Sunday, July 15, 2007

We Love Local Food

Sourcing Local Food

As most of us know, the average grocery store item travels 1500 miles (that's 2400 km) before it reaches our plate. This of course means the vast consumption of fossil fuels to transport our food; packaging so the food retains it's colour & shape; produce picked when it's underripe and sprayed so it ripens slowly as it travels; nutritionally & flavour deficient produce; and countless hands of workers along the way. With most such travelling foods we do not know the names of the farmers who grew them, the conditions the workers who picked them endured, the ecosystem they developed in, or the impact their farm had on the surrounding environment.

By buying local food, we support our local economy, gain knowledge over our food system, have opportunity to get to know the growers, reduce transportation emissions, and enjoy natural fresh taste of food picked in season and in it's time.

Here are some ways to source local food, or better yet, grow your own!

Community Supported Agriculture - provides members a chance to buy a "share" or subsciption in local farms, and receive weekly boxes of food during the growing season.

Local Farmers Market - offers wonderful Saturday recreational event, touring from booth to booth, talking with growers and sourcing your favourite fresh produce, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, and other local specialties. Make sure to ask it the items are produced locally, as many booths also resell produce.

Food Co-op - join a local food co-op, or frequent a natural foods store. Here you will often find more choice, and more voice when it comes to sourcing local foods.

Grocery Store - ask your grocery store manager whether the produce is local, and request this if it's currently not. Managers are interested in what customers want to buy, so make your preferences known.

Farm-Gate Sales - many small farms will sell produce, eggs, cheese and more from their local farm-gate. If you have the means to get out into the countryside, take along a map of local farm-gate vendors and stop by.

Community Gardens - if you are new to growing a garden, or lack growing space in your own backyard, join a local community garden. Most cities have such community gardens in each neighbourhood, and if not, start your own - many city councils will provide start-up funds for gardens, especially if you are beautifying abandoned lots or underutilized park areas. Community gardens are great places to meet other gardeners, and share seeds, growing tips, and unique produce.

Food not Lawns - turn your home lawn space into gardening space - whether it's your front yard, backyard, rooftop, or patio, there is always a place to grow a few more vegetables and herbs.

Indoor Sprout Garden - in the winter, start an indoor sprout garden to get fresh, organic greens during the cold months. Sprouts are easy to grow, take minimal effort, space or resources, and produce top quality nutrients quickly. Almost any seed or grain can be sprouted, and easy ones to start with include alfalfa, radish, sunflower, and mung. An excellent source for sprouting seeds & equipment is Mumm's in Saskatchewan!

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