Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak to Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day. I applaud the initiative put forward by my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia, and I would like to take this opportunity to say how important it is for us to honour the women and men who, day after day, put their heart and soul into providing us with healthful food produced close to home.
I am happy to see that Canadians of all generations are interested in knowing where the food they eat comes from. “Field to fork” is a motto we should all make our own. We should make the benefits of local food available to our families. Truly understanding what fuels our bodies begins with knowing what we are eating, where it comes from, and who produces it. Happy are those who cultivate trust-based relationships with farmers, those caring artisans who share their passion and their know-how with us.
By fostering this relationship, we are guaranteeing an abundant harvest and the satisfaction of cooking with quality ingredients. Our local and public markets are a means of taking concrete action to support our local economy and our environment. Maintaining a short route in the food chain will eliminate enormous quantities of greenhouse gases and inspire a new generation of farmers in our local economy.
I am proud to be able to say that, in Lévis—Lotbinière, we promote our local and regional products. I am living proof. By the way, I would like to thank all of the organizations that feature local products from Lévis—Lotbinière on the menu in their activities. Just look at the fruit and vegetable stands on our farms and in the riding. They provide a variety of produce throughout the summer and fall. A real treat! I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the organizations that make it possible.
We need to be aware that, every time we buy local products, we are honouring our craftspeople and investing in our present and future food safety. Here in the House, we can also do more and better by adopting measures to stimulate the local produce initiative, by investing in the innovation of new products and new cultivars of fruits and vegetables that are less vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather and other natural stresses.
We must also remember those who process local foods. I would like to call your attention to the fact that, in my riding, we have been trying to encourage people to eat local for almost 20 years now. I would like to mention an organization that has made an outstanding effort in this respect: Goûtez Lotbinière. The organization has evolved over the years, but it was created in January 2000. The initial objective was to pool knowledge and experience in order to meet the needs of producers and processors in the Lotbinière RCM who wanted to join forces to promote and market local products.
Since then, several other organizations have become involved, including the Lotbinière local development centre, the Lotbinière regional county municipality, the Lotbinière Caisses Desjardins, the Union des producteurs agricoles, the CFDC and Promutuel de Lotbinière.
Year after year, Goûtez Lotbinière has stood out from the rest by coordinating and participating in activities in Lotbinière, including the Fondation Philippe Boucher cocktail reception since 2009, the Balades d’automne and the Saint-Apollinaire festival, among many others.
The Table Goûtez Lotbinière was also in the Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches area. It took part in the New France festival, the old port of Quebec Christmas market, special events on the Quebec-Lévis ferry, and so on.
A growing number of businesses are calling on the organization's services. That is why designating a national local food day just before Thanksgiving is the best time for raising awareness about the importance of agrifood in our lifestyle. This affects our health and our local economy.
These businesses deserve our attention. Let us encourage them by buying their products that are so wonderful. That way, we might discover new burgeoning success stories close to home and be able to proudly say one day that we were there from day one or that we were one of the first to buy these local treasures.
I encourage all farmers and processors to take part in the competition to promote their products.
We are seeing a positive and enthusiastic response from Canadians to all these efforts. I invite all Canadians to draw up a list of their local producers and processors so that they can buy and taste local products and maintain this relationship of trust. They can help keep our regions economically prosperous by buying local.
Before I finish, I also want to talk about a new national and even international trend: rural green tourism. For several years, tourists have been participating in activities and buying products that are directly or indirectly connected to agri-tourism or local tourism.
You can find all kinds of local and foreign visitors using regional agri-tourism maps, visiting agri-tourism museums, or simply stopping at u-pick farms along the way. These rural or agri-tourists are not necessarily trying to promote local foods; they simply enjoy basking in the country life.
On top of those visitors are the ones who choose their tourist destinations based on accommodations, restaurants with good local menus, as well as rural-themed cultural activities, sports or educational experiences that are typical of the local way of life.
In short, this will help our overall health, including our physical health and our environment. This is huge. We owe it to all Canadians to make a choice for our regions' futures, and I urge all of my colleagues to support Bill C-231.