I always buy local food and I can’t wait until the spring when I can get it again, says Gwen Paulson of Milton. Like many others, Gwen is of the opinion that local food is all about fresh fruit and vegetables grown in Ontario. But local food is much more than that. Local ingredients include a full range of dairy products, meat and lake fish. They also include salt, cooking oils, vinegars, jam and preserves, dried fruit, nuts, soy sauce, mustards, juices, crackers, popcorn, tofu, rice, beans, maple syrup and honey.
Many of summer’s fresh ingredients are processed into cans, bottles, boxes and bags. A few examples include Five Roses Cake & Pastry Flour, Unico Red Kidney Beans, Aylmer brand tomato products, and of course the most commonly known local product, Lay’s potato chips. From the grocer’s freezer section you can find Ontario fiddleheads and other vegetables like diced squash and corn.
The flavours of local food change in winter but make no mistake it is still available. Take the Terra @ Home Winter Market for example; for 13 weeks starting January 11th, over 40 farmers, food trucks and local food purveyors come together in a winter community market at the Milton store.
Here you’ll find an outstanding selection of meat farmers selling everything from beef, lamb, pork, duck and chicken, all raised in Ontario. You’ll find tables piled high with root vegetables that are stored in the snow-covered barns throughout rural Ontario: produce like potatoes of all colours, rutabagas, squash, onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and beets. There is Ontario milk, eggs and dairy products alongside greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, apples, apple cider and honey. All of the Terra @ Home Winter Market food items reflect the new flavours of local food available in the winter.
There are many food shops also committed to selling local produce. “If you want it to be good, it has to be local,” declares Damian Goriup of Florence Meats in Oakville. Goriup buys all of his meats from farmers in London, Kitchener and Waterloo. His chickens are from Mennonite farmers and the rest from proud Ontario farmers. “We’ve been here for 36 years and we’ve been local the whole time!”
Like Florence Meats, Ernie’s Meat Market in Burlington is another proponent of local food. All of his meat comes from various Ontario farmers, with some beef from Alberta for variety. Their signature meat pies are chock full of delicious Ontario meats and their website lists local products sold in their store from Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream to Hayter’s Turkey, Beach Road Kielbasa and Marinelli Pasta Sauce.
Chef Rob Dickson of Pane Fresco in Burlington is a huge supporter of local farmers, using squash from an Ontario farm to make his delicious warm winter soups along with Ontario potatoes and other root vegetables. “I use all Salerno cheeses – they’re from Ontario – simply because I like them,” says Dickson who offers seasonal specials year round from asparagus in the spring to peach desserts in the summer and root vegetable dishes in the winter. “The closer to home, the fresher,” he explains.
If you’re looking to find out what foods are local in the winter, The Ontario Table cookbook has a chapter called The Ontario Pantry (and there is an expanded version online). It’s an inventory of local products, most of them easily found on grocer’s shelves. If you are searching for more specialty items, you can always try Whole Foods in Oakville or Goodness Me in Burlington.
With the abundance of choices available to you, there really is no reason why you can’t enjoy a locally made meal this winter!
Buying local in four easy steps
1 Look for the Foodland Ontario logo when shopping at your grocery store, farmers’ market, and on-farm market
2 Visit local farms with your family and talk to them about the difference you make when you buy local
3 Serve freshness every day, with delicious recipes featuring local ingredients
4 Ask for local options at restaurants and everywhere you buy food
Ernie’s Meat Market
Terra @ Home Winter Market
The Ontario Pantry
Family First Organics
Article Written by Lynn Ogryzlo