Markerville Creamery employee Amber Longacre helped dish out lunch made with local produce and meat at Taste of Markerville preview on Wednesday.

Markerville Creamery employee Amber Longacre helped dish out lunch made with local produce and meat at Taste of Markerville preview on Wednesday.

Time to taste Markerville

Tuck in your napkin and get ready to take a big, juicy bite out of Taste of Markerville on Saturday.

Tuck in your napkin and get ready to take a big, juicy bite out of Taste of Markerville on Saturday.

A preview of the event was held Wednesday morning for about 75 participants with Red Deer County’s Enterprising Agriculture Tour.

Local food was on the menu and was the centre of discussion led by Meghan Dear, founder of Localize, of Edmonton.

“Localize grew out of a personal frustration I had about walking into a grocery store and not being able to identify what was local or even who made that product,” said Dear at an information session at the historic Markerville Lutheran Church Wednesday morning.

“For me it was about how do we get grocery stores to carry more local food.”

Now she works with 46 grocery stores, including some in Red Deer and Central Alberta, and almost 300 food businesses to rank and label products by looking at local ownership, jobs, ingredients, production, processing, supply chain and sustainability.

They are given a score of one to 10. A QR code on each label can be scanned with a smartphone to obtain additional information about the product and its scoring.

She said 80 per cent of products in grocery stores come from about 80 companies.

But a pilot project with 10 stores two years ago showed people bought 17 per cent more of the most local products with Localize tags.

“I don’t think local food is going to take over. It’s more about making sure local food doesn’t disappear.

“At the end of the day, I’d like to turn every grocery store into an incubator for local business,” Dear said.

The first annual Taste of Markerville will run on Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., featuring lunch at Fensala Hall, farmer’s market vendors and displays around the community.

Co-ordinator Kathleen Raines, who sourced all the local food for the event, said people do taste the difference.

“People talk about how good the food is (at Fensala Hall). The food is good because we have great local product. It’s so fresh,” said Raines who runs Starkroft near Markerville and raises sheep.

Unfortunately, most consumers are mostly motivated by price, but that could be changing, she said.

“I think there is enough committed people starting to ask the questions.”

Raines said this won’t be the last Taste of Markerville.

“We want to add maybe a Saturday night dinner, a Sunday morning brunch, maybe some entertainment in the church. Get a chef in. We have a bunch of ideas about where it’s going from here.”

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