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"I don't want food from some place else when we've got food right here."
July 15, 2009 7:33 PM   Subscribe

In a possible sign of things to come, a group of Ontario grocery chain franchisees has split off and formed an independent co-op in order to better access locally-sourced food.
posted by parudox (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Crazy Elora mennonites! What's funny is that there's already a chain called "Your Independent Grocer" so I guess these guys are more independent. Or something.

I think it's a great idea and is about local economics as much as health and safety. For sure I'd take Elora-area meat any day over factory meat from across the country. As long as they soak everything in maple syrup first. (Elmira and Elora are quite close) Eggs too. it must really be upsetting to farmers in these small towns that they can't buy their own produce in their local grocery stores.

it's a pity they'll only be selling local produce 3 months a year, except for apples which will be way better even in the spring. Who the hell wants New Zealand apples in Ontario? No offense Kiwis, but we grow perfectly fine apples in Ontario. But whatever, that's life in Ontario.

Perhaps this would be a good time to introduce the uninitiated to this familiar jingle: Good things grow in Ontario. And the update
posted by GuyZero at 8:14 PM on July 15, 2009


Also "Your Independent Grocer" is a member of the Loblaws group of companies, so ironically they are anything but independent. But you can get those PC cookies. Mmmmmmm.
posted by GuyZero at 8:17 PM on July 15, 2009


This is a pretty big deal, Sobey's is nothing to sneeze at. Meanwhile, I continue to pester my grocer to indicate where specific fruits & veggies come from.
posted by furtive at 8:29 PM on July 15, 2009


I found out that Trader Joe's chicken actually gets butchered in China. They ship the chickens over from the US (advertised as coming from Washington State), butcher the meat in China, and ship the end result back to the US. What a waste of energy — and a loss of jobs in the United States.

I mention this, because "buying local" in a global economy may not necessarily mean what people think it means.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:27 PM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the biggest shocks of coming back to Canada after living in the UK for 5 years has been readjusting my shopping habits after enjoying the higher quality of foodstuffs in the UK.
Local, free-range, organic etc choices are abundant in big UK supermarket chains (notably in this instance: the Co-Operative, ethical to a fault and probably the original 'co-op'; it had a political arm in the 30s that I believe became the modern Labour Party. They even have the domain - .coop !).
And, crucially, the cost just a little more than factory-farmed, so the choice is easy .
Not that 'local' necessarily implies 'ethical', but hopefully a larger shift in consumer consciousness is afoot in Ontario.
Although, there are already plenty of farmer's markets in Ontario cities, especially in the southwest, where you can (if you make the extra effort that going to these places entails!) buy local, seasonal - and often Mennonite - produce.
posted by Flashman at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2009


Living in Oregon it is easy enough to buy local. But the term local gets convoluted much, much too frequently when it comes to distance. Is Northern Cali local enough or do I need to buy that asparagus 100 miles closer even though it a few cents more and looks a little worn? Is it organic enough? What is organic? Who approves this crap?

It is all well and good to buy local and cheers to those communities that have the opportunity to do so and reverse the local economy by keeping the regional food regional. But it is a luxury to do so.

Most communities could not keep the nutritional needs for that population up to par if they relied solely on what can be grown in that region. Those people would die of malnutrition. So as lucky as some of us are, before we sit around trumping how great localvore communities are or not or how local they need to be, just take a step back and remember that you are discussing what is ultimately the internet equivalent to a big pile of organic compost.
posted by Johnny Hazard at 10:29 PM on July 15, 2009


Most communities could not keep the nutritional needs for that population up to par if they relied solely on what can be grown in that region.

This is very true for Ontario, but, on the other hand, things like meat, eggs, butter and apples are produced perfectly well in the province. Why the hell do we buy Alberta beef when Ontario beef is just fine? Oh, well, most of the Ontario beef farmers went out of business when the US shut their border due to mad cow, so there's the lack of farmers, yeah. But if grocery stores stop seeking to cut the last 5 cents per pound off the price of beef I feel pretty confident we can get those farmers back.

Also, considering the number of dairy cows in Ontario there is no reason on earth to import one ounce of hamburger. Apparently dairy farmers can't even give away cows at the end of their milking life. Unbelievable.
posted by GuyZero at 10:39 PM on July 15, 2009


And not that I think hamburger is the greatest food on earth, but in terms of local production every person in Ontario could eat a couple pounds a day of old cow as it's very easy to raise locally.
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 PM on July 15, 2009


Again, I totally agree with you GuyZero and in Oregon it takes ages to get a decent potato that hasn't been to Hell and then the Moon and then somewhere in Atlantis before I find it in a local store.

I volunteer for a local co-op called Eastside Egg just so I can get some decent local, farm fresh eggs and not because to buy them at a farmers' market will run me about $5-7US a dozen. My 20 minutes spent with those chickens doesn't even begin to actually cover that savings with my "hourly rate" but I understand where my food comes from and I groove on the chickens.

I understand the pain of a community going through the "why can I not buy that thing right OVER THERE" but most people seriously just cannot relate to that kind of trauma. They want "I want anything that can be found ANYWHERE right HERE now, please".

