By: Andie Hadway, University of Saskatchewan Student
Many Canadians want to ensure they are purchasing the best food possible for themselves and their families. The problem facing Canadians is that many of them are not informed enough about the production process of their food. Purchasing food from local farmers connects consumers and provides important educational opportunities to consumers about where their food comes from. As food producers, an obstacle that we face is that consumers lack the knowledge of where their food comes from and this creates misconceptions. These misconceptions are easily created by individuals who misunderstand the complexities of the agricultural industry and make false accusations about food productions. Misconceptions are also created when half-truths are told and advertised by marketers of food. Purchasing local food is a great opportunity for consumers to take the time to educate themselves about where their food comes from. Farm to plate connections are valuable in learning how food is produced and processed, but even it is reassuring to more know they are consuming the best food possible available to them.
Educating the public on food production is going to be an essential component of agriculture to move forward in the future. The perfect place to start educating people is locally. Alberta Open Farm Days is a great way for Alberta farmers to show urban consumers where their food comes from, and how it gets to their plate. Alberta Open Farm Days is an Alberta-wide, two-day event that provides consumers with an opportunity to experience farming up close. This event normally occurs in August, and this year marks the 6th year for it (August 18-19, 2018). In 2017 there were over 100 farms that participated across the province and 16 culinary events. This event is a great opportunity for consumers to get involved and meet producers. Participants may be able to better understand how their food is produced, by seeing where it is grown. What a perfect program for farmers to showcase their livelihood and put misconceptions to rest.
Another great opportunity for consumers to better understand local food production comes from visiting a local farmers market or attending a local farm-to-table dinner. At a farmer’s market, there are many different vendors selling vegetables, fruits, honey, meat, etc., all of who are more than willing to talk with you about what they do and how they grow their products. A local farm-to-table dinner is a great opportunity to bring consumers and farmers together. A small venture out of Alberta named Season & Supply offers farm-to-table dinners and aims to connect people with farms and farmers by hosting a dinner each season. Everything on the menu is grown locally which creates meaningful connections throughout the dining experience.
As a producer, we all have a responsibility to step-up and educate our consumers. If you are a producer, I encourage you to take the time to educate consumers because the more they know, the easier it will be for them to make their purchasing decisions. For consumers, I encourage you to take the time to inform yourself about food production and where and how your food is grown and made. I invite you to head down to the local farmers market or take a visit to a local farm so that you can connect locally and have a better understanding and appreciation of food production. Locally produced foods provide all Canadians with the opportunity to connect and educate themselves about food production.
[su_spoiler title=”References:” style=”fancy” anchor=”References”]
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. 2018 Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market, https://www.agric.gov.ab.ca/app21/rtw/markets/markets_map.jsp (website accessed March 28, 2018)
Alberta Open Farm Days, http://albertafarmdays.com/about-open-farm-days/ (website accessed October 17, 2017)
Saik, Robert. Phone interview with Andie Hadway. Personal conversation. October 15, 2017.
Season & Supply, https://www.seasonandsupply.com (website accessed March 29, 2018)
Hi, I am Andie Hadway, and I am in my second year at U of S. This April I will write my last exams and in the summer will convocate with a diploma in Agribusiness. I plan to go back to my family farm in Didsbury, Alberta to help manage our purebred Simmental cow-herd after I am done school. I am active in the cattle industry and I enjoy volunteering with junior associations, showing and selling purebred cattle. In my free time, I like spending time with family, friends and my dogs. In the future I plan to have a role in Agvocating and helping youth get involved in the agriculture industry.