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!

Farmer FrankieWhat happens when you walk into your bank to talk to an advisor and, an hour later, actually leave feeling ok — like you’re in good hands and heading in the right direction? It’s nothing short of a miracle, personally speaking. But it’s also a testament to the importance of building relationships.

If we take the time to talk to someone and find out what they do, then we can have a better idea of what they can do for us.

In the small health food store where I work, I see local farmers come in every week delivering their produce. We discuss what’s new on the farm, the weather conditions, their successes and failures. I see how hard they work to grow their produce and their business.

I’m also their customer because I buy what they grow and eat it knowing it came from good hands and good intentions. And I am proud to be a part of this cycle.

Compare this relationship, or that of getting your food at a local farmer’s market, where you have a chance to get to know the people who grow your food, to that of shopping at a big chain supermarket.

The big chain stores provide the one-stop-shop and convenience, but we know nothing about the food we’re buying, the food we’re eating. How was it grown? Who grew it? Do they share the same concerns about the environment and food quality? When was it picked? How far did it travel to get here and in what conditions? How long has it been sitting on this shelf?

Now I’m not suggesting a boycott of the big chains, but why not take advantage of the abundance to great local food available in the summer months directly from the people who grow it? These people are our neighbours and they need our business.

Visit a Farmer’s market near you (here’s a list for southern Ontarians from Edible Toronto) and find out who these people are. Talk to them and ask them questions. Growing conditions vary from year to year and from region to region. Find out what the bumper crops are this year and work with it when you plan your meals. You’ll be rewarded with the freshest fruits and vegetables your area has to offer, picked at their peak and bursting with flavour.

My bank advisor guy is going to help me. Now I understand the role that our relationship plays in my achieving certain goals. Likewise, the relationship we have with our farmers and food growers will help us have a vibrant, sustainable greenbelt— not to mention a little independence from Big Agri.

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.

Local asparagus

Local love.

Hi everyone! Nice to be here.

Now can I let you in on a little secret?  Since moving to Toronto, there’s really just one thing I want and it’s very simple. I want to know where I can eat in this town!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit whiney. But think about it. Finding places to eat, places that serve or sell good, real food is not as easy as it sounds. The truth is I needed LocalFoody before I knew it existed. And seeing as I’m pretty typical, I’m going to make the sweeping assumption that, if you’re reading this, then you need it too.

Why do you need LocalFoody?

Well, because you care, at least most of the time, about yourself and the world around you.

You care about the food you eat.

Local food is fresh. And fresh food is tastier and better for you.

You care about the environment.

Local food is green; it doesn’t travel half the planet just to sit on your plate for 2 minutes before it’s gone.

You care about the economy.

Local food helps our farmers. They need us — and we need them. We can do our part.

You care about the future.

Local food is political. Vote with your wallet and send out the message that consumers (I prefer  “citizens”, but anyway) demand access to real food!

And what is real food?

It’s food that is fresh, natural and contains ingredients you can pronounce and recognize. Real food is safe to eat; it is not full of chemical additives, artificial preservatives, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and genetic modifications. It is food that IS food. Like grandma (bubbie, nana, mamie, oma, avo, etc) used to make.

Like I said, I want to know where I can eat in this town. And at LocalFoody, we’re going to find out. We’re going to bring the farm to the city. And we’re going to bring people to local food.

Thanks for joining us!

I’d like to introduce a new blogger we have at LocalFoody: Anne, writer and lover of good food.

A native Montrealer, Anne has happily stopped comparing her new town, Toronto, to other places, and is busy gettin’ down and dirty with the real-food renaissance that is unfolding right here.

But no matter where you are, the quality and variety of available local foods is growing. Combine this with the new pride in eating local, in going to farmer’s markets, in knowing where your food comes from and how it got to your plate, and you’ve got a delicious (… and nutritious!) food revolution.
Anne wants us to connect with good local food. She is not a chef, nor a gourmet. She is however a registered holistic nutritionist who knows her way around “good food” and why it’s good for us. (But she promises not to be a self-righteous nutrition freak about it.)

She will be writing about what’s going on in eating local, issues affecting production and distribution, the farmers, the markets, the food itself, and the eaters of it — which is all of us.

So let’s welcome Anne as she explores with us the evolving landscape of eating local, and helps us connect with the fuel and the flavours we want.

What’s most important to you when looking for organic and local food? What would you love to be able to find that you can’t? How do you decide where to shop or what restaurants to eat at? How can LocalFoody help you solve those problems? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

So, what is LocalFoody and why did we start it?

The Omnivore's DilemmaIt all started when we were on vacation last winter. Nothing like sitting by the pool miles away from the closest Internet connection to create time and space to do some reading. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan was at the top of my reading list, and it really changed the way I think about food.

From the description of the Industrial Food System, to big Organic, to Joel Salatin’s amazing Polyface Farms, I found myself driven to find out more about the local food movement and the hundred mile diet. But we were offline in Mexico. I resolved to do some online research when we got home, and find “that site” that would allow me to find good, local, organic food producers and distributors.

Well much to my surprise, I didn’t find “that site”. There was a long list of great sites that talk about Organic and local food, even a really solid directory site (LocalHarvest), but nothing that uses the power of geolocation and social networks to create a great simple-to-use web experience around finding good food.

They say that people come up with the best ideas in order to scratch their own itch. LocalFoody is our attempt to solve our own problem – a quick and easy way to find good food near us. We’re working hard, and hope the end result is useful to you, too.