If I have a point at all it is that I can relate but I also end up buying things I really want and in some cases need for protein just because it does not grow in the local community from places all the globe. Buying local as much as possible is great but never buying outside your community will most likely lead to malnutrition and death but much more importantly, palate boredom.
posted by Johnny Hazard at 10:55 PM on July 15, 2009


Why the hell do we buy Alberta beef when Ontario beef is just fine?

We have our freezer stocked with a 1/8 steer that we bought from a ranch near Priddis (just south of Calgary). This beeve did not spend a second at a feedlot, ate good prairie grass, never had to have the smorgasbord of antibiotics that too many animals are fed, we MET the creature, and I can say that many Alberta ranchers are humane, ethical, responsible, sustainable and LAUDable. I feel blessed to be able to lay claim to beef like this if we were resigned to a 100 mile diet here. Unfortunately such a diet would be much harder here than in Ontario, but I just mean to say- don't knock Alberta beef.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:58 PM on July 15, 2009


Blazecock - Seriously? What possible reason could they have for that? Is the wage disparity so drastic between the US and China that it's still cheaper to do all that shipping rather than pay to have it done on our shores? I'm pole-axed ... that seems spectacularly stupid.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:00 PM on July 15, 2009


What possible reason could they have for that?

It must be cheaper (or, otherwise, more profitable) for the quantity of chicken that they move.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:35 PM on July 15, 2009


Most communities could not keep the nutritional needs for that population up to par if they relied solely on what can be grown in that region.

Bullshit. People lived on local food for a very long time before we started shipping food hither and tither. With modern refrigeration, local food is even easier. No one is going to die because they have to eat canned tomatoes, rather than fresh, in the winter.

Food shipped in from California or New Zealand is a luxury, not a necessity.
posted by ssg at 12:29 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I switched grocery stores from Loblaws after I discovered they didn't have ANY Canadian apples in stock. No biggie, you say, except that we live in the APPLE FREAKIN' CAPITAL OF CANADA.

There is definitely a big move back towards local food here. It's partly that people don't really trust food from the US and China as much as they did but also the food at the farmer's markets is often considerably cheaper. Natural yoghurt, for example, is half the price it is in the supermarket.

Metro stores seem to have a pretty good range of Cancuky produce, here at least.
posted by unSane at 4:09 AM on July 16, 2009


ethnomethodologist: ...but I just mean to say- don't knock Alberta beef.

Re-read what GuyZero wrote. He's got no beef with your meat.
posted by gman at 4:18 AM on July 16, 2009


What is even cooler than these grocery stores leaving a chain and forming a co-op in order to be able to buy locally produced food is that the owners think they can make money doing this.
posted by QIbHom at 6:48 AM on July 16, 2009


Bullshit. People lived on local food for a very long time before we started shipping food hither and tither. With modern refrigeration, local food is even easier. No one is going to die because they have to eat canned tomatoes, rather than fresh, in the winter.

Not dying is not quite the same thing as living.
posted by srboisvert at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I sort of have a beef with Alberta beef but it's mainly just distance and the general ongoing Ontario-Alberta grudge match that seeps into every element of Canadian life.

Strangely I prefer PEI potatoes over Ontario ones although the Ont ones are fine I suppose. I guess I feel bad for PEI as there isn't a heck of a lot else going on there. For places like PEI and Alberta it's not so much an issue that other places can't raise beef or grow potatoes so much as those are nearly the only things that those places can do and so they rely on an export economy. Like it or not agriculture is just one cog in the economic machine and as long as there are places that are industrial exporters (Ontario) there will be agricultural exporters (the prairies, PEI)
posted by GuyZero at 9:17 AM on July 16, 2009


OK and I know Alberta has a lot more than beef going on, but they can run ranches at a scale that other provinces can't is all I'm saying. There will always be a tension between local production and economies of scale, noting that you can run a good operation at large scale in some cases.
posted by GuyZero at 9:23 AM on July 16, 2009


Not dying is not quite the same thing as living.

Strawberries in name only that travel for days and thousands of miles are not the same thing as fresh local strawberries. (Or even frozen or preserved local strawberries.)
posted by parudox at 11:25 AM on July 16, 2009


Most communities could not keep the nutritional needs for that population up to par if they relied solely on what can be grown in that region. Those people would die of malnutrition. So as lucky as some of us are, before we sit around trumping how great localvore communities are or not or how local they need to be, just take a step back and remember that you are discussing what is ultimately the internet equivalent to a big pile of organic compost.

Not many (none in the article or these comments) are suggesting that there must be a switch to exclusively local products, so raising the specter of mass starvation is the real pile of compost here.

There are numerous reasons why moving to a more local food system are good for everyone. They range from advantages in quality, variety, flavor, safety, nutritional value, food security and shelf life....just to touch on the big ones. That is even before exploring the philosophical ramifications and benefits to the local economy.

And please don't forget that these stores switched because there was overwhelming demand.
posted by limmer at 5:29 PM on July 16, 2009


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