“But organic food is so expensive!”

…time and care yield quality that matters…. (Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)

The weather here has been gorgeous for the past week, with warm afternoon temperatures in the high 20s and glorious blue skies. Impromptu, a group of us at work ended up heading to a patio for lunch at a local pub. That day, I’d brought a salad of sorts to work for lunch: St Albert’s white cheddar (because why do you need yellow dyed cheese?), Bearbrook Farm‘s delicious pepperettes (very addictive), lettuce and radishes from Waratah Downs Organic Farm, and homemade bread. It was a throw-together type of meal where we didn’t have leftovers to bring and there wasn’t a cohesive anything in our fridge. I knew where everything in my lunch had come from…well, to a certain extent at least. I’m not sure where every single ingredient of the bread came from (unfortunately) but I do know where all of the ingredients were lovingly prepared into a loaf: right in my kitchen! All in all, the “salad” was delicious!

I found myself at the pub, staring at a standard pub menu. Nothing is that cheap and the quality is – in my opinion – not that great. However, I have a weak spot for bruschetta and, recalling a killer bruschetta that I had made using local homegrown cherry tomatoes not too long ago, I decided to order it. I think that will mark the very last time I order anything from a pub that doesn’t pride itself on local fare. It just wasn’t worth the money for the lack of quality food. The bread was likely not homemade, the garlic butter on the bread was not real, and the tomatoes were bland and colourless. Put altogether, it just wasn’t great.

The conversation at the table turned to our weekend plans and mine included a bike ride to my local farmers’ market (standard weekly activity, just as anybody else may go grocery shopping at a supermarket) and a tour of our CSA farm. There was some general head-nodding that it’s great having so many farmers’ markets sprouting up all around Ottawa and that it’s so much fun visiting a market to see the fresh veggies, meats, eggs, honey, etc….but the standard comment also came up: But organic food is so expensive! Sure, but supermarket foods tend to be heavily subsidized and you pay more over the long-term because of the quality of the land where the food is produced isn’t a top priority for large-scale producers in your typical food distribution chain, meaning that as the land gets more polluted with waste and chemicals, the costs that we pay as a society due to environmental damage is very high and potentially irreparable. I totally understand how it may be cost-prohibitive for families or low- or fixed-income folks to buy locally-sourced foods all the time, but is food something that we want to be cheap with? The food that enters your body and fuels everything that your body does?

I think it’s a choice that each and every one of us makes many times a day: what do we want to eat? Sometimes, the question really should be, do we need to eat right now? But I digress. In the end, our conversation at the pub steered away from the topic of food but I find myself thinking more and more about needing to eat foods that are locally-sourced and that have concrete origins (not just “From Mexico” or “From Canada”…because those are 2 very large countries).

What do you want to eat, why do you want to eat what you do, and do you know what you’re eating ate when it was alive?

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