Fresh and Local
The Egg Farmers of Canada recently conducted a survey that asked Canadians what freshness means to them. The reveal? Canadians overwhelmingly demand that the farm products they buy be fresh, with 90 percent saying that farms within their province deliver that freshness. Distance from farm to grocery store is seen as the key to freshness. Eighty per cent of us are confident products from within Canada are at peak quality when purchased. Surprisingly, only 53 per cent believe imported foods cannot be considered fresh.
“In an age where grocery aisles are filled with foods from around the world, it is clear that Canadians place the highest value on locally produced food, exactly what the system of supply management allows for,” says Bonnie Cohen, Manager of Marketing and Nutrition for Egg Farmers of Canada. “The results are identical regardless of socio-economic status, telling us that all households want the food they feed their families produced by local farmers.” Eighty-two per cent of Canadians polled say they are confident the eggs they buy are fresh. This was the highest scoring category in the question that also asked about poultry, beef, vegetables and fruits.
The concepts of fresh and local have gained a momentum of late that matches that of the organic movement. That’s not to diminish the importance of any of those ideas. All three – fresh, local and organic – are valuable additions to our shopping experience. But, there does seem to be a bit of over determination around them. In other words, they’re suddenly the passwords to a more fulfilling life or a higher social placement. If you don’t subscribe to those values when shopping then you just don’t get. That’s not fair, now is it?
Fresh and local were held highly a century or more in the past when farms were more abundant and there was probably (can’t say for sure, I wasn’t there!) a greater difference in flavour. The produce grown in your own backyard was almost certainly better than something imported from far away and over long distances. But, today, fast import methods have solved some of those issues. So, yes – fresh and local does make sense – for shopper, farmer, taste and economy. I’m just saying: it’s not something new. We deserve fresh and local as much as possible.
As for eggs, I’d have to question how the shoppers interviewed for this survey define “fresh and local”. The eggs I see at the supermarket are marked as Product of Canada or Product of USA. The first problem is that both of those packages are also from the same company. So, that company harvests its eggs from both countries. How local is that? Oh yeah, and how fresh can they be? Did the Canadian eggs come from farmers in my local area? Probably, maybe? It looks like any useful and detailed information is AWOL.
I guess the moral of the story is that if you want the freshest eggs money can buy (and you can’t raise your own chickens), visit your closest farmers’ market. Except, it’s buyer beware there, too. How can you be sure that those eggs are fresh and local?
It probably doesn’t need to be this complicated, does it?