Archive for the ‘Local Eating in Toronto’ Category

Looking for Farmers’ Markets?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Now that summer is officially here, all the local farmers’ markets are in full swing.

Here’s the post from last year that lists the Toronto area markets by days of the week.  

For those looking for markets in other parts of Canada, you can simply use our Find Local Food tool.  Just type in your postal code, the distance you’re willing to travel, check off “Market”, click “Search!” and Voila! It’ll show all the markets in your area on a map.

We’ve been enjoying the local organic strawberries from our CSA.  Unfortunately, the wildlife in our backyard got to the one(!) strawberry in our garden before we did.  We got our first garlic scapes in our CSA share this week, I think I’ll make spinach and garlic scape pesto with it tomorrow.


The Story of Strawberry

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star yesterday about the journey of California strawberry - from the genetics lab in California to the local grocery stores all over North America.  It’s incredible/scary all the processes involved from seeds to fruit.  

Some interesting facts from the article:

  • there are over 200 genetically unique seeds on each strawberry
  • the growing season for Ontario strawberries is 5 weeks; in California, 9 months
  • each strawberry plant is engineered from a seed, put through heat treatment, humidity chamber, and travelled to mountains in Northern California for cooling
  • California strawberry fields are first fumigated with methyl bromide to kill all weeds, bugs and fungus to a depth of 2.4 metres (is this practice common in all commercial farming, or unique to strawberries?)
  • once picked, strawberries are cooled to 2 degree Celcius to prolong the shelf life to 10 days
  • the farthest city the California strawberries travel to is Toronto
The story of the strawberry is a lot more complicated than I thought. I don’t think it’s the way nature intended.   Having read the article,  I now appreciate the Ontario strawberries even more.

Too expensive to stay local?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

local eating on a dime

This Globe and Mail article is an interesting look at how the “economic downturn” is making it harder for chefs to continue to use local ingredients. Based on the article it looks like we need to de-list Il Fornello since they have dropped their local menu.

Personally we’ve found that the cost of local food is not that noticeable an increase in our grocery bill. Certainly the CSA plan makes it less apparent since we’ve prepaid for all our vegetables in installments. Our meat is still purchased on a biweekly basis but Fresh From The Farm’s prices are quite reasonable. Their meat does not go on sale, but it’s not nearly as pricey as other local butchers we’ve been to.

Probably the most cost effective local eating strategy is to grow it all yourself. Our garden is much bigger this year but it’s certainly not enough to sustain us for the summer, let alone provide for our needs over the winter via canning. Still, it’s a good place to start. We recently saw a story on Global TV that interviewed some chefs who have roof-top gardens to supply herbs, etc to their restaurants. 

Another side-note on the effect of the downturn on the local food movement: do you think the “buy American” push is an ugly sister to buying local food, the same thing, or not at all related?


Rhubarb! It’s in season.

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
Rhubarb I’ve always liked rhubarb. As we posted  in rhubarb season 2008 we made rhubarb sauce last year. Tanny just found a rhubarb website with a lot of potentially good recipes. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is always yummy, but we don’t have any local strawberries yet. So far the 2009 rhubarb recipe favourite is looking like Rhubarb Crumb Bars. We’ll post back with the results.

 


Oh no - sunburned tomatoes!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Well, as Tanny reported yesterday we planted all our seedlings. After work tonight we checked their progress and, to our great dismay, the tomatoes are all limp and lifeless!! It appears we have not hardened our plants properly and they got sunburned under today’s blazing sun.

Hopefully they will recover - we’ve been dreaming of a tomato bounty for weeks.


Getting ready for more local eating

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Josh and I have just spent a lovely and productive Victoria Day weekend planting our newly expanded vegetable garden.  We’ve converted two of our flower beds to accommodate our 25 strawberry plants and 7 tomato plants, amongst other newcomers.  I’m very excited for our edible garden this year.  We actually started our seeds early enough this year and our tomato plants are over a foot tall already!  We also have a variety of herbs this year and our watermelon seedling is still alive!

