Local and organic food may cost a little more, but when one factors in health care and related costs “cheap food is incredibly expensive.” Go here for a brief overview of growth hormones and antibiotics, and here for an impartial discussion of organic food. Scroll down for a guide to local farms, and for introductions to GM food and livestock ecology.
You can support economic, social and ecological sustainability by being a locavore. Check the Ottawa Farmer’s Market web site to find fresh local produce at multiple downtown locations. The Ottawa Valley Food Co-operative provides a Local Food Buying Guide for the Upper Ottawa Valley. The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) provides a handy zoomable Veg Business Directory which you can access by clicking on the image below. Categories on the interactive map include: eateries; bakeries; food stores; retreats; cooking schools; co-ops & markets; fitness & health; in addition to specialty vegan products & catering. Note the buttons below the map permitting a search by neighbourhood.
Click on the image below for the Just Food Buy Local Guide, a zoomable map showing farmers’ markets, restaurants, retailers and community gardens throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. The Guide has a number of search delimiters including categories for organic and biodynamic farms. It also shows restaurants and retailers accredited by the Savour Ottawa guide to locally-produced food.
Keep up with local food news with the Ottawa Farmer’s Market (website / Twitter / Facebook) and Locavore Artisan Food (Twitter / Facebook), and check out this descriptive list of area farmer’s markets from intrepid food blogger Sasha Dunfield.
As noted on this useful page by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, GM (genetically modified) is the term used in European and many English-speaking nations to refer to the application of recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology in farming. GE (genetically engineered) is the term used in U.S. legislation. The Canadian government tends to avoid such language altogether, and Canada has yet to join the 64 countries that require labeling of GM food. Instead we have developed a purely voluntary labeling system, and not surprisingly no companies have adopted it. To learn more and take action visit the CBAN website.
The Vegetarian Society informs us that “livestock farming is responsible for almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human-related activities. Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times as damaging to the climate as carbon dioxide and 65% of the total quantity produced by human activity comes from livestock, mostly their manure.” Based on production and post-farmgate statistics, sheep and cattle are the worst offenders when it comes to environmental impact.
Martin Barrow, head of footprinting at the UK-based Carbon Trust, cites a three-year study of 315 dairy farms concluding that “about 30% is made up of carbon emissions related to beef production come from the use of fertiliser on fields and a further 40% comes from methane produced by animals’ belches, which as a contributor to climate change is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The rest comes from fertiliser production, fuel, electricity and deforestation resulting from cattle farming.”
For related Slow Ottawa resources see the Produce Food and Stay Local pages, as well as the Eat Green Pinterest board. Skip to to 38:44 on the exclusive Slow Ottawa interview with Elspeth McKay to hear about the origins of the Operation Come Home FarmWorks program for community-supported agriculture.
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