It's no secret that locally grown fruits and vegetables tastes far better than produce that's been shipped from afar.

Which is why for the last few years, officials at the City of Thunder Bay have been working closely with regional producers to find a way to get more local foods to the residents of northwestern Ontario.

And earlier this month, the city was given the Local Food Champion Award for all their hard work.

"The presentation of the award was a surprise to me," the city's supply management manager, Dan Munshaw said, and "it was simply in recognition of the work and efforts that the city of Thunder Bay has done to promote and engage and adopt local foods."

Munshaw said the city has been working closely with local and regional food producers to achieve relationships, increase the regional total food spend and advocate for produce that's been grown in northwestern Ontario.

"Some of the successes that we've had that we are being recognized provincially and nationally is, we've gone out and built forward food contracts directly with producers, so we have producers growing crops on behalf of the City of Thunder Bay," Munshaw explained.

According to Munshaw, last year the City purchased nearly $400,000 worth of food from nearby producers, which in turn has encouraged economic development while providing a more nutritious option for residents in our city.

He said, this award not only recognizes the hard work done by council and the officials at the city, but it also shows the city's innovative approach to increasing local foods.

"We are trying to place the city as a test area to build proof of concept models," Munshaw said, so "we'll work, we'll explore opportunity [and] we'll be creative with producers."