Growing locally-produced food in Canada isn't always a possibility. Our nation's diverse climate and landscape make it hard for every region to be self sustainable. Because of this, food needs to be shipped long distances and that's a costly venture. In the North, for example, this reality makes issues of food security worse and drives up the cost of living.
One egg farm in Hay River, N.W.T., however, is trying to alleviate some of these pressures. Polar Egg, a farm run by the Wallington family, produces one of the only locally-produced food items found on grocery store shelves in the North.
By making sure barns are climatized and hens are comfortable, the Wallingtons are able to farm eggs and distribute to the local community throughout the year. For residents, it means that the reality of purchasing locally-grown foods is finally a possibility.
Kevin Wallington, director of marketing and sales at Polar Egg, says the support they receive from the Egg Farmers of Canada, the organization that regulates the production of eggs and poultry throughout the country, have allowed them to broaden their distribution. They're now supplying their eggs to communities in Yellowknife and Fort Smith, N.W.T.
According to Statistics Canada, food insecurity is most prevalent in Canada's North. Over half of Nunavut households experienced some type of food insecurity in the past year, followed by 29 per cent of households in the Northwest Territories.
This makes the ubiquitous egg an important player in securing our nation's overall food security.
"Across the country, our farmers are making a difference in their communities by creating jobs, contributing to their local economy, and providing the population with one of the most nutritious foods available" Tim Lambert, CEO of Egg Farmers of Canada, says.
Polar Egg is just an example of how a small business can contribute to the local community, promote economic expansion in the region and help alleviate issues of food insecurity in the process.
"We're hoping that what we're creating at Polar Egg can build a foundation for some of these newer markets...to create some infrastructural foundation for these communities, to start encouraging people to get a little more involved, " Wallington says.
Investing in local economies and locally-produced food are important aspects of Egg Farmers of Canada's mandate. Working under the system of supply management, the organization makes sure there is always enough eggs on the market to meet the demand, but without overflowing it. This allows for prices to be stable and for farmers to have a fair return, making it possible for them to reinvest in their farm and give back to their community.
"The Canadian egg farming industry has grown by nearly 30 per cent over the past decade. Retail sales of table eggs shot up by 5.6 per cent last year alone, and we're on track for even more growth this year", Lambert says.
Some people call the egg the world's most perfect food because of its nutritional benefits. Furthermore, in northern Canada it's become a symbol of opportunity and possibilities in local farming, where innovation and ideas are incubating.
Learn more about how Egg Farmers of Canada is strengthening communities through product donations, jobs and stability here.