SAULT STE. MARIE INNOVATION CENTRE
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Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
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RAIN Division Develops North-Central Food and Agricultural Study
Posted: Jul 25, 2018

Why Isn’t Local Food Lining the Shelves?

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (August 2018): The Rural-Agri Innovation Network (RAIN), a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), recognizes that Northern Ontario is home to well-established beef, grain, oilseed, potato, fruit and vegetable, and rainbow trout industries. But how do you get more of the rich harvest of Northern Ontario’s farms, forests and lakes to local stores, restaurants and the shoppers who increasingly care about their food, where it comes from, and how it gets to their plate?

RAIN’s mandate is to build a strong farm and food sector in Northern Ontario through initiatives like the North-central Food and Agriculture Market Study.

The purpose of the Market Study is to get a comprehensive picture of demand and the area’s food economy. It will examine how food moves through the system in Algoma, Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts. The medium to long-term goal of this project is to foster economic activity within the agri-food sector and local economy.  The project results will be available in March 2019 and will be distributed to food producers and purchasers.

Embers Grill & Smokehouse has been serving up local food since they opened 7 years ago. Owners Brandi and Shayne Bell are local food champions and use food from over 10 local farms in their restaurant. When asked about the benefits of using local food, Brandi told us, “Its healthier, and we like the freshness. And knowing where the animals are raised – we get our cows local, our pigs local – its knowing what they’re eating as well.” Brandi also shared, “We like that we know where our money is going. We’re a local business and we like to support other local businesses and hopefully they will support us back – the community works together. If we keep our money local it will stay here – it will help their kids and our kids.” RAIN’s goal in the Market Study is to grow the local food industry and enable more businesses to use locally produced food like Embers does.

“This Market Study will provide market insights to food producers that want to create new products, launch new businesses and expand the agri-food sector.” said David Thompson, RAIN Research Project Coordinator.

This project was initiated by RAIN, Local Food and Farm Co-ops, Community Futures Development Corporation (East Algoma, SSM & Area, Superior East), the City of Greater Sudbury, the Bruce Mines Agricultural Society and the Mill Market. These organizations identified a need to undertake a study to better understand the regional market to increase regional food production, processing and purchasing.