“Buy Canadian Day” is coming to the capital on June 25th, 2017 and to celebrate, lets talk about easy ways to enjoy local food. Simple changes in day-to-day habits and purchases can make enjoying local and sustainable foods a breeze. Not only is it helping to support the community around you, it’s providing better quality food, and reducing the impact on the environment. Below are 5 easy ways to buy local food, but first, let’s discuss why local is the responsible choice.
Why Buy Local?
- It Helps Support Communities: Money staying within a community will have a larger positive economic effect than money used at a large-chain store.
- It Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Buying local means less travel time for your food. Less travel means less waste and less Greenhouse Gas emissions pumped into the air.
- The Quality is Superior: Less travel time means it will spend less time on store shelves or in market baskets. Picked ripe, purchased ripe. Food travelling across countries is usually picked before it’s ready, then can go through an artificial ripening process, reducing the quality of the fruit or product.
- Less Waste: Purchases made from local vendors or Markets usually have less packaging, which reduces the burden on the recycling or waste removal resources of your local community, as well as reducing the product’s environmental impact.
Five simple ways to find locally grown food:
1. Shop at Farmer’s Market: Exploring the market will help to support local farmers and their efforts to produce delicious food for you and your family. Purchase as much as you can at the markets and other similar places, and supplement what cannot be found there (see step 3). Farmer’s Markets tend to have a diverse selection of different kinds of foods such as produce like asparagus and berries, as well as breads, maple and honey products, handmade pies and desserts, and other delicious and interesting locally made products.
2. Plan ahead: Making sure to know exactly what’s needed for a meal or a recipe will help you make informed decisions about your purchases, and will also help reduce wasteful impulse buys. Bring totebags and reusable containers to the store to reduce waste from plastic or single-use bags and other packaging, and buy in bulk when possible. Taking the time to actively thinking about shopping locally will not only help make shopping easier but also help you make better choices in the future.
3. Check the Origin: If you can not purchase everything you need at a Farmer’s Market or from a local vendor, check the origin of the produce at the store. Try to stay within the country that you live, or better yet, within the province. For example, for Ottawa Ontario, the product I would choose would be either from Ontario (or Quebec) or a Canadian product over a product that originated elsewhere. Staying in the restraints of your own province helps ensure the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and also helps improve the overall freshness and quality of the product being purchased. When shopping, choose locally owned groceries stores over big chains as well, to help keep money within the local economy.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: Don’t be afraid to ask where your food comes from! Asking businesses you frequent to support local and provide local food options will help everyone. Better yet, frequent locally owned businesses and restaurants over the large-chain equivalents.
5. Know the Seasons: For example, blueberries will not be in season all year round, and rhubarb will not be available in the fall. Examples like these will help you plan seasonal recipes and make decision on your produce purchases throughout the year. Buy seasonally, and freeze or preserve any excess to enjoy your favourites year-round. Ottawa Farmer’s Market has a chart to see what’s in season around the community, and helps support farmers and local businesses in the Ottawa Capital Region.