It’s not just a trend. The local food movement in Toronto has been gaining momentum over the past decade, with huge help from organizations like the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance and Foodland Ontario.
Urban dwellers want fresh food that has a reduced environmental impact and helps support their local community – like what our grandparents’ generation grew up with. Local (and organic) food was the norm 50 years ago, and there is a budding demand for that to come full circle.
We see its popularity growing in our ever-expanding restaurant scene, where an increasing number of chefs are using suppliers like ‘100km Foods Inc.’, who source their goods directly from farms in Ontario.
The Big Carrot provides 100% certified organic and/or wild-harvested produce, with a large focus on supporting local farms
Toronto’s food retailers are catching on to the movement, however it has been a part of the Big Carrot’s mandate for the past 30 years. As one of the oldest organic stores in the city, we have stayed true to our mandate of supporting an organically and locally driven chain of supply from farm to table. That is why The Big Carrot provides 100% certified organic and/or wild-harvested produce, with a large focus on supporting local farms.
In March we joined forces with the folks at Localize. This is a shelf labelling system that scores a product on how local it is. The score considers production, ownership and ingredients. It allows our customers to make educated decisions on how they spend their groceries dollars.
In 2013, we set up the Nature’s Finest Fund, an annual grant to help support local, organic farmers attain certification, and expand their operations. One of our recent recipients, Kind Organics from the Holland Marsh in Southern Ontario, were able to increase their sprout production through the construction of winter-friendly greenhouses, so that they would be able to provide fresh produce all year round.
I had the opportunity to speak with Tamas from Kind Organics, who oversees farm operations, and asked him what the best part about working on a certified organic & biodynamic farm in Ontario is. He simply said, “knowing that it has a much smaller environmental impact”.
Their message is simple; create harmony and be kind, and this energy will translate into the purity of the food
Kind Organics takes what they do to the next level. They believe that providing healthy, local food has a sense of purpose, and that it can bring us all together. It creates a connection to the farmer, to the land, and to one another when we enjoy the bounty of our harvest in a peaceful and happy setting.
They do what they can to contribute to the overall well-being of our agricultural system, and do not believe in an ‘us versus them’ mentality when it comes to “industrial farming”. In light of the recent mass destruction of bee colonies due to pesticide use, they keep six bee hives on their property (even though they don’t sell honey!). Not only do they recognize the benefit of bee pollination to their crops, but they also believe that it is our generation’s responsibility to clean up after each other as much as possible to create a better future for the generations to come.
Their message is simple; create harmony and be kind, and this energy will translate into the purity of the food.
One of the best ways to see how a local, organic farm works is to actually visit one!
The Big Carrot will be organizing a trip to Everdale Farm for an event called “Carrot Fest” on September 20th. The shuttle will leave from the store, and cost $10/adult, $5 per child.
I will also be running a Monday night cooking class at the Big Carrot called “Local Eats” on September 28th from 7-9:30pm which will focus on using local & organic ingredients. It’s a great opportunity to learn some seasonal recipes that are fun, easy, and delicious.
Alex Comrie, B.Comm, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.)
Nutritional Consulting www.realhealthworks.ca
Holistic Catering sassandalex.com