Eating Local in Waterloo Region

 

Photo taken by the little farm stand out by Conestogo when we picked up our Halloween pumpkin in 2009

While I am not fiercely committed to eating only organic food, nor will I ever try the ridiculous 100 Mile Diet challenge, I am committed to buying what I can locally and being aware of what I am eating. It is harder to do than getting everything from the grocery store and not care whether it traveled across the country or how it was raised (referring to meat), but the possibility of better long-term health and helping support sustainable farming in Ontario (or wherever you live) is a desirable pay-off.

I am eagerly awaiting the start of this year’s CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) with Transpire Organic here in Waterloo. Three years ago I participated in Stevanus Family Farm CSA program and they were fantastic but I decided to go with Transpire this year because she has a slightly more extensive list of veggies that she plans to produce. It was a tough call though because Stevanus delivers right to your door once a week but I work from home so I need reasons to get out more and a weekly trip down to the Uptown Waterloo Farmers’ market sounds great to me. If you are interested in seeing what is available in the Waterloo area you can check out csafarms.ca.
I have been reading through the Foodlink Waterloo Region website and there are great resources in this area. I think it will be fun to drive around the region a bit and pick up fresh local food such as eggs with Timothy. While I am not one to force ‘teachable moments’ down his throat, I think if we start to incorporate more health conscious eating and a sense of community into our every day living, it will just become a part of who Timothy is.   Will I stop buying meat and veggies at the grocery store? No, but I will try to plan my meals better so I get the fresh local food rather than running to the store 3 times a week because I am scrambling to figure something out for dinner.
I am discovering that the CSA is only the beginning in Waterloo. I am just reading about Bailey’s Local Foods which is a buying club for local foods such as fresh produce, grains, frozen meat and poultry, preserves, cheese, etc. Have a look at their site to get the full skinny on their program. Although I am currently signed up with a CSA (and I have paid), I am thinking of joining this as well so that I can get my meat and flour plus any fruits that  they have on offer.
Since my hometown is Barrie, I wanted to throw in some links to some resources that are around Simcoe County. FYI – CSA portions are much cheaper in the Barrie area than they are in Waterloo.
Simcoe County Farm Fresh – Information on farms in the Simcoe County area where you can get great produce for a healthier lifestyle and support your community in the process.
Ontario CSA Directory – Local CSA programs in the Barrie area (and the rest of Ontario)
One book that has really influenced my decision to get back into buying local food is the book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan.Description: http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=buffampgeor-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=014311638X The basic premise is eat food (not processed food type products), not too much, mostly vegetables. While I wish I followed all the ‘rules’ in this book, I am not that strict. I do buy pudding cups for Tim (ok, and me) and all the desserts I serve aren’t homemade. This book isn’t about buying local but it does emphasize the importance of being aware of what is in your food. Knowing where your food came from and how it was processed on its way to your mouth is an important aspect of buying local.
I have been in a bit of a rut when it comes to cooking lately and I am the type that cooks when inspired, and to be honest, in a good mood. The cookbook that has been inspiring me lately and really pushes the ‘buy local’ idea, is Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book, My Father’s Daughter.Description: http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=buffampgeor-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=0446557315 It is a little over the top when it comes to everyday living and all the odd types of ingredients she uses, but it is a starting point. I will try to use some of the different flours she uses and also some of the condiments although I don’t anticipate that I will be shopping around for duck bacon anytime soon. Regular bacon is just fine for me.
I would love it if readers of this post that aren’t from Ontario would post some links to CSA programs or other local food information sites about your area in the comments. It would be great to see what other people are up to.
Crème Fraiche & Brown Sugar Scones

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