June 4, 2020 / Comments Off on 7 Ways to Support our Local Food System
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.
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.
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.
The Culture Club – micro-bakery specializing in sourdough bread and baked goods.
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.
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!
Spring is here and now is the time to start thinking about your gardening plans for the upcoming season! It’s a great time to start some seeds indoors. Have you considered which seeds are adapted for our climate, or why saving seeds is a big deal? Do you know which seeds to start indoors or outdoors and when?
Check out our new post on Celebrating Seeds for more information about why seeds matter and the how-to information you need to start your own at home.
Food champions led discussion on the topics of sustainable food systems (Markus Wand, Wand Family Farm), food insecurity (Erin Reyce, Health Unit), healthy school food (Kathy Chippa, Student Nutrition Program) and Indigenous food sovereignty (Paige Restoule, North Bay Indigenous Hub).
Food Secure Canada will be documenting how many elected MP candidates participated in Eat Think Vote events, and will be able to circle back with them when timely advocacy is required related to food policy issues. We will look forward to connecting with Anthony Rota, the successful MP candidate for Nipissing-Timiskaming, as required related to food issues locally that have implications at the federal level.
2019 MP candidates for the Nipissing-Timiskaming riding (left to right) Alex Gomm, Green Party; Rob Boulet, NDP; Jordy Carr, Conservative Party; Anthony Rota, Liberal Party; Mark King, People’s Party of Canada.
December 4, 2017 / Comments Off on Recap of Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity Forum
On Thursday, November 30, 2017, the Nipissing Area Food Roundtable hosted an event called the Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity Forum.
About 60 community members from various organizations attended and there was much discussion related to why an income solution is required to truly address food insecurity.
The panel of local speakers from St. Andrew’s Church, the Nipissing Community Legal Clinic, the Gathering Place and the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit discussed food insecurity from a local perspective and several guest speakers made the trip to North Bay to share their expertise related to food insecurity.
Before leaving, participants were asked to identify areas of interest for future direction for the Nipissing Area Food Roundtable related to food insecurity. The top three items included:
Events or initiatives related to income advocacy leading up to the 2018 provincial election
Implementing the Cent$less Campaign in the Nipissing Area
Hosting more community events about food insecurity
The Nipissing Area Food Roundtable will look forward to working on these initiatives in the New Year.
A big thank you to the North Bay Discovery Museum for hosting us, Cecil’s Brewhouse and Kitchen for catering a great lunch with some local foods incorporated, and Dirty Girls Farm for donating soaps for our speakers gifts.
On Friday March 3rd we travelled to Mattawa to host the last of 5 Community Kitchen events. Mattawa Community Development Inc. had received a grant to run a series of community kitchens from the Ontario Seniors Secretariat.
This week’s theme was Easy Breakfasts. We started off the day with an introduction on eating breakfast and why it is so important to kick start your day.
A poached egg demonstration was done to show the group its simplicity, time efficiency and the fact that no oil is required. The group seemed shocked to see how easy it truly is, with a few comments such as “wow I am going to try this at home”, and “I didn’t know it was that simple”. We talked about the various times to cook the egg based on preference of runny or hard yolks.
After the demonstration, we split up to work on the various recipes. An eager participant worked on the Peanut Butter Swirl Steel Cut Oats. She even added her own twist to the recipe by adding the maple syrup and peanut butter right to the mixture while cooking it. It was great to see an eagerness to try new things and experiment.
While she was cooking up the oats, another participant was preparing the Toasted Oats with Coconut and making the Spinach Smoothie. She had never tried spinach in her smoothie before and was amazed by how much she enjoyed it.
Health unit staff members prepped the Crust-less Quiches. This was a recipe idea from one of the previous attendees of the Mattawa community kitchens. Let’s just say it was ‘eggsquisite’. Not only was it delicious, but it also proved to be very easy. The participants also thought it would be a great dish to make ahead and freeze to enjoy later.
Once the Toasted Oats came out of the oven, it was time for the Yogurt Parfaits to be assembled. There was a layer of Greek yogurt, chopped up fresh strawberries, chopped up walnuts, toasted oats and then topped with a drizzle of maple syrup. Both a healthy and delicious snack for any time of the day.
We also had a participant whip up a batch of Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats. This was a take home for the participants to have for breakfast the next morning. We included both steel cut oats and old fashioned oats in various recipes made throughout the afternoon, and we discussed the differences in nutrition and taste.
“I didn’t know it was that simple”
After we had completed making all of the recipes, we sat down and ate together. We discussed the taste of the various items, if we would try and make them for ourselves at home, and any variations of the recipes we could try. There was also a teaching on the importance of including protein at each meal, especially breakfast. Each recipe included a source of protein to help participants feel fuller for longer. The participants were very engaged and interested in the topics discussed and stated that this event was fun and the recipes were great! By the end of the class we were all stuffed with both food and knowledge.
With all the conversations I’ve had of late about the farmer’s market, eating fresh, and supporting local… CSA baskets have come up more than once. While there’s always one friend who is totally on board, and has already purchased a share, most around the table look at you, and say “Huh?”.
A CSA, or Community Shared Agriculture, is a farmer production approach that focuses on producing local, high quality food. The CSA program ensures a direct relationship between the farmer and purchaser, and gives the purchaser fresh seasonal food straight from the farm! Each farmer has a different method to provide their purchasers or consumers with food, some having weekly drop offs, or even monthly. You can also customize the amount you get with full, half or quarter ‘share’.
