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Local Food 101

Have you ever wondered why certain foods are labelled Organic and others Natural.  What is the difference between Grass Fed Beef and Corn Fed Beef?  Should you buy the Free Range Eggs or those from Free Run Hens?  Are there Nutritional advantages of one over the other?  And who makes the decisions concerning Certification and Labelling in Canada?  If you have asked any of these questions, then this section is for you! 

Based on some of the most commonly-asked questions about our food, Foodlink has compiled Local Food 101 to help you navigate through the confusion that surrounds food and agriculture terminology today. 

Choose topics to explore from the categories listed below.  This list will grow over time.  Should there be a term that's not here that you'd like to see covered, please let us know.  We'll do our homework to help get you the facts on your food!

Federal Meat Inspection

Two separate meat inspection systems exist in Ontario because the Constitution permits both federal and provincial governments to legislate in this field.  At the federal level, meat inspection is undertaken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, while the Food Inspection Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food administers meat inspection in the province.

All meat intended for sale in Ontario is subjected to full inspection before and after slaughter, whether in provincial or federal plants, and both inspection programs receive full veterinary, laboratory and enforcement support. The main distinction between the two systems is one of scale and scope, not safety.

With some exceptions, provincial abattoirs are small, family run businesses located throughout rural Ontario. They serve local livestock producers, particularly lamb, veal and the growing niche markets (including bison, farmed deer and elk, ostrich, emu, ducks, geese, partridge, Cornish hens and wild boar) and can sell only within Ontario’s borders.  Federally inspected plants tend to be much larger than their provincial counterparts and are able to sell their meat across Canada and around the world.