Letter to the editor – food labelling

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Dear Editor,

Over regulation in food labelling will “kill” the industry. Not ‘could’ but ‘will’. During the 70s, while I was teaching horticulture at Kemptville College, some of my new students came from Europe. The reasons for coming here and starting a fruit and vegetable operation in Ontario, was over-regulation of food labelling in Europe. As a grower of fresh culinary herbs in Leeds & Grenville during the past 15 years, I sold packaged, freshly-harvested herbs, as a locally-grown produce, to local grocery stores, caterers and restaurants. I was the first grower in Eastern Ontario to package the freshly harvested herbs (especially basil) in a plastic bag. Grocery stores, at that time (2004-2007), displayed culinary herbs, packaged with a rubber band, on the store shelves. No labelling is required for produce packaged with a rubber band. I saw many grocery store customers handling the produce with their bare hands before returning it to the shelf. Now that is a health hazard. By 2007, the government required herb produce to be packaged in plastic clamp shells and its package to be labelled according to government regulation. I quit selling packaged herbs to grocery stores, caterers and restaurants and took my produce to local Farmers Markets, until I was required to label my ‘bagged’ produce bilingually. I stopped selling packaged produce altogether. I began selling herb plants in pots to consumers at farmers’ markets in 2008. Then I got nailed to the tune of $3,000.00 for not charging HST, because now my produce (as a plant) had roots attached to it. Every produce “plant” (vegetable or herb) with roots attached is HST-taxable, according to the Federal Government. I was told that if I would cut the roots off before taking it to market, then it won’t be taxable. I told them that you can’t grow plants without roots. Today, consumers are increasingly turning to “on-line” buying of food. I can see that this type of ‘vertical-marketing’ needs to be regulated with labelling. Our government should leave the small producer, who is making a small income, by selling through ‘horizontal marketing’ at a local farmers’ market, alone, because this absurd proposed new labelling will “kill” the small local food industry.

William J. Langenberg, Grenville Herb Farm

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