Local food looks worldly and diverse
Four provinces are growing 150 acres of eggplant, okra
Ontario farmers already grow or raise some 200 kinds of commodities, crops and livestock. Consumers enjoy a cornucopia of great tasting food choices.
But research suggests there’s an opportunity for more, driven mainly by food preferences of the country’s ethnically and culturally diverse population.
In fact, it’s estimated that new Canadians — many with vegetable-based diets — will drive more than 60 per cent of the growth of fresh produce sales.
That’s huge. University of Guelph researchers determined back in 2012 that the market for what are now called “world” crops was already more than $60 million a month, just in the Greater Toronto Area. Further studies now peg that estimate at $80 million.
World crops cover the gambit: Chinese long eggplant, Indian round eggplant, okra, callaloo, Chinese and Thai hot chili peppers, bottle gourd, fuzzy melon, Chinese green onions, Indian red carrot, daikon radish and tomatillo, among others.
For the most part, these crops are imported. But freshness, safety and quality are not always optimal with imports.