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Ontario Farm Tour for Dietitians

September 26, 2018

This blog post comes from Kristie Pun, a dietetic intern at the NRC who shares her experiences from Farm & Food Care Ontario’s farm tour for Registered Dietitians on September 26th, 2018.

On September 26, 2018, I had the pleasure of accompanying registered dietitian Donna Smith from the NRC and other dietitians on a farm tour organized by Farm & Food Care Ontario. This day was organized to help dietitians have a greater understanding of local food production by Ontario farmers.

The day started with a visit to Tupling Farms Produce in Shelburne. This fourth and fifth generation family owned farm grows 17 different types of potatoes. Owner, Bert Tupling, gave our group a tour of the farm as well as his new potato storage and packing facility. It was a great opportunity to see how potatoes are harvested from the field, cleaned, and prepared for packaging, storage and delivery. As a nutrition student who also studied food science, it was a fantastic opportunity to see in person the complex process from farm to market and the various people and machinery that work together to make up our food system. Throughout the tour, Bert shared his expertise on the role crop rotation plays in maintaining soil health, how pesticides are managed as a tool in his toolbox, the farm’s effort to grow crops sustainably and why it’s important to promote the use of local foods.

Following our visit to Tupling Farms Produce, we stopped for a fantastic lunch which featured seasonal and locally sourced produce. We enjoyed freshly baked bread paired with an autumn greens salad drizzled with an apple cider, canola oil and herb vinaigrette. We were then treated to a grilled petite beef tender served with Ontario mushrooms, roasted seasonal vegetables and a white bean and red fife wheat hash. The meal was completed with an apple cinnamon cake as tour guests participated in a short trivia game.

After lunch, we headed to our second stop in Alliston, to a cattle farm operated by Schaus Land & Cattle Company. We were greeted by Paul Martin, the farm manager, as well as several veterinarians and feed experts (the equivalent to a registered dietitian for cattle). This farm houses Canada’s only steam corn flaking system, turning locally grown corn into more easily digestible flakes. Feed experts shared their expertise on how they monitor the feed to transition the 3000 cattle from grass to their finished feed, and the importance of feed consistency to ensure the cattle are digesting their food properly. We also learned about Ontario’s Corn Fed Beef program, including the importance of traceability through tags and electronic chips to ensure food and consumer safety. Questions about antibiotics and hormones were answered by the veterinarians.For answers refer to the Real Dirt on Farming magazine.

The opportunity to visit these farms has given me more insight into the food system that I have only read about during my schooling. The individual stories and the passion these farmers have in contributing to our local economy and providing local and healthy food to Ontarians is inspiring. If you ever have an opportunity to attend a farm tour, take the opportunity to learn about the where your food comes from and how farmers take steps to ensure they are contributing to a safe and sustainable food system. We thank Farm & Food Care Ontario for inviting us to this event and acknowledge their sponsors including Canada Beef, SaskCanola and Crop Life Canada.

Ontario grows a variety of produce that is available year round. Check out what is seasonally available, visit a local farmers’ market, attend a farm tour, and try some locally inspired recipes!


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