Reflections on food: affordability and appreciation
I’ve been pondering about back-to-basics eating lately and feeling sad for those people who simply cannot afford to eat local, seasonal produce. I’m not just talking about people in remote communities although the price of fresh food in Canada’s Arctic towns is truly distressing. $10 for a ten pound bag of potatoes is outrageous, not to mention $28 for a cabbage or $7 for two pounds of apples. There are also, of course, those in my own local community who deal with food insecurity on a daily basis and I fully recognize that they simply don’t have the option of choice that is open to many of us. I feel extremely humbled by the good work of organizations such as the Parkdale Food Centre which are doing amazing work in their quest to get fresh foods into the hands of those who can least afford to buy it. One of the main reasons I’m thinking about food choices a lot these days because an excuse I hear most often from people who do not shop at Farmers’ Markets is that they feel the food is going to be significantly more expensive than at the traditional grocery store.
I’m happy to report that one of the most significant lessons I have learned thanks to a kind invitation from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market to participate in the Farmers’ Feast Challenges over the past year is that quality food is not necessarily more expensive because it actually offers greater value. I’ve never opened a bag or basket of produce from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market only to discover items that are bruised, rotting or moldy. I’ve stored all the items according to the farmers’ instructions and discovered they’ve lasted much longer than items purchased at the grocery store. I’ve had kale that’s still crisp and fresh tasting three weeks after picking it up at the Farmers’ Market. Another advantage is that many farmers, especially those running organic operations, typically deliver the whole plant – you get tender turnips plus their leafy tops, which in my kitchen means twice the food to cook and enjoy! Last but not least, shopping directly from farmers means you can get the inside scoop on the best way to prepare and preserve their products.
For this early-summer Farmers’ Feast Challenge, I’ve been offered a dazzling array of vegetables that I can’t wait to transform into a week’s worth of healthy meals for my family. When I serve them up, I’ll also be offering a quiet, heartfelt prayer of thanks to the farmers who toil so tirelessly to bring us wholesome, quality food. Supporting them helps them support their families and participate in our local economy. Win-win-win, right??
This month’s basket contributors are:
- The Beet Box [organic] – collard greens, beets, basil
- Luxy Farms [organic] – hakurei turnips, garlic scapes
- Just Farms – snap peas, green garlic
- Linda’s Garden – cauliflower, green garlic, baby potatoes
- Roots ’n Shoots [organic] – zucchini, Napa cabbage
- Warner’s Farm – cherries, red currants, gooseberries
- Rochon Garden – broccoli
- La Ferme Albe – lamb chops
I’ll be posting recipes in the days ahead, providing links here. If any catch your fancy, maybe you’ll be visiting a farmers’ market in the days ahead? You can check out last July’s archives on this blog Farmers’ Feast recipes and ideas.