Buying Local

Sunday, 6 October 2013

This post is a part of rabble.ca's Eat Local Challenge. Read more here.

Our small one-bedroom apartment has a lot of character on the inside, but outside, it’s little more than a large brick rectangle on a tiny piece of land. With the exception of a few stray daffodils that poke through the soil every Spring, our garden space is nil. I’ve tried windowsill gardening, and I’ve failed at windowsill gardening, so in order to eat local, I need to buy local.

For the past three years, buying local has meant ordering a weekly food share from Hamilton’s Plan B Organic, and occasional trips to farms in the area. It has also meant becoming a regular at Hamilton Farmers’ Market.

Since 1837, the Hamilton Farmers’ Market has been a staple in this city, connecting farmers to the community. My dad remembers taking the bus down the Niagara Escarpment with my grandmother to visit the market, where farmers would sell produce from the back of their trucks. Today, the market may not only sell locally grown produce, and it certainly doesn’t sell produce from the back of pick-up trucks, but it still offers the opportunity to meet the people who harvest local food, all while supporting local farmers and sustainable food.

Other reasons to shop at a farmer’s market:
  • Avoid the line-ups! A trip to the farmer’s market, even on a Saturday, can be relaxing without the pushing and shoving of the check-out counter at a big box store. 
  • Connect to farmers — Becoming a regular not only gives you the chance to ask questions and get to know the people who grow your food, but from time to time, it also means free samples! 
  • Connect to community — Most trips to the market result in seeing at least one familiar face.  
  • Try new things. One thing's for sure — I had no idea what a garlic scape was until I started shopping locally.
  • Food just tastes better! There's no comparison between a strawberry grown locally and one that has spent a few days on a transport truck to get to a grocery store. 
On my most recent trip to the market, my haul included a gigantic butternut squash, Bartlett pears, 200g of Steel City Cheddar, Ginger gold apples, and enough samosas to last me a week. The squash, pears, and cheddar all ended up in my own recipe that I loosely based on this from the Vegetarian Times.


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