Farmer’s Market Alternatives to discovering Local Food

Farmer’s Market Alternatives to discovering Local Food

Work. School. Kids. Chores. Family responsibilities. Our lives can get pretty busy, but that shouldn’t stop us from discovering local food and farmers. Going to the farmers market isn’t the only way to access local food anymore.  As local food increases in demand, a number of alternative options are available for those that may not be able to make a weekly trip to their local market. Discover them just in time for National BBQ Day.

 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA’s, also commonly referred to as ‘farm shares,’ can be found in almost every province across the country. When you get involved with a CSA, you are making a direct investment in a farm and helping to support local farmers in your community throughout the entire growing season.

How does it work? At the start of the growing season, you pay the CSA farmer a set fee in exchange for a share of the crop, which you receive during the growing season as a weekly box of produce. Not only do you have a share in the crop produced, but you also share in the risks associated with farming, like weather and other factors beyond the control of the farmer. You may be a little hesitant to invest in something associated with unknown risks, where you may not get as much as you initially thought, however by investing in a CSA farm you are helping farmers stay in business during weakgrowing seasons. You’re also making an investment in future generations’ food security by ensuring land is kept ecologically sound, as CSA farmers are dedicated to using the land in a way that doesn’t deplete its nutrients and value.

Each CSA is different with regards to the crops grown, size of shares, length of season, cost and how you receive your shares, so it’s important to investigate and find one that suits your needs. The majority of CSA’s grow numerous vegetables and herbs throughout the season, but there are some that offer meat and eggs as part of the share. We’ve included a list of links at the end of this post that will guide you in finding the right CSA in your area.

Local Food Delivered to Your Doorstep

Although a number of CSA’s offer delivery options, there are also small businesses that focus specifically on delivering local food to your doorstep. Connecting with local farmers in communities, these businesses do the shopping for you! Unlike CSA’s, you have more options in customizing what you receive in your delivery, so you can tailor it to your specific needs. A few links have been included at the end of the post to help you figure out which method is best for you.

CSA’s and local food delivery are great alternatives that support local communities and local farmers. Regardless, we highly encourage you make a special field trip to your farmers market at least once before pursuing alternative ways of purchasing local food to connect with your local farmers and find out where their food is coming from. Farmers are teachers and connecting with them allows each generation to learn more about agriculture, food, nature and many other valuable topics.…

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New Canadian Definition of “Local Food” Ignites Debate

New Canadian Definition of “Local Food” Ignites Debate

As National BBQ Day preparations begin to heat up here at Meal Exchange (have you registered your event yet?), a debate across Canada has ignited putting into question the definition of “local food.”

A burger joint in Alliston, ON came under fire last month for advertising their beef burgers as “local” even though the beef was raised 200 km away from the restaurant. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) threatened to fine the restaurant $50,000 for violating its policy on the definition of “local”, which previously recognized “local” as “food originated within a 50 km radius of the place where it is sold.”

Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, called on the federal government to change its definition of local food stating current regulations are “too narrow” and don’t work for the interests of farmers. The CFIA announced on May 10, 2013 that it would conduct a review of labelling regulations, guidelines and policies, putting into effect an interim policy that now recognizes “local” as “food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold.”

The Good & the Bad

Since coming into effect, the new definition has caused controversy across the nation, with Canadians chiming in to either support or criticize the latest update. Supporters of the update called the previous definition “antiquated” and believe that the broader classification of ”local” will open up more opportunities for farmers across each province. The change will benefit rural communities where distance between producers and consumers can easily exceed 50 km, as well as metropolitan cities where local food is also more difficult to come by within a 50 km range. Eating local foods grown anywhere in the province, still supports farmers and the economy in each respective province.

Local food has become a popular trend amongst restaurants, with more sourcing from farms nearby to support farmers and reduce their carbon footprint. Concern has been raised that restaurants and retailers will take advantage of the local food trend and broader definition, to market and profit from the food they sell. Advocates of eating local food have also stated that the new designation of “local” will disrupt the flow of food economies in communities – it’s necessary to support farmers directly in the area, rather than across the province. They have suggested that labelling regulations encompass both “locally-grown” and “provincially-grown” labels.

Celebrate Local Food in Your Backyard

When you fire up the grill on July 13, 2013 for National BBQ Day, don’t stress trying to figure out exactly how many kilometers away from your backyard the local foods you’ve bought were grown.  Simply try to buy local foods that have been grown as close to you as possible. It’s all about discovering local foods around your area, getting to know your local farmers and having a summertime celebration with family and friends.

How do you think “local food” should be defined in Canada? Weigh in on the “local food” debate in the comments section below. …

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3 Tips to Keep Your BBQ’ing Eco-Friendly

3 Tips to Keep Your BBQ’ing Eco-Friendly

As the weather heats up and the summer season starts to set in, the BBQ gets cued up more and more. We hope you’ve begun to practice those great local food recipes for National BBQ Day! So you’ve got your BBQ fired up, but can your backyard shindig be hurting the environment? Not to worry, we’ve got a few BBQ’ing tips to keep your cookouts green.

1. Grill local

Eating local doesn’t just benefit your local food systems and economy, it also reduces your carbon footprint and keeps your BBQ’ing eco-friendly.  Did you know that only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions linked to food production come from the farm itself? The rest comes from packaging, transportation and marketing of products. You can avoid releasing 90% of greenhouse gas emissions created by food production, by simply buying from your local farmer.

2. Keep it sustainable 

Create less waste, set up bags for recycling and compost. Avoid using paper plates and plastic cutlery. It all ends up in the garbage post-BBQ and fills up landfills unnecessarily. Use Tupperware to transport your scrumptious preparations from the kitchen to the grill and serve it up on reusable plastic plates. As for cutlery, why not just use your regular metal utensils? 

3. Avoid charcoal 

Although charcoal adds that nice smoky flavour that avid BBQ’ers love, it’s also one of the most environmentally unfriendly fuels. It burns dirty and releases soot particles into the air that can play havoc on your lungs. Natural gas and propane are the most environmentally friendly fuels, however if you still want to achieve that smoky flavour, try using wood chips instead of charcoal. Wood chips enhance the flavour of food and are available in a variety of types, including mesquite, hickory, apple and maple.

We hope you keep these tips in mind when you start grilling on July 13th in support of National BBQ Day. Don’t forget to register your BBQ event today!…

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Are you ready for meal exchange’s fourth annual national BBQ Day?

Are you ready for meal exchange’s fourth annual national BBQ Day?

Welcome back to those that have participated with us in previous years and thank you for your continued support! An excited hello to everyone joining for their first time, we look forward to connecting with you over the coming weeks!

Meal Exchange has envisioned National BBQ Day (July 13, 2013) as a great way to celebrate local foods with your friends and family, in your own backyard. Buying local benefits your food system, your local economy, and your tastebuds! We’ve also moved National BBQ Day into July this year so you can enjoy more local foods being in-season.

Registration is now open! Register your own BBQ event online or register to let us know you’re participating in a BBQ hosted by a friend or family member, for a chance to win a Napoleon BBQ Grill and other great prizes.

By hosting and/or participating in a BBQ, you are becoming part of the national conversation about local foods. Hundreds of grills will be fired up in backyards across the nation, however we will all be connected through social media in one big online BBQ to celebrate local food.

We’ll have more content to share with you over the coming weeks to get you ready for National BBQ Day. Bookmark the National BBQ Day blog and check out the Why Local and Resources (coming soon) sections for more information.

You can connect with us ahead of National BBQ Day by leaving a comment below or through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Remember to use #NationalBBQDay and share the event with your friends and followers!…

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