"Shoppers need greater choice" says cattle farmer and Co-op producer-member Sarah Bakker of Field Sparrow Farms, at the opening of the West End Food Co-op's Food Hub - "we need to grow the local food movement and help promote human scale, safer farming."
TORONTO, Oct. 5, 2012 /CNW/ -
More Choice in the West End Shoppers in the west end of Toronto will soon have a new option for safe, healthy, local food with the opening of Toronto's first co-operative grocery store in more than 25 years.
The community enterprise - a multi-stakeholder co-operative owned by the workers, consumers, farmers and community groups together - is a first for the city. The members of the Co-op call the store a "Food Hub" more than a store it will be a centre for helping to transform local food in Parkdale, High Park, Liberty Village and neighbouring communities with workshops, events, and food educational programming.Crisis of Confidence in Canada's Food System Just as Canadians are facing yet another meat processing disaster with the recall of XL meats products, the West End Food Co-op "Food Hub" will offer members the option of purchasing healthy, local meat, dairy and other products from farmers who are our friends, neighbours, and also members of the Co-op with a direct stake in the quality of our products and the success of our co-operative enterprise. Farmer and Co-op producer-member Sarah Bakker, who is also with the National Farmer's Union, said, "It is not just consumers who are affected. The problems at the XL plant are going to affect cattle farmers across the country. What more evidence do we need for a smaller, local abattoirs and human scale farming where animals are cared for rather than treated like a commodity?" "Small scale, local food movements are not perfect of course," says co-op Retail and Kitchen Coordinator Ayal Dinner, "but if you have a problem in a small processing plant you can localize it. When you are slaughtering 30,000 head of cattle a week like XL and you have a problem it affects every single Canadian." A Labour of Love The Co-op's founding members have been working for the past seven years to start a "Food Hub" in their neighbourhood and over time brought in farmers and community groups to help start the West End Food Co-op, a provincially registered co-op since 2008. West End Food Co-op began operating a local farmers' market at Sorauren Park in 2007 and now has more than 35 vendors at the successful market. "The farmers' market is a great place to get local, healthy beef and other meat products," says John Richmond, a regular volunteer and shopper at the market as well as a committed customer of Sarah Bakker and Field Sparrow Farms, "at the Food Hub we will be able to buy the same high quality products from many of same producers as at the market. I can't wait!" Food Hub to Feature Local Farmers Many of the vendors at the Farmers Market who sell meat, such as Greengate Farms and Field Sparrow are also members of the Co-op and will have some of their products for sale at the "Food Hub". "It is amazing we are finally here," adds Victor Willis, co-op founding member and Executive Director of Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre. "We will also be addressing food security issues at the Food Hub by developing programs like Co-op Cred that will give low income residents access to local, healthy food." Everyone Welcome Everyone is welcome to the grand opening this Saturday, October 6th from 9am-5pm at 1229 Queen St. West. Cattle farmer Sarah Bakker from Field Sparrow Farms will be available to speak to the media from 3-5pm at the store along with Co-op staff and a variety of board members. SOURCE West End Food Coop