It’s harvest season, Thanksgiving is approaching and it’s the ideal time to load your table with local foods. For example, Ontario farmers grow or raise some 200 different commodities. Ontario Agriculture Week, which takes place this year between October 4th and 10th, is dedicated to celebrating the abundance of food Ontario farmers produce, the Ontarians employed on farms and in agri-business, the rural communities farming supports and the economic engine it fuels.
“Day in and out, Ontario farmers are providing fresh, healthy and local food to Ontarians in all communities, from the biggest cities to the smallest rural hamlets,” says Peggy Brekveld, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “Let’s take a moment this week to give a nod to the people who work every day producing safe, healthy food, raising awareness of the industry and shaping the policies and regulations that govern agriculture.”
Support local Ontario farmers during Thanksgiving by filling your plates with an array of fresh, local Ontario-grown products. And your choices are as abundant as the stereotypical cornucopia overflowing with fresh produce.
- The Appetizers — Your choices are abundant here. Fresh fruit – apples, pears, grapes — is a great addition to a charcuterie board with local cheeses and cured meats. Load up a vegetable tray with an abundance of fresh raw veggies like carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. Stuffed mushrooms are also a great warm up snack before the big meal; stuff the mushroom cap with a mixture of cream cheese, cheddar and local artichoke hearts (bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until the mixture is warm and bubbly).
- Side Dishes — Where to start — Ontario corn, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, squash are all in season. And don’t forget Ontario potatoes; mashed or scalloped, they are a staple on the Thanksgiving dinner plate. Of course, you will also need some cranberry sauce, and Ontario happens to have two commercial cranberry bogs — one in Muskoka and another near Ottawa.
- The Main Course — Ontario turkey is a must. Local turkeys are high in flavour and low in fat and packed with nutrients. And all Ontario turkeys are raised in free roam conditions without the use of added hormones or steroids. Learn more about Ontario turkey and how to ensure the bird you choose is local at ontarioturkey.ca. If you like a nice ham to go alongside the turkey, you can get that from Ontario as well.
- Dessert — It is most definitely apple pie season, and Ontario spy apples — one of the best varieties for baking — just happen to be in season. So too are Ontario pumpkins, and pumpkin pie is a fantastic Thanksgiving dessert.
If in question about a local food — where to find it, how to cook it, check Foodland Ontario’s availability guide for a full list of Ontario produce.
About the Ontario Federation of Agriculture:
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer. For more information, visit ofa.on.ca.
About Home Grown
A public awareness initiative of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Home Grown is a campaign to advocate for the importance of Ontario farms as a source of food, fuel and fibre. Arable farmland is the most important natural resource, but Ontario is losing an average of 175 acres of farmland to urban development every day; that is the equivalent of five family farms paved over every week. It is the objective of Home Grown to help develop a workable plan to guide responsible development in Ontario, ensuring growth to provide housing and support local tax bases while also protecting productive farmland.