Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food writer and blogger, a TV and radio personality, a food brand ambassador, a passionate home cook, a food event hostess, and the founder of Abbey's Kitchen Inc. She has a BASc. in Nutrition and Food, Dietitians of Canada accreditation, and culinary training from George Brown College and private instructors.
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Nowadays, taste and nutrient content are just two of many factors that play into the hundreds of food choices we make every day. In this era of change, consumers are growing more concerned with the complex pathway food takes before it reaches our dinner table. One industry that has quickly responded to these high societal standards is Ontario’s pork producers. Ontario Pork not only understands that consumers crave a better understanding of where their food comes from and how animals are raised, but they are also deeply committed to achieving socially responsible practices through education, greater dialogue and increased transparency. Case in point, they are the first livestock commodity group in the province to commit to setting benchmarks in areas that measure environmental and socioeconomic performance. To showcase this, they recently released their inaugural Social Responsibility Report, an essential stepping-stone that is closely tied to the organization’s three-year strategic plan.
Lambton County-based producer John Van Engelen and his son Mitchell
While product quality and value remain the two top success factors in the competitive global marketplace of hog-producing countries, the Ontario pork industry recognizes that new elements like social and environmental determinants are becoming increasingly important, as well. For that reason, Ontario pork producers have committed to social responsibility in six different dimensions – farm management, economic performance, environmental stewardship, animal care and food safety, relationships with the community and worker well-being.
It all starts with raising and managing healthy pigs with top notch production standards and farm safety protocols. Ontario pork producers work diligently to prevent the spread of disease in their herd and ensure your family is eating the healthiest protein possible. Pigs are housed individually or in small groups to ensure nutritional needs are met, and temperature-controlled barns provide protection from predators, disease and extreme weather.
Careful measures like these help provide consumers like you with peace of mind that you’re putting safe, delicious and nutritious pork on your fork. From an environmental perspective, water and pesticide use on pork farms are also closely monitored, while feeding schedules are carefully designed to protect the environment. Ontario pork farmers also make economic considerations in their practices by using techniques like feeding their own pigs from crops grown on their own farms. This is part of a multi-pronged approach to sustainability in pork production. Clearly, all of these careful considerations take a lot of passion, care and commitment from farmers, which is why Ontario Pork advocates for access to a greater number of workers as well as fair and safe conditions for those workers. They are also committed to giving back to the community that supports them, having donated more than $135,000 to the Ontario Association of Food Banks since 1998, as well as 45,000 pounds of fresh ground pork.
These are just a few of many examples of how Ontario pork producers are leading the way for sustainable farming and producing healthy food to feed Canadians for generations to come. For more information on Ontario Pork’s 2015 Social Responsibility Report, click here.