Out with the old, and in with the new! A new year is a great opportunity to consciously start over and do things differently. It should come as no surprise that resolutions are usually centered around health and fitness, but this year, why not try a new kind of diet? With every meal you eat, you have the power to reduce climate change. By embarking on a “local diet”, you can take global warming into your own hands.
The average Canadian meal contains ingredients from more than 5 different countries, and travels thousands of kilometres before reaching a plate. With such lengthy travel, greenhouse gas emissions are created. Buying locally produced food eliminates the need for all that fuel-guzzling transportation, and therefore takes less fossil fuel to get to our table.
By embarking on a “local diet”, you’re not only helping the planet, you’re helping both yourself and your community too. Your food will be more fresh, taste better, and likely be safer as there is less opportunity for contamination during mass production, transportation, and storage. Your dollar given to local farmers will stay close to home, working to build the local economy rather than a corporation in another city, province, or country.
Buying local is catching on in Canada – conscientious consumers are recognizing that their eating habits can make a difference in the planet’s welfare. Ottawa’s farmers markets are growing. Try visiting http://www.justfood.ca/buylocal/ to find local farmers as well as businesses that support local farmers in the Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec region.
While the weather outside isn’t exactly conducive to bountiful harvests, you’ll be surprised that in Ontario, despite the cold weather, local vegetables are still available. Beets, cabbage, carrots, greenhouse cucumbers and lettuce, parsnips, some onions, some potatoes, mushrooms, sprouts, garlic, and leeks are available at most markets throughout the winter season. When you start to eat seasonally, you truly begin to appreciate each time of year for what it has to offer.
Canadian author Lynn Ogryzlo is interested in changing Ontario’s food system. Her book “Ontario Table” will appeal to anyone interested in buying and eating local food, and supporting Ontario’s farmers and economy. In Lynn’s words, it is “a full colour guidebook, resource book, and agricultural storybook wrapped together as a consumer user-friendly cookbook.” There are stories about farmers and regions in Ontario, over 100 recipes, and a resource section on where and how to buy local food.
Making the transition towards eating local doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Each food dollar spent is a vote for the type of food system Canadians want. For an easy start, try taking the $10 a week challenge (http://ontariotable.com/$10_Challenge.html). If every household in Ontario spent $10 a week on local food, we’d have $2.4 billion dollars in our economy at the end of the year!
Let’s help Canada create healthy food networks that sustain our land, our community, and our homes. Embark on a local diet today – it’s that simple!