There has been increasing interest and attention given to the production, processing, distribution and sale of local food in Ontario and Canada as a whole. The local food movement, as it is often referred to, recognizes the benefits of the production of local food for our economy, our producers, our health and our communities. Initiatives in various forms are becoming more prevalent in all regions of Ontario.
However, the local food movement has faced many obstacles due to the complexity of the global economy and the existing food and agricultural systems. With increasing food prices and the effects of climate change becoming ever more prevalent, food access and sustainability have become predominant issues affecting all those who consume and produce food (Parkman, 2014). Low income earners especially have difficulties gaining access to fresh and affordable food (Parkman, 2014).
Food production, pricing and access are determined by various tiers of regulations, policies and levels of privatization (Parkman, 2014). This has contributed to the need for and interest in local food. There is also the necessity for producers to be able to maintain and/or increase their levels of production that allows them to earn a fair income while also minimizing their impacts on the environment (Canadian Federation of Agriculture, 2011).
It is important to understand that collaboration between producers, consumers and all those involved in the local food movement is essential to improving food access, security and sustainability to ensure the future of healthy communities in Ontario and Canada.
A literature review regarding local food, food security, food sovereignty, agriculture in northern Ontario and policies related to the production and distribution of food in Ontario has been completed.
Utilizing the 2011 and 2016 agricultural census data, an analysis of northern Ontario's agricultural sector was completed.