Obtaining Local Organic Foods

I receive e-mails and phone calls all the time from people looking for local organic grains and grain products. I have attended recent meetings hosted by local food groups and organic groups. The number one question that I hear murmered in the phews is "where can I get this food that they are hyping?" That's a good question. Strolling through most organic food stores here in Edmonton I see an overwhelming selection of organic foods, but a quick review of the label tells me that this food is not very local at all. I mean isn't the point of "Organics"...to reduce the carbon footprint, to produce food in a sustainable way? Trucking flour over the mountains from BC to sell here in Edmonton strikes me as fairly ridiculous. Here's the rub though...is there actually anyone local who produces organic flour for a local market? I am going to have to say no. At least not that I am aware of. As a producer, I can vent all I want about people who refuse to purchase local foods, but in doing so I also need to take responsibility for making every effort to actually make local food and make it available!

I know that there is a local flour mill, but they are fairly dedicated to marketing their flour at the bigger supermarkets where people who are interested in local foods will almost never visit. It's a difficult problem because I understand why they do this...there aren't enough local food consumers to make it worthwhile for this relatively large mill to cater to them. It's a vicious cycle. In this post and others to follow, I am going to focus on as many different stores and locations to obtain local foods as I can think of. By all means, e-mail me if you know of others that I miss.

First of all, let's look at the obvious...Farmers Markets. There are a number of outstanding markets here in edmonton. Not the least of which is the "City Market Downtown on a 104th" http://www.city-market.ca/ This is a growing market that is large enough for you to find most, if not all of your staples. Then there is the venerable "Old Strathcona Farmers Market" http://www.osfm.ca/. For a complete listing of markets across Alberta check out http://www.albertamarkets.com/. Now be aware that not all markets are created equal. For the hardcore local foodie, there are some markets that will be a complete waste of time...full of grandparents sitting at tables full of knitted tissue box covers and numerous other tables of network marketing items like plastic dinnerware and cleaning supplies. Check out each market in your area by calling the manager and asking what vendors are there each week...also, make sure to make a point of telling them what YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. A good market manager will keep track of this stuff and make changes to the market where possible.