COVID-19 has exposed many issues with our food systems and food supply chains, but let’s use this opportunity to change the conversation. This is an important time to source local foods when we can and strengthen our regional food systems.
Producers need to be well supported to keep farming and food production viable in our area. If the demand isn’t there, we will lose our local food supply. With borders being closed and food supply chains being vulnerable due to COVID-19, it’s become clear that we need strong, regional food systems in place, and that they must be strengthened and enhanced moving forward.
There is very little – if any – local food at regular grocery stores, so it can take some effort to source. But, it’s worth it! And, there are lots of ways to get it in our area. Read on for some ideas on how you can access local foods and support to our regional food system (listed in no particular order). Pick one thing and try to make it a habit. You won’t regret it!
7 Ways to Support our Local Food System
- Reach out to a local food producer.
Looking for something specific? Try searching our Local Food Map by the product you are looking for (honey, vegetables/produce, eggs, etc). Most producers are happy to arrange a contact free pick up or delivery. You can also check out the Great Powassan & Area Farmstand Tour, which highlights local farms you can visit in the Powassan Area.
- Plant something.
Food grown at home is as fresh as it can get, and doesn’t have to travel to get to your plate! Why not put your green thumb to work by planting something edible. Try a few potted tomatoes and herbs on your balcony, plant a fruit tree in your yard, include edibles among your perennials, or dig up sod to make room for veggies. There are many ways that most people can grow (at least some) things to cook with.
If you’re a beginner gardener, start small and avoid taking on too much at once. Look up information on the best way to tend the plants you want to grow, and build on that knowledge year to year.
- Visit a Farmers’ Market.
The North Bay and Powassan markets give you the option of ordering ahead online, or you can just show up and shop. Other markets in our area are working on opening as well, so we will update this list with more information when it’s available.
- North Bay Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 8:30 am – 1 pm and Wednesdays 10 am – 2 pm in front of the museum on Oak St West, North Bay.
- Powassan Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 9 am – 12 pm beside the Beer Store on Main St, Powassan.
- Support a restaurant that uses local food.
We have a few local restaurants that work really hard to source local foods. They are navigating lots of challenges with COVID-19 and are required to offer take-out only. Let’s make sure they feel supported! Check out our local food map for locations and details on each.
- North Star Diner – offering weekly Farmers’ Market Care packages available for order exclusively on Instagram.
- White Owl Bistro – order ahead for take-out or other prepared products.
- 1886 Lake House Bistro – order ahead for take-out or other prepared products.
- The Culture Club – micro-bakery specializing in sourdough bread and baked goods.
- Order online.
Click Fork is an online Farmers’ Market offering delivery and pick up locations in West Nipissing, North Bay and Sudbury every other week. Visit their website to see their wide range of products from many producers across Northeastern Ontario.
- Learn more about wild foods.
Wild foods are all around us in the natural environment. They’re fresh, organic and local! However, there are some important things to consider whether you’re hunting, fishing or foraging for edible plants. You want to ensure safety for you and sustainability for the species you are harvesting. Do you know anything about hunting or fishing? Do you have a hunting/fishing license? How do you identify edible plants? Which part of the plant is edible? In which season? How much should you harvest? Is land contamination an issue? Make a point of doing your homework. Do some reading and consult with a knowledgeable friend or family member to ensure safe and sustainable harvesting and eating of wild foods.
- Advocate for policy change to create a healthy, sustainable and just food system.
While we can all contribute to a thriving local food system, government decision makers need to prioritize policies that will support healthy, just and sustainable changes to our food systems in the long term. Reach out to our elected leaders – municipally (mayor and councillors), provincially (MPPs) and federally (MPs) – and share your thoughts. Here, we’ve listed two email petitions you can sign to raise awareness about our food system issues in Canada with our federal leaders.
- Food Secure Canada has recently published a policy action plan in response to the issues with our food systems that have become clear with COVID-19. Tell your MP it’s time for healthier, more just and more sustainable food systems.
- The Ontario Dietitians in Public Health are raising awareness about household food insecurity – meaning a household does not have enough money to buy food – as an urgent social justice and public health issue. Email federal party leaders to make them aware of this issue as part of the No Money for Food is Cent$less campaign, and the need for income equality so all Canadians have the money they need to buy food.
Hopefully this list has given you some food for thought! Do you have something to add to our list? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on Facebook and we can include your suggestions. Thank you for the things you do to support our local food system!