Mexican peppers cause pre-election controversy

Liberals question origins of produce in farm market owned by the NDP's Sukhi Dhami

The origin of peppers has caused a stir in Abbotsford West.

The origin of peppers has caused a stir in Abbotsford West.

The origin of produce found in the Everbloom Farm Market and Garden Centre has created conflict in Abbotsford West.

The market is part of NDP candidate Sukhi Dhami’s family business. The Liberals issued a news release on Wednesday questioning why the market sells foreign produce, when Dhami says he supports the NDP’s plan to support buying local produce.

The issue stems from a letter sent by Jerry Purewal, owner of MB Greenhouse in Abbotsford, to Abbotsford West Liberal MLA Michael de Jong, explaining that he was shocked to see foreign-grown vegetables in the market.

Purewal wrote that he read the NDP platform, which states how the party would establish programs to support locally grown foods.

“While he sells foreign-grown cucumbers and peppers, mostly from Mexico, I employ local people and grow them in Abbotsford just a few short kilometres away where Mr. Dhami is selling his foreign products.”

The letter states that in the past Purewal has “been supportive of the B.C. Liberal government.”

Dhami told The News that his business puts buying local produce as a top priority, and they currently keep B.C.-grown produce in stock, including local green, red and yellow peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms and more.

After checking with the manager of the Everbloom Farm Market, Dhami said all the cucumbers were grown in B.C. in the Delta and Coquitlam region.

He said the peppers were also B.C.-grown, with the exception of the red peppers, which were from Mexico. Dhami said this is likely due to a lack of availability of local peppers and the need to fulfill consumer demand.

“They could not get single red peppers at that moment so they were Mexican ones, and that’s the truth of it.”

Dhami said the occasional unavailability of products illustrates the need to create local markets and make agriculture in B.C. more economically viable.

“We know it comes down to helping our farmers and creating a local market so that more stuff will be grown locally and less will have to be shipped in.”

Dhami said due to the short growing season, some produce must come from other climates. He said this is the case for all farm markets that operate year-round.

Dhami said questioning the origin of produce is just an attack from the Liberals, and he plans to continue to run a clean campaign.