Miles Prodan of the B.C. Wine Institute stands with Agricultural Minister Lana Popham and pastry chef Tina Tang of Predator Ridge. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Eat and drink local to support farmers

Buy BC: Eat Drink Local is back with a soft launch at Sandhill Winery in Kelowna

An old program is getting a new twist.

British Columbia’s key players in the agriculture, seafood, and food and beverage industries gathered at the Sandhill Winery in Kelowna to attend the first kickoff event to celebrate Buy BC: Eat Drink Local.

The Buy BC: Eat Drink Local campaign is 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. It 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.

Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham said the program is back by popular demand, formally known as the Buy BC program.

“Buy BC is considered one of the most successful marketing programs that agriculture has ever seen in B.C.,” she said. “Farmers wanted Buy BC back.”

The program has been modernized through social media, but the program is generally the same, she said. The program has a positive effect on smaller communities.

“It’s huge. Anytime we’re able to promote local goods to our province means that it’s an opportunity for rural communities to have an economic driver,” she said.

The Ministry of Agriculture is taking a three-pronged approach to building opportunities and sales for B.C. food producers, and those wishing to join the sector, according to the government.

Buy BC, Feed BC and Grow BC will be introduced to encourage and promote B.C. agriculture. Buy BC will offer a recognizable brand on local products and help B.C food and beverage businesses expand their sales in the province. Feed BC will help increase the use of B.C. foods in hospitals and other government facilities while creating opportunities to start or expand a farm or food business in communities throughout the province, according to the province.

Grow BC will centre on policies and programs that support farmers and help B.C. producers expand local food production as well as support young British Columbians who want to farm, according to the province.

“Working together we believe the amount of produce that we will see being grown and purchased in B.C. will increase,” said Popham.

The highlight of the campaign will be a month-long dining promotion in May 2018, offering consumers the experience to learn about and enjoy fresh dishes made with local ingredients. Popham was joined by British Columbia Restaurant & Food Services Association (BCRFA) president and CEO Ian Tostenson at the event to encourage local restaurants, food service establishments and B.C. food and beverage producers to reserve their spot to participate in Buy BC: Eat Drink Local.

Participating restaurants will develop a special, month-long menu showcasing the variety of food produced in the province and British Columbians can learn which restaurants will be serving Buy BC: Eat Drink Local menus by visiting http://www.eatdrinklocal.ca.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.

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carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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