Eating locally this holiday season

Eating locally this holiday season



Eating locally this holiday season

As autumn turns to winter and the days get chilly, we start thinking about those wonderful comfort foods that accompany the cold weather. We crave heartier fare: from hot cocoa by the fireside to delicious baked treats and eggnog at holiday parties. And we look forward to the cornerstone of winter meals -- the turkey dinner.

But as our stomachs start to rumble at the thought of our grandmother's stuffing, we can't help but reflect on how little we know about the ingredients.

We're not talking about Mimi's secret recipe (although that is kept under lock and key), we're referring to where the food was grown. In most cases, our grocery-store shelves are stocked with items that have made quite a trip to get there.

How far does your food travel?
Despite heightened public awareness of the benefits of adapting a locavore lifestyle (eating only food that is locally produced), the ingredients from the average North American meal travel 2,400 kilometres before arriving at the table. That means the cranberries featured in your holiday meal may have covered the same distance it would take a Torontonian to reach Iqaluit, or a Vancouverite to holiday in Mexico.

Let's spend this holiday season a little closer to home.

You might be surprised that in Ontario, despite the cold weather, local vegetables like beets, cabbage, carrots, greenhouse cucumbers and lettuce, parsnips, some onions, potatoes, Rutabaga, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, sprouts, sweet potatoes, garlic and leeks are available at most markets throughout the winter season.

Local produce is fresher than its imported counterparts, and it tastes better too. Lettuce picked yesterday versus last week? You can taste the difference.

Page 1 of 2 -- Learn how eating local foods can help you connect to your community on page 2.

Local produce also means a lighter carbon footprint. And buying foods grown closer to home helps maintain local farmland, and sustain your local economy.

Connect to your community
Knowing where your food is from connects you to the people who produce it. Instead of having an informal relationship with a big supermarket, you develop smaller, more meaningful connections to multiple food sources.

You'll come to know and appreciate vendors at the farmers' market, the owners of your local cheese shop, your favourite butcher, the co-op that sells those delicious local eggs, and the café down the street that roasts its own coffee.

This winter we're taking time to discover where our food was produced. We're visiting farmers markets, talking to the vendors and learning about one of the most important parts of our daily routine: the food we eat.

Tip for finding local produce: There are more than 830 local food vendors in Canada, with 127 famers markets in Ontario alone. Visit one in your area this season. Check out the farmers markets in your area here:

Look for the Foodland Ontario symbol when you're shopping. It's an easy way for you to identify Ontario foods in grocery stores, farmers' markets, and on-farm markets.

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Eating locally this holiday season