Let’s understand the importance of this local food movement and use it to guide us in our decisions of what to serve up on our dinner tables. Eating local foods is better for the environment, the community, and most importantly you and your family. Local food is fresher and tastes better because it hasn’t travelled a distance to get to you. There’s a notable difference in taste when a fruit or veggie gets picked early and packaged in plastic to withstand the lengthy travel to get to a faraway destination. There’s also an enormous difference in taste when produce has ripened on the vine and is picked at the peak of its flavour. Fresher food not only noticeably tastes better, but it lasts longer too. If you ask a chef what they prefer to cook with, the response is usually local, organically-grown ingredients because it simply tastes better than conventional grown foods.
Ok, so we know it tastes better for one. Now, let me explain why buying local is beneficial to our social health, economy, and environment:
- Choosing in-season foods ensures that you get optimal freshness, taste, and nutrition.
- Your food comes from closer to home, so you reduce the carbon footprint and minimize the environmental impact.
- Supporting local farmers enables them to help preserve the land.
- Buying local helps to support our economy and create employment for our community.
- Supporting our local businesses and farmers helps create a greater sense of community.
- Cheaper than imported food due to minimizing travel costs and cutting out the middleman.
- Knowing where your food comes from and who grows it, empowers you with greater knowledge about that food.
Let me expand on the last point. Raising your awareness of what you eat and gaining a better understanding of how your food is raised also connects you directly to the person who produced them rather than a large chain supermarket. In other words, it helps to build a relationship with your meat merchant, or your cheesemaker because people who know you tend to want to help you. Who doesn’t want to buy their food directly from the source and be able to know them by name when asking valid questions regarding the food that we trust to offer our own families. This is why I’m a big supporter of local Farmers’ Markets. For one, they increase awareness of local and seasonal food and offer us access to environmentally responsible food producers. Also, Farmers’ Markets are a fun place to be! Many with colourful music and beautiful displays of aromatic foods. Why not enjoy a picnic with your family with all the tasty goods you placed in your basket. Engage in conversations with your favourite vendors and be sure to remind your tomato supplier to set aside some extra plump ones for the pasta sauce you plan on making next week. I know I anxiously await for Spring to roll around each year as that’s when many Farmers’ Markets are in full swing on certain days of the week and I can fill my kitchen with fresh, flavourful foods. My family and I frequent various markets to see what each new vendor has to offer. Just recently, we paid a visit to one of the best urban gatherings at the Leslieville Famer’s Market. This is a great market to make a stop at on a Sunday morning if you’re in the mood for some lively music, a splash in the water park, and a diverse selection of skilled artisans and organic foods to choose from.
Too busy to get to a local market? Well, I’ve got a great alternative to staying committed to clean eating, especially for the new moms out there. I’m excited to share the news that recently there was a launch of a brand new Farmers’ Market delivery service, Food Story that helps you get fresh, local foods right at your doorstep. Getting the freshest food delivered to my home every week only makes me wish I had known about this when my babe was a newbie, as I recall getting to the supermarkets a bit more of a challenge during that time. Check out the Food Story page to find out more details if you’re interested for yourself or someone you know that would benefit from this awesome service. I hope you’re as exited as I am to hear more about this great solution to making local foods more readily available regardless of your reason.
Some may agree that local food does have several benefits as mentioned above, but argue that it’s too difficult to maintain loyal to local throughout the year as we encounter a change in seasons in Ontario. Well, here’s how you can maintain committed to buying locally year round when Farmers’ Markets are not available: Discover all the good things that grow in Ontario by looking for the Foodland Ontario symbol when you’re grocery shopping and you’ll not only get fresh food, but you’ll be helping to support Ontario farms and businesses. Be sure to visit the Foodland Ontario website for direct links to the Foodland Ontario Availability Guide in order to know what foods are currently in season and plan accordingly. The Foodland Ontario homepage also offers a Nutrition Guide, food facts, and recipes to help you make healthier choices for meal planning. I also like the Harvest Ontario website to track what foods are in season. For the month of September, everything except for asparagus, cherries and strawberries are in season in Ontario. There is also a search tool that helps consumers access information regarding certain destinations making it convenient to locate certain crops and Farmers’ Markets held on different days of the week. It evens offers event information and attractions specific to those areas. I bookmarked this guide so I can access it at anytime, I suggest you do the same.
Sources (be sure to visit these sites for more information regarding the goods we so proudly harvest in Ontario)