Tips and Tricks for Eating Local in Quebec
Eating local is a win-win for everyone, especially during these times of uncertainties we have been subjected to ever since the pandemic began back in mid-March. Eating locally grown food is much easier than we would think and allows us to enjoy food that is much fresher and picked at peak maturity, which consequently is more tasty and nutrient dense. Eating locally grown food also helps us reduce our ecological footprint and impact on the planet, it encourages and stimulates the Quebec economy, and helps us show our support and gratitude to our local producers. For most of us, eating local is an obvious choice during the summer, but did you know that we can also eat locally all year long?
1. The calendar of seasonal products and arrivals allows us to adapt and inspire our weekly menus according to the availability of our fresh fruits and vegetables. It is available in the Products & Schedule section of the Mangez Quebec website, a site dedicated to consumers and filled with valuable information.
2. To easily locate locally grown produce while shopping at the grocery store and in farmers markets look for the Aliments du Québec logo or ask the store attendants or the market exhibitors where the products were grown. You can also consult the list of farmers’ markets found on the Mangez Quebec or the Association des marchés publics du Québec websites to discover new farmers markets located near or far, a great activity or road trip for the whole family. This last website is only available in French, but it has two great free tools in the « Tous au marché! » section under the L’Association tab: an activity book for children and a recipe book to encourage us to eat local all year round.
3. Some farmers and producers have kiosks on the side of the road from which you can buy your produce, others also allow us to pick our own produce, a superb summer and fall activity. A great way to save money, make provisions of our favorite local fruits and vegetables for the winter and prolong these tasty pleasures throughout the year! You might even find a farmer who is part of the Équiterre or Family Farmer networks and could subscribe to their weekly farmer’s basket! And don’t be shy, get to know and talk to these farmers, they have a wealth of information on how to prepare and preserve all the foods they produce and sell.
4. Why not explore different methods of preserving these fruits and vegetables such as canning, freezing, dehydration and lacto-fermentation? Tomato sauce, frozen berries, jams and purees, marinated vegetables, sauerkraut, relish, chutney, pesto, dried apple, peach or tomato slices, dried cranberries…the possibilities are endless. No more waiting and dreaming of a fragrant strawberry pie in the middle of winter, all we would have to do to sink our teeth into one in the middle of winter is simply thaw a bag and get baking!
5. Nowadays, with the abundance of ecological greenhouse products, we have access to many fruits and vegetables from Quebec year-round, tastier, fresher and more nutritious than their imported counterparts!
6. Although, eating locally grown produce shouldn't be limited to fresh produce only. We have many more choices when we also consider frozen, dried and fermented local fruits and vegetables.
7. Finally, let’s not forget that locally grown products go far beyond fruits and vegetables. We can eat and drink almost anything grown or produced locally in Quebec: pork, beef, poultry, marine species, eggs, dairy products, legumes, seeds (flax, hemp, etc.) and their oils, sauerkraut, beers, wines, kombucha, various cereals and flours, honey, and a diversity of ready-to-eat products. The local food options available to us have exploded in recent years, let's take advantage of these offerings and reap all its benefits, both for our health and our environment!
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