Food activists get N.S. strawberries their due

Chalk one up for local food activists in their battle with Sobeys over how the Nova Scotia-based grocery chain was marketing locally grown strawberrries.

A number of Nova Scotians were angered last month after seeing U.S. strawberries advertised and sold at just $1.25 a quart in a year where many berry growers in the province have been struggling with a virus. Most local growers can only afford to wholesale their berries at $4 per quart.

There’s now word that at the Sobeys location on Queen Street in Halifax, the N.S. strawberries have been moved to the front of the store and imported strawberries placed in a less prominent location.

The store has also put up “Choose Atlantic” signage.

Rowena Power, who owns Jitterbug Sodas at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market, says the buy local movement is growing with help from social media. She credits Facebook and Twitter for helping create a lot of the buzz behind their latest effort.

“It’s in a lot of people’s minds right now, but it’s hard for individuals to voice that concern just on an individual basis, so that was what was so wonderful about using social media to say ‘okay, this is how I feel about this’ and then finding a whole lot of other people jumped on board,” said Power.

“Part of the reason Sobeys wants us to buy from them and their arguments of buying from Sobeys versus any other store is that they’re local. They are saying ‘buy from us because we’re a local business.’ And what the local people are saying is like ‘well that’s great, but in that case you need to buy local too.'”

Power adds that while you may pay more for local strawberries, most people will agree it’s well worth it.

“When they are picked the same day or very close to the time that you eat them…whereas the things that you buy during the rest of the year – they’ve been shipped over very, very large distances, usually in refrigerated containers and when food is kept in refrigerated containers the sugar content drops and so they just don’t taste as sweet, they don’t taste as tasty,” said Power.

“When people taste the two side by side, they go ‘oh my goodness, there is such a difference. I want more of the local stuff.'”


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