Here’s a list of what’s in our garden this year:

  • tomatoes: black cherry, blanche beaute, new: yellow cherry, beefsteak and ruffled red
  • herbs: sweet basil, thyme, chives, cilantro and parsley
  • potatoes
  • garlic: five different varieties (one did not survive the fridge)
  • sweet red pepper
  • wax beans
  • sugar snap peas
  • carrots: scarlet nantes and Chanteny
  • veestar strawberries
  • blueberries: northland and northcountry
  • raspberries

not planted yet: golden midget watermelon

Our local CSA share starts up again in 3 weeks.  Soon, we’ll be back to eating all local, all the time.


Suspended animation, garlic, Rip Van Winkle

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Our garlic, like Rip Van Winkle, is in suspended animation. Or so I hope. In fact, it’s just in paper bags in our fridge. Dormant; not dead.

What’s next? Good question! When we bought our garlic starts at Seedy Saturday, we were told to keep them in the fridge until final frost has passed, introduce them slowly to the outside and then plant them. Seems simple, but I think I need more details. Anyone have any experience with growing garlic from a start?


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Monforte Cheese CSA

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

On her way to work last week Tanny heard an interview with Ruth Klahsen of Monforte Dairy on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. Monforte Dairy is a local Ontario cheese producer of artisanal cheeses. 

She currently uses milk from other local farms, but Ruth is now raising funds to create her own dairy and using a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) approach to do it. They are offering three different share plans (cleverly named “wedge”, “brick” and “wheel”) ranging from $200 to $1000 with the cheese doled out over the next 5 years. Two options are available to the brick and wheel plans: you can either receive vouchers to buy the cheese at markets or have it delivered. The wedge plan offers vouchers only.

We both thought this was a great idea and wanted to post about it. I’ll add Monforte to our list of suppliers shortly.

Oh - I also noticed that LocalEating.ca is on her blogroll! Yay - and “hi Ruth”.


Not Far From The Tree

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Not Far From The Tree BannerOne of the cool projects we heard about at EcoSuave was “Not Far From the Tree.” They are a non-profit organisation in Toronto that “help fruit tree owners make use of the abundance of fruit that their trees offer by dispatching teams of volunteers to harvest it for them. One third goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour, and the final third is distributed (by bicycle or cart) to community organizations in the neighbourhood who can make good use of the fresh fruit.” Last year (2008) they picked 3003lb of fruit!

We thought this was a GREAT idea and will consider calling them if our lonely pear tree is as abundant as it was last year.

Here are some similar organisations in the rest of the province and Canada:


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Maple Sugar Rush

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

This week we ventured out to the Kortright Centre conservation area for their Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival. Tanny and I have a special affinity for the Kortright Centre since we got married there but we have never made it to the Maple Sugar Festival. The centerpiece of the festival is a walk through the forest to visit several interpretation areas (with yummy samples). The guided walk is about an hour. We made our own way along the trail, eavesdropping on the tours when we met them and did it in less than an hour and really enjoyed ourselves. I think that if we didn’t have Ella with us we wouldn’t have taken the entire tour. Some interesting maple syrup facts:

  • Sap from the sugar maple tree is 97% water
  • The ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1!
  • In the old days you had to boil the sap for 24 hours to make syrup - continuously
  • Modern syrup making takes 6 hours
  • Maple trees are one of only four families of trees in Ontario that have opposite branches (i.e., branches and leaves come off the main stem in pairs on opposite sides of the stem). M.A.D. Horse is the way to remember these trees: Maple, Ash, Dogwood and Horse chestnut.

Tanny and I loaded up on maple sugar and maple almonds from their sugar shack. Ella was mesmerized by the pony ride but was a little too scared to get closer than 3m away.

The festival runs until April 13, 2009.

Maple Syrup Festivel Banner


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