A bunch of years ago, a movement towards eating local emerged. The book The 100 Mile Diet: A year of local eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon was published to prove that it’s possible to live off food that hasn’t travelled further than 100 miles. With a quote on the cover written by David Suzuki “Eating local isn’t just a fad – it may be one of the most important ways we save ourselves and the planet.” The book was a hit and got people’s attention. To think that it’s not normal to have strawberries in the winter, squash in the summer and apples all year round would take most people a moment to figure out that in fact it’s not normal. Our produce is transported all over the world so we can enjoy the fruits of regions that grow food that we don’t or can’t. Papaya and mango aren’t grown locally to where I live, and yet I can buy them most of the year. The avocados that are so good for us to consume on toast or mashed up as guac, they’re not grown anywhere near me either. During the summer months, it’s possible to get Ontario grown produce, and I go for it. But does that mean I don’t eat those same foods grown in Chile or Mexico, California or South America the rest of the year? I’d have to stop and think about that, but likely not. Eating locally grown produce can feel limiting as we wait for the crops to bear fruit and veggies that we want to eat, and in a world of instant gratification, patience waines. Shopping at big box stores means buying in bulk, making the most of items on sale and allows for some semblance of budgeting for yourself and your family. But what’s that doing to our local growers and the economy closer to home? Likely something that you may not have considered. While I visit my local market every week without fail, it’s not something that is a habit for everyone and I recognize that the stigma of local and organic usually gives warning bells of dollar bills for most, there has to be something to shift that thinking to get more people buying local and connecting to their food – something that I don’t always see. There are many directions to this conversation about eating locally grown food, but today let’s talk to and hear from a local farmer who is literally in the field, farming the greens and produce that I buy and enjoy every week from the Brickworks Market in the east end of Toronto.
So today on EAT THIS with Lianne, why buying local matters in discussion with a farmer and advocate buying local, Ryan Bergmam of Loco Fields to enlighten us and quite literally ground us in his world of food production and distribution.
To say that the past two years turned so much on its head is an understatement, but my one constant was to go to the market every Saturday. I quite literally feel grounded as I head in, seeing familiar faces each week and filling my bags with local fish, eggs, chicken, greens, veggies and fruit. And of course shortbread from the french baker! I know that the people that I’m buying my food from have driven in that morning after their harvest days before to put it out on the table for me to come along and buy. There’s a connection that comes from buying from the farmer or team that is involved in the food that we consume, that I don’t believe I always appreciate, or others likely don’t even think about. It’s no fault of anyones if they don’t but this conversation is happening today to bring all this into your awareness. Last time I was at the market, a couple of weeks ago, I bought my bag of what’s called Kitchen Sink Greens – a collection of all leafy greens like spinach, arugula, baby chard and I’m not even sure what else. I buy beautiful pansies, nasturtiums, and other flowers that I don’t know the name of to put on my salads, and truly get giddy when I see something on the table that I don’t recognize as it’s an opportunity to try something new. About a month ago I tried black garlic for the first time – apparently a dehydration process and man is it good. I sprinkled it on my salad and it’s actually sweet, not smelly. I had an a-ha moment over a bag of greens about interviewing Ryan, the farmer who I get my gorgeous sprouts, greens, sweet potato, onions, herbs, flowers and whatever else catches my eye.
A conversation about buying local is one that I wanted to have on EAT THIS with Lianne. I haven’t really spent much time speaking with Ryan other than asking what this veggie is and what on earth should I do with it, so this will be an enlightening conversation for us as well as you! Ryan Bergman is the founder and farmer of Loco Fields just outside Stratford, Ontario. He began this journey in 2010 and further to that, I’m going to let him share more about himself, so let’s welcome Ryan to EAT THIS with Lianne. Thanks so much for joining us today Ryan.
Buying local has become a habit for me. Do I hit up Costco or my local supermarket for foods that aren’t local, sure I do. Lemon in my water and on oysters are a must, so those aren’t local. I’m sure I could come up with a list of many more, as you likely could too. As we head into a whole lot of economic uncertainty after the world shutting down, now more than ever it’s going to be important to be intentional with what we spend our money on. Priority for me is local as much as possible because it feels good to me. The debate of local versus organic has been one that I’ve had to speak to in the past, but with farmers like Ryan out there, I don’t have too. It was fascinating hearing about the distribution difficulties, and that has made me more inspired to shop locally and support with my dollars which is the best way possible.
About Loco Fields
LOCO FIELDS WAS ESTABLISHED IN 2010 JUST OUTSIDE OF STRATFORD. WE FARM 7 ACRES OF LAND AND OUR GROWING IS PRIMARILY CARRIED OUT IN 60,000 SQUARE FT OF GREENHOUSES, MOST OF WHICH ARE NATURALLY HEATED BY THE SUN. WE PROVIDE FOOD DURING THE UNDER-SUPPLIED SPRING AND WINTER SEASONS DUE TO OUR GREENHOUSES AND CAREFUL CROP SELECTION. OUR GROWING PRACTICES GO WELL BEYOND JUST ORGANIC – WE ARE A SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FARM AND CHOOSE PEOPLE OVER MACHINES. WE HAVE A STRONG FOCUS ON SOIL HEALTH AND REDUCING THE USE OF FOSSIL FUELS. WE GROW A LARGE SELECTION OF LEAFY GREENS THAT MATCH THE SEASONS – MICROGREENS, HERBS, HEIRLOOM TOMATOES, “YOUNG” GINGER, AND OTHER SPECIALTY VEGETABLES.