As local as possible: Fresh City Farms

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Earlier this season, a good friend of ours stumbled across a new food box program in our city: Fresh City Farms. After our time with Culinarium, which sadly closed its doors earlier this year, we were open to participating in another food share program.

What is attractive about Fresh City Farms that sets it apart from other programs was its door-to-door delivery, organic promise, and finally, the hyper-local focus of their food philosophy – as local as possible, in fact.

Perhaps organic and door-to-door is obvious, but why local?

1. It’s healthier. The produce we eat is in essence converted energy from the sun. I know this is an oversimplification of a far more complex series of systems; however, at the heart of it, food is energy. The sooner we eat that produce once it’s harvested, the greater the amount of energy we retain from it. The longer our food is in transit, storage, and processing after its harvested, the more energy is lost. It’s no wonder fresh fruit and vegetables from a farmer’s market always looks, smells, and tastes so much more flavourful than the same tired looking fruit and vegetables near the end of a week at a grocery store (or perhaps in a fridge at home for too long). You know the kind I’m talking about.

That said, there is nothing wrong with eating food that has been shipped in, it’s just that we’re not getting as much nutritional value from it. In some cases, it can’t be helped… there are certain things we simply can’t get where we are. At the same time, there is also so much variety locally to be explored and experimented with that it brings to question. Why not?

2. It’s more environmental. The transportation of import foods over long distances means high costs in energy and fuel for their transportation and storage. Eating more locally means a reduction in the need for those logistics and energy burn.

3. It supports local sustainability. By buying straight from local farms and gardens, more of our dollar goes to the families who grow the food. It doesn’t get split up along the way by a series of middle men. (In case it’s of interest, the Story of Stuff is worth checking out if you haven’t already in the past.)

So back to Fresh City Farms. Most of their produce is farmed in gardens right in the city and when necessary, in nearby farms. Only when the produce cannot be farmed here in Ontario does Fresh City Farms bring it in from the outside, and when they do, it’s clearly labeled. You can opt-out of certain produce, or add additional products to supplement your weekly food box. Food boxes come in small and large sizes that contain fruit or vegetable, or both, and can be delivered weekly or biweekly.

When you order, you can also send the foodbox to a pick-up point, or if you have three or more deliveries to the same address, you can create your own pick-up location. Pick-up locations get a few dollars off each food box. It may take a little communication and follow-up to get your box set-up, as they’re still quite new, small, and ironing out wrinkles. But once it’s set up, it’s worth it.

Our friends and we have been getting our food boxes like clockwork this season and it’s been great. If you haven’t yet, give them a try.

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Locavore food share programs

Photo credit: Culinarium / Ontario Artisan Share

I know. Hannah and I haven’t posted in a while. Our apologies on the recent radio silence. We had a number of serious personal events happen that have kept us away from Foodiologie. It may take a bit more time before we’re back on our regular posting schedule, but not to worry, we’ll be back soon. But enough about that, what of this locavore business?

Eating fresh and eating local is one of the things that means a lot to us. What it often translates into is how and where we shop, and what we put in our grocery basket: trips to farmers’ markets, finding small grocers that carry local produce, or just selecting locally grown foods from some of the larger grocery chains. A lot of times though, eating fresh and local also means eating at a higher cost and greater inconvenience. But all this is about to change, because Pietro, aka my husband-to-be, and I are joining a food share program through Culinarium in Toronto.

Food share programs are nothing new, but suprisingly, not too many people know about them, and even fewer participate. In reality, community food sharing is a significant part of human history. Only it’s far less prevalent in our big bustling cities, and complicated food production cycles nowadays – most of us are completely disconnected from the source(s) of our food. But we don’t have to be. Food share programs put our food and the farmers that produce it back into our frame of reference.

What’s great about the Culinarium food share programs are that you can choose the program that best suits you: produce-only, meat options, or even an artisan option where you can also get locally-made cheeses and pantry items like maple syrups, mustards, and oils in both meat and vegetarian options. The other benefit is that it’s affordable. The only difference is that you’re paying for your food upfront and securing your personal portion of food with the farmers you’re getting your food from. The farmer has secure orders before the harvest, and you get a gorgeous assortment of seasonal, local food products on a weekly basis when the time comes.

I can’t wait for my first basket.

For other food share programs across Canada, Food Share has a listing here. If you’re not from Canada, look for one in your area. Chances are, you’ll find one. They’re more common than you may think. Good luck!