If you’ve ever wanted to find a way to eat healthier, fresher, more local foods, now is the perfect time to take advantage of Buy Algoma and their available resources.
Buy Algoma is a branding and marketing program coordinated by the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN). Their goal is to connect consumers to local food and drink that is grown and harvested in the region.
“We promote local farms, processors, as well as retailers and restaurants that emphasize procurement of local food from local producers,” said David Thompson, manager of the Rural Agri-Innovation Network at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre.
Buy Algoma is a member-based program, with members consisting of producers, processors, retailers, and restaurants in Algoma. There are currently 65 members who produce, sell, and serve local food.
“We promote our members through social media, through our website, and through a printed map that we distribute. If consumers want to go out into the country and make different stops, whether it’s looking for U-pick strawberry places, wineries or farmer’s markets, our member directory is available,” Thompson said. “It’s really tied in with our initiative through RAIN, where our mandate is a more resilient agri-food system. Purchasing local is a big part of that,” he said.
“Consumers can either pick up a map at one of our member locations to find the information or they could go to buyalgoma.ca. They will be able to find members by the products they’re selling. All of that information is on the directory site. If they’re interested in getting local food delivered to their home, they’re able to find that information on the website as well,” Thompson said.
Buy Algoma’s user-friendly website has the option to customize your search, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. With their map feature, you can select which type of local food you’re looking for (fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and more), as well as how far you’re willing to travel, and be able to see exactly where each location is.
Consumers also have the option to further specify their search if they are looking for a farmer’s market, winery, greenhouse, or wholesaler.
“When you’re purchasing local from a local retailer, that dollar can go a lot further,” Thompson said of the benefits of buying local. “From paying the producer a bigger share of the dollar as well as local distributors, local processors, and ultimately at the local retailer. Your dollar goes a lot further in support of the local economy. Another benefit is that if we’re keeping our food purchases more local, we’re able to cut down on the distance that food needs to travel throughout our food system. If we’re purchasing local beef, the animals are raised here, they get processed here and they get shipped here from Bruce Mines. Cutting down on food miles is a big benefit environmentally.”
“For the social and cultural aspect, as we support our local food movement, we’re supporting family farms that have been around for a very long time, and it’s important to keep those food traditions as a part of our culture. In terms of food security, buying local gives farmers the confidence to continue to increase food security in the community,” he said.