Posted on Thursday, 24 November 2022 under Stories
British Columbia is home to abundant local flavours. The diversity of ecological regions combined with a thriving local food culture in our province come together to create an exciting plethora of options for delicious local food. From some of the best wine-growing regions in the world to a coast rich with fresh seafood, and fertile berry fields in the Fraser Valley, BC brings together a wide range of growing regions that offer distinct local flavours.
Local food is worth celebrating. Farmers and ranchers in our province grow an incredibly wide diversity of produce and meat. Talented local chefs, vintners, and breweries craft sumptuous dishes and drinks that reflect the unique and fresh flavours of the local ingredients they use.
By eating locally, the reality of shifting our diets with the seasons is brought to life. When that delicious local lettuce is no longer available at the farmers market – rather than finding lettuce that has been grown thousands of miles away or in an energy-intensive heated greenhouse, paying attention to eating locally directs us to finding alternative greens that are in season. Eating locally is a fascinating exploration of place, an opportunity to align our diets with the seasons, and can allow for significant contributions to climate solutions.
When you eat local, you create opportunities to make connections directly with the farmer who grows your food. Many farmers do an amazing job of educating their community about how their food is grown, happenings on the farm, sharing delicious recipe ideas, and more. By eating locally, you can contribute to a vibrant local food community and learn about the flavours in your area.
Fresh fruit and vegetables from the UBC Farm
Supporting the Local Community
There is a strong economic case for making the choice to purchase local food. Rather than dollars spent on food flowing to multinational corporations, purchasing local food means money can stay within your community. Through what is known as the multiplier effect, money spent at local businesses can have an outsized impact by recirculating through the local economy.
2019 research by LOCO BC found that “Independent businesses recirculate up to 4.6 times more revenue than multinationals, keeping up to 63% of revenue in BC compared to 14% with multinationals.”
Local businesses, including farms, create jobs within communities and donate to local charities many times more than multinational businesses do. Purchasing locally makes a difference to the vitality of local economies.
Transporting food, often thousands of miles before it reaches a plate, accounts for a significant portion of emissions from our food system. It is also important to recognize that food that is shipped long distances often must be harvested before it is ripe, refrigerated, and stored on shelves before it ends up on your plate. This means that it can never compare with local food for freshness.
Saltspring Kitchen Co’s bite at the Metro Vancouver Feast of Fields
Feast of Fields
At our annual harvest festival, local food celebration, and fundraising events, we bring together chefs, farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans, and beverage producers. Guests wander from tent to tent, sampling delicious bites and sips of some of the best flavours in our province. The event is an opportunity to connect eaters with local food producers, artisans, and growers.
In this video, hear from chefs about the bite they created for Feast of Fields.
Eating Local Food
There are plenty of other ways to celebrate local food: eating in season, buying directly from the source, and connecting with local farmers.
Visit a local farmers market to find fresh produce from farms near you. Check out the BC Farmers’ Market Trail to find a market in your area.
If you are wanting to try a variety of different produce throughout the season and create a relationship with a farmer, a great way to do so is joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA’s are programs where customers purchase ‘shares’ in seasonal harvests from their local farmers. Throughout the season, CSA members receive weekly boxes of the freshest produce straight from the field. The mutual commitment of CSA programs guarantees consumers repeated deliveries of fresh, local food, and provides farmers with a source of income during a period of high expense at the beginning of the growing season.