Eating local takes a hit
- August 21, 2009 12:28 PM |
- By Kevin Yarr
By Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca
As much as people in the Maritimes might like to eat local, it's getting difficult and is only going to get harder.
So far, vegetables are not much of an issue, but getting local meat is trickier. In Charlottetown, I can get this from local producers at the Farmer's Market, but that's not practical on a large scale.
Take pork, in particular. Even if I buy P.E.I. pork in Charlottetown, that hog would have been transported to Berwick, N.S., slaughtered, butchered, then returned here. There is no longer a pork processing plant on P.E.I. It closed last year.
P.E.I. pork travels close 850 km from the farm to my plate. So really, as far as large-scale commercial goes, there is no such thing as P.E.I. pork. It is best described as Maritime pork.
And it could soon get worse.
This has been a terrible time for pork farmers. Prices below the cost of production have persisted for years. What looked like it might be a recovery year failed due to a mistaken belief that swine flu could be contracted by eating pork.
In 2002, there were about 400 hog farmers on P.E.I. Today, there are about 30. — P.E.I. Hog Commodity Marketing Board
What not long ago was a thriving industry is on the brink of disappearing on P.E.I. In 2002 there were about 400 hog farmers on the Island. In July the P.E.I. Hog Commodity Marketing Board said there are about 30 left.
This week, provincial Agriculture Minister George Webster warned they might not last much longer. Perversely, he placed the blame on a federal aid program.
There are still plenty of hog farmers in the west. Too many, the federal government believes, and they are offering $75 million to encourage some farmers to exit the industry or simply sell off some herds. The goal is to reduce supply and, hopefully, raise prices.
But that offer is also open to Maritime farmers. If even a moderate number of farmers take advantage of the program, Webster believes, the region's processing plants could find themselves in a situation where they don't have enough hogs to stay in business. Any remaining producers would be looking at shipping out of the region, not a financially viable prospect.
And that would mean eating locally, on any kind of significant scale, would simply not be a choice any more.
All News blogs
- Food in times of sorrow
- In spring, a doctor discovered that my grandfather had glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest and most aggressive primary brain tumour. As he battled the tumour over the following months, it was food that connected the family and allowed him to still 'live' instead of merely survive. Later on,... Continue reading this post
- Going deep in Chicago
- No, I’m not talking the Chicago Cubs, I’m talking Pizzaria Uno, creator of the original deep dish pizza.... Continue reading this post
- Q&A with Khalil Akhtar, host of The Main Ingredient
- The Main Ingredient is one of CBC Radio's new summer programs. It's an inside look on the food we grow, buy and eat. In a Q&A, host Khalil Akhtar took the time to discuss his relationship with food and why... Continue reading this post