Quesnel’s Long Table Grocery aims to connect local food producers with local food consumers and build community, while also supporting farmers and entrepreneurs and making it easier for people in the Cariboo to get an organic, local meal on their tables.
Its mission is a lot like the mission of the recently-launched Buy B.C.: Eat Drink Local dining campaign, so it seems fitting that Long Table Grocery was one of the first area businesses to register.
The month of May marks the start of the Buy B.C. campaign, a new promotion aimed at educating British Columbians on the positive effect their choices have in B.C. when they choose to support local agriculture, seafood and food processing companies.
The Buy B.C. campaign will help local producers connect with the hospitality sector and increase the number of B.C. products that are profiled and served in restaurants and food service establishments around the province, according to a press release from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Ministry of Agriculture has partnered with the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association on the campaign, and as part of it, has launched a month-long dining promotion, which offers consumers a chance to learn about and enjoy fresh dishes made with local ingredients at more than 300 restaurants in 48 communities.
The campaign will also feature the return of the Buy B.C. logo, making it easier for people to support B.C. farmers, seafood and food processors, with an easy-to-identify brand on food products grown and made in B.C.
British Columbians can learn which restaurants will be serving Buy B.C.: Eat Drink Local menus by visiting eatdrinklocal.ca.
While the dining promotion is for the month of May, the website will remain active beyond May and provide a place for suppliers like Long Table Grocery to be found and to share their stories.
Long Table Grocery offers a range of essential grocery items and prioritizes locally-grown, organic and fair-trade products. In partnership with local food businesses, Long Table offers bi-weekly grocery deliveries to locations within the Quesnel area.
“I’m optimistic about the government’s commitment to the local food economy, and it will be interesting and exciting to see how the programs they’re implementing impact our food system,” says Long Table co-founder Amy Quarry.
“There are lots of really great things happening in the local food scene, particularly in Quesnel I think, and it’s great to be part of that and see people get excited about local food and community.”
Quarry believes there is a lot of potential for growth in the local food scene, and she feels there is more interest in local food these days. She also believes there are many exciting and positive things taking place, like more businesses starting to localize their menu and producers collaborating with other local producers.
Building community and connection is a big part of Long Table’s mission. Long Table is open Wednesday afternoons for shopping at 678 Doherty Drive, and online shopping and harvest box subscriptions are available at longtablegrocery.com.
Long Table Grocery hosted a Farm to Market Mixer in February, bringing the people who produce the food and the people who buy the food together, and Quarry says it was very positive.
“We do know some good connections came out of that, and we’re hoping to do more of that,” she says.
Quarry thinks the Eat Drink Local website will be an interesting way to see which restaurants are committed to localizing their menus, and it might even encourage more restaurants to include more local food on their menus.
Quarry has noticed there seems to be more interest in local food and where food comes from.
“It seems like there’s a lot of interest in food in general, and because local food and organic food, we think, tastes better, people who are interested in food and cooking come to us,” she says.
“I think people are more interested in the farms, knowing where their food comes from; animal welfare and how the animals are treated is important to our customers. The people who seek us out are interested in organic. There’s lots of interest in food at farmers’ markets too, and we think it’s great.”
Quarry hopes more local suppliers take part in this campaign.
“The suppliers we work with typically are busy farming and don’t necessarily have the time to put together websites and are less active on social media than other businesses,” she says.
“This is an easy online tool for them to promote them. That’s a good benefit, and it makes it easier for chefs to find them, and that’s great too.”
Cariboo businesses that are interested in this campaign can contact Tamsin Scholz at 604-669-2239 or Shalan Pozer at 250-306-2601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has asked that the registration fee for Cariboo businesses be waived in light of the 2017 wildfires. Instead of paying the registration fee, Cariboo businesses will be asked to provide a $50 gift certificate that will be used in promotional draws.
There is no deadline to register, and Cariboo businesses are encouraged to register at any time, as the eatdrinklocal.ca website will be active throughout the year.