By Stephen Vance, Editor
If you pick up some raspberries or blueberries at the farmers’ market this week, they quite likely arrived in your kitchen with a little help from some friends, maybe even some of your own friends.
This week I was an arms-length witness to the true nature of a small town like Meaford, a community that responds when a neighbour can use a hand.
Such was the case for a local fruit grower who found himself in a bit of a pickle after arrangements for some workers to pick berries fell through, but the berries still needed to be picked in order to bring them to market.
As has become the modern custom, social media was put to work with a call for helpers who could spare some time in the fresh air picking berries.
Within (and I rarely use this word) literally minutes, Meaford residents young and old held up their virtual hands to offer their help. So much for the oft tossed about thought that Canadians have little interest in crouching over berry bushes for several hours to make a few bucks.
Those who enlisted to assist arrived by car, scooter, and bicycle, and based on some photos I’ve seen, picking berries may have been the mission, but the result wasn’t just stacks of flats of fresh berries, and some spending money in some pockets. Also clear, to me at least, was that these folks had fun, and made new friends, and they were proud to have been able to help out a local grower who has been so very good to this community for many, many years.
This small snapshot of rural community living made me think of all of the food in our cupboards at home, and where that food has come from, and the many hands that were required to bring that food into our kitchen.
While I, like many, do my best to buy as local as possible in every way, with food it can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible to work toward a goal of having half of your kitchen stash supplied by local producers. And should supporting local farmers not be on your priority list, perhaps consider a selfish approach (it’s okay, we won’t tell anyone) because from my experience, the closer a food item comes from home, the better the freshness, the better the flavour, and the bigger the smile – especially if there’s a story to tell about the way neighbours don’t let neighbours down in a small town.