There’s been a lot of well-deserved press about the release of Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon’s account of eating locally for a year in Vancouver. The book is published as The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating in Canada and as Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally in the U.S.
As it should, their book has sparked interest in other regions in eating locally. Not surprisingly, one of the best places to start thinking about and eating locally is their web-site, which has a handy modified Google Maps that allows you to enter your postal code (or zip code) and then draws a circle for you with a radius of 100-miles around your house.
I tried it with my own coordinates and was happy to see the as-the-crow flies measurement goes almost all the way to Montreal to the East, passes Petawa to the North West, goes down to Tweed and Napanee in the South West, passes Kingston and extends down to Watertown, NY, to the South, and goes up past Maniwaki and Mont-Laurier to the North. That area encompasses a lot of farmland. Still, given that most grocery stores get their stock from central depots in Toronto or Montreal, it can still be a challenge to buy locally produced food. Even the Byward Market has come under criticism in recent years for allowing stall owners to sell produce that has not been grown by them and in many cases has not even been grown in our region.
So where can you buy local food in Ottawa. By no means do we manage to source all our food within that circle, but we probably manage on an average week to source about half of it locally even in the winter and we don’t even go to that many different places. Most Saturdays we try to get to the Ottawa Organic Farmer’s Market, which is particularly difficult to find, located as it is in the Canada Care Centre, behind the Heron Road Canadian Tire. Here you can find locally produced, and organic, meats, baked goods, eggs, herbs, dairy products and vegetables year round. At the moment there are still some root vegetables left over from last season as well as some new greenhouse crops like mixed salad greens coming available. The hours for this market are from 10am to 2pm every Saturday. However, things run out so get there early to avoid disappointment.
We supplement our organic farmer’s market purchases with a home-delivered weekly vegetable box from Bryson Farms, a 140-acre farm just north of Shawville, Quebec, and well within the 100-mile circle. We have subscribed to their home delivery program for almost a year now and have been very impressed with the variety of vegetables we get each week and the quality. They too use greenhouses and have been providing us with mixed salad greens and super tasty micro-greens most of the year along with peppers, tomatoes, brocolli (even in March), cauliflower, herbs, exotic potatoes, garlic, onions, chiogga beets (the yummiest), carrots etc. I’ll try and take a photo when we get our next delivery on Tuesday.
Sundays last summer we also bought local meat, cranberry juice, veggies and some of the most amazing bar-b-que pizza (no I’m not kidding) at the Lansdowne Park market which is explicitly a 100-mile market, meaning everyone selling there has to produce their food within that boundary. Last summer was their test run. It went well for them and they’re going to be starting up again May 6th. Their hours are Sundays from 8am to 3pm.
We buy most of our meat at the Organic Farmer’s Market or the Lansdowne market, but another source for local, naturally-raised meat that friends of ours use on a regular basis is Aubrey’s in the Byward Market. They don’t have a web presence but their real world coordinates ar: Aubrey’s Meats – 613-241-4093 9 York Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 9B7.
Two other resources worth mentioning are the Ottawa Buy Local Food Map put out by Just Foods Ottawa, which includes markets and farms that do farm gate sales that are located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa, and the web-site of the local Slow Food Convivium which is a work in progress on local food that is good+clean+fair.