At a recent international food and agriculture summit sponsored by the Reuters news agency, global leaders underlined how much they’re paying attention to consumers’ perception. For example, Kerr Dow, vice-president of global food technology for Cargill, said people are reluctant to “eat stuff that’s weird.” He stressed that consumers want “normal food.”

And Julia Stewart, CEO of the company that controls the popular Applebee’s restaurant chain, said a poll of her patrons showed they’d be most inclined to become regulars if they believed the food was prepared on site. She says that’s made her company “maniacally focused on … getting away from making food taste like it came out of the can at the back of the house.”

The term “normal,” must leave farmers shaking their heads. For decades, Ontario farmers produced good old normal food … and many went broke. People thought normal was blasé and not worth a premium. Now, though, it’s in vogue.

I think people believe normal means local (and, of course, safe). That means Ontario food — whether it’s baskets of fruit and vegetables, or acres of corn headed for distillers — is normal, local food.

I write about the “normal” food movement in my Urban Cowboy column, in the Guelph Mercury.