The benefits of CSA share programs goes beyond just having local fresh food accessible to consumers. YOU, the consumer, supports your local farmer. The local farmer supports the local economy by their local purchases, including hiring locally, etc. This causes a cascade effect for the local community, and further helps the environment. The more local products that are purchased, the fewer products (ideally) are needed to be shipped to the community, reducing harmful emissions from transport carriers (source).
Those that are participating in local programs have nothing but positivity and recommendations for the CSA programs. Lindsey G., a participant, gets half a CSA share from Field Good Farms in Cache Bay. “I love getting my weekly basket of fresh organic produce, because it’s affordable for my family and extremely fresh.” Like most programs, payment for Field Good Farms CSA program is required ahead of time, but Lindsey states that “it works out to be much less money spent on produce then I would shopping for what I need at the grocery store.”
She as a consumer, “know(s) that the people who grow the produce are using organic farming methods that not only keep them safe but also keep the environment and habitat around them safe too. The quality of the produce is out of this world. I particularly love the taste of the cucumbers and carrots because they are so flavorful. I also like that there is a good variety of produce in each week’s basket. Everything from lettuce and kolrabi to herbs like basil.”
In Nipissing District there are a couple of options to purchase a share of a CSA, although most farmers prefer shares to be purchased ahead of the season. Farmers will allot for a certain amount during their planting season to go towards a CSA program, and only have a certain amount of ‘spots’ available for purchase. Currently, the Food Roundtable is working on a Resources section to provide all those within the Nipissing area contacts and information around farmers and farms that have CSA shares, and other great food literacy items.
Keep your eyes open for updates, and more to be added to our site!
As a consumer, find some more great information on CSA farms in Ontario here.
For farmers interested in starting their own CSA, follow the link for a PDF manual on the ‘Ins and outs of running a CSA farm in Ontario’ here.
Written by: Kayt Elliott
Cover photo: Sara S.
With Thanks to Lindsey G. for quotes.
June 15, 2016 / Comments Off on Top 5 finds at the North Bay Farmers’ Market in June
# 1 Martha’s Fried Pies: These little pockets of deliciousness are a big hit! They come in many different flavours including; pumpkin, apple, peach, blueberry, and many others! Get all the pie flavour you want, in one small pocket (makes you feel a little less guilty).
# 2 Spring Hill Farms Garden Centre and Berry Farm: This family run farm has been selling the most beautiful flower arrangements, hanging baskets and other garden goods. They’re also open 7 days a week (various hours) directly at the farm to purchase items. Visit their Facebook page for more information and some great shots of their beautiful crops!
#3 The North Star Travelling Cafe – The Big Dipper: This AMAZING vegan taco is one for the books. Widely popular, and often sold out by the end of the day, is made from organic ingredients, including an amazing ‘home-made’ ricotta. The Maple Chai Iced Tea and 3 options of popsicles are also great for those hot Farmer’s Market Saturday afternoons. Follow their instagram @thenorthstartravellingcafe.
#4 The Crowded Cantina – Maple Bacon Bread:The Maple Bacon Bread boasts over 1/4 lbs of bacon per loaf. Perhaps a great gift idea for the bacon loving dad on Father’s Day?! Another great local eat to enjoy, The Crowded Cantina also has an amazing cotton candy milkshake, sandwiches, and some pretty famous pierogies.
# 5 G’s Bibs and Things: After you take home all the phenomenal goods you’ve purchased at the Farmers’ Market, there’s nothing better than cooking up an incredible meal complete with local produce. If you have a little one at home, G’s Bibs and Things make the cutest aprons and chef’s hat for kids! Start their love for fresh local foods early, and have them look like a professional while they learn to cook.
BONUS: Birch Gourmet Waffles: Whether you show up at 8:30am or 11:00am, Birch’s gourmet waffles are always made fresh & good to eat! While you’re walking around (hopefully buying some healthy items), enjoy a treat with their Smores waffle! Honestly, any of them are great, and you can even create your own and be an “inventor”!!
This post is only a highlight of SOME of the great vendors at the North Bay Farmers’ Market, they’re all truly note-worthy. There’s always something new and great to see and taste at the Market, along with various events occurring over the summer/fall. Check them out on Wednesday from 10am-2pm (in front of the Discovery North Bay Museum) and Saturday from 8:30am-1pm (Parking lot 10, behind the bus station on Oak & Wyld st.). Check out the website for more information, details, and dates of all the various special events & days!
Remember; Eat, Love & Support Local.
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June 9, 2016 / Comments Off on Hello from The Nipissing and Area Food Roundtable!
On April 26, 2016 forty-six community stakeholders & leaders gathered at the St. Joseph’s Mother House for a full day action planning session for the Nipissing and Area Food Charter. Participants included representatives from: community/social service agencies, farms, farming associations, markets, gardens, local businesses, municipal government, schools, colleges, school boards, libraries, funders, and the general public. As a result of a productive, jam-packed day, a Nipissing and Area Food Charter Action Plan was developed and from that our Food Roundtable was born!
The Roundtable has had their first meeting as a group and have agreed upon a focus of five key areas.
These areas include:
Within those key action areas, there’s different potential activities and collaborations for Roundtable members to carry out to promote positive change in our community.