Are You Keeping It Local?
Exploring Toronto's Local Farmer's Markets
By Mayra Muñoz
Ever find yourself at the grocery store, buying potatoes, but you can't decide which ones to get? Some are from all over the U.S., others are from the east or west coast of Canada, and then you may see ones from Ontario. I stand there for a good minute, thinking: I live in Ontario, I should support Ontario produce. Then maybe: that would be the freshest option, no? Since it's local?
So you get the damned Ontario potatoes!
You feel good about it. You're supporting home grown food. Then you think: why didn't I think of this before? Seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? These foods won't have had to be preserved like their further flung relatives, and buying local supports economic growth.
I remember as a child, my father would go the farmer's market every single Sunday morning to get his eggs, fruits and veggies. Now that I'm older I find myself doing the same thing. For the past few years I've been going to farmer's markets in my area every Sunday. It's helped me build a friendship with farmers, it's helped me learn exactly how they grow their food and it's helped me realize that the big food companies are pushing these farmers out of business. Why would you want to help the big guys? Why wouldn't you want to support something that comes from your backyard – and from better soil? It's better for you, it's healthier, it's fresher, you those are differences you can taste.
If you don't happen to be mobile, or if you're too busy to attend these farmer's markets or local grocery stores, there are now companies that offer organic and local foods to be delivered to your house (check out www.freshcityfarms.com or www.mamaearth.ca.) You can choose foods for either households of one person, or for bigger families. These companies will help you find the right basket size to meet your needs.
As the seasons change, different fruits and veggies are offered by farmers; you get to try new things and decide whether you love or hate them. You get to be more creative with dinner recipes. If you're a big foodie like I am, it's always fun! And these days, who isn't a foodie? It almost becomes a spiritual journey, with the connection you have to the Earth and what it has to offer with its seasons. It gives you a sense of awareness of our environment and how we should care for it.
Eating locally protects the environment. “All the shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging.”
If you happen to live in Toronto, my personal favourite farmer's market to support in the city is the Leslieville Farmer's Market: www.leslievillemarket.com. This year it will be running from May 21st to Oct 29th, every Sunday from 9am-2pm. They have a different local band play every weekend, and they cater to all different kinds of people, whether you're a vegetarian, vegan or like to eat meat - I'm not judging. You meet people that have similar interests as you, and share different recipes with new friends. You learn about vegetables you've never tried before. And the best part is that everyone is SUPER friendly, and you always have a great time. Especially because they have a beer tent!
Need help finding out your local Toronto farmer's market? We got you covered.
So the next time you're at your local grocery store, and you're standing there after work, tired, and all you want to is get home, just look for that “Ontario” sign and place it in your cart. Cash that baby out! You'll feel better inside and out, knowing you're doing something to support where you're from.
If you have a favourite Farmer's Market share it with us in the comments below!