Potatoes: Grown in Canada
It’s one of our favourite times of the year: Canadian potatoes are starting coming out of the ground, from our producers right across the country.
What exactly does “local” mean? It’s a trending topic with produce consumers: How local is my food? How recently was it harvested? How far did it travel? What is its environmental footprint?
The answer isn’t always as logical as you’d expect.
The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is the governing body that regulates all food claims in market, and has an interim standard of rules it applies to determine if a product can carry any “local” cred:
- food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
- food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory
(From CFIA Local Food Claims Interim Policy, September 23, 2014)
This means that the product must be harvested from the same province in which it is sold or, if grown in another province, from within 50km of the border – i.e. potatoes sold in Winnipeg can be considered local if they came from the easternmost part of Saskatchewan. Say, Yorkton.
With that definition in mind, a product can be labeled “Local” if it’s sold in a far northern outpost of a province – thousands of kilometres away from where it was harvested down south. To that end, CFIA has included the following caveat on its Local Food Claims page:
The CFIA recognizes that this approach is outdated and does not reflect current food production practices or consumer needs and expectations.
Local-ish is good too…
You don’t need to have a double-major in Meteorology and Botany to recognize that, for at least six months of the year, the only things growing in Canada’s agricultural regions are icicles. We simply have to source product from our southern neighbours (and beyond), sometimes. Even when we’re not using Canadian product, many of our potatoes come from relatively nearby: Washington State is one of our leading sources for US potatoes, for example. Not too far for the tubers to travel to reach our warehouses and retailers in Western Canada.
Are our Canadian potatoes fresher, healthier or “better” than US potatoes? Not necessarily.
Root crops are hardy. As long as the conditions are right in the truck and in the warehouse, they can withstand a long trek and a bit of a wait before they get packaged up and shipped out to stores. Potatoes tend to remain fresh longer than a more delicate product, and their nutritional value hangs on longer after harvest. Besides, we take great care in grading the potatoes that come into our warehouse, so any that come in lower than our standard of excellence are sorted, pulled, and composted.
It’s Great to Buy Canadian When You Can
Not only are we supporting Canadian business when we buy produce from our home and native land, but we get to avoid tariffs and exchange rates associated with bringing product up from our nearby US neighbours.
While we have great relationships with all of our producers, near and far, there’s a certain soft spot for those from Canada. That sense of pride we feel in carrying produce that’s grown under the mighty maple leaf.
Look for our Canadian-grown potatoes in-store… in our brand new bags!
At Thomas Fresh, we love all produce from all corners of the world… but potatoes are an incredibly important part of our heritage. To pay homage to our favourite starchy tuber, we’ve been working hard to dress them up in a package that helps them shine in the grocery store. These potato bags will be showing up at your favourite grocery retailer this autumn. Keep an eye out for them, and put some great Canadian Content in your shopping cart.