So much fresh, local produce spilling out of farms, farmers markets, food stands and your own back yard for those of you who are gardeners. Sometimes there’s so much that you don’t know what to do with it (eg. zucchinis!) You can blanch and freeze, pickle, can, bake, make jam – so many ways to take advantage of our local growing season. If you want to know what fruits and vegetables are in season at any time, Foodland Ontario is a good resource with their Availability Guide and their recipes are so helpful and easy to find just search by ingredient or by meal type. (www.ontario.ca/foodland)
I believe it’s important to know what produce is available locally so that we can make better decisions when doing our grocery shopping. Do you look at the ‘country of origin’ when shopping, or are you concerned mainly with price or maybe appearance? There are several reasons to consciously buy local produce. Perhaps the most important is that it tastes better! There is also more true variety including heirlooms that our taste buds are not exposed to during other times of the year. There is no contest between the superior taste of a freshly picked tomato, green bean or corn on the cob and those that have travelled hundreds of miles in shipping containers or trucks and then sit on grocery store shelves.
Eating local produce is also better for you nutritionally since it was allowed to naturally ripen and meet its maximum nutrient potential (not forced with ethylene gas for example). Another health aspect besides nutrient content is that when consuming produce from other countries we don’t know what inputs or pesticides are used.The U.S. still produces pesticides (that are banned in North America) and exports them to other countries where they are used in agriculture and we then import these foods and consume them. When we purchase these cheap imports rather than our own local produce, we risk losing the farms they were grown on. Imported varieties are few and are determined not by taste or nutrition but by how well they travel and how much profit they yield. So when you’re in the grocery store and see that watermelons are on sale, or grapes, corn, tomatoes or peaches – look at where they came from and consider the hidden costs like forfeiting taste, nutrition, choice and size of eco footprint.
For more information about eating local in Brant County go to www.feedbrant.ca
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