Eating Local in downtown Toronto is nothing like eating local in rural Prince Edward Island. Maybe this sounds obvious, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something these first few days into the Eat Local Challenge.
The last time I ate in a truly sustainable way was the summer after I graduated university – burnt out and idealistic, I joined WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) Canada. I found a woman in the vast P.E.I countryside who ran a small scale organic farm that sustained her and her family. Beyond that, her house was heated by a wood stove and her electricity came from solar panels. She maintained multiple greenhouses and cold frames. All our food waste was composted or fed to goats. For a few short months, I lived only consuming only what we produced.
When I first started on the farm, I couldn’t believe how much there was to do. Weeding, cooking, cleaning, feeding animals and more. Living off very little actually money, the quality of what we ate was better than I’ve ever had before or since. The farm had a few ducks, chickens and two goats. We drank goat milk I learned to pasteurize and store in mason jars. I baked bread fresh each morning. I bottled wine made from wild blueberries. It was a massive crash course in homesteading.
Flash forward to now, after a few years of living in the Centre of the Universe I barely knew where to begin to start finding wholesome sustainable food. Lucky for me, there are multiple programs in the city that work directly with farmers to deliver local produce each week either bag or box style. Signing up to have farm vegetables show up at your door is almost too easy yet still mind blowing. I’d never even had Conchord grapes before, the local grape responsible for the notorious purple colour and classic taste of everything from candy to juice. I’m still discovering new food that could literally grow in my backyard.
Still, I can’t help but feel the difference. Within the first day of the Eat Local Challenge, it hit me. Going through the motions of getting local food isn’t the same as living sustainably. Eating local is the first step, but it’s about more than what you eat. It’s about giving back to farmers but also taking responsibility for producing more yourself. I’m ready to use the rest of this Challenge to not just put my money where my mouth is but my time as well.
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