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Farmers’ Market continues to put farmers first

According to environmentalists, the average food calorie in Canada travels over 2,000 kilometres from its source to your plate. It takes days, sometimes weeks, to arrive by train, truck and boat, often stopping along the way to change vehicles and be processed by distributors.

While a penchant for bananas and pineapples no doubt adds a few k’s to the average trip, it still takes too much time, energy and fuel to get into your body.

The cost of storing and transporting this food halfway across the country also increases prices at the grocery store, while at the same time lowering margins for farmers. According to Dr. Bill Rees, one of the co-authors of Our Ecological Footprint, farmers around the world have never been in a worse position financially despite the perceived advantages of global trade.

From the sustainability standpoint – and sustainability is the thing to be in Whistler these days – it really makes sense to think globally, buy locally. While less than five per cent of B.C.’s land base is deemed suitable for farming, our population is still small enough that we can still provide for many of our own food needs.

The agriculture and food sector in B.C. is actually growing, which is an anomaly in Canada where farms are increasingly being consumed by development and going out of business. Currently 250,000 people are employed in agriculture and food industries, generating $16 billion in sales. Production from farms and fisheries currently supply more than 60 per cent of our food requirements.

Part of the reason for this success is the quality of product, but a lot of it has to do with pride. British Columbians do make a point of buying food that was grown or caught in the province, buying B.C. wines, and frequenting restaurants that have a high local content. In doing so, we’re not only helping our farmers, we’re also benefiting the environment and the economy by keeping our purchases local and minimizing transportation.

And then there are institutions like the Whistler Upper Village Farmers’ Market. On any given Sunday during the summer, the Upper Village is teaming with locals and tourists doing their shopping for the week. You can even find chefs from our most popular restaurants out among the stalls buying fresh food for that evening’s menu.

This year the market will be under new management as Nicole Ronayne, a fourth generation Pemberton farmer, takes over for Lovena Harvey, who recently moved with her family to the Gulf Islands.

But while the management might be new, the quality will be the same.