Jacob MacKellar and his Ontario Edamame

Jacob MacKellar and his Ontario Edamame on an early fall visit to Toronto.

MacKellar Edamame PodsJacob MacKellar wants you to know where your edamame comes from: “It’s from China, unless it’s from our farm.” Jacob and his family operate MacKellar Farms in Lambton County, near Sarnia, and are the first one of the few commercial producers of Ontario edamame. The MacKellars have grown commodity soy plants for many years, for use in large scale food production, for instance in making ‘vegetable oil’. Jacob explained on a recent sales visit to Toronto, that the soy beans typically grown in rotation with corn and wheat on Ontario farms is not suited to be eaten unprocessed as a vegetable (there too small, hard and woody). And so, despite all the fields of soy grown in Ontario (and everywhere else in North America) beans served as the Japanese snack or appetizer edamame on this continent will invariably be imported from China, unless they happen to be from the plot on the MacKellar farm planted by Jacob.

MacKellar Edamame is quickly finding a place in the freezers of retail stores across Canada; Whole Foods is a big buyer. Jacob convinced his parents to let him plant the Japanese kind of soy bean used for edamame when he returned from agricultural college, looking for a way to convert some of the family farm’s production to higher value crops. As demand for the snack grows, his bet is that Canadian consumers will prefer a locally grown product that can be fully traceable to his farm. His crop is non-GMO, which also distinguishes it from the Chinese imports. Still, it’s early days, and the young farmer admitted that some of his edamame soy is still being added to the family’s bulk commodity sales, as he waits for production to ramp up.

The MacKellar farm website has a ‘Where To Buy’ page with participating retailers listed by location here.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.