The 411 on BC's local food industry (sake, kiwis, oysters, & more!)

The trend towards eating and shopping local is taking BC by storm. And it’s no wonder. After all, when it comes to agriculture, BC has a LOT to offer. In fact, BC has the most diverse agriculture industry in Canada with more than 225 food commodities and close to 100 species of fish, shellfish and marine plants. So much yummy goodness, so close to home. Here we reach out to BC’s Ministry of Agriculture to get the 411 on what’s growing in our very own province.

Our first question: What exactly grows in BC anyway?

Answer: BC produces a wide variety of products including some of the things we expect and some unexpected. We produce grain and oil seed in the Peace region, cattle in the Central Interior, fruits and wines in the Okanagan and a large range of fruits, vegetables, nursery crops and livestock in the Lower Mainland.  

In short, we have a lot to brag about. We produce MORE blueberries, cranberries, sweet cherries, apricots, raspberries, and finfish aquaculture than anywhere else in Canada. Fun fact: even kiwi’s and citrus fruits grow in BC! Want to know what’s in season? The people over at Buy Local Eat Natural have put together this helpful list.

Who are the farmers behind all this food?

Answer: About 98% of farms in BC are family farms. The most intensely farmed area in BC is the Fraser Valley with Abbotsford being the largest producing community (Abbotsford actually has the highest agriculture output per hectare in Canada). Approximately 500 of these BC farms are where our milk comes from!

We discovered there are more than 130 farmers’ markets in BC, representing an estimated value of more than $118 million each year to local economies. Click here to find a farmers market near you!

A fun fact? BC is known for being eco. We’re home to some great eco farms such as Bakerview EcoDairy, a sustainable dairy operation that is the first demonstration farm of its kind, located in Abbotsford.  If you’re in the area, they offer family oriented tours to the public.

What’s new in the world of farming in BC?

Answer: A rapidly growing trend in BC farming is to grow the majority of key ingredients on-site, which helps create great value-added farm products.  For example, BC is attracting masters in the art of micro distilling, who produce exclusively in small batches and obtain over 90% of all their inputs locally.  

One example is Granville Island Sake, which is breaking new ground by producing Canada’s first crop of sake rice. Sakemaker Masa Shiroki is well on his way to making a 100% local sake.  As you might imagine, the prospect of growing Canadian rice has enormous potential.

When it comes to innovation, BC’s shellfish industry is no exception either.  Advances in technology are currently enabling shellfish farmers to raise high demand products such as Japanese scallops, Gallo mussels and BC Oysters, previously not farmed in BC. The “Pacific Kiss” oyster campaign is one example of a new industry taking shape in our province.    
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Wow! Sake, kiwis, oysters. Are any of you surprised to learn about these industries happening in our own backyard? If you have any questions or comments to add to this discussion, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment here or on our FB page! 

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