Eat close to home

If you have a hankering for fresh strawberries or pineapple today, you only have to walk to a nearby grocery store.

In the Ontario climate, strawberries are long out of season and pineapple will never exist in a local orchard.

Generations ago, enjoying a fresh strawberry sundae required patience until the next growing season. We take the availability of produce for granted without considering that several decades ago, eating summer fruit in winter was a luxury.

In order to eat a strawberry- or raspberry-based dessert in the middle of winter, foresight, preparation, canning and storage were required.

Over the past decade, a move towards healthier and more sustainable eating has sparked new trends like the 100-mile diet.

In the U.S., Vermont is the leading state with respect to using local produce. In 2006 the localvores of the region — people who try and eat locally grown produce within a 100-mile radius — embarked upon what they dubbed the Winter Challenge.

Participants only ate produce that could be grown within 100 miles of their food shed for one week in the middle February.

This may not sound difficult, but remember, this meant no chocolate, no melons and no coffee. Fruit had to be preserved from during the growing season.

Kingston has likewise promoted local food with new initiatives. Three years ago the City held an event known as Fare on the Square, where local restaurants served culinary samples made entirely of local produce.

Kaitlin Byrick, Local Food Local Chefs co-ordinator said the popular Toast to Tapas, will be returning this February during FebFest. The aim is for local restaurants to create special tapas entirely made of local produce, paired with beverages from local breweries and vineyards.

Buying locally-produced food or seeking it out at restaurants isn’t difficult in Kingston. Look no further than the farmers’ market located outside the JDUC every Wednesday. If you want your food made for you, restaurants like Chien Noir, Atomica and Harper’s Burger Bar have menu items made from local produce.

Next time you’re eating, consider these questions: Can the food you’re eating be obtained locally? What season is required for what you’re eating?

And always consider the distance that had to be travelled for you to eat your strawberry sundae.

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