Buying local food is a growing trend across the globe. With more stores opening here in Winnipeg that cater to local farmers, consumers have increased access to a variety of products.
Choosing locally-grown fare likely means that there are fewer chemicals used to keep food fresh. This leads to fewer toxins entering the body. When farmers live nearby it is also easier for consumers to contact them to ask how they grow their products so as to ensure that their operation is a sustainable one.
A “sustainable” farm pursues healthy economics, a healthy environment and good quality of life for its animals.
Catherine Friend, a small sustainable farmer, writes in her book The Compassionate Carnivore that “grass-fed meat has more omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol. Animals raised in factories accumulate omega-6 fatty acids, the ‘bad’ fats, which have been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity, and immune disorders. Grass-fed meat contains from three to six times more vitamin E than factory meat… grass-fed beef has the same amount of fat as a chicken breast but more omega-3s. So a grass-fed steak might be healthier than factory-raised chicken.”
Supporting the local economy is an important aspect of eating local. Small businesses flourish in a healthy community that regularly buys their products. Maintaining good relationships with the producers of our food enables both parties to communicate their wants and needs.
Local food does not have to travel as far and requires less packaging than non-local food, thus contributing to a healthier environment. Eating local is more efficient because it uses fewer resources and produces less waste.
Although “local” is commonly thought of as anything within a 100-mile radius, this is not always feasible. Just trying to keep most of your purchases within the province is better than getting food shipped from other countries. If we try to buy as many local products as we can, we will make less of an impact when we splurge on imported items.
Several stores in Winnipeg provide consumers with access to local foods. The majority of products at Local Meats & Frozen Treats, located at 1604 St. Mary’s Rd., are local or free-range. Their ground elk, bison burgers and elk stir-fry meat are particularly delicious.
Some of the products found at Organic Planet (877 Westminster Ave.) and Tall Grass Prairie (859 Westminster Ave. and 1 Forks Market Rd.) are also from local producers. Organic Planet carries a range of bulk foods, produce and ready-made goods; Tall Grass Prairie is a local bakery.
Farmers’ markets have plenty of locally grown food to go around. Shop at the St. Norbert farmers’ market (3514 Pembina Hwy.) this September for apples, beans, potatoes and more. This market runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday until Oct. 30, and noon to 6 p.m. every Wednesday until the end of September.
For more information about eating local, check out www.100milemanitoba.org.
Sagan Morrow is a University of Winnipeg graduate and a health writer. Check out her blog at www.livingintherealworld.net/healthynet/healthy.
Published in Volume 65, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 2, 2010)