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Promoting safe and nutritious food selection, preparation and storage practices.

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Nutrition Resource Centre

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Guest Post: On The Farm for Local Food Week

Guest Post: On The Farm for Local Food Week
Today we have a special blog post from Natalie Laframboise a dietetic student from the Masters of Foods and Nutrition program at Brescia University. 

Local Food Week held in June in Ontario is one of the best times to appreciate our Province’s bounty of local agriculture and to experience first-hand a working farm and meet the dedicated families who run them. Dietitians Lynn Roblin, Donna Smith and one lucky dietetic intern (C’est moi) from the Nutrition Resource Centre were fortunate enough to attend a farm tour on June 8th. Sponsored by Farm & Food Care Ontario, Foodland Ontario and in partnership with CropLife Canada and the Holland Marsh Growers’ Association, a bus filled with the friendliest bunch of food enthusiasts made their way to the Holland Marsh, affectionately known as Ontario’s “vegetable patch.”

Smith Gardens, a third generation carrot and onion farm was the first stop on our tour. Greeted by brothers Paul and Gary Smith, we explored their modern processing equipment including an advanced (and one of a kind) water treatment and recycling system that took the brothers four years to implement. Utilizing ozone (O3) and special coagulants, they are able to recycle the “muck” water that cleans the vegetables from the fields. The Smith family is very concerned about food safety and producing a high quality product for their consumers. When asked about pesticide use, the brothers explained, like many farmers, they only use pesticides when necessary to protect their crops. For example, blight is a real concern described Smith “you can lose an entire crop over a weekend.” Pesticides are highly regulated in Canada and there are many misconceptions about their safety for both humans and the environment, for more information visit Health Canada.

With all this talk about food, we were ready to dive into some local fare. Hosted by our next farm, Gwillimdale Farms Ltd. in their beautiful rustic barn, we were intermixed with local farmers and treated to a gorgeous meal. Little Red Catering pulled out all the stops to feature Ontario’s finest foods. A few of the features on the menu - chilled spring pea soup with award winning Mariposa Dairy goat cheese, pan-seared chicken breast with Thompson’s Farm new potatoes dressed with herbs and garlic  and the loveliest trio of desserts too hard to choose a favourite (vanilla Kawartha Dairy ice cream with Meadow Ridge Farms rhubarb compote. 

Like Smith Gardens, Gwillimdale Farms Ltd. is a fourth generation farm operated by John and Cristina Hambly and their three children who plan to carry on the family farm. The farm is comprised of 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables. We were able to see first-hand their production lines as carrots were being processed for grocery stores shelves that weekend.
I’ve always appreciated local food but after today’s tour, I appreciate it that much more and the hard working farmers who bring our food from field to table. Love your Ontario farmers!  


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