Contributed by Karin Desveaux-Potters, Gastronomy Cluster, Economic Development Office.
With a plethora of vegetable stands dotting the roadsides of Prince Edward County, artisan/farmers markets popping up here and there and local veggies even making their way into local supermarkets, the question that comes to mind is “where is the local meat?”.
The answer to “where’s the beef?!” is not straightforward. Meat that is processed locally here in Prince Edward County is done so at one of two provincially inspected abattoir; Lynn Cole in Milford or Ted Aman in Wellington. Neither of these facilities can process chicken, but they can handle lamb, beef, pork and boar. Chicken must be processed “off the island”; the closest facility is about an hour away.
Retailers can choose to sell local meat that has been provincially inspected; this is why it can be sold at the farm gate and at stores like the County Farm Centre. The County Farm Centre proudly carries Lynn Leavitt’s Black Angus beef, Blaine Way’s pork and Dana Vader’s lamb. The product is frozen, but the quality is excellent. The provincially inspected meat can also be sold at the “farm gate”; customers can buy beef, pork and lamb directly from the farmers. Chicken and turkey can also be purchased at the farm gate.
Larger supermarket chains are prevented from selling provincially inspected meat based on their own purchasing policies and their insurance requirements that insist on only selling meat the has been federally inspected. The problem? There isn’t a federal plant in Ontario (for beef/lamb/pork) east of Toronto.
How can we as a food community change that? It really is a question first of supply and demand- asking for local meat at the local supermarkets will tell the shops that consumers want the local product.If there is a market for federally inspected product, the potential exists for provincially inspected plants to explore the possibility of becoming federal.
In the meantime, supporting our local beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey producers by purchasing directly from the farm gate or the County Farm Centre will ensure that they are vibrant businesses, helping to facilitate change.