"September is the height of the harvest season so it's a unique opportunity to support local farmers and put more of our food dollars back into the local economy," said Keith Colwell, minister of Agriculture. "It's also the perfect way to learn about the variety of produce and products available right here in Nova Scotia."
According to a report from 2013, Are Nova Scotians Eating Local?, 15 per cent of Nova Scotians' diet comes from local sources. The club launched last year and is organized by the Farmers' Markets of Nova Scotia and supported by Select Nova Scotia. Along with the food challenge, the program is also about strengthening the understanding and appreciation about where our food comes from.
"Whether inspired by the health of your family, community or our economy, the 50% Local Food Club invites each of us to choose local. This one-month commitment shows us that small daily steps are possible and impactful," said Keltie Butler, executive director of Farmers' Markets of Nova Scotia.
There are also activities throughout the month that celebrate local food outlets.
– Saturday, Sept. 19, the Farmers' Markets of Nova Scotia will host a live Twitter chat with farmers from across the province about Open Farm Day.
– Sunday, Sept. 20, Open Farm Day will give people a chance to visit farms in Nova Scotia to learn more about local food and farmers, and see the impact of spending money locally.
"I am encouraging my legislature colleagues, members of the public service and all Nova Scotians to sign up and eat local in September and throughout the year," said Colwell. "The 50% Food Club is your chance to try new delicious local products while putting more money in local farmers' pockets."
Last year, the club saw more than 3,000 people sign up including community and civic leaders, and businesses from around the province.
To join the club, individuals, families and groups can sign up online at http://nslocalfoodclub.wordpress.com . To find local products, visit http://selectnovascotia.ca and use the where-to-buy search engine.
For more information on the benefits of buying local, and where to find locally grown and made products, visit Select Nova Scotia on Facebook or at http://selectnovascotia.ca.
SIDEBAR: Politicians eat local
The “eat local” campaign is featuring as part of the Central Nova race.
Central Nova Green Party candidate David Hachey is challenging his fellow candidates to support local food providers. The Farmers' Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative is running a 50% Local Food Club for the month of September. Hachey has signed up, committing to eating 50% local food for the month of September, and has challenged the other candidates to follow suit.
NDP Candidate Ross Landry and Liberal Party candidate Sean Fraser have also accepted the challenge, also committing to eating 50% local food for the month.
“Supporting our farmers and markets, and eating delicious local food is a cause dear to my heart,” Hachey says. He notes that if just one out every ten people in this riding joined, and spent $200 on local food products, it would mean an extra $1,500,000 in incremental income for local producers –income which would largely stay within the local economy.
“Look around your local farmer's markets and imagine over a million extra dollars helping your neighbours operate their farms, expand, hire additional help and continue their important work providing us with fresh, high quality meat and produce. It only takes a little effort from consumers to make a big difference. With every purchase we reinforce the whole local food network and secure its future.”
Landry said he and his wife are proud to support this initiative.
"We already purchase the majority of our protein directly from farmers in our area, and we enjoy getting our produce from local farmers' markets as much as we can. When you buy from a local farmer, not only are you eating healthier and protecting the environment, you are also supporting your local economy and more humane farming practices. We encourage everyone to join us in taking the 50% local food pledge for September!"