8 What Does "Local" Mean?

The term "local" can be confusing. Really it is open for you and for me to define what local means in our lives. Does it mean your immediate city, within a 100 mile radius, your province/state, your country, continent, hemisphere? There are many factors that can affect your decision to describe a product as local. 

Does it depend on what we are buying? When buying food it is easier to "local" as food that is within 100 miles of your home vs when buying clothing "local" may mean the clothes are made in your country.

Does it depend on the time of year?  When I am not buying something that is in season in my immediate area my personal definition of local expands to be within Canada. 

Does it depend on what the alternatives are?  If there are two identical products that differ only in their location of origin would that affect your definition of local?  Would something that is made on the same continent as you suddenly be considered local because the only other alternative is something made on the other side of the world.

How to tell where something is made or grown

Made in [Insert Country Here]  does not mean the product is actually made in Insert Country Here]For a product in to be able to use a 'Made in [Insert Country Here]' on their label the product needs to undergo its last transformation in the country indicated on the label, regardless of what country the ingredients came from. A great example of this is a pizza that has a Made in [Insert Country Here] label only has to be assembled in [Insert Country Here] to be able to use this claim. Meaning that all of the ingredients can come from other countries. Conversely if the label says Product of [Insert Country Here] it means that the majority (ie: 98%) is fully grown in and made in [Insert Country Here].

Look for produce labels that indicate the origin. Certifications and organizations you trust are your best bet. I like the Foodland Ontario label for food. Quick visual reminders make shopping faster and easier.

Buy from farmers you have talked to. Not all farmers sell only their products, in fact a lot have arrangements with other farmers to trade goods for sale. Reach out to your local farmer and ask where exactly the food was grown.

Research companies that you love and find out the lifecycle of their product(s). Rapanui is the perfect example of a compay that is an open book on the lifecycle of their products. If a company you love doesn't have this kind of information on their website then reach out to them to talk about their processes.

Grow it yourself. It is pretty easy to know where your food has come from if you grow it yourself in your backyard or in a community garden. 

And in case you were wondering. I consider "local" to mean anything made or grown within my province. What do you consider local?

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  1. This was really interesting ... I didn't know the difference between "Made In" and "Product From". So thank you for that! I wish that I could say "Local" was anything in my county but with so much of our food grown in centralized locations and so little grown here, I would have to compromise my health to fully eat local. That said, there are some things grown in my area and make full use of them, both eating fresh and preserving what I can. After that, I start expanding the circle so that I get a variety of healthy foods. For me, foods like bananas which aren't grown anywhere near my home, are treats ... not staples. Yes, bananas are healthy but there are other foods which contain their benefits. Thanks for sharing this information ... I learned a lot!

  2. I do the same thing with expanding my circle out as I have a need for produce that is not available in my area. For instance if I can't get an apple in my area but I can get it from BC then I will buy it. I don't consider it "local" but I still feel it is better than an apple from further away.

    It is a delicate balance for sure!

  3. I live close the BC Alberta border and to Washington, Montana and Idaho - so that's what I consider the local area. Anything that can be transported to my town in less than 24 hours :)

  4. I am glad you brought up these points. One local farmer was selling veggies from another country! You have to ask.

  5. We get that too our one of our local farmers markets. They get their produce from a food terminal in Toronto and the food is from all over. But they sell it for cheap so people buy it and feel good because they are buying from the market.

  6. Great post, Jen! I didn't know that the "Made in" and "Product of" labels were different! That's great to know!

  7. Good information! I never knew that there a difference between made in and product form - so that was very interesting. I consider local within a 100 mile radius or closer.

  8. Interesting Jen. I agree- the best way to learn about your food is to ask. There's nothing like asking a farmer about his/her product and learning about where that product came from. We have lost most of our food/earth connection when we shop in the super market.