A few years ago, if you told me I should be eating organic and local food, I would have said “haha, yeah, because I’m rich and pretentious”. I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Though it is definitely daunting when thinking about this stuff, I’m here to help! It always seems easiest to just run out to a big chain grocery store and grab a beautiful looking tomato or apple from the massive pile. You always know they’re going to be there, no matter what time of year… wait… even when they shouldn’t be growing? Yes. Even then. Weeeiiiirrrrrd.
It’s easy to see why factory and industrial farming operates the way it does… money! Who doesn’t love money?! AMIRITE?! The trouble is that a lot of this is seriously affecting the things we are ingesting.
I’m not going to go on a huge detailed scientific rant, as I can tend to do, I’m just going to give you the general facts.
For veggies, it all starts with the soil. To save money, the soil sucks. This makes the veg more susceptible to pests and fungus. To remedy this, they spray all the food with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and all sorts of crap. Crap that you’re eating. Veggies are now not growing with the same nutrients that they used to either. They’re concerned with uniformity, genetic modification, and long shelf lives. Food is picked before it’s ripe, then ripens along the thousands of miles that it travels to the store from wherever it’s grown. This is why non-organic, non-local produce is cheaper – it comes from government funded factory farms which get a higher yield, which has a longer shelf life, so they can charge less.
Meat is much worse. I’m a meat eater, and I don’t think I could do the vegetarian thing (though, to each their own). I am, however, a big advocate of humanely treated animals. Grass fed cows contain TONS more vitamins than grain fed cows (A, C, K, and the belly-fat busting Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA for short). And free range eggs and chicken are from healthier happier birds. The better they eat, the better you eat. They’re not shoved into an arena with thousands of other chickens, made to live in their own feces and breathe it in until they’re sick, then pumped full of antibiotics to counteract their conditions. They’re not given zero room to walk around, then fed grains and hormones so they get giant and can’t even walk, their legs break, and they SIT THERE AND DIE!!! But I digress.
Take your pick.
Now don’t get me wrong, even non-organic, non-local foods are WAAAYYYY better for you than fast food and tons of other things we eat. All I’m saying is to be aware of where your food comes from. Take your vitamins to make up for the ones that were lost along the way. When you don’t get the proper nutrients, your body still thinks it’s hungry and will force you to keep eating… maybe even cookies. OHMYGODIWANTACOOKIE!!!
Now the $64,000 question… where’s the best place to get the good stuff?!
Farmers’ Markets are the best place – there are tons of markets in the city, and it’s really hard to beet the prices… see what I did there? Here’s a list of some of the great places to get local and organic foods in Toronto:
Fiesta Farms – This little gem is tops. A family run grocery store on Christie St. (between Bloor and Dupont), this place has tons of organic and local food to choose from. They’ve got a great butcher section and carry Rowe Farms… which brings us to….
Rowe Farms – A farm with 3 retail stores in the city! Crazy! There’s one in the annex, one in Roncesvalles, and one in Leslieville – they’ve really covered their bases. You can get veggies and meat here, and also delicious pre-made soups and salads, all made with their products. If you like bacon, this is where you should be getting it. Oh man.
St. Lawrence Market – I mean, this place just has everything. Just go. But check their hours. Every time I want to go, it’s closed. On Saturdays there is a special farmers’ market!
The Stop’s Green Barn at Wychwood Barns – Farmers’ Markets! You can get stuff from all sorts of local farmers and it’s a fun little outing too. Located up at Christie and St Clair Ave., it’s easily accessible by TTC, so no excuses! While you’re there, check out Footstep Organics!
Other markets to check out:
Let’s not forget about growing your own!
Last year we started our first garden, and it was awesome. We were super lucky with our soil, because we either did or didn’t have chickens living in our backyard before that… (the freshest, most delicious eggs you’ve ever had!). That time of year is coming up quick, and we recently bought a new home with a HUGE garden area. So excited. If you can, I definitely recommend growing plants of your own. I will keep you posted on my planting!
Happy, healthy eating!