Homegrown Ontario hits the road

Ontario pork, veal and lamb are the main course of a publicity campaign by Homegrown Ontario to promote farm-fresh meat, poultry, produce along with a side dish of commonsense: the message that ‘there’s no place like home.’

Homegrown Ontario started up about three years ago by a collective of Ontario food producers; its mandate is to reinvigorate the connection between the province’s food producers and consumers and to reinforce the notion that our best food is grown closest to home.

This year’s road show features appearances by chefs and Homegrown Ontario representatives throughout Toronto area grocery stores, offering shoppers not only food samples but a recipe book on how to transform Ontario produce into ecologically smarter, healthier and tastier meals.

Homegrown Ontario also touts the virtues of the 100-mile diet, which encourages consumers to eat smart and eat local. The diet was inspired by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who decided in 2005 to only eat food produced within a 100-mile radius of their home. They later popularized the homegrown ethos in their book, “The 100-Mile Diet.”

Shoppers Mark Perivani and Kate Merange recently dropped by the Health Butcher, a midtown Toronto butcher shop and one of the stops along the Homegrown tour.

The couple, visiting from London, Ont., follow the 100-mile diet. They found that for both health and environmental reasons eating locally and sticking to the diet was the right choice.

“For me I have a laundry list of food allergies and it is worth it to eat locally,” Merange said. And she said there’s an added bonus: The food “is fresher and it tastes better.”

Perivani adds they buy their meat from a local organic farm: “The guy who sells us the meat is also the butcher and the chef and the farmer, so I trust that I know where it is coming from. We try to do what is healthy for our bodies,” Perivani said.

Homegrown Ontario representative Debbie Boyce finds that the road show really helps to put Ontario-grown products in the spotlight: “(It) really initiates great conversation with the shoppers in the stores. It gets them talking about all the local produce and what the different grocery stores have to offer,” Boyce said.

Filed by Michelle Nash