Achat local

Local food: from markets to baskets

L’alimentation de proximité : des marchés aux paniers

Local food is definitely my hobbyhorse, and the first bunch of asparagus in Quebec gives me a little breath of hope every year. What could be better than fresh produce grown close to home? Quebec greenhouses provide us with several good products during the winter, but the summer months bring us much more variety and increased proximity to producers.

Whether you want to incorporate more local foods into your menu, or simply continue to explore the riches of our region, many possibilities are available to you throughout Quebec.

Public markets

For me, public markets are a must for lovers of local products. Moreover, for the curious eager for discoveries, they allow you to discover products that are a little more particular and less known, such as fiddleheads, chive flowers, dandelion and the list is far from being exhaustive. The fact of obtaining them directly from the producer or, at least, from a well-informed distributor, also makes it possible to seek advice and ask several questions related to the products.

I personally have the pleasure of working a few meters from the oldest public market in Quebec: the Saint-Hyacinthe public market. Now well established and very popular with residents, the market offers a multitude of local products, often offered by producers from neighboring municipalities. Knowing that the vegetable or fruit is picked the same morning and sold immediately to customers is an invaluable advantage, especially when you consider that certain similar fruits and vegetables can travel thousands of kilometers to reach us.

credit: Maude St-Onge

The vast majority of people are familiar with the Jean-Talon Market, a real paradise for fresh and local products, but the other markets, whether in cities or in the regions, are unfortunately less known.

For the citizens of Montreal, the association Les Marchés publics de Montréal (MPM) brings together six major public markets in the city. Their website allows you to locate them and plan your visit by consulting the list of merchants. A host of recipes and articles are also available to inspire locavores before or after their visit.

credit: Maude St-Onge

The Association des marchés publics du Québec , which brings together regional markets, offers similar services. The list of markets is impressive across the province! In addition, each region offers its own niche products and promises great discoveries. Why not organize agritourism getaways during your vacation? Gourmands will then be served! Note thatQuebec Public Markets Week will take place from August 10 to 19, 2018 throughout Quebec.

You can also go hunting for independent or traveling markets, often set up in small villages at fixed times each week or year. These are often the most user-friendly!

Farm and/or organic baskets

A strong trend in recent years is the subscription to a local basket. For those for whom frequenting markets is only occasional, or who don't know where to start, organic or farmer's baskets are an excellent option. It also facilitates access to organic food at a lower cost.

In short, the principle of baskets consists of paying, at the start of the season or in installments, a fixed seasonal amount for a given number of baskets, which are delivered on a weekly basis near you, or available directly at the farm. Some wonder how these systems work, but the objective is very simple: to allow producers to know the volume of their production and finance all stages of their business.

Indeed, when you buy a tomato, you must not forget the steps behind the product: land preparation, fertilization, planting, maintenance, picking, watering, etc. Thus, when producers know from the outset the quantity of vegetables and fruits pre-ordered and that part of their production (baskets) is financed, this facilitates the viability and financial management of the business.

Lufa Farms have built an empire in the greater Montreal area by offering a wide selection of local products. They are also listed on their website to allow “Lufavores”, who now number in the tens of thousands, to surf among the best local foods. Their basket delivery system is also very developed throughout Quebec.

Lufa also stands out for its production and supply method, which combines local production on the roofs of buildings on the Island and “import” from producers located on the shores of the St. Lawrence. In short, their offer is rich and diversified, and has everything to please consumers. However, the organic offer is not highlighted, unlike many more regional farmers.

The Fermiers de famille program, from the Équiterre organization, lists several local producers who offer a subscription to the baskets, all via an interface attached to a map of Quebec. You can easily see farmers near you along with a description of their stories and businesses. Everything is there to attach you to the people who will produce with passion the food that you will consume throughout the summer, and until October.

Eat local, why not?

With the diversity of the local food offer to which we have access in our beautiful regions, there is little reason to deprive ourselves of it. Agrotourism, highly developed in Quebec, is also a great way to enjoy it and explore our land by the people who grow and produce what constitutes our daily fuel. I sincerely hope that the last few minutes have convinced you to consume more local foods and to promote them around you, all in order to support the great wealth that is our local Quebec agriculture.

cover photo credit: Maude St-Onge

Reviewed by Catherine

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