Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reality Check

It's been a while since my last post and there's a reason for that: being a mom of 3 boys and working full-time outside the house while still doing volunteer work and taking some time for myself to do crafts (or sleep?) make for some very busy days. The leisurely drives around the area to pick up some local produce are long gone and so are my hopes of getting to our local Farmer's Market on Thursday evenings. What does this mean for my local commitment? It means that I will have to rethink a few things. If I can only get to the Independent Grocer one week, what will the contents of my shopping cart look like? The trick is in the meal planning. Not only is it a huge time-saver and headache-avoider but planning meals for the week before grocery shopping will let me choose meals with a seasonal flavour which means greater chances to find "local" products on the shelves. 

On a side note, what is "local" anyway? Within walking/driving distance? Within the area code? The province? The next province over? Within Canada? This side of the Ocean? What about buying a Fair Trade item that supports some local movement somewhere? My answer: All of the above. Obviously if I have something growing in my garden, I will eat that first. If I need tomatoes and I have a choice between unspecified "Ontario" or "Manotic Suntech Greenhouse" tomatoes, I choose the closest ones. What about those products that don't grow here in our crazy-cold climate like citrus fruits? Well, a true local diet would go without but I prefer to have lemons, limes and those Yule-time favourite clementines in my diet. So here are my guidelines: choose Fair-trade and/or organic first, then consider distance: Florida? California? South Africa? What about South African Fair-traded oranges? would those make it into my basket over organic Florida oranges? Probably. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that every time we make a purchase, we vote with our dollars and we need to be aware of our individual impacts. We make a choice and we need to be comfortable with the choice we are making. Sometimes we might feel like we don't have a choice either because of price or availability but I say it all goes back to meal planning and knowing what's in season. Those root vegetables are much less exciting then those gorgeous pomegranates but if you focus on what is in season, your produce bill will be lower you will have room in your grocery budget to add a more expensive item as a special treat like a Fair-trade chocolate bar ... mmm...

Last weekend I went to Acorn Creek ( since I hadn't been in a while. There were so many lovely preserves and plenty of dried corn on the cob (perfect for microwave popcorn) so I checked off a bunch of items from my Christmas shopping list.  I love giving "consumables" for Christmas. Our homes are full of "stuff" and giving "stuff" only adds to the already plenty "stuff" we have. What better idea than giving some exotic jam or marmalade that someone would not normally buy for themselves and at the same time support a local business? I think it's a treat and I hope my gift-receivers will think so too :)

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