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As local as it gets

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Jody Vance: Farmers’ markets are still open, and more crucial than ever.

British Columbia is rather unique when it comes to resilience during COVID-19. Our struggles and successes are local, and can get lost in the noisy news feeds of major international outlets. Even national Canadian news sometimes takes only soundbites or headlines from here.

The trouble with headline reading, or major news feed scanning, is you find yourself worried unnecessarily, or even angry, about things that do not apply in BC.

Take the “anti-lockdown” movement, mad at restrictions that aren’t restricted in our province. Most of the closures here are self-imposed by business owners understandably struggling with what to do in unprecedented times.

What can you focus on instead? We can all take small, well-thought-out steps toward opening up our economy safely. That can start with being hyper focused on shopping local.

Take food, for example. This week I spoke with Agriculture Minister Lana Popham about food security.

“Farmers Markets are an essential service, always have been deemed that by Dr. Bonnie Henry,” said Popham.

It gets even better. This, the 25th year of BC Farmers Markets, will look different with new safety protocols. Interestingly enough, some new twists will make your shop even easier.

If you’re a veteran Farmers Market shopper, you know the early bird gets the goods. Well, guess what, you can sleep in and still win. Go online to eatlocal.org to find out all about it.

The service updates you by regular email on seasonal goods available then gives you the option to order.

Yes. Order online at the FARMERS MARKET!

Localline.ca is where you end up placing your order, that goes direct to farmers supplying the goods — and ends up on your table. You choose which market is closest; your order will be there. Farmers know who wants what, and consumers don’t miss out on that glorious bunch of arugula.

Before you go, some of the new protocols include: just one entrance; no mingling or gathering; and leave Fido at home – no dogs allowed.

If you’ve ordered online, go to the main booth, tap to pay and off you go.

Yes, you can still wander around — one way and with 2 meters of social distancing, of course —and get what’s there. Unfortunately, there will be no sampling.

It’s early in the growing season so there’s plenty of arugula, beets, apples and gorgeous honey from local hives.

Take a tour and let yourself spend a bit more to help the farmers and artisans struggling through COVID-19.

Outbreaks at poultry facilities here in BC (and elsewhere) gives you even more reason to seek out local sources for your proteins. Meatme.ca is one that comes to mind. Ethical farmers who take every measure to deliver to the highest possible standard. Do your due diligence, and never again feel the jolt of an empty big box store shelf.

Farmers are struggling across the country. But you can have the greatest impact by supporting local farmers, and letting them know what we will buy so they can plan accordingly.

If we keep thinking about ways to help our local economy, we might just find our way through this…together.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

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