Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Market, To Market

 Ontario grown hothouse tomatoes - photo by Andrew Negus

There’s a lot of talk these days about buying and using local ingredients and there are lots of excellent reasons to do so. By supporting independent Ontario growers and producers, we are supporting our own economy. The benefit to us, as individuals, is much more than a healthy economy; in supporting independent farmers and producers we are keeping alive the choices that are available to us. Take for example, honey. There are so many excellent honey producers right here in Ontario, who make high quality honeys in a variety of delectable flavours such as sweet clover, wild blueberry, lavender and many, many more. Once you try one of these delicious, Ontario produced honeys, you will never go back to the mass produced, bland honey available in grocery stores.

Photo by Andrew Negus

 How can we support Ontario farmers and producers? One easy way is to shop at farmers markets and open air markets. For decades now, I have been a regular shopper at my local farmers market, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and Flea Market. It’s exciting to see how the choices change from one season to the next. Spring brings with it asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, new potatoes, sweet spring onions and more. There is no comparison in taste between local seasonal produce and the same items that are brought into the country.

In photo - Gorgeous strawberries - photo by Andrew Negus

 Looking for something to do on the weekend? How about a little road trip? Another way you can support Ontario growers and giving yourself unbelievable, fantastic choices is by going to the source. Find local farmers that allow you to purchase products right at their farms. One amazing region is the Niagara area, where small, unique winemakers and fruit growers abound. Road side stands are great places to stop for fruits and veggies, locally made jams and other food products. Drop in to some of the many wineries and for a modest charge, you can do your own wine tasting before you buy. Some wineries will include the cost of your tasting with your purchase. One of my absolute favourite Ontario wines is East Dell Winery’s Late Harvest Vidal, an excellent, inexpensive alternative to ice wine.

Ready to become jam & other delights - Photo by Andrew Negus

By doing a little research, you can find farmers markets and open air markets selling fresh, Ontario produce throughout Ontario, in big cities and small villages and towns alike. Make shopping at markets and fruit stands a regular habit and reap the benefits now, and for many years to come.

Fresh Spring Onions - Photo by Andrew Negus

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