27 May Eat Real, Eat Local
Local food is important to me. Remember my conniption fit over Chinese garlic? Or the tears when my butcher announced his retirement? While I’m not a die-hard locavore who shuns coffee and gives friends grief over buying lychees, I think it’s criminal to import zucchini from another continent when it’s growing right here.
Sure, I quiz store managers about their suppliers and support local producers, visiting the small shops I trust. But sometimes an eleventh-hour need means a mad dash to a grocery store giant. While I look for food marked, “Product of Canada”, that’s not always possible.
And just how local is “Canada” when the True North stretches across five time zones and approximately 6,000 kms? What’s in season in BC isn’t necessarily in sync with Newfoundland, and provinces like Ontario can have different growing seasons depending on whether you live in the Niagara region or Thunder Bay. Since few of us grow our own vegetables (and I’m trying) it’s hard to know what’s in season and what’s not. Eating local isn’t as easy as it sounds.
That’s why I spent my weekend in Toronto at an information session hosted by Hellmann’s. Despite my aversion to mayonnaise, they invited me and seven other food bloggers from across Canada — flown in from BC to Nova Scotia — to take part in a discussion about local food. Yes, we were transported, fed and put up in a lovely downtown hotel, but they weren’t trying to sell me mayonnaise (which would have been futile anyway). They were asking for our input on local food.
In the past, Hellmann’s have been involved with urban gardens. This year, they’re not only supporting community gardens in big cities, they’ve created a website to help Canadians across the country eat more local food. Eat Real, Eat Local has a province-by-province break down of the fruits, vegetables, meats/poultry and “other” foods (grains, oils, lentils and seeds) that are in season. They also have one-click pledge forms and hundreds of seasonal recipes by Hellmann’s and Canadian Living. Yes, these recipes are mayo-centric, but you can alter them with ease.
When you visit for the first time, don’t skip the intro. It’s less than a minute long and contains some shocking statistics. The site is Flash heavy so it might take a while to load, but the information is handy. Within each province, you can learn what’s in season spring, summer, fall, winter and year round. As of today, BC has cherries and pears, while New Brunswick’s picking rhubarb and strawberries. By clicking about, I learned that Quebec grows quinoa while Manitoba has chickpeas.
If you feel inclined, you can sign a pledge to eat locally, send a shout out to your grocery store chain demanding more local food, or create your own locavore recipes. For each of these “actions”, Hellmann’s will donate 25¢ to Evergreen, a non-profit organization that makes urban communities more livable.
I still don’t like mayonnaise, but I love what this mayonnaise company is doing to support local food.
Regardless of where you live, do you make an effort to eat locally? If so, what are your stumbling blocks? What confuses you? Let me know and I’ll pass your comments along to Hellmann’s.