A few days ago I was having a discussion with a couple of friends about vendors at public and farmer’s markets who are essentially resellers. In other words, they sell a lot of imported or non-local produce compared to what is available from their own farm.
In some cases it is easy to see what’s imported. I’m pretty sure that the avocados and oranges aren’t local no matter the season. But what about those tomatoes and cucumbers in June? They could be hot house grown. Or how about the vendor with 20 different varieties of apples in September?
At Montreal markets, there is no way of knowing whether produce from a vendor comes from their farm (or another local farm) unless you ask them and then take them at their word. However, other Canadian cities have come up with grass-roots certification initiatives to help consumers shop with confidence for local products from local farmers and producers.
In Toronto (and now expanding out into other areas of the country), shoppers can look for the Local Food Plus (LFP) certification at farms, market stalls, shops and farmer’s markets. Among other things, LFP certifies “farms and processors for environmentally and socially sustainable practices.” (They also have some fabulous educational and outreach initiatives.) To identify an LFP-certified producers or retailers, look for the LFP logo.
A similar program exists in Ottawa called Savour Ottawa. For farms and farm products carrying the Savour Ottawa logo, everything must be grown or raised on their farm. For shops, restaurant s and caterers, a minimum percentage of purchases made be from locally-produced products.
In both programs, the farm or retailer seeking certification must pay a fee, which may make the program inaccessible to some very small businesses. Nonetheless, I find them both interesting initiatives which could easily be used as templates for similar programs elsewhere.
I’m not sure if other cities or regions have similar initiatives. If there are any, I’d love to hear about them. I’d also love to hear what you think of initiatives like Local Food Plus and Savour Ottawa.