‘Independence Day’ for Sobeys Franchisees

July 14, 2009

I just caught a very interesting (and inspiring) article on the CBC.ca website relating to the ‘buy local’ craze that seems to be sweeping the nation these days.

Apparently, nine Sobey’s store owners recently decided to (partially) cut their ties with the franchise so that they’d be able to start offering a lot more local products – a practice that was previously a major challenge due to Sobey’s corporate policies. The nine stores joined forces, becoming what is known as the Hometown Grocers Co-Op.

Here are a couple of blurbs from the article:

“We feel that local food, local presence is huge in our market and we wanted to take advantage of that,” [Dale Kropf – owner of four of the nine stores in the co-op] says.

Canadians are increasingly subscribing to the “buy local” and “100 mile diet” philosophies due to concerns over imported food, Kropf adds. “The pressure was always mounting — the more recalls, the more bad press from China or wherever the product was coming from. I know that in our case, our private label pickles are made in Indonesia. I couldn’t believe that.”

As a franchisee for a large grocery chain, Kropf says, corporate policies stipulating that he only buy federally inspected meat prevented him from stocking local products. Most federally inspected meat in Canada comes from large corporations such as Maple Leaf, Cargill and Tyson.

The nine stores have retained their wholesale relationship with Sobeys for items such as dog food, spices and breakfast cereals, but the chilled meat section of Kropf’s store in Elora, Ont., is now stacked high with fresh pork, chicken and beef that comes from no farther than 60 kilometres away.

The stores are located in southern Ontario communities such as Arthur, Durham, Lucknow and Palmerston.

Be sure to check out the full article here >> Buy-local push prompts Ontario grocers to go independent<<

I think it is fantastic that these store owners are taking such a major (undoubtedly scary) step in an effort to support local producers, and of course provide customers with more local produce options.

I’ve definitely been disappointed with the lack of truly local goods in big grocery stores in Waterloo region myself, and certainly hope that this is just the beginning of a new trend!

Anyway – just wanted to share that!

[tags]buy local, sobeys, factory farms, 100 mile diet, local produce, maple leaf, tyson, cargill, pork, beef, poultry[/tags]

Harvest Ontario

July 6, 2009

Harvest Ontario

I was recently doing some shopping at our local (Elmira) Home Hardware store when the word “Harvest” caught my attention on the cover of a small magazine sitting in a stack near the check-out.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a stack of ‘Harvest Ontario 2009’ guides – a complimentary listing of many of the small ‘local’ farms, markets, fairs/exhibitions, B&Bs, Wineries, and Meat/Deli businesses from across Ontario.

As I mentioned in my recent ‘100 Foot Diet‘ post, I seem to have caught the ‘buy local’ bug this year, so I was certainly more than happy to grab a copy on my way out of the store. As the name implies (and as mentioned above), the guide isn’t focused only on businesses that are ‘local’ for us here in Waterloo Region, but there certainly are quite a few listings from our area.

I think it’s also great to have a guide like this if you are planning to do some travelling this summer – no matter where you end up (in Ontario) you’ll be able to find some great local attractions.

You can find lots of great information (and listings) on the Harvest Canada website as well, so I recommend you check that out if you can’t track down a copy of the guide.

In my next post I will share another great guide/website that IS geared specifically to businesses in our region.

Stay tuned!

The 100 Foot Diet

June 29, 2009

I’ve been amazed by the fact that ‘buying/eating local’ seems to almost be a trendy thing to do these days. I feel like I’m hearing about it EVERYWHERE, which definitely gets me excited!

I’ve been somewhat familiar with the “100 Mile Diet” idea for awhile now, but in all honesty, it wasn’t until this year that I finally really started paying attention. I caught a few episodes of “The 100 Mile Challenge” on the Food Network and it was really fascinating watching these normal families (out in BC) trying out this approach – and for the most part, benefiting a great deal in the process.

Interestingly enough, my wife has become very interested in ‘buying local’ this year as well (after taking a holistic nutrition course), which has certainly helped to add that extra bit of motivation to really take this stuff seriously. I’ve always been the eco-head in the family, but sadly I can also be really lazy and lax with some of my earth-friendly practices. Now that my wife is onboard with all of this, I foresee us moving a lot more quickly in a positive direction.

We’ve already been making an effort to learn a lot more about local farms and businesses that subscribe to these sorts of philosophies, and it’s been fun starting to break away from the run-of-the-mill grocery store fare when it comes to meal preparation. I should mention that I have plans to write about a lot of these local businesses etc here on the blog in an effort to spread the word a little more, and help to get things a little more active around here.

As the title of this post might imply, one of the major things I am also focusing on this year is growing a LOT of our own food. I’ve always been a gardener at heart, and have even grown some decent yields of various summer staples (tomatoes, zucchinis etc) – especially last summer, thanks to my restaurant food waste project – but I’ve never really taken the time to get serious about gardening, and to learn proper organic methods etc. This year I decided it was finally time to do so!

It’s kinda funny when I think about it now, but I’ve always day dreamed about my ‘ultimate’ small farm property, where I would finally be able to put down roots (no pun intended) and get serious about my sustainable gardening efforts. I always just assumed that as long as I was living in the ‘burbs’, there wasn’t really any point in going too crazy with all of this. Thankfully, I finally woke up this year and realized that A) we might end up being here awhile, so I might as well take advantage of that and B) I have enough ‘land’ and sunlight to create a pretty serious little suburban eco-farm.

Of course, my outdoor worm herd is playing a very important role in all of this! I’ve written previously about my vermicomposting trenches. Well, I’m happy to report that these systems are back in action this year, and I have even expanded my trench network. I am also experimenting with some other wormy methods, such as living mulch and worm box gardens (hope to write more about those in a future blog post). I have been really happy with the results so far, and expect that we’ll have a LOT of produce available later in the summer. Thankfully, we recently bought a small chest freezer, so now we have some place to store a lot of the extra veggies.

Anyway, I hope to write a lot more about all of this on the blog in coming weeks and months!
Stay tuned!

Almost forgot…

One thing to mention for those of you living in Waterloo Region – if you are interested in the 100 mile diet challenge, it is my understanding that there is a group of people in Kitchener-Waterloo who are doing this right now. Be sure to check out the “100 Mile Diet Blog” put together by the folks at Healing Path in Waterloo. I’ve only had time to quickly skim over the content, but it looks really interesting! Once I’m able to spend more time reading, I may write more about it here.