In Nelson, this week, we have a complaint about the government’s expanded definition of “local”. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is about to define as local any food grown within that particular province or 50 kilometres from the province.
Now, why a federal agency gives a hoot about defining “local” food boundaries is still a mystery – although actions like these often come back and bite us in the most unexpected and uncomfortable places.
The Nelson store says its customers expect the local designation to mean 50 km from where it’s produced and that such an expanded definition will dilute the confidence of their customers.
If it’s simply to let consumers know that it’s LOCAL, put a sign on it. Ashcroft’s Safety Mart does that. I’ve even seen it in Kamloops when they’ve got Ashcroft produce for sale.
But what do we consider local? I think it depends on what it is. If it’s a job, local is where you pay your taxes. If it’s food, it depends on the type. I’m not expecting my bananas to come from BC, but I do expect my tomatoes to. And I expect my onions to come from Ashcroft, along with other vegetables. If it’s a computer or a car, I’d call anything made in Canada “local”.
Local is more about keeping our businesses in business and people employed than the health of an object. Certainly, we like to buy our food from producers we can trust, and it’s easier to trust a small backyard egg producer up the highway than it is a billion dollar warehouse egg producer in another country. But more than that, buying their product means not only that we keep our neighbours in business, but we keep ourselves in a steady supply of our favourite things.
Locally grown or made is becoming more rare as foreign-made products replace what used to be made in Canada. We made that possible by buying the cheaper foreign-made items, rationalizing that Canadian manufacturers couldn’t compete pricewise.
Now we’re back to Square One. Buy local and support our local food producers and manufacturers. It’s worth the price.
Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal