Archive for February, 2008

Zero Footprint Toronto

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

This isn’t directly related to local eating, but the City of Toronto has teamed up with ZeroFootprint to provide the ZeroFootprint Toronto website. You can calculate your carbon footprint and make pledges to yourself to make small changes in your lifestyle that would have an impact on your carbon emissions. I found it pretty illuminating. I consider myself pretty environmentally responsible and I was happy to see I’m a below the Toronto average, but I’m really going to have to seal up the drafts in this house to keep our heating bill under control! Otherwise Tanny had better get used to sleeping in 10 degC! ;-)

Eating both organically and locally reduces your carbon footprint.

We’re doing well now and will be doing even better once our garden is producing. Tanny is already after me for a new greenhouse window for the kitchen.

Also, for those not in Toronto you can use their personal carbon manager to track your carbon usage. Looks like the same thing but without the Toronto specifics (like tips on how large a compost and garbage bin in the city are).


Forum

Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) - Local Eating Made Simple

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

In my research to find local food resources I learned of a system called Community Shared Agriculture (CSA). CSA is a food distribution system where the growers are directly connected to the consumer. The consumer subscribes to a share of the year’s harvest (i.e. pays a flat fee up front) from a local farm in early spring, and in return, the shareholder receives a box of fresh produce weekly during the growing season. The share subscription provides the farmers with the capital to purchase seeds and farming supplies, and the shareholder gets an amazing supply of farm fresh produce weekly.

The size and variety of the shares depend on the farm you purchase from. Generally speaking, the farms offer at least a large and small size share. Some farms also offer a fruit box in addition to the veggie option. At Everdale Organic Farm , shareholders also have free access to the culinary herb garden, the flower garden for fresh cut flowers, and all the beans and peas you can pick when they are in season.

I think this is a fantastic idea - it really is what local eating is all about - supporting and connecting with the people who grow my food. I do have one reservation though - I LOVE going to farmers’ markets and checking out the different vendors each week. By signing up to be a shareholder, it eliminates the need to go to the markets, hmmm….I guess I can still go for the fish and local cheeses and all sorts of other goodies. On the other hand, I’ll get to try new veggies I normally wouldn’t buy and learn new recipes. Now the next question is: who should I sign up with? There’re quite a few close to the Toronto area. To minimize the environmental impact, I should pick one that is close to home.

Here are the CSAs I’ve found in Ontario so far; they are all in our database:

Everdale Organic Farm - near Guelph

Plan b Organic Farm - near Hamilton

rare Organic Farm - Cambridge

Simpler Thyme Organic Farm - Hamilton

Thurston Organic Farm - near Lindsay

Whole Circle Farm - Acton

Click here for an in-depth article on CSA from Green Living Ideas.

To find a CSA near you, go to our Find Local Food page and choose "CSA" as the supplier type.


The Growing Challenge

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve just joined The Growing Challenge started by Melinda over at ElementsInTime.com.  What a great idea!  I had planned on growing some new vegetables from seeds anyway and now I’ve found a group of people doing the same thing and sharing their experiences. Most of the participants are from the US, and they’ve got sprouts already.  I’m jealous - my yard is still covered in a foot of snow, and I think we’re getting some more tomorrow.

Here are the rules of the challenge:

  1. For this challenge, you must grow one additional type of fruit or vegetable than you did last year, and grow it from seed.
  2. If rule #1 is not enough of a challenge for you, you may make your own rules.
  3. You must post about gardening once each week.  This could be a post about researching different plants, ordering seeds, buying pots, digging beds, planting the seeds, pruning, adding compost, all the way to preparing a meal that includes the food you grew.  

To learn more about the challenge, or if you want to join in the fun, click on the icon below:

 


 

 


Tips for successful local eating

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Tanny has been busy with the content for this site while I’ve been working behind the scene (and enjoying her yummy local cooking). Tonight I had a chance to peruse the web for other local eating site. This post from the EatLocalChallenge.com website caught my eye. It talks about the “Locavore Pledge”:

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.
If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.

Sounds like a good set of rules to me.

So far I’ve been shocked by the number and variety of food producers Tanny has found local to Toronto. I can definitely attest that the meats are better. We’ve always known that local veggies and fruits taste better. I can’t wait for spring when we really kick off our diet.


To Market, To Market

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Going to the Dufferin Grove market has become a  regular outing around here. On Thursdays, Ella and I pick up Lina and we head to the market together.  We usually share a delicious cinnamon bun from the café and walk around to check out what’s available that week. After reading an article on Andrew Akiwenzie in edible Toronto - he sells the fish he caught himself from Georgian Bay the day before the market - I was looking to buy some fresh fish from him at the market. I also wanted to buy some flour to make crackers this weekend, and some sweet potatoes. I ended up with all that and some sprouts and a loaf of lemon rosemary sourdough.

I abandoned my original dinner plan of leftover Sheppard’s pie and made supper with my market purchases.  For dinner, we had mixed green salad with broccoli sprouts, baked whitefish, steamed broccoli and bread.  Pretty good for a last minute meal.

We’re not on a strict local diet yet - the main ingredients from our dinners are usually locally sourced and I’m making a conscious choice to buy local when I’m at the grocery store.  At times it is difficult to resist buying the strawberries and blueberries, but I’m holding out for the good stuff in the summer.  Other than that, it hasn’t been too difficult and we’re eating better than ever.  I’m definitely looking forward to spring more now that it represents a new growing season - I can’t wait to start my garden this year!


Looking for Seeds

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

With Spring being just over a month away, I’ve been thinking about what to plant in my garden this year.  In the past, I usually plant some tomatoes, bell pepper, peas and herbs.  Since researching into local foods, I’ve found a couple of places that sell heirloom vegetable seeds.  So this year, I’m going to be more adventurous in my gardening.  I plan on heading down to Seedy Saturday (a grassroots seed exchange and gardening fair) and buy myself some unusual seeds and grow them in a mini-greenhouse. 

On a side note - I found out about Seedy Saturday from an ad in a new magazine called edible Toronto - a magazine dedicated to local foods in the Toronto area.  Interesting articles and lots of good resources.  I picked mine up at the Dufferin Grove Market a few weeks ago.  You can also view the articles online.

Here are some stores that sell heirloom and/or organic seeds:

(All of these stores are in our database, you can Search by Name for more information.)

  • Urban Harvest - They sell seeds, seedlings and garden supplies.  They have an online store and a nursery that operates during the growing season only.
  • Clover Roads Organic Farm - has an online seed store, mostly heirloom tomato varieties.
  • Everdale Organic Farm - They sell seeds at their farm store.

 


My Reasons for Eating Local

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

I find that whenever I’m doing something that requires extra efforts, it’s helpful to know the reasons behind it.  So on the days when I don’t really feel up to it, I can go back to my list of reasons and remember why it’s important to me in the first place.  So here they are - my reasons for eating local: 

  • The food tastes better.  The berries, tomatoes, corn…they are a thousand times more flavourful when in season and freshly picked.
  • I want to support the local farmers.  Instead of complaining that there’re no local produce in the stores and that farms are being turned into suburban houses, I can support the farmers by buying local - that’s the least I could do.
  • It’s better for the environment.  There’s debate out there whether eating locally is always better for the environment, but I think that for the species that are native to where you live, it’s “greener” to eat local. 

From now on whenever I feel tempted to just get whatever is available at the supermarket, I can come back to this list and remind myself of the reasons I’m eating local.