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Catching on to the slow food movement, Agricultural Minister John MacDonnell has challenged Nova Scotians to eat locally this coming Sept. 4, in a move to stimulate Atlantic Canada's economy and encourage healthy lifestyles.
In part with the challenge, the Minister is asking Nova Scotians to build their menu using producers found within Atlantic Canada.
While a unique and subtle spin on the controversial Buy American movement that has concerned Canadian exporters, both MacDonnell and eatatlantic.ca have ignored a key shortfall of their challenge without providing a concise solution; specifically, major grocers import produce from regions outside of Atlantic Canada.
While the challenge stands to bolster the Atlantic Region for a day, the challenge does little in the long-term to encourage major grocers to prop-up local produce. Time and again we read about struggling sectors within the farm industry and yet little is done on a retail level to foster growth and offer Nova Scotians the opportunity to know their hard-earned dollars are going back into the local economy. The only major outlet to have embraced the idea of promoting local products whole-heartedly, it seems, is the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, which offers a selection of Nova Scotia wines at a convenient and well- labeled display.
Clearly, it will be up to the consumer to make the minister's challenge a success and with this said it goes without saying the odds are Nova Scotians will buy Nova Scotia. It will be the roadside vendors and farmers markets from this province who will see some reward Sept. 4, and rightly so.
The notion of what local means is one without definition and on the heels of the minister's challenge we would up the ante and challenge participants to consider the term local to mean within a 100-kilometre radius of their home. Not only is this a more direct means of supporting our local producers, it exemplifies the benefits of buying locally to our policy makers, retailers and, especially, ourselves.
$1,000 spent across four provinces is one thing, but $1,000 spent in your backyard makes businesses take notice and hopefully, create the change consumers have been asking for.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Liquor Commission

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Region

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