owning his own grass-roots operation. The twist? Charles Long was raised by the son of Jim Long, founder of Virginia’s first—and eventually most major—mass-commercialized turkey operation. Modern Farmer story.


How a Family Farm Opened a Restaurant and Created its Own Supply Chain

Enter Grazin’, a four-year-old diner in Hudson, New York, with a new outpost in Tribeca. Grazin’ is operated by Dan and Susan Gibson, the owners of the eponymous Grazin’ Angus Acres, a 500-acre farm around 120 miles outside of the city. The Gibsons started farming in 2002, and today they farm with their son Keith, who manages the farm, his wife Nicole, the Gibson’s daughter Christine, and her husband Chip, who oversees the two Grazin’ restaurants. On a recent visit to the farm, cattle ambled over grassy fields, their calves close by their sides. Fences stretched in all directions and snow sat underfoot, reminding us that although it was March, winter was still here. “They only have one bad day in their life,” Dan Gibson said with pride. Civil Eats story.


Oregon receives thousands in funding for farm to school projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced $4.8 million in grants for 74 farm to school projects across 39 states. The grants will serve more than 5,211 schools and 2.9 million students in 2016, according to the USDA. “Farm to school programs workfor schools, for producers, and for communities,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a news release. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.” KATU story.


A Raw Deal

“When an animal chews on grass, it makes milk which contains the essential esters and microbes which are the flavours,” says Studd, who has worked in the cheese industry for more than 30 years. “When you pasteurise it, you destroy them all by killing 99 per cent of whatever’s in the milk. Without using raw milk, you break the link. When you pasteurise the milk, it’s not a genuine reflection of where cheese comes from.” Broadsheet Australia story.


Why Artisanal Food Makers Find It Hard to Digest Growth

Life seems like a feast for artisanal-food makers lately. Over the past few years, shoppers have been flocking to locally made, sustainable products—and that has caught the eye of big players. Huge retail chains are stocking organic fare from small outfits, and venture capitalists have started plowing money into the industry. They’ve backed small food businesses of all stripes, from Hampton Creek, which makes plant-based alternatives to meat and eggs, to Munchery, which delivers chef-prepared meals to customers’ homes. Yet the sudden burst of customers and backers has brought food entrepreneurs a lot of headaches. Wall Street Journal story.


DoorDash Could Be the Next Unicorn—Or a Sign of Disaster

DoorDash is a food delivery service. It’s also the latest startup to be eying a valuation of more than $1 billion. DoorDash already raised $40 million in March; according to Bloomberg, it may soon reap another round of funding that would put the company in the same lofty territory as Uber, Airbnb, and more than 100 other so-called unicorns. Investors, meanwhile, say these delivery upstarts will help Americans eat healthier, faster, and more efficiently with the push of a button. They say technology makes it easier to deliver food cost-effectively while minimizing labor costs. Food will be disrupted, they say, like everything else. With that promise—and the hope that some of these startups can ultimately deliver—the money keeps pouring in. Wired story.


iOrderFresh plugs the gap in supply chain by getting products from farm to kitchen within 12 hours

Nitin Sawhney and Sandhya Sawhney saw an opportunity to plug the gaps in the supply chain by getting products from farm to kitchen within 12 hours, avoiding wastage and pilferage. This process would make decent margins while offering a fair price to the end consumer. Launched in December 2014, iOrderFresh, a fresh produce and grocery mobile retail platform, delivers doorstep food and grocery across Delhi and Gurgaon. The genesis of this business idea was simply the glaring supply chain gaps in the fresh food categories, especially fruits and vegetables. Your Story story.




Edible, but Ugly

To combat food waste, Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up, sells fresh fruits and vegetables that never make it to grocery store shelves. New York Times Video.


Getting Ugly Produce Onto Tables So It Stays Out of Trash

“We find that it is really easy to convince people when they realize they can pay a fraction of the price to get the same kind of taste and health,” said Ron Clark, the chief supply officer for Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up that has been selling what it calls “cosmetically challenged” fruit and vegetables for the last six months. “Once one person is convinced, it doesn’t take much to get them to convert others.” Imperfect Produce delivers boxes of ugly fruit and vegetables to people’s doorsteps in the Bay Area. New York Times story.