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New online tool available to help market local foods

By Gary Sliworsky
OMAFRA Rep.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA) have developed a new online tool that helps produce growers understand the regulations and requirements to bring their foods of plant origin to market. Whether they are selling at the farm gate, to local farmers’ markets or retailers, this tool, Marketing Foods of Plant Origin in Ontario: A Guide to Legislative Requirements, connects producers to the food safety, labeling and packaging requirements for their region.
Producers in the Northern Ontario region were facing a challenge to understanding how they could offer their locally-grown fruits, vegetables and other foods of plant origin through a variety of channels in their communities. Regulations that influence the sale of these products can be from the federal or provincial government as well as the local health unit. Knowing where to go to get the right information was daunting.
The new tool allows growers to go online and answer a series of questions, the answers to which allow them to offer their products while complying with appropriate rules and regulations. Questions include what is being sold, if any minimal processing is required before going to market, where the items are being sold and so on.
Links to the correct information from various sources are then provided (as applicable). These links indicate the regulation that is in place, and can relate to packaging, food labeling or processing.
While initiated due to a need identified by growers in Northern Ontario, this tool is available online to all Ontario producers of foods of plant origin. To use the tool online visit ontario.ca/producesafety
Growers who do not have access to the web-version may contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 for alternate versions.
For more information about Marketing Foods of Plant Origin in Ontario: A Guide to Legislative Requirements, please visit ontario.ca/producesafety.
Dates to Remember
July 25 – Soil & Crop Tour, starts 9:30 am, Larry Lamb farm
July 25 – Community Pasture Open House, BBQ lunch at 1:00 pm followed by a tour of the pasture, Morley-Dilke Road
July 25 – Emo Research Station House Open House, 7:00 pm