Local farmers adapt to broader tastes, new demands
Published Monday, September 23, 2013 6:56PM EDT
Business is booming for some of our local farmers this season, and it’s partly because their harvest is looking a little worldlier.
Traditional crops are being replaced by some different varieties to keep up with changing tastes. Every year more and more of Jason Verkaik's Carron Farms Limited farm is made up of world crops.
“I think what's happening is that the immigration is not Eurocentric any more we're having a lot of people come from Asia, a lot of people come from India and we've seen communities develop over the last 20 to 25 years in Ontario,” he says.
This year one of largest plots is for the East Indian red carrot. He's been growing them for more than 10 years. Growing vegetables from different parts of the world is something more farmers in Ontario are doing to meet grocery store needs.
“As their customer base is diverse, they have to meet the needs of that customer base,” he says. “Now there are many different cultures saying hey we want this, we want that, so they have to include it in their stores.”
Nevertheless, for some, finding rare or more ethnic foods can be difficult.
“It's frustrating,” says Innisfil resident Maria Pezzullo. “Because when they do carry it, it's way over priced compared to a smaller grocery store and you can come in here and find everything that you need and under one roof as opposed to having to shop around for everything.
At World Grocery in Barrie, not only is there diverse produce, but also a wide range of grocery items. Customers say it's a welcome addition.
“I'm a student at Georgian College, and originally from Hong Kong,” says Bryan Wang. “Before I was like Barrie is a small town and doesn't have lots of Asian food. And after this store came, I can buy a whole lot of Asian food here – Chinese, Japanese, Korean food here – so it's great.”
About five acres of Verkaik’s farm have been dedicated to red carrots. But if the crop continues to sell well, they could potentially double the field size next year.