Saint John's harbour
On a recent trip to Saint John’s, I had the opportunity to talk with an expat Ontarian who runs an independent bookstore on Signal Hill. He had some surprising insight into the whole local movement in NL.

According to this FA (from away), it’s just not done– yet. Local has not hit our most easterly compatriots.

He lamented that even the progressive people shop at Walmart. And that in Saint John’s, the debate is about where the next Walmart should go, not “do we need it” or “is it a good thing?”

I find the inexistence of a local food movement in NL hard to believe considering the distinctive culture and fiercely independent nature of the people there (tell I’m from Quebec much?). So I’ll ask this, can anyone please tell me this is faulty information? I mean—aside from the farmer’s market at the Lion’s Club on Saturday morning?

In Canada, we have tended to think that things that come from far away are somehow better than what we have at home. But what is interesting and encouraging is that we are finally waking up to the realization that what we have right here is pretty damn good, and might even be better.

Change often starts slowly, at a level we may not even notice. Local wines are being made in NL (two I sampled were Jelly Bean Row and Funky Puffin, both lovely). Iceberg alcohols are being made too. And there’s a local Quidi Vidi brewery. But what about food? Fish? Produce?

Even if the Walmarts win in the short term, the undercurrent can only grow. Like elsewhere, local will take off.

It’s just a question of seeing the worth of what you’ve got. And in my opinion, NL has got a lot.


After looking into things a bit more, the tradition in NL seems to be in garden agriculture, a system where crops in a community or a society are grown in gardens rather than in fields. In NL, this was phased out in the ’50s for being a symbol of a “depressed economy”.

On a happier note, grassroots is taking action at Root Cellars Rock!

Local apples
Ever just stood in the produce section of a supermarket, an array of brightly coloured super-sized fruits glistening before you, and just being stumped about what to do?

On a recent visit to the suburbs to see my boyfriend, I went to a supermarket to buy some coffee. While there, I decided to pick up some fruit for a fresh post-coffee snack. Now this supermarket is rather pricey & high end, not my bf’s regular stop, but I don’t mind it because it’s smaller and less mega-conglomeraty than its counterpart down the road.

Being a fancy store, it has a huge selection of imported and exotic fruits. But liking the idea of keeping it simple, I walked down the apple aisle, past rows of shiny red, green and yellow baseball-sized fruit.

How did they get that big? Chemical fertilizers.
Why is their skin so perfect? Pesticides.
Why are they so shiny? Wax.

No way is that going to “refresh” me after a coffee.

But lo! At the end of the aisle, there was a small organic section… with normal looking Gala apples. Hooray! The sticker on the apples even had the right organic code number (any produce sticker with a number beginning in “9” means it is certified organic). Then I saw the country of origin written in small letters beneath. Argentina.

Mmmm. Hesitation. Now I have nothing against Argentina. I love Buenos Aires. One of my best friends is from there. But does my right to avoid ingesting certain chemicals override my right to expect a piece of fruit to travel 8945 km (5558 miles) and two hemispheres, burning fossil fuels and spewing carbon dioxides along the way?

What’s more important, me or the environment? If you have asked yourself the same question, you may have already found yourself standing in the produce section of a supermarket stumped about what to do.

What’s more important, my internal environment or my external environment? Me, or the world?

Is this the choice we have to make now? As familiar as it’s become, I was face to face with the “local” vs. “organic” debate. And I know where I stand on this issue, but still, it gets me every time. And of course, there’s no ultimate right or wrong. Showers are no better than baths, just different. Local vs. organic is a huge debate and I will not try to cover it here. But I do believe that it is an individual’s right to chose what is right for themselves. And I do think that it is an issue that demands proper consideration and discussion. And maybe a few minutes reflection in the produce section.

You or the environment?

On this day, since I couldn’t have both, I shied away from organic and went with a nice bag of “Canada fancy” regular-sized golden delicious from Ontario. I mean, come on, apples? They’re so Canadian! They rival the maple and could well be on our flag. This is one fruit we can certainly eat local.