Making local food more accessible

Saanich Council has taken another step toward supporting local farms, increasing our food security, and making local food more accessible.

Councillors unanimously voted to create a Local Food Procurement Policy. This will give preference to local food producers when purchasing food for municipal events and food services. So, instead of buying tomatoes or cherries that travel all the way from California or Mexico, we’ll get them from Saanich or Vancouver Island farmers.

The University of Victoria’s highly successful local food program has been in place for almost a decade. Feeding nearly 20,000 students and teachers local food choices every day is a big shot in the arm for local producers. Saanich doesn’t buy a lot of food, but when we’re spending local dollars, we want to use them to support local farms and help to bolster local food production and the local marketplace.

I am confident that by following UVic’s example, Saanich will inspire other municipalities and local businesses to set up their own ‘buy local’ food policies. Our collective buying power will help to grow the local marketplace. Selling more fruits and vegetables means more profitable, productive farms – that’s more local jobs and fewer ‘For Sale’ signs on agricultural lands.

Buying local also cuts our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint by saving the long-haul truck trips that bring food across the country (or countries). Local food is healthier too because there are fewer, or no preservatives needed when food comes straight from the farm to the dinner table in the same community.

The Local Food Procurement Policy is just a small step. There’s more that we can do. Let’s work together to create more community food markets closer to home. Giving local producers a place to sell their fruits and vegetables at our recreation and shopping centres puts them in direct contact with consumers. It also gives consumers a chance to find out where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

By choosing local food, we’re getting healthier, low-carbon choices and supporting our farmers. That’s how we’ll make our community more sustainable and food secure.