The Big Picture: Local beef, city lights

URBANITES WANT LOCAL BEEF TOO

Exciting Update!

In Toronto, Ontario Corn Fed Beef is now available at valu-mart® stores and at BloorStreet Market™, which is located at Bay and Bloor.

In Ottawa, the product is available at Your Independent Grocer® stores.

A media and community event was held at Tremblett’s valu-mart in Toronto on May 25th to celebrate the launch of the program. Zehrs Markets®, valu-mart®, Your Independent Grocer® and BloorStreet Market™ announced that they have taken their current partnership with Ontario Cattle Feeders Association (OCFA) to a new level by featuring a significantly increased Ontario beef offering.


THE local food movement can no longer be considered a trend. It is well understood that there are economic and environmental benefits to buying local. Most importantly, in an era of returning to home-cooking, from scratch eating and a passion for quality ingredients, consumers simply want to know where their food comes from.
 

Foodies and Locavores can rejoice all over Ontario. Canada is setting the world stage for the sustainable local food movement with Ontario once again playing lead.

On Victoria Day long-weekend, Loblaw Companies Limited, one of Canada’s largest food retailers, replaced the beef on their shelves with locally grown, corn-fed, Ontario beef by launching a new partnership with the Ontario Corn-Fed Beef program. 150 Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer locations and Valu-Mart stores will now exclusively feature Ontario Corn Fed Beef.

“It’s nice to have a brand that people recognize as being Ontario,” says Jim Clark Executive Director of Ontario Cattle Feeders Association.

Loblaws has long been considered to be at the forefront of the Canadian foodie movement which picked up in earnest in the ‘90s and this is another example of the company having its finger on the pulse of the Canadian consumer.  Local food innovation indeed! The kind of thing that the urban foodie would, well, eat up…

So why did Loblaws roll this out to 150 stores almost entirely in rural areas?

“Yes, we have targeted rural and farming communities mostly at this time. We’re not selling to urban centres yet but this partnership will evolve and grow,” says Rodney Koning – VP of meat and seafood procurement for Loblaws Companies Ltd.

Loblaws and the Ontario Beef Growers wanted to test this in a way that was indicative of a truly local food initiative by outfitting rural Loblaws stores with corn-fed beef raised in the very same communities that would consume it. Understandably any new corporate initiative and partnership, like any other relationship, takes time to work out the kinks.

my take
As an urban foodie, I’m disappointed that the urban market wasn’t considered as part of the first phase of this trial.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I love what Loblaws and the fine folks at Ontario Beef are doing. I say kudos and yay and woo hoo! This is all good news. I’m celebrating too!

But let’s be honest, isn’t the local food movement really about urbanites supporting the local farmers? Isn’t it really about Toronto’s urban hipsters getting excited at the prospect of strolling the meat aisle, by-passing the Kobe beef section and picking up a steak for the barbecue that was grown locally and raised on Ontario corn? Isn’t it about teaching those in non-rural areas about where their food comes from? Isn’t it about the country mouse and the city mouse?

That’s what I thought the local food movement was really about. I didn’t think folks in rural areas needed a lesson in that.

While this is surely a coup for the Ontario corn-fed beef grower and of course the Ontario consumer, (currently exclusively a lucky, lucky rural shopper) I hope that the results of this trial come in fast and furious and this initiative will be opened up to all Ontario Loblaws banners in the very near future.

Until then, I will gaze upon my country cousins as they sear, grill, smoke and relish knowing that, like at my own kitchen table, there’s always room for one more.

About the Author
Andria is Grain Farmers of Ontario’s newest communications team member. Her focus is on public and media relations and as an urbanite, she brings a unique perspective to Grain Farmers of Ontario. Look for more of her articles on this back page in future issues. •