B.C. launches local food awards

The awards run across 15 categories, including favourite store to buy local

The British Columbia-based Buy Local. Eat Natural is launching its first We Heart Local Awards on July 1 to celebrate local food.

“We are not trying to define local, we’re not trying to define natural, but we are trying to get people talking about the wonderful food that we have access to in our market place,” said Reg Ens, executive director at BC Agriculture Council. “We are providing a venue for them to talk about what gets them excited about food, what they enjoy, what they have found that’s unique and just to promote the conversation.”

There are 15 categories of awards ranging from "favourite store to buy local" to  "favourite local brewery" and "favourite local cheese maker."

The Social Agency has developed a campaign with Pound & Grain through Facebook and Twitter @eatlocalnatural asking people to nominate in one or more categories.

As an incentive, anyone nominating or voting is entered into a draw for a chance to win a weekend wine getaway in the Okanagan or one of 20 $100 gift cards to their local Farmers Market.

Ens said that while the campaign targets anyone living in B.C., they are trying to reach the foodies. “Those are the people who are already talking about this and there are small groups of people throughout the province who are championing it, and those people are doing unique things with BC product,” he said.

A promotional video features local food celebrities such as Chef David Robinson of the Dirty Apron, Erin Ireland owner of To Die for Fine Foods and Mark Brand, owner of Save on Meats talking about their favourite wineries, chefs, restaurants and grocery stores.

Ens said that a goal of the program was to establish a generic brand that could help retailers that have already created their own local branding and campaigns.“We are trying to create something that individual brands can thrive under and can partner with and that doesn’t compete with or diminish any of the work that individual retailers are doing.”

Grocery stores that are already embracing local and natural are welcome to nominate themselves for the award. He suggested that others may want to consider setting up local sections and labelling them as such.

The awards are a partnership between the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, B.C. Dairy Association and the B.C. Agriculture Council, as well as the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets, the Vancouver Farmers Markets, LOCO B.C. and the Georgia Straight.

Watch the video promo on the award:

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds