The choices we make at the grocery store every week make a powerful statement about what we want as consumers.

It should come as no surprise, then, that many consumers nowadays are gravitating towards locally grown food when it comes to the groceries they buy — they want to know where the food was grown, how it was grown, how it got to the grocery store and how growers plan to sustain their growing practices without damaging the environment.

In Canada, farmers have known for generations that working with the land, not against it, is the best way to grow natural, healthy food.

In 1909, when Henry John Heinz was looking for the best spot in Canada to grow tomatoes for his burgeoning food business, he chose Leamington in southwestern Ontario for its sunny, warm climate and rich, fertile soil.

The company spent decades working with local growers to cultivate farming practices that could sustain production, create jobs, and produce rich, pure and juicy tomatoes for its signature products such as ketchup and tomato juice.

Now, one hundred years later, Leamington is known as the Tomato Capital of Canada, home to the second largest Heinz plant in the world that contracts 48 local growers to process more than 250,000 tons of tomatoes every year.

The Leamington example is one of many across Canada of communities working with industry to give Canadian consumers what they want — growing practices that sustain the land, produce food that stands the test of time and benefit everyone without harming the environment.

Truckloads of tomatoes
• More than 7,500 truckloads of tomatoes are harvested and delivered from within a 60-mile radius of the Heinz plant in Leamington, representing 45 per cent of all commercial tomato crops in Ontario.