Lo­cal food looks worldly and di­verse

Four prov­inces are grow­ing 150 acres of egg­plant, okra

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - The New Farm - Owen roberts

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.

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