Armstrong Food Services wants you to think about what “local” means to you
Armstrong Food Services is a locally-based meat and food distribution service.
We went to their Lakeside, NS, warehouse and processing plant to see what’s what and to talk with Jerry, Armstrong’s CEO, about his idea of what a “locally focused kitchen” looks like.
Jerry mentioned that Armstrong’s is the last independent distribution service in Nova Scotia. This means that their competitors are international and national suppliers with accounts all over the country (sometimes all over the world), whereas Armstrong’s deals solely with Nova Scotia based accounts.
The biggest question we talked about was, “What is your definition of local?”
The answer to this question is different for everyone, and can be pretty complicated. Armstrong’s falls under the “local” umbrella because the company is owned and operated by a Nova Scotian and employs around one-hundred locals. Essentially, Armstrong’s sources their meats and foods from all over, but it is processed and produced in Nova Scotia – the value is added locally.
Take sugar, for instance. We all know that sugar is not native to Nova Scotia (or even Canada), so many food retailers turn to big international companies to help them supply their sugar. This ensures that little to no money is going back into the local economy. But by buying from a locally-based food distribution service (a service that pays Nova Scotian taxes and employs people from all over the province) you can make sure that a portion of the money spent on international food goods is actually going back into the local Nova Scotian economy.
This way of thinking was very new to me. But, in fact, having something labeled local does not necessarily mean that it has to be grown here— there are many ways to consider and interact with the idea of local. The biggest take-away we want y’all to get today is to consider your own definition of local. We know that we’ve updated our idea of “local.” To you, what does a locally-focused kitchen look like?