Navigating Seasonal and Local Food Choices

Days are getting darker, shorter and colder. Unfortunately, as we transition between seasons, it’s hard not to think about all the sunny days we took for granted over the summer. For me, the delicious fruits and veggies available at the grocery store were a summer highlight! Eating some sweet, exotic fruit looking out at dead leaves on the ground just doesn’t feel the same. But we shouldn’t have to give up good produce as the seasons change!

Alberta’s fall weather is surprisingly good for many crops to be grown locally. Apples, beets, broccoli, and pears can be grown well into October whereas carrots, cabbage and brussel sprouts can be found growing in November! Buying produce in season is beneficial in so many areas: cost, local economy, environmental impact and last but not least, taste! The closer we can source our produce from, the fresher it is and buying more locally often means buying seasonal. So, don’t be afraid to embrace the shift from the summer-y fruits to the warm comfort foods of the fall and winter! Considering incorporating local produce that stores well over the colder months is a great way to reduce our grocery runs, ecological footprint and food waste. Here are some food storage tips to help that happen: https://www.almanac.com/storing-vegetables-over-winter

 Illustration: Michela Buttignol. © The Spruce, 2019

Even so, finding food grown outside our natural harvest seasons is not hard either as local farmers all over Alberta use greenhouses (we have 195 of them!), hydroponics and vertical farms to extend our growing season and keep our produce local. For example, the University of Alberta sources a large majority of their dining halls’ microgreens from a vertical farm in the Busby area called Swiss Leaf Farms.

But how easy is it to access these local and seasonal food options? Freson Bros. off Rabbit Hill road offers a huge variety of local produce that fluctuates with the seasons. Alternatively, I have found that H&W Produce has an affordable and expansive selection of produce from local growers. They have multiple locations in Edmonton and always have great deals! The city also has tons of farmers’ markets scattered throughout, some of which run all year round. They always have great variety and I have found some of the cheapest, tastiest produce from farmers markets! To incorporate this produce here is a simple guide to some seasonal recipes: https://www.foodnetwork.ca/in-season/blog/whats-in-season-in-canada/. If you’re feeling a little fancy, Workshop Eatery, located in the priMed Mosaic centre is “Alberta’s first net-zero, LEED Platinum Certified commercial building,” (https://www.primedmosaiccentre.com). This restaurant’s menu is focussed on sourcing local and seasonal ingredients in their dishes. It would be an awesome date night spot ;)! 

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