Food Safety Message -- Keeping It Local

Food Safety Message and Canadians - Keep It Local
72% of Canadians (up 6% since 2007) cite food safety as a concern, favouring locally grown or produced fare over imported items. So says a recent Ipsos-Reid poll that suggests that a majority of Canadians are "very" or "somewhat" concerned about the food they eat. The poll further indicates that "more than two thirds of Canadians believe Canadian food is safer than imported food." Canadians further agree that importing food all over the world is not good for the environment and while Canadian grown or produced food may be more expensive, they are willing to pay for it. "Another 87% agree that they trust food that comes from Canada more than food that comes from abroad, with 85 % of respondents saying they make an effort to buy locally grown and produced food." This poll was conducted through an online survey of over a thousand respondents, between July 23 and 30, 2010.

These results are not a surprise to the North Saanich Food for the Future Society, instrumental in starting up the first North Saanich Farm Market over 3 years ago, with initial support from the Deep Cove Market and now ongoing help from Janet Silman of St. John's United Church. Attendance at the Market, located behind St. John's on West Saanich Road across from Deep Cove Elementary School, averages about 300 people every Saturday morning during the summer, a significant increase compared with early years. Not only is attendance steady, reports indicate another significant increase in the number of Market vendors offering for sale everything from free range eggs and local lamb to fresh fish, beef, honey, home baking and, of course, fresh produce, most of it organic.

The quality and variety of fresh produce and specialty items is impressive as local growers provide from their gardens large and small. The North Saanich Farm Market is also a local pioneer of winter produce, with the opening of its first winter farm market this past year. The North Saanich Farm Market, with its positive and creative atmosphere, truly reflects a community that embraces local food production and supports North Saanich's strong commitment to agriculture through local farming.

The Market also provides a great venue for the annual Flavour Trail and I hope that residents will attend this weekend's festivities, beginning with the North Saanich Farm Market opening at 9:00 AM. We also know that what keeps farms economically viable, no matter how big or small, is their continued ability to reach consumers. The press coverage for this weekend's events has been terrific and a big thanks goes out to media who have featured the Flavour Trail, including the Times Colonist, Monday Magazine and the CBC morning radio program, "On the Island."

I believe that without support of local media, growers and farmers cannot get their message out as effectively to the people who need to hear it. The success story of the North Saanich Farm Market and the annual Flavour Trail deserves celebration so straw hats off to all those, including local restaurants and wineries, who work so hard to make it happen week after week during the summer growing season and on a periodic basis during the winter.

"Happy Flavour Trails to